DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1 Episode 16
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow ends its first season by wrapping up the Vandal Savage story and setting up a new adventure for the team.
When the first trailer for this show dropped I was really excited to see it as it looked like an awful lot of fun. A team of time travelling superheroes working together to take out a villain who persists throughout history was a great idea and the tone looked to be really light hearted and adventurous so I was all for this.
The show that we got largely wasn’t the one advertised. Vandal Savage has been a weak villain all season and the focus has been entirely in the wrong places for the most part. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been fun in places but such incidences were the exception rather than the rule so the whole experience has been somewhat disappointing.
“Legendary” is almost the perfect example of a “typical” episode of the show which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I say almost because the relationship angst that plagued the series has been stripped out but almost everything else that the show didn’t get right is there to be seen.
Vandal Savage has never been a good villain. He’s terribly written, Casper Crump’s performance is cartoonishly ridiculous to the point that he can’t be taken seriously and there’s a general sense that the character doesn’t know what he’s doing. His plans appeared to be really stupid so the team appear to be incompetent for being unable to stop them.
The biggest hurdle the team have this week is finding him. He has taken Carter and Kendra somewhere in time but without the Oculus there’s no way to know where or when he is. That is about the biggest threat he represents this week but once he is found then bringing him down seems all too easy.
Having him hatch a plan that takes place in three different time periods is a solid idea as it allows the entire team to weigh in on the final showdown without it being focused on any one character but the stakes didn’t feel significant enough. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the plan seems so utterly ridiculous. Savage wants to blow up a meteor fragment using a blood ritual in 3 time periods to destroy the timeline and return Earth to the point of his creation in Ancient Egypt so he can shape the timeline the way he wants it.
If it sounds like a convoluted plan, that’s because it is. There’s so much nonsensical detail associated with this that it’s impossible to figure out if Savage’s plan is a devastating one or not. The flippant reactions from the characters don’t really help in selling it either so it just feels like another day at the office for the team rather than the epic final showdown that it’s supposed to be.
Despite that, seeing the team kill Vandal Savage three times is oddly satisfying and it does allow for some resolution to the individual conflicts some of the characters have with him. Kendra gets to stab him, Rip gets to twist the knife to avenge his family and Mick gets payback for Snart by setting him on fire. I would have liked to see Kendra and Carter have some kind of personal victory against him given that they have had so many of their lives ruined by him hunting them down but it was still satisfying enough to see him taken down in three different time periods.
Rip takes a major step forward in this episode in learning how to move on from losing his family. The reality that they are never coming back has started to sink in and the look on his face when he gets to kill Vandal Savage in a more permanent way said it all. He has managed to get his revenge and can now move on.
His attempted sacrifice didn’t really work for me as I never really got the impression that Rip felt that the rest of his life was tied to the success of this mission. Having him sit at the controls of the Waverider as it heads towards the sun really made no sense to me as the Jumpship was completely forgotten about. If the Waverider needed to be sacrificed to carry the meteor fragment then what was to stop Rip from pointing it in the right direction and escaping in the Jumpship?
I understand what the episode was going for by having him see as well as embrace the holograms of his family and decide to fight on in their honour but it didn’t really add up because it was never previously established that Rip couldn’t live without them. He didn’t want to carry on his life without them and that’s what started the mission but he always seemed like someone who could manage if he didn’t succeed. It just came across as an obvious attempt to emotionally manipulate the audience. It does definitely show that Rip is ready to move on and has put the pain associated with the loss of his family behind him but it was unnecessary drama.
In contrast to Rip being able to move forward, Sara learns about Laurel’s death when she returns to 2016 which causes her to become consumed by anger and pain. This puts her where Rip was at the start of the season and the episode handles this really well. Caitly Lotz successfully conveys Sara’s feelings. The scene where she threatens Rip to take her back in time to Save Laurel is particularly powerful and shows how far Rip has come as he is the one telling Sara to accept that nothing can change what happened to Laurel.
She finds a positive way to channel her grief after talking to Quentin about it and decides to continue travelling through time with Rip and the others as a way to honour her sister. Maybe the intention is for her to at least visit a past version of her at some point but we’ll have to wait and see if that happens next season.
Mick is also dealing with his grief in his own way. He considers Snart avenged when they deal with Vandal Savage and gets to say goodbye to his friend when Rip takes him back to 2013 to speak to him one last time. It allows Mick to get closure on the relationship by saying goodbye to him and Dominic Purcell plays the scene excellently. Mick has come a long way since the first episode and that really shows here.
Ray doesn’t really have anything profound to do other than decide that he’s going to go with Rip again. He does get to have an amicable goodbye with Kendra as he gives her and Carter his blessing in their life together. I liked the maturity of this gesture and it definitely doesn’t seem like Ray to hold a grudge especially when he decided to let Kendra go to pursue the relationship she was destined to have.
Kendra’s role in the episode was really well handled. I like that she was constantly trying to escape Savage and was able to send a message to Rip through a helmet that he keeps in his office. The mechanics of Rip becoming aware of that were a bit head scratching but the fact that Kendra used her initiative to send a message was good to see. Even her relationship with Carter was in the background which was a good fit and the resolution she gets by moving on with her life without the threat of Vandal Savage looming over them. It makes sense for her and Carter to not be on the team any more as their story has been resolved. I’m not sure if they’re due to come back for season 2 but if they didn’t then their story has been resolved.
Jax and Martin develop in their combined form as Firestorm when they manage to use their transmutation ability. This manifests when a gun is turned to sand and is used again later to transform the meteor fragment into water. It’s a really cool power and it’s about time it was used as it makes Firestorm seem like more than a low rent Human Torch. The fact that they develop this ability shows that the bond between Jax and Martin is stronger than it was. They are behaving more as one being rather than two separate entities competing for dominance and that seems to make all the difference.
This growth is further shown when Jax comes to Martin to convince him to re-join the team. Jax was resistant to coming on the mission in the first place and had to be forced but now he is fully willing to go along willingly and has to get Martin to come along. He does this by appealing to his sense of adventure and through their connection rather than attempting to force them. The fact that Martin’s wife pushes him into doing this completely absolves him of any guilt that he might feel.
The action sequences in this episode were varied and fun. I’ve already mentioned the three pronged attack on Vandal Savage that had its share of great moments and it was impossible not to enjoy watching the team take on Nazis. It must be mandatory for a time travel show to have some kind of visit to World War II.
Once everyone taking the mission on has signed on and is comfortable with what that means something unexpected happens and a future version of the Waverider crashes piloted by a man named Rex Tyler Aka Hourman (Patrick J. Adams) who claims to be a member of the Justice Society of America and warns them against getting back on the Waverider. It was an interesting way to end the episode and I look forward to seeing how that plays out next season. Having the JSA be an organisation that exists in this universe is certainly an exciting prospect. The repeated mention of the Thanagarians over the past couple of episodes suggests to me that they will be the threat in the next season.
Despite all the strong character moments I would say that the episode was far from a success. I mentioned that it was difficult to invest in Vandal Savage’s overly complicated plan but the episode was really oddly placed. Having the characters return to 2016 in the beginning didn’t really work as the exploration of what their lives could be now that the mission is over is really superficial. Everyone is bothered by the fact that they couldn’t finish what they started and, outside of Sara, their time in 2016 didn’t really explore how they were feeling about being back. I imagine the intention was for the characters –and the audience- to reflect on everything that had happened and show how worthwhile it all was to get them to where they are now but this doesn’t come across.
These scenes also take too long and drag down the pace of the episode to the point that it is unable to recover. It might have a lot to do with the point of them not coming across well enough. This show has always had a problem with adding the necessary depth to invest in the insane situations and this really comes across here.
The previous episode really showed what the show is capable of and there have been hints at this throughout the season but unfortunately the focus has consistently been on the weaker elements. As a concept the series had so much potential so I’m hoping that this can be tapped into more consistently in the next season. So far it’s promising as many of the strongest characters are left on the team so as long as long as relationship angst is completely ditched and the show commits to being a silly, fun sci fi adventure then it should be onto a winner.
As a final point, I wonder if I’m the only person bothered by the fact that we never saw the set piece featured in the excellent announcement trailer showing the Flash and the team working together to attack one of Savage’s facilities. It looked excellent and really expensive so it’s a shame that it was never fleshed out and used.
An uneven episode that has great character moments but really lacks in solid pacing or a plot that feels exciting enough to justify a season finale. Sara, Mick and to an extent Rip’s emotional arcs are handled really well while Carter and Kendra’s story is resolved in a fairly satisfying way now that Savage has been taken care of for good. Taking him on in a three pronged attack across three different time periods was a really nice touch that allowed the entire team to participate in the final showdown and the sequence where they took on Nazis was a lot of fun as well. The cliffhanger ending is interesting for the universe as a whole as well but in general I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this episode on more than a superficial level mostly down to the poor pacing and lack of investment in the plot.
- Caity Lotz’ performance as Sara deals with her grief
- fun action sequences
- a final showdown that allowed the entire team to have a moment to shine
- an engaging cliffhanger
- terrible pacing
- an overly complicated Vandal Savage plan