Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen the season premiere of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. You’ve been warned!
Last season, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was a show that never quite figured out it was going to be. That identity crisis has apparently carried over to the second season, as it can’t seem to decide whether it’s a fun adventure through time or a more serious show with emotional consequences for its characters. In the season two premiere, no one embodied that conflict more than Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). Out of all of the characters, Sara actually had the most compelling arc. She wants to kill Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) in the past before he can kill her sister on Arrow. That’s a great motivation for her, but it didn’t seem consistent with the Sara who playfully seduced women throughout history in the rest of the episode.
The best part of this episode came early, when the remaining Legends attempted to save France’s Louis XIII from time traveling terrorists. Something about seeing the team in period costumes was inherently amusing, and it seemed like the cast and their characters were really enjoying themselves. The biggest problem is that the tone was so light that when the episode went for a bit of pathos with the apparent demise of Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), it didn’t land at all. No one should believe that Hunter is gone for good, and the episode didn’t even try to make us believe that. And yet it still had the nerve to try to make us care about Hunter as if he could be dead.
Stephen Amell‘s Oliver Queen had an extended cameo/guest appearance as he and Nathan Heywood (Nick Zano) attempted to locate the team. Bizarrely, Heywood appears to be taking Hunter’s place on the Legends. We don’t know if that’s going to work, but Heywood seemed too similar to Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) to make much of an impression here. It’s enough to make us wonder why the creative team didn’t simply elevate Ray or Sarah to the leadership role. Either of them would have been stronger choices than Heywood.
Another issue with this episode is that it built towards a potential dark fate for the crew of the Waverider, and then easily resolved it midway through the episode. The team was stranded in various points of history for all of a few scenes before they were brought back together. That’s just not satisfying storytelling. If it’s that easy to reunite them, then there are no stakes.
There were some amusing moments with the Legends as they teamed up with Albert Einstein, especially when Einstein was more friendly with Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) than he was with Professor Stein (Victor Garber). The resolution of the 1942 battle was a little flat, but the duel cliffhangers made up for it. First, the Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) was revealed as Darhk’s partner; which means that the Legion of Doom has arrived in the Arrowverse. And in the closing moments, the Justice Society of America made their debut, as they confronted the Legends. Both of those turns are very intriguing, but we’ll reserve final judgment until we see how Legends of Tomorrow integrates them into the show.
Legends of Tomorrow still hasn’t quite hit the highs of Arrow or The Flash, but the playground of The CW’s DC shows is going to offer a lot of chances to get it right. Nothing would make us happier than for this to be the year that Legends of Tomorrow lives up to its potential.
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: The CW/DC Entertainment