DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1 Episode 3
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow sticks with the 1975 time period as the team go after Vandal Savage’s financial assets in an effort to reduce his resources.
I have to say I was a little disappointed that this episode keeps the team in 1975 as it feels like something of a waste of the time travel premise if they don’t actually travel through time. The Waverider acts as more of a mobile base than a time machine at this point. In many ways this episode feels like an epilogue to the two part pilot as it spends time wrapping certain things up before the story moves on.
Kendra gets the short end of the stick this week as she spends most of the episode unconscious and is used as a device to develop a relationship between Ray and Stein. It’s not a bad relationship when it’s explored but having Kendra incapacitated to do it is a bit of a waste of her character.
Ray Palmer is very different to how he appeared on Arrow. In that show he was confident to the point of arrogance and made no apologies for it. In this show his self confidence has taken a beating and he spends most of his time doubting his abilities. I like this approach and it makes sense given that he knows how little impact he makes on history. For someone who tied his self worth to what he could accomplish for humanity it can’t be easy to deal with the fact that he didn’t really accomplish anything.
Stein spends most of his time trying to reassure him and tells a story about a gifted student he once had that made him jealous. Apparently it’s not easy being a genius who finds out there might be someone smarter than you. It seems like entitled nonsense when written down like this but Victor Garber’s performance has a sense of humility to it. He’s trying to meet Ray on his level and empathise with the way he feels so that confidence can start to be repaired.
The revelation that Ray was the student he was jealous of was a bit predictable but I like that it was turned on its head and outed as a lie to push Ray into believing in himself. It’s interesting that it took until the third episode to let the two scientists have some time together. It shows the commitment this show has to mixing up the dynamics within the team that they waited until now to do this.
Seeing Ray actually use his shrinking abilities to reference Fantastic Voyage when he goes inside Kendra’s blood stream to save her was really cool. The visuals were excellent and it’s great to see the Atom used as something other than a TV version of Iron Man.
The main story involves Rip teaming up with Sara to go after Vandal Savage’s wealth to try and slow his rise to power. It’s a solid idea and worked as the setup for the real story involving Hawkman’s body. My first thought was – why didn’t they bring his body back to the ship? Savage had been subdued for a while so there was no reason for them to leave him behind. This entire story could have been avoided had the characters exercised some common sense.
Rip and Sara’s team up was stylistically really cool with the 70s costuming and music setting this up as if it were going to be a heist episode. Sadly that plan didn’t last long but taking on Savage’s henchmen allowed for some really well choreographed hand to hand combat. I really enjoy the variety in the action sequences that becomes possible when the skillsets are so varied. One thing I’ve noticed is that Captain Cold and Heat Wave’s weapons seem really toned down in this show. I don’t think anyone has been either burned or frozen in all 3 episodes.
Sara’s bloodlust comes up again and provides a solid parallel to Rip Hunter’s desire for revenge. Both of them are motivated by something powerful that they cannot control so wanting to fight that gives them a connection that works really well. Caity Lotz does a really good job of showing Sara going feral when attacking people but also the horror and remorse she feels when coming to her senses. It’s a believable performance that effectively shows how Sara constantly struggles with her darker urges.
We haven’t really seen Rip’s wife and son and certainly haven’t seen him interact with them so they function as more of an idea than anything else. They motivate everything he does but his stance on killing is an interesting one. We see him going back to Ancient Egypt to kill Savage before he becomes immortal but he hesitates and loses his chance. It’s good that the question over going after Savage at the earliest point is addressed so quickly. Rip tried and it didn’t work, now we can move on.
Rip isn’t a killer even though he really wants to be. Sara reassures him that not being a killer is a good thing as it is very hard to do and really shouldn’t be taken lightly. She has taken many lives and knows what having blood on your hands can do to people so she comes from a position of knowledge and experience on that one. Rip does manage to get revenge in some form when he kills Savage but it’s almost empty as Rip knows that Savage will return. All he did was slow him down for a while.
Snart, Mick and Jax team up so that Snart can try and retcon some of his emotional issues by stealing the emerald that causes his father to go to prison so that he and his sister won’t grow up abused. It doesn’t work as his father gets arrested trying to sell the emerald but the attempt tells us a lot about Snart. He is secretly a very vulnerable person and sees the treatment he received from his father as the root of all that so wants to fix. The scene where he gave advice to his younger self was the strongest in the episode and let us see the real Leonard Snart as he put aside all the bravado and theatricality to really bare his soul.
Snart’s failure to change his upbringing ties nicely into Rip being unable to kill Savage right at the beginning. It is clearly established that changing the timeline really isn’t that easy and suggests that time itself could prove to be an obstacle to the team as it tends to take steps to fix itself. The whole idea of consequences to time travel has been suggested in The Flash but this show can really explore that in detail.
It should be noted that this is the most convenient time period for the the team to travel to. It turns out to a really significant few days in the lives of two of the people on the ship. Stein meets his wife at this point in history and Snart’s formative years are at a defining point. What a week for these people. I wonder what other eras will be significant to the others.
Vandal Savage is still a problem for this show as he still doesn’t seem all that intimidating. There was an attempt to make Savage appear cruel and sadistic but his performance was really hammy. Casper Crump seems to be playing the character as he is written so his performance can be forgiven since he really doesn’t have much to work with. Seeing him so easily thwarted every week does absolutely nothing to make him a worthwhile villain.
I have to mention Rip’s mention of seeing “Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall”. This was in one of the trailers for the show but hearing it in an episode marks the first direct mention of Batman and Superman in this universe. Whether it was a throwaway line or will be elaborated on in future episodes is anyone’s guess but it’s good to have the direct reference. With the recent announcement that the Flash will appear on Supergirl next month it’s all up in the air as to how these characters will be represented in this universe if they will be at all.
A solid episode that has some great character development for Ray as well as showing a really vulnerable side of Captain Cold. It’s disappointing that the show sticks to the 1975 time frame and Vandal Savage still needs a lot of work to be a compelling villain. Kendra being unconscious for the entire episode does her character a disservice but the show remains fun and has now fully wrapped up the 1975 story.
• the solid interaction between Martin Stein and Ray Palmer
• the Fantastic Voyage style visuals
• Rip and Sara’s unconventional team up
• seeing a vulnerable Leonard Snart talk to his younger self
• the complete waste of Kendra who spends the episode incapacitated
• Vandal Savage still not measuring up as a threatening villain