DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 2 Episode 17
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow closes off season 2 with a radical plan to stop the Legion of Doom from changing reality using the Spear of Destiny.
I’ve criticised both this show and The Flash in the past for their inconsistent time travel rules. Broadly speaking the rules seem to be whatever the writers want to use to get the story to work in the way they need it to. It’s never a good starting point as it ultimately makes the stakes in these stories meaningless.
There is an element of that in this episode and I’ll come back to that but this show has always had one rule that it has adhered to up until this point. The idea that revisiting events that the characters are already part of being something that they can’t do has been a consistent source of tension in any given episode. It gives the story built in stakes because the team only have one chance to put things right. It’s important to have that in place because it deals with the obvious question around why they don’t just go back in time and try again.
Having this rule also means that it must eventually be broken to prove why it’s important and this is what this episode sets out to do. It was inevitable to have an episode where the team travels back to a point in time that they already participated in because it allows the writers to explore the consequences of doing that and solidifies the importance of the rule in the future.
In this case, the team go back to the events of “Fellowship of the Spear” to have another chance at stopping the Legion of Doom from rewriting reality. The situation is about as desperate as it can get since reality has already been altered and Thawne succeeded in destroying the Spear of Destiny as shown last week. Options are limited so travelling back in time to solve the problem makes a lot of sense. Going back to that specific time period also works as it was the time that the Legends had access to the Spear of Destiny as well as an opportunity to destroy it so it makes logical sense to choose that particular time period.
Where this falls over is that the stakes for the characters are somewhat reduced since there are duplicates of most of them. The journey back in time to events they are already part of means that every member of the team is expendable. This is taken full advantage of when all of the characters with the exception of Sara are killed once. This makes any death meaningless as it is established early on that the version of the team that travel back in time aren’t meant to survive this.
The baffling thing is that the deaths are still treated as if they have the emotional weight they might have if the character was actually being permanently killed. The clearest example of this was when Thawne killed Ray by pulling out his heart. It would have been an effective death if not for the fact that there was a spare waiting to survive the conflict. That being said the visual of Thawne holding Ray’s heart was fairly brutal.
One thing was badly missed from this confrontation. We saw back in “Moonshot” that Thawne and Ray respected each other as men of science and there was some understanding of where the other was coming from on both sides. This would have been the perfect time to explore that but the episode fails to do that and it adds to the sense of emptiness that the death represents.
Thawne’s competence as a villain is called into question here. Fair enough he wanted to gloat so left the team alive and humiliated in his idealised reality but not disposing of the Waverider or Ray’s suit was just plain stupid. It’s even worse when you consider that he went to extreme lengths to destroy the Spear of Destiny but left the time ship and suit that proved to be his undoing intact.
There were other issues with Thawne as well. The action sequence where he recruits lots of other versions of himself as backup was entertaining enough but together they represent a power level that the Legends shouldn’t have been able to deal with. It baffled me that all the various Thawnes were doing was knocking them over. This is especially confusing when we saw him casually use lethal force on Ray but somehow restrains himself at this point. I get that the episode needs to have its endgame and resolve this problem but it wasn’t handled terribly well considering Thawne’s insane power level which is multiplied several times by the appearance of more of him.
Sara turns out to be the core of this episode as well as the season as it turns out. A lot of time has been devoted to her developing her leadership skills and settling into her role as Captain of this ragtag group. Rip acknowledges that the team is far more effective under her leadership and the proof can be seen in every episode. It’s a natural role for her and her confidence in leading the team is clear.
There has always been the creeping sense of self doubt in the background that follows her through. This showed itself back in “Compromised” when she removed herself from the situation because she didn’t trust herself not to kill Damien Darhk. This pays off in this episode where she fights him to the point of defeat and refuses to kill him because she has moved beyond the need for revenge. Sara is at the point where the mission of preserving the timeline is more important to her than settling a personal vendetta.
This growth is further explored when she uses the Spear of Destiny. She is taken into a sort of existential fantasy where she is having a simple movie night with Laurel. Sara was badly affected by Laurel’s death so the prospect of having her back so easily is something that would be really tempting to her. She is under the mistaken impression that the Spear needs someone pure of heart to put everything right but Laurel -or whatever she is- clears that up by pointing out that it needs someone strong enough to do the right thing. Sara proves herself to be strong enough and puts reality back the way it was because she recognises the importance of time playing out in the way that it did before. It’s a powerful realisation and it resolves the character arc that has been going on for Sara all season.
Thawne’s downfall was really satisfying as well. His realisation that Sara’s only change to reality was to render the Spear useless was great to see and having the Black Flash catch up with him to wipe him from existence felt like the right ending for his time as a villain on this show. Considering how important this character is to the continuity of The Flash I very much doubt that he’s gone for good but it resolves the conflict that the Legends have with him nicely.
The preservation of the timeline continues in how the rest of the Legion of Doom are dealt with. It’s mentioned that Malcolm is returned to the point he left and we see Sara return Damien Darhk to the point he was recruited with his memory erased. Darhk tries to get to her by reminding her that she is enabling him to kill her sister but Sara is fine with it as she feels that it was meant to happen.
Mick returns Snart to the point that he was recruited which gives him the chance to become a better man by joining the team. Mick has learned how important the team are to him and recognises that he’s a better man so wants to give Snart the chance to become the man he was when he sacrificed his life to save the team. It’s a satisfying resolution to Mick feeling like he had betrayed his partnership with Snart as he realises that things change and move on. Snart deserves that same chance and we know that he takes the opportunity.
One issue I had with Mick in this episode was that the version of him that ends the episode is one who never betrayed the team so never gets the chance to learn that Snart doesn’t actually treat him very well. I think this episode would have been better if some of the earlier versions of the team were killed instead. The later version of Mick with his recent lessons would have been the better one to leave alive since he developed significantly last week. It doesn’t make sense for the earlier version to come to that realisation because he didn’t experience Doomworld and learn from that.
The conclusion to Amaya’s story felt a little off to me as well. Such a big deal has been made of her importance to the timeline and her destiny so to have that fail to pay off was disappointing. Nate being urged to admit how he feels about her by his alternate self is far too obvious a direction to take this in and to have Amaya stay on the team while all but ignoring her place in the timeline starts to make the story meaningless. Of course she does say that she will go back when she’s ready but how practical is that going to be for her the closer she gets to Nate? One for next season certainly but it doesn’t really fit with the character as established and feels like an anticlimax as far as her development is concerned. I am glad that this show will be continuing with the established dynamic that we have.
Apparently Rip is the only one not staying on the team because he feels that there isn’t really a place for him any more. He was well used when not in the command position in the past few episodes but I’m not sure how sustainable that is over a season. He might be better served turning up now and again or maybe he could appear in the other shows. His departure was somewhat bittersweet and having him be the one to solidify Sara’s confidence to use the Spear was a nice touch.
Despite the numerous flaws with this episode I would say the good far outweighed the bad. Seeing the two versions of the team together was a lot of fun. Mick was perfect in these scenes as he tried to pick a fight with himself and rather bluntly summarised what happened to the missing members. I also liked the feeble excuses people were making to not get found out as being different versions of themselves. This show has opted to focus on delivering enjoyable outings and this episode definitely delivers on that. I can forgive a lot if I’m enjoying what I’m watching.
As for next season it looks like the team have broken the timeline which I find interesting. There were measurable consequences to what they did and it’s something they are all going to have to deal with. I wonder if Amaya’s removal from the timeline will have something to do with it as well. It was a great cliffhanger that set things up nicely for next season.
A solid finale that makes some mistakes along the way but manages to be fun throughout. Seeing the two versions of the team together was a lot of fun and establishing the stakes surrounding that worked well enough though the deaths felt somewhat meaningless as a result. Sara completing her character arc by choosing to return reality to what it used to be was really satisfying as was the downfall of Eobard Thawne. Sara’s scene with “Laurel” was a powerful way for her to arrive at that realisation. Preserving the timeline by returning the villains to where they started made a lot of sense though Mick’s involvement didn’t quite work since the earlier version didn’t learn the lessons from last week.
The conclusion to Amaya’s story was a little off as it felt out of character for her to choose to abandon her destiny for a while to continue her relationship with Nate. This definitely won’t end well. Rip’s departure makes sense though I hope he’ll return now and again as his role in the team does work without him being in charge. As for next season I look forward to exploring a broken timeline.