DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1 Episode 10
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes the team to the year 2147 in an attempt to stop the event that led to Vandal Savage conquering the entire planet.
Having the characters travel to this time period makes a lot of sense as it offers some insight into how Savage actually pulled off such an unimaginable feat. Up to this point all we have had is what Rip told us and he has been pretty sketchy on the details so actually seeing the beginning of it is welcomed.
It turns out Savage’s opportunity came from the influence he has on a young boy named Per Degaton (Cory Gruter-Andrew) who is destined to hand control to Savage after succeeding his father as leader. Through Per Degaton, the characters have to wrestle with one of the oldest time travel questions in fiction – if there’s an opportunity to kill Hitler as a child, should you do it? Of course Per Degaton isn’t Hitler but as far as this show is concerned he’s the next best thing.
Rip is the one closest to this decision as he has lived in the horrible Vandal Savage controlled world that cost him his wife and child so he has the biggest motivation to prevent this from happening. He doesn’t go right for wanting to kill him because simply kidnapping him and removing him from events might do the same thing. Unfortunately it doesn’t and a tough choice needs to be made over whether Per Degaton gets to survive or not. Rip takes it upon himself to wrestle with that decision so removes himself and Per Degaton from the Waverider with every intention of killing one child to save the future.
No matter how poorly defined Rip’s character has been in this series, it’s abundantly clear that he’s not a killer so actually going through with murdering Per Degaton would have felt at odds with his character as established. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it would allow Rip to have a defined arc for the rest of the season where the guilt over killing a 14 year old boy consumes him. It would be even more effective if his death didn’t save the future which would mean that Rip crosses that line for no positive reason. It’d be great drama so it’s a shame that the episode didn’t go down that route.
Arthur Darvill’s performance effectively sells the internal conflict Rip is feeling. I like that his dialogue has him weigh up the pros and cons of the situation in his own head and boil the choice down to its basics. What he is essentially faced with is choosing his son’s life over that of Per Degaton and he wonders whether he has that right. Per Degaton isn’t afraid as he doesn’t believe for a second that Rip is a killer so doesn’t think that he will actually go through with it. It’s an astute observation and it briefly shows what kind of effect having Savage as his mentor has on him. He is being taught how to be strong and clearly cultivates an ability to read people.
It’s a shame that the master/student relationship between Savage and Per Degaton is barely shown outside of a couple of brief exchanges that don’t offer much insight. It would have been an interesting angle to show how Savage has managed to get inside this young boy’s head and bring him around to his way of thinking. This should have at the center of everything really considering the entire premise lives or dies based on whether we can accept that this 14 year old boy has a significant part to play in the ruination of humanity.
Beyond that, the idea of corrupted innocence is a really strong one that could have made this episode really memorable but without that being developed as the basis of the relationship it all feels a little empty. We know that Vandal Savage is Per Degaton’s tutor and has corrupted his way of thinking but we don’t see much evidence of this so it just becomes something the characters talk about that isn’t really explored.
I thought that the episode was going to go down the route of Per Degaton realising that Vandal Savage is evil or at least doubting what he has been taught before deciding to help Rip change the outcome. I’m glad that it didn’t go that way because I have seen it so many times before but the alternative wasn’t exactly compelling either. It resulted in a boring hostage situation where Per Degaton was traded for Sara. This really didn’t work as Sara has never been the type to get taken hostage and it looked like something she could easily get out of so the moment was completely robbed of tension.
Having the actions of the team actually accelerate the horrible outcome was a morbid but effective ending. Rip’s mission is actually doing more harm than good to the timeline and they seem to be actively helping Vandal Savage rather than stopping him. Come to think of it most of their missions have been failures or partial successes so they really are living up to their reputation as a collection of misfits. I wonder if the next episode will be concerned with them trying to fix the mess they’ve made or if there will be another jaunt into the past to try to stop Savage at an earlier point.
Ray gets a shock when arriving in this time as he finds that the evolution of his tech enforces the law in this police state. This isn’t nearly as shocking to him as finding out that he apparently has descendants who carried on his work which eventually leads to this. Apparently sometime after him being rescued from Damien Darhk over in Arrow and deciding to join Rip’s mission he was engaged in a physical relationship with some unnamed and unseen woman so he jumps to the conclusion that she stopped talking to him because she was pregnant and his role as an absent father is what caused all of this. It’s a significant conclusion to jump to and seems to miss the point of the problem. Ray shouldn’t be more concerned about having a lovechild he had no knowledge of than the perversion of the technology he developed to do good.
That’s part of the problem with this show and Arrow as well. Relationship drama will always move to the front whenever it can even when there are more important things to worry about. It doesn’t seem to happen as often on The Flash but the other two CW DC shows are guilty of it in a big way. The whole thing basically becomes a pregnancy scare story except from a slightly different perspective. Instead of being afraid that he might be a father, Ray is shown that he was a father and has all the worst fears of that confirmed to him through this Police State future.
Brandon Routh plays the shock and guilt with complete sincerity but I feel that the character would be more focused on the effect that him not being there for his child has had. His original intention for the Atom suit was that it would be used to fight crime and this Police State is that vision taken to an extreme. There are interesting moral questions buried under the whole unknown child story that should have been explored instead. Should Ray be there to give his child guidance on the ethics of being a hero? If he had then would this Police State have happened or would the people programming the suits be empowered to make more moral judgements? These questions are hinted at but not even slightly addressed in favour of the relationship drama.
Ray sees the future of his family through Dr. Bryce (Jewel Staite). The story would almost have been no different if this character was cut as she contributes almost nothing beyond the connection to Ray through having Palmer blood. It is used as a way to convince her to power down the suits which comes across as being overly cheesy. There was a real opportunity for Ray to see what his legacy could produce and feel some semblance of pride that his descendants would take what he started and develop it further. This could contrast with what that work has actually produced and give Ray some real conflict to wrestle with.
It’s all rendered moot anyway as Ray finds out that the Palmer legacy comes from his “stupid brother” Sidney who must have gone to work for Felicity and stole all of his ideas. If his brother is as stupid as Ray seems to claim then how did he manage to do that? Another issue I had with that is that the brother revelation comes from nowhere so it just seems like a cop out to absolve Ray from the guilt of being an absentee father and allow him to continue his relationship with Kendra. As a side note, was anyone else reminded of the Futurama episode “The Luck of the Fryish” with this reveal?
Kendra spends most of the episode having visions of her life with Carter in the 1920s which also feature their son Aldus seen in the first episode. For the most part these felt like filling time but there was more chemistry between Ciara Renée and Falk Hentschel than we saw previously and their interactions seemed far more natural. I thought that these visions were going to clue her into the fact that Carter was nearby and his abilities were about to emerge. It would have been interesting to have him re-join the team from a different time period and flip the dynamic as Kendra teaches him about his history. I think it would probably devolve into a love triangle so maybe it’s for the best that Carter isn’t back as yet. This does point out a lingering thread around the mechanics of how the resurrections work. Will Carter still be reborn after being lifted out of time or is his essence gone forever? I’d like to see this question answered.
I did like the idea that these visions cause Kendra to feel guilty about her relationship with Ray as she feels like she is being unfaithful to Carter. Ray is really mature about it as well with the ability to understand that she had found love with this one man so many times so it will be difficult for her to get used to it happening with another man. It mirrors the conflict Ray is having as he is not sure how to break the news of a secret lovechild to her and isn’t sure what that means for them. The resolution of all of this feels far too neat but it was almost heading in an interesting direction.
Snart is having difficulty keeping his feelings in check after finding out that Chronos was Mick all along. He’s eager to kill Per Degaton to end the problem and offers to do it so that everyone else is spared the guilt. I don’t think Snart would actually do it but given his hostile emotional state his behaviour makes sense. He’s dealing with a lot at the moment so it is perfectly reasonable that his judgement would be somewhat impaired.
Mick is still vengeful and hanging around in the brig which makes sense as he was only captured last week. His conversation with Sara gives Mick a reminder that Snart is a loyal friend to him and was only doing what he had to do. It was a tough decision and Snart clearly regrets it judging by his general attitude this episode. Mick is full of anger and vengeance that is solely directed at Snart. He only seems interesting in settling the score with him and will leave the rest of them alone.
There is payoff to this relationship when they work through their issues by fighting. It seems that Mick works through his rage as he stops short of killing Snart. Perhaps this was all he needed but I hope the friendship remains strained after this point. The mention of the Mercenaries sent by the Time Masters to bring them in adds more fuel to my theory that the Time Masters are the real villains in all this.
I found the overall design of this future to be really boring and it reminded me of Continuum in the way it was structured. Continuum didn’t invent a dystopian Police State society but it is a recent science fiction show to use it so it’s not hard to make the connection. There’s nothing wrong with using it but the setting wasn’t very well fleshed out so it was difficult to get invested in what was going on. I still have issues with the technology on the Waverider and how inconsistent it is. Gideon can read dreams and Rip uses contact lenses to pass a retinal scan but keycards couldn’t be manufactured a few episodes ago. It’s clear that the technology has no real rules and is either enhanced or diminished depending on what level of drama needs to be manufactured.
The episode did boast some impressive action sequences with rare appearances from Firestorm and Ray’s Atom suit. Seeing Ray take on the more advanced suits was really cool and the rest of the characters were used well. It all looks very impressive and the action is always fluid.
A pretty underwhelming episode that has some solid ideas but fails to explore them properly. The idea of Ray being faced with his legacy taken to an extreme was interesting but when it focused on the pregnancy scare aspect it lost what was interesting about it. Similarly Kendra’s visions of living with Carter in the 1920s didn’t really go anywhere and existed mostly to fill time. Rip’s conflict over whether to kill a future Tyrant when he is a small child was interesting and definitely elevated by a great performance from Arthur Darvill but the approach wasn’t as clever as it could have been. This show has lots of potential but keeps missing the point on the more interesting character drama.
- impressive action sequences
- strong acting from Arthur Darvill
- Mick’s vendetta against Snart
- the wrong focus when Ray discovered his potential legacy
- a lack of exploration of how Vandal Savage corrupted Per Degaton
- visions of Kendra’s past that don’t go anywhere
- the vast underuse of Jewel Staite