DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 2 Episode 5
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow heads back to the 1980s to stop Damien Darhk from stockpiling Nuclear Warheads.
Heading back to the 1980s seems problematic at first because the show has already explored that decade and revisiting it could be a sign of running out of ideas but this episode proves that there is plenty to cover when the focus isn’t the time period being visited. This show has lots to offer from the characters and takes full advantage of that.
Damien Darhk being the villain presents an interesting challenge from Sara as she still really wants to avenge Laurel and this compromises her judgement as a leader. This becomes a problem almost right away when she immediately abandons the mission in favour of revenge. She is reminded that she is no longer an assassin and has to consider the mission as well as the team above her personal feelings. Rationally Sara knows that but when faced with the man who killed (will kill?) her sister all rationality goes out of the window.
I liked her approach to the situation when she recognised that she was a potential liability and removed herself from the situation so that the mission stood a better chance of succeeding. It shows that Sara is an effective leader and that she does consider the welfare of the team above all else. She has to work through her issues and can’t do that when faced directly with Darhk.
Eventually she does have to confront him otherwise there would be no real lesson learned for her. She demonstrates her ability to find another way to make peace with what he’s done without killing him and making a mess of the timeline in the process. The scene where she coldly tells him that all of his plans will end with him losing everything including his life was brilliantly played from both Caity Lotz and Neil McDonough. Sara managed to achieve a personal victory and Darhk gets a taste of vulnerability which is definitely very rare for him at this point. It does have the unintended effect of making Darhk obsessed with changing his timeline to something more positive but that allows Darhk to continue being a threat to the team.
As always, Damien Darhk is great to watch. Neil McDonough chews the scenery wonderfully and his use as a villain presents a real opportunity to give him a much needed do over after the events of Arrow last season. We know how he’s supposed to end up but Thawne taking him through time adds unpredictability to the mix as we don’t know what will end up happening with him. The sense of forward movement we get with Thawne and Darhk being involved in the story is appreciated as well.
Thawne’s plan is still unclear but he seems to be running around history making changes to suit whatever his endgame is. I wonder if this is the version of Thawne that put an end to the Flashpoint timeline as he mentioned in that episode that things would be different and I get the impression that he was referring to himself. Pairing him up with Damien Darhk is so far proving to be a good idea and now that Darhk is travelling through time along with him the possibilities are endless. Now that the team know a Speedster is involved it should help them plan some kind of counter measure.
This episode sees the return of the young Martin Stein seen last season and offers a little more insight into why Martin was ashamed of his younger counterpart. His wife Clarissa (Emily Tennant) is a part of the story instead of being someone that we just hear about. She isn’t a character as such but she’s not really supposed to be as her function in the plot is to flesh out Martin.
It is revealed that he is full of regret for how he behaved in his younger days. He neglected Clarissa in favour of his research and was fairly ignorant to that fact. His feelings were -and continue to be- as genuine as he claims but he is guilty of taking her for granted and sees that as a personal shame. Having him confronted by the younger versions of both himself and his wife allows him to face this and move on from it in his own way. He makes sure that Clarissa knows just how much he loves her even if he doesn’t always show it and tells his younger self to be more attentive.
Whether this actually manages to strengthen their connection retroactively is unknown but Martin realising that there was a problem and taking steps to correct it was an important step forward. Of course there is still the problem of him being away from her to be on the team but he is doing so with her unconditional support so it isn’t necessarily an extension of the same problem.
Victor Garber delivers a great performance in this episode and has a lot of opportunities to portray Martin in different ways. His frustration when referring to his younger self is something we’ve seen before but the gentle honesty when he dances with the younger Clarissa is a great moment that Victor Garber is completely able to sell. Martin’s characterisation has been somewhat inconsistent on this show but showing him as a layered and flawed human being is a really good move.
Ray is able to understand Martin’s internal conflict as he is dealing with something similar. Martin doesn’t recognise the man he used to be and Ray doesn’t recognise the man he currently is. He has been struggling to define his role in the team this season and seems focused on everything he has lost. He lost his company and his fortune prior to joining the team, saving Nate robbed him of the powers he wanted, the destruction of his suit took away the thing he felt made him useful and trying to fill Snart’s role as Mick’s partner isn’t working either.
It isn’t working because it isn’t supposed to work. Ray isn’t anything like Snart and never will be. He expects to be able to wield the cold gun with the same confidence and have a similarly strong bond with Mick but these things aren’t possible as he’s unable to be that sort of person.
Interestingly he wants to do things his own way but Mick prevents him. Mick wants what he had with Snart and expects Ray to be able to become that. He knows that Ray can’t do that but is frustrated by it anyway. Mick is denying his feelings on the matter and has been for a long time which makes the situation impossible since he’s unwilling to accept that Snart is gone and -as far as he knows- won’t be coming back. Dominic Purcell plays this perfectly and I especially like that he was barely able to say the word “feelings”.
There is a resolution from Mick when he allows Ray to dismantle the cold gun to disarm a bomb. It’s an important moment as it shows Mick beginning to move on and accept a life without Snart. The cold gun was the last thing he had left of his friend and letting it go shows that he is willing to begin seeing things differently. It’s all really strong character work and Dominic Purcell manages to keep the material relatively light with his amusing line deliveries that hide a deeper pain.
Amaya starts to realise the consequences of time travel when she goes to a JSA training facility to find it all but abandoned. Todd Rice aka Obsidian (Lance Henriksen) stays in the facility in much the same way the old Oliver Queen remained in the bunker during the events of “Star City 2046“. It was great to see Lance Henriksen play a superhero and he brought a lot of gravitas to the role but the character as well as the actor were largely wasted. Obsidian only appeared in a handful of scenes and his role was more about Amaya rather than giving him anything meaningful to do.
He mostly exists to provide exposition about what happened to the JSA in the decades since Amaya left. It didn’t go so well and the remainder of the team were sent on a mission that they didn’t return from in 1956. Obsidian wasn’t among them because he wasn’t trusted for reasons that aren’t disclosed. I imagine it has to do with his sexuality but he never says. After that point he gave up on being a superhero and settled down with his partner. Why he continues to hang around an old training facility is anyone’s guess.
This whole plot is designed to make Amaya question her choices and regret the impulsive decision she made to stow away on the Waverider. Rex Tyler was killed and she left without saying anything which didn’t seem like a big deal to her before this point as she hasn’t been gone long from her perspective. Through Obsidian she sees the decades that she’s been gone and wonders if her presence could have done anything to prevent what happened. It’s standard time travel stuff but Maisie Richardson-Sellers manages to sell it without any of it seeming out of character for Amaya.
I found Amaya’s naivety really fascinating as she clearly had an optimistic view of what would happen after the second world war and is surprised that things didn’t develop along more positive lines. Her blind faith in human nature and idealism meshes well with her 1940s superhero sensibilities but the character of Amaya that we see doesn’t seem like she would be that naive. It’s something that both works and doesn’t.
We also learn that the JSA were discouraged from fraternising with one another so that they remained focused on their missions. Such a thing is impossible when people spend so much time together and, predictably certain pairings happen. It is revealed that Amaya and Rex were in a relationship which explains her emotionally driven decision to avenge him. She tries to deny that they ever had anything special as the alternative is facing up to the pain and that’s just too hard for her. This doesn’t really work for me as we didn’t spend enough time with the JSA to see Amaya and Rex’s relationship so it’s difficult to invest in his death meaning a lot to her despite the capable performance.
The rule against fraternisation opens the door for Amaya to feel a sense of belonging to the Legends. She has been all business up until now but the fact that she has been gone for decades and potentially can’t rejoin her teammates means that she might have to make the best of the situation with the Legends so will have to make an effort to get to know them better. She is reluctant at first but by the end of the episode she opens up to Nate about his grandfather singing to them when on missions. It’s such a small thing but it adds so much scope to the show by fleshing out the JSA as people as well as heroes. It also creates a connection between Amaya and Nate that seems fine so far but might get tiresome when it heads down the inevitable romance route.
In the background Jax seems to be somewhat fixated on changing the timeline in small ways to make the world a better place. This is clearly inspired by his first hand experience of slavery and looks set to become an arc for him in the coming episodes. It hasn’t received a lot of focus yet but knowing it’s there is enough for now.
A solid character driven episode that has some interesting development. Martin coming to terms with his younger self and taking steps to fix it is well handled and having Clarissa be part of the story as an example of the neglect he used to be guilty of really helps bring this across. The teething problems Ray and Mick have working together make a lot of sense and allow Ray to further explore his role within the team. The new Captain Cold isn’t it and he knows it but it takes a while for Mick to realise it. Amaya’s realisation that she has been away for decades and could maybe have helped prevent what happened to the JSA is well handled in some ways but overly expositional in others. Obsidian only seems to be there to let her know what happened and there are elements of this story that don’t quite work. Damien Darhk and Thawne are as compelling as ever even if their plan remains confusing but they are definitely engaging villains.
- Martin coming to terms with his younger self
- the gravitas Lance Henriksen brings to Obsidian
- Reverse Flash and Damien Darhk teaming up
- Sara’s internal conflict and the realisation of her own weaknesses
- Lance Henriksen being a little wasted by only being around for exposition
- Amaya’s role in the story not quite working on some levels