Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen the fourth episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. You’ve been warned!
After spending three episodes in the ‘70s, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow finally moved on to the ‘80s, where it will remain for at least one more episode. It seems as though Legends of Tomorrow is embracing serialized stories as opposed to standalone episodes, and that worked out in its favor this week.
The opening featured one of the best sequences yet, as Rip Hunter’s (Arthur Darvill) team went on a heist inside the Pentagon at the heart of the Cold War. Legends toyed with a heist back at the beginning of episode two, but this was the first time that the heroes and villains actually resembled a team and played their parts well. Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) had a particularly funny scene as he stole a female officer’s ID card, her wallet, and probably her heart.
Miller is really emerging as the star of this series, as Cold seems to get most of the best lines and even the more interesting character arcs. Cold effortlessly seduced Soviet scientist Valentina Vostok (Stephanie Corneliussen), prompting one of the episode’s most amusing moments in Ray’s (Brandon Routh) frustrated reaction. Yet Cold turned down Vostok’s offer to “heat up” the night and he showed little interest in saving her life late in the episode. Let’s just say that Leonard Snart’s chosen name is the only thing about him that’s “cold.”
By far the most entertaining part of the episode came when Ray and Cold had to work together to stop Vostok from completing a project for Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) in Russia. Ray’s eagerness to pretend to be a spy, as well as his subsequent humiliations, were also really funny. Ray thought he could be James Bond, but he was really Maxwell Smart.
Ray’s screwups weren’t just played for laughs, though. When the mission went bad at the end of the episode, it was directly due to Ray’s hero complex. Arrow fans witnessed Ray’s drive last season, but it’s become self-destructive in just a few episodes of this series. What’s impressive about that is it gave Cold a legitimate reason to dislike Ray.
Meanwhile, Chronos continued to be such an uninteresting adversary for the team that random Russian jets could have taken him out and I would have been okay with that. Weirdly, the episode seemed to acknowledge just how useless Chronos was by faking his death and introducing Martin Donovan as Zaman Druce, a Time
Lord Master who was Rip’s mentor. It seemed like it was a little early for the show to be offering Rip a way back to the Time Masters, especially since he pointed out that his wife and child would still die if he abandoned his quest.
This also gave Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) a chance to demonstrate that he isn’t as stupid as he appears. Heat Wave correctly guessed that Druce was planning to kill Rip and eliminate the team. Isn’t it amazing how Druce became a much better foil for the team than Chronos after only two scenes? But both Druce and Chronos escaped after seriously wounding Jax (Franz Drameh).
That led to the other impressive storyline this week: that surrounding the renewed tension between the two halves of Firestorm, Jax Jackson and Martin Stein (Victor Garber). While the means by which Stein drugged Jax in the first episode still seems like a bad creative decision, their scenes really popped this week. The standout moment came when Stein verbally tore into Jax for his immaturity.
That’s why this show’s creative team hired Garber. He’s really good at drama, although Drameh’s stunned and angry reaction was the perfect response. The only thing that rang hollow about the sequence was that it took place while Jax was badly hurt. Maybe save that speech for sometime when Jax isn’t bleeding out, Professor?
Stein’s confession to Ray spelled out his reasons for being harsh on Jax a little too neatly, but that did more to build a bond between Ray and Stein than their entire subplot last week. Stein also had a redemptive moment late the episode when he acknowledged that he’d been putting Jax’s life in danger and it was his turn to bear the burden.
The only part of this week’s episode that didn’t click was the subplot involving Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée). During the Pentagon heist, Sara witnessed Hawkgirl go berserk on one of the military men. Sensing a way to temper Hawkgirl’s bloodlust with Sara’s, Rip set them up to train each other. In theory, that’s not a bad idea, but in execution it just didn’t play well. It was simply too forced and artificial. Renée has shown greater range outside of her Hawkgirl appearances on The CW and Lotz was terrific on Arrow, so I’m gonna blame the writers for this particular failure.
That said, the writers deserve credit for a genuinely great twist: Vostok’s goal was to recreate Firestorm based on what Savage witnessed in 1975. I loved that, because it made sense and it gave Stein a more personal motive to destroy their ability to continue their research. It was also a welcome turn to see that Vostok was willingly working for Savage and that she was completely unrepentant about what she was trying to do. Yet Ray still wouldn’t let her die while she held Cold hostage!
Thanks to a quick appearance by Heat Wave, Cold managed to escape with the thermal core that Stein removed from Vostok’s machine. But Ray, Stein, and Heat Wave all ended up in a Russian gulag and Cold came this close to “icing” Rip over his displeasure about that turn of events. Consider this: Cold wouldn’t be that openly angry if he didn’t care about his team on some level. Especially his partner, Heat Wave.
Now, Legends of Tomorrow has its first real cliffhanger: three of the most powerful members of the team are deep within a Russian prison and the remaining members don’t have any easy way to get them out. As cliffhangers go, that’s pretty good.
This was the first time that Legends of Tomorrow really started to come together as a whole. If the Sara/Hawkgirl material had been stronger, this could have even been a great episode. But for now, it’s a very encouraging step in the right direction.
What did you think about the fourth episode of Legends of Tomorrow? Let us know in the comment section below!
Image Credits: DC Entertainment/The CW