DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 2 Episode 14
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow travels to the 1970s and heads to the moon in search for the final piece of the Spear of Destiny.
The members of the Justice Society of America have been popping up separately since their introduction earlier in the season and the results have been middling. Largely they have been underused but seeding them throughout time to hide pieces of the Spear of Destiny is a good idea as it is established that these characters are skilled enough to be trusted with it.
One big piece of untapped potential is with Nate’s grandfather, Henry aka Commander Steel. We see them interact when they last met but it was a small part of a busy episode so the familial angle remained largely unexplored. This episode fixed that problem in spades by making it the central relationship.
Nate has Daddy issues. His relationship with his own father is strained and Nate attributes that to his father only being raised by his mother. It makes sense that Nate would see things that way even if it is a narrow minded view. He has a blind spot for family in a big way and it clouds his big picture thinking. He thinks that if Henry is returned to his own time then his father will grow up having a father figure which will strengthen the overall family bond and Nate will grow up trauma free. Amaya warns him against that because she has learned enough to know that experiences be they good or bad are instrumental in shaping the kind of person that someone becomes so a large part of who Nate is will be because of the way he was raised. It’s hard to disagree with it but Nate writes that off as conjecture because he is so committed to exploiting the opportunity that exists.
Henry is really well handled in this episode. He is really well written and Matthew McCaull delivers a layered performance that provides the character with real depth. On one level he’s torn between his sense of duty and his sense of family but the importance of his duty is never a doubt in his mind. He recognises the sacrifices he made and feels guilty about leaving his wife without a husband as well as his son without a father but also recognises the “greater good” that his choice to leave them represents. He’s very heroic in an old fashioned sort of way and the depth in McCaull’s performance keeps that from becoming too corny. The air of authority he projects shows how inspiring and competent the character is.
I like that he is willing to be selfish by giving Nate the idea of returning him to his own time and the eventual realisation that this wouldn’t be a good idea considering the damage it could do to the timeline is an effective reverasl of that. Having Nate be against it at first before having to be convinced by the man who gave him the idea that things might be better the way they are is a solid arc. He even gets a little bit of closure when he interacts with the younger version of his father.
The relationship he has with Rip is an interesting one as well. Henry blames Rip for having to abandon his family and sees the fact that Rip is here looking for the Spear as a betrayal since he was told that the mission comes first and it was necessary that they never see each other again. Rip being back in his life feels disingenuous to him and starts to think that his sacrifice was a needless one. This is resolved by the end of the episode and the reconciliation scene is a nice pay off to that small plot point.
Ultimately Henry sacrifices his life to save the Waverider and it feels like a fitting end of the character. Sharing his final moments with his grandson lets him see that his choices have paid off because Nate is someone he can be proud of. The fact that he recognises that not going home is necessary for events to play out the way they have in order for Nate to grow up to be the man that he knows. These are great emotional beats for the episode to hit and they are really well handled.
Nate tells Amaya about her future as a way to prove that it’s not so easy to be objective about the timeline when there’s a personal connection. Amaya recognises that she shouldn’t know about her future but her curiosity gets the better of her and she asks Gideon to tell her everything. It’s clearly a lot to take in and Amaya now has a difficult choice to make. She is able to understand Nate’s difficult position and has her own decisions to make about her own future. I suspect she will head back to her own time at the end of the season even though that means certain death but it has already been established that her granddaughter is important. It’s good to see the show balancing a light hearted tone with serious character moments
The plot of the episode surrounds Eobard Thawne stowing away aboard Apollo 13 to retrieve the last piece of the Spear of Destiny from the Moon. This plot works really well on a lot of levels but I found the impact it had on the timeline to be really underdeveloped. The events clearly changed dramatically as there was no accident causing the mission to be aborted and the astronauts placed in mortal danger. Instead, Thawne engineers it so that Apollo 13 makes it to the Moon and puts him in striking distance of the Spear. If history is changed that much then I feel that the show should address it since their mission statement is to stop aberrations in the timeline.
Another issue I had was the damage done to the Waverider. It seems inconsistent how much punishment the ship can take and being hit by a few rocks doesn’t feel like a big enough threat to cripple the ship the way it did. It does create enough tension in the other plots and leads to a really engaging re-entry sequence that was very touch and go for the crew but the method of damaging the ship could have been handled better.
Despite that the plot was really entertaining and gave Ray another reason to nerd out in a big way. He gets to walk on the surface of the moon and experience what few others have but there is also the undercurrent of danger since he has no way to get back to the Waverider due to a combination of damage to the Waverider and a lack of fuel on the Lunar Lander.
It’s a problem that he needs to enlist the help of Eobard Thawne to solve and it makes for a surprisingly compelling temporary alliance. These interactions allow for a lot more depth to be added to Thawne who has a really simple and understandable motivation. All he wants to do is survive and be allowed to exist which isn’t something that anyone could really disagree with. His methods may be extreme but he’s a desperate man and doesn’t see himself as a villain. Ray reminds him of all the people he has killed and Thawne doesn’t deny that but doesn’t try to excuse it either. He simply lets the point drop and points out that Ray is far from perfect. He could use the material that makes up his suit to power a city and benefit millions but instead he uses it to become a superhero which largely benefits him. Thawne doesn’t judge but he also encourages Ray not to judge him without taking a look at himself.
This develops into a mutual respect when they have the stand-off later in the episode that results in Thawne leaving behind the Spear fragment and choosing to let Ray win this one. Granted his hasty exit was to avoid Black Flash but there was definitely a hint of respect there that should make their next encounter interesting. I enjoyed these interactions and I liked the focus that both of them are men of science which connects them in a really obvious yet fascinating way.
We have more to go on when it comes to Eobard Thawne. He is clearly aware of Flashpoint and seems to be the Eobard Thawne that experienced it but it is also established that he remembers working with Cisco and Caitlin so my thinking is that the memories were returned to him after Flashpoint was undone but I wonder why that would happen since he isn’t supposed to exist. I doubt a full explanation is coming anytime soon but I’ll most likely collect my thoughts in a podcast eventually so stay tuned.
Rip being back on the ship created the problems I expected last week. The team have been answering to Sara for so long that they are loyal to her and Sara has become a really capable Commander in the meantime. This is shown repeatedly when Rip is about to suggest a plan that Sara has already come up with and put in motion. Rip clearly feels like a spare part and acknowledges that at the end of the episode when he graciously steps back and lets Sara continue doing what she does so well. I expected this to go on for longer and create more friction but I like the more mature angle and having Rip realise that Sara is a better candidate for the job shows a great deal of humility for him. He is welcome on the team but I wonder if that will last for long.
Mick, Martin and Jax were mostly around for plot furthering reasons but I have to mention the hilarious musical number that Martin launches into to serve as a distraction in Mission Control. Seeing him burst into a rendition of Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” was incredibly entertaining and managed not to contrast the more serious aspects of the tone too heavily. It all seems to fit in this show which I find remarkable. The use of British accents along with Mick’s silence was another nice touch. This show is firing on pretty much all cylinders at the moment.
An excellent episode that makes good use of the relationship between Nate and Henry to deliver real depth to both characters. Henry is handled really well from his selfish desires conflicting with his devotion to the mission and the way that he recognises how important preserving the timeline is. His interactions with both Nate and Rip develop this well and his arc is a really powerful one. Nate trying to improve his own personal history works well too and having Amaya learn her fate ties her into the story nicely.
Ray and Thawne made for a compelling pair when forced to work together as it gives Thawne more depth than he had previously. I like that he doesn’t see himself as a villain and is able to call Ray out on his own selfish desires showing how similar they are to one another in many way. Playing up the scientists working together angle was a nice touch as well and the mutual respect that develops works. Rip’s slow realisation that Sara is a better candidate for Captain than he is works really well and I appreciated the mature approach to him stepping back when it was proven that the team’s loyalties are with her. There were a couple of minor niggles in the episode such as the lack of discussion on the timeline being affected by changing the events surrounding Apollo 13 and the Waverider being damaged by rocks but these are relatively minor and you have to love Martin’s musical number.
- Henry Heywood being a fleshed out character with depth and a powerful arc
- Nate’s blind spot around saving his own family
- the mature approach to the two captain problem
- Ray and Thawne making for a great pairing
- the lack of discussion on the effects on the timeline
- how the Waverider was critically damaged