DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1 Episode 12
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow rips off The Terminator when an assassin is sent by the Time Masters to go after the team’s younger selves.
I think it must be mandatory that anything featuring time travel must at least mention The Terminator at some point or maybe it’s copied so often because it is just that good. It’s definitely a case of copied but never bettered and this is definitely true in this case.
The biggest issue is that the plot was a complete mess. At first there are rules around why the Pilgrim (Faye Kingslee) doesn’t simply move back in time further to keep trying if she fails on her first attempt. The reason is that the Time Masters demand precision so constantly moving further back in time to kill one person risks causing too much damage to the timeline. This rule is abandoned when Gideon loses track of her and she suddenly becomes this random chaotic force with no apparent plan.
Such an unfocussed and messy narrative makes it nearly impossible to invest in the situation. If everything had been laid out clearly then there could have been a real sense of urgency and dread to the whole episode as the team races literally against time to save their current selves from being erased from existence.
The early part of the episode was definitely the strongest this was before the rules were abandoned. Seeing the young Mick (Mitchell Kummen) at the very beginning of his obsession with fire was an interesting choice. Seeing him look on at the burning house with a calmly psychotic look in his eyes was a really striking image and was well performed by Mitchell Kummen. He looks nothing like Dominic Purcell but the beginnings of his development into Heat Wave can be seen throughout this episode. I also enjoyed Ray saying “Come with me if you want to live!” when he saved the young Mick but it was somewhat ruined by him geeking out over the fact that he just said it. We get that it’s a reference but there’s no point in specifically pointing out that it’s a reference as it dilutes the effect.
Mick’s relationship with his younger self is one of the consistently strong parts of the episode. He directly interacts himself at a definitive point in his development and seems disappointed as well as having an urge to offer guidance. He remembers how lost he felt as well as the pain and anger that fueled his transformation into the man he is now. Dominic Purcell completely nails all of his scenes with a complex performance that shows how difficult it is for him to face something that he thought he had put behind him. The look he gives when his younger self is reminded of his father is perfect. Clearly Mick did not want to turn out like that. There are hints of an abusive relationship in there which explains the lack of immediate remorse of his part. Interactions like this really take advantage of the time travel premise and Mick’s relationship with his younger self definitely forms the emotional core of the episode.
Seeing teenage Sara was really good as well. Caity Lotz looks young enough that she is able to convincingly play herself 10 years younger and the way she conducts herself really helps sell it. Sara was clearly a very different person back then as shown by the contrast between that and the way she is now. Extra points need to be given for the appearance of a young Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who apparently had hair in 2007. We don’t see much of him but any appearance of Quentin Lance is a welcome one as far as I’m concerned.
Once the episode shifts gears to the team kidnapping themselves as babies things start to get a lot messier. The scene of Martin being kidnapped really adds nothing other than a misguided attempt at humour and another reminder that Ray lived in the 50s. The decision to remove everyone from the timeline at the earliest point makes a kind of sense but the Pilgrim changing her plan to that directly contrasts with the rules established in that same episode. Things basically happen because the plot needs them to with no logical justification.
This part of the story did allow some opportunity for Jax to develop but it also highlights how underdeveloped he has been before this point. We find out that his father, James (Eli Goree) died 2 weeks after he was born because he was in the Army so Jax has never met his father. Thanks to the magic of time travel he has the opportunity to talk to the man he never knew and it’s a nice moment. Jax sees that his father was a man worth looking up to and definitely notices some similarities. Franz Drameh really delivers the goods in his performance showing how glad he is to have finally met his father as well as how emotionally difficult it is to talk to him as if he is a random stranger. The moment where he almost told him the information he would need to survive was really well done and I like how Jax backpedalled on it for the benefit of the timeline.
Unfortunately this lacked the impact it could have had because it was clear that James was only there so that he could be taken hostage later in a transparent attempt to raise the stakes. Leaving him at his one scene with Jax would have been fine as Franz Drameh completely sells this with his performance so it was unnecessary to have the whole hostage situation later. It’s a shame that this show consistently ruins the potential it has by overplaying things. For instance Jax tells James to be careful which may save his life and suddenly Rip is fine with that. As I’ve said, the rules are inconsistent.
The romance between Ray and Kendra continues to get worse as well. This episode sees them get engaged while Ray thinks he is about to die and Kendra immediately regretting agreeing to it. This lingers for a while before the ultimately decide to move along with it. We know they’ve had a long relationship because they spent two years together but it doesn’t feel like a long relationship. Their interactions don’t come across as a couple who know each other well and really love each other so the whole thing just falls flat. I very much doubt their engagement will last long as they haven’t dealt with the lingering question of her feelings for Carter since he hasn’t turned up again so the whole thing is doomed to fail and I can’t really be bothered watching them struggle to be a couple before it inevitably falls to pieces.
Ray also has unresolved issues around his dead fiancée, Anna (Barbara Kottmeier) that are touched on in this episode but not dealt with at all. There is one scene where he finishes talking to her then it is completely glossed over in his subsequent exchange with Kendra. The whole idea of kidnapping loved ones as leverage happens so late in the episode that it comes across as clumsy. James and Quentin are the only loved ones shown with brief mentions of Snart’s sister, Martin’s wife and Ray’s dead fiancée with no depth or context to make it feel worthwhile. There is potential in this idea but tacking it onto the tail end of the episode is never going to give it the time it needs to develop.
Some insight is given into Rip Hunter’s past through the introduction of his adoptive mother Mary Xavier (Celia Imrie) who reveals that Rip’s real name is Michael. Rip tells us that he was an orphaned child sent to her by the Time Masters after the plucked him from his native time. Apparently that is generally how they recruit people. This makes me wonder what time period Rip really came from. The recruitment process is consistent with how Mick became Chronos so the Time Masters seem worse the more that is revealed about them.
Seeing young Rip (Aiden Longworth) lacked any real impact and represented another breaking of the established rules. It was mentioned that the Pilgrim wouldn’t go after him because removing a Time Master from events is far too dangerous but suddenly the younger Rip is a viable exchange for the other hostages. It’s so inconsistent and definitely feels like the writers are making things up as they go without checking if it contradicts what was previously established.
The whole prisoner exchange scene worked fairly well though with the young Rip Hunter unexpectedly stabbing the Pilgrim in the leg when she wasn’t looking. She underestimated him and the expectation is that the audience would too. I must confess that it hadn’t really occurred to me that Rip keeps his past pretty close to his chest but I had simply assumed that he enlisted in the Time Masters by choice rather than the temporal orphan abduction that is established here. He is a fairly joyless character though so I’d be interested to see him soften up a little over the coming episodes.
As villains go, the Pilgrim wasn’t badly done. She was established as a Terminator like force who let her actions speak louder than her words so she worked from that perspective. Whenever she was around I felt that she was a viable enough threat to the team and the action sequences involving her freezing time in a localised area were visually impressive. The notable highlight was the final confrontation with her where the team showed real teamwork to bring her down. Faye Kingslee’s delivery of her limited dialogue was pretty poor though and I definitely feel like the episode would be better off if she hadn’t said anything at all.
Using the Pilgrim was a missed opportunity to explore the Time Masters as a threat to the team. She could have been used as an example of how corrupt they are and what they actually do to police the timeline. It’s clear that they are the real villains but it would be interesting to get a sense of why they do what they do. Instead she’s a one note villain who works for the Time Masters and does what she is told. It wouldn’t have taken much to establish her motivations and show a bit of how decisions are made and the lack of morality that goes with them.
The end of the episode raises the stakes appropriately as the removal of the younger versions of the team from the timeline is beginning to settle so they can either stop Savage now or basically be erased from existence. Come to think of it this is somewhat prophetic as Rip mentions the team being chosen because of their lack of historical significance. Is this why? They’ve certainly done more harm than good so far so it could be.
An entertaining enough episode that squanders its potential in several key areas. The emotional heft of Jax getting to speak to his father was diluted by the fact that he was only present to be a hostage later on. Other missteps included the Ray/Kendra relationship and the rushing of the loved ones being kidnapped. The Pilgrim was a decent villain though would have been better off had she never said anything and I really liked Mick’s relationship with his younger self. There is a really good show in here but it never quite comes to the surface.
- excellent performances from Franz Drameh and Dominic Purcell
- a mostly decent threat represented by the Pilgrim
- Mick’s relationship with his younger self
- Caity Lotz convincingly playing a teenage version of Sara
- a contrived plot that abandons the rules that it sets up
- Ray and Kendra’s romance
- lots of the story feeling rushed