DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 7 Episode 10
“The Fixed Point”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has the team try to lure their robot duplicates with a plan to prevent the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the outbreak of the First World War.
As lures go, preventing one of the most historically significant events is definitely a big one. The episode wastes no time in establishing that they aren’t actually looking to disrupt the timeline and are only looking to make big enough waves to entice Evil Gideon and her Robo-Legends to come to them so they can steal their Waverider and put an end to this temporal road trip they’ve been stuck with all season.
In true Legends fashion it’s far from as simple as Nate’s abstract drawing would suggest and they run into a number of complications. They are almost immediately approached by the Proprietor (Timothy Webber) of a bar that sits outside the timeline called “The Fixed Point” where time travellers line up to try to prevent the assassination of Archdue Ferdinand while onlookers cheer their failure. According to the Proprietor time is a sentient force that will always intervene to prevent the disruption of fixed points in the timeline such as this so it’s impossible to succeed in altering this event. Naturally the Legends aren’t a group of people who accept “impossible” as a concept so they assume they can succeed where countless others have failed.
The idea of time having sentience and actively preserving the important historical details in order for reality to remain cohesive crops up in other properties. Doctor Who talks about fixed points and has built stories around whether they can be altered or not and the 2009 Star Trek film runs with the suggestion that the universe works to repair the damage by bringing the characters together and putting them in the right place. That isn’t suggested in the film itself but the writers detailed in interviews that they were working to that idea. It’s an interesting idea and it makes sense for this show to tackle it especially with The Flash introducing sentient forces. It turns out there’s something else entirely at play but the idea itself is interesting.
Sara takes the lead on trying to alter history because her invulnerability means she can make repeated attempts with no real risk to her. The montage of her failures is excellent with great use of the different stages to the assassination as well as Sara’s skills. The team acting as a cheering section reinforces the familial dynamic that exists among the Legends.
This plot is designed to explore the idea that Sara is approaching burnout. It was something raised comically in the previous episode and carries into this one in a more serious way. The current circumstances have thrown her because she feels that she has failed the team by losing the safety and stability offered by the Waverider. Instead they stumble through time with no idea how to tackle the next problem and increasing uncertainty over whether getting back to what they consider normal is possible. As one of the Captains Sara shoulders the responsibility for this predicament along with resolving it. She isn’t used to having no idea how to proceed so is plagued by self doubt and sees her failure to prevent the assassination as being completely off her game. In short this episode is about Sara getting her groove back and she most definitely accomplishes it.
The setup sets up the need for an explanation of how the Legends would succeed where countless others have failed. Since the show follows them they have to bring something unique that hasn’t been seen before and this is accomplished through Spooner’s ability noticing a figure that nobody else does. On further inspection the mysterious figure appears and disappears almost without a trace which leads Sara to conclude that he’s able to freeze time. Curiously her first guess isn’t that a Speedster might be involved which stands out even more because it turns out that the person in question is -or was- one. Regardless of that nitpick this is a clear example of the Legends being unconventional and that leading to them being the ones best equipped to accomplish what was believed to be impossible.
It turns out that Eobard Thawne is the mysterious figure manipulating events. There’s no point in trying to track where this version is relative to his personal timeline because the writers of either show clearly have no interest in keeping that consistent but bringing him in for this reveal worked due to the familiarity that exists between him and Sara. It cuts down on the time explaining who he is though it is replaced with a half baked explanation of how he ended up in this role that raises more questions around the Time Wraiths than there were before. Are they controlled by something or someone? If so then what? Is time a sentient force that uses the Time Wraiths to maintain the timeline? All of this is raised and remains unaddressed.
Thawne and Sara’s conversation somewhat derails the momentum of the episode by slowing it to a crawl. Their conversation is engaging by itself and naturally reinforces Sara’s desire to protect her team and family by making sure they get back to where they’re supposed to be but after such strong pacing leading up to that point it stands out that everything becomes so still for a long period of time. Thawne making Sara promise to take his place if something goes wrong is undoubtedly leading to something in the coming episodes otherwise Thawne’s appearance is largely pointless.
Other characters have engaging content within the episode. Gideon learning that time is possibly a sentient force that takes action to maintain the flow of time opens her up to the fact that she doesn’t know everything. Prior to this point she has been secure that she has absolute knowledge of the timeline and how time travel works so the prospect of there being gaps in that is difficult for her to reconcile. The Fixed Point itself is something she had no knowledge of and she was content accepting that certain events were fixed points in history with there being no explanation as to why. When she is told that nobody can be expected to know everything it’s clearly something that hadn’t occurred to her before and she deals with this by drinking. Once she learns someone is behind influencing the events the world starts to make sense to her again but her mind is now open to the fact that she has knowledge gaps which marks another step on her journey towards being Human. Her dynamic with Gary also remains as charming as ever.
The show finally gets around to pairing Zari and Spooner up while acknowledging that it has never done so before. Their awkwardness as they desperately search for common ground was handled brilliantly The foundation of their conversation is that they are very different people with no overlapping interests which is why they’ve never spent any time with one another before this point. It’s notable it has taken this long to have this interaction though it’s an expected consequence of having such a large cast with well developed dynamics. Plugging the gap in this way is inspired and allows a new dynamic to begin.
Their conversation brings in a really meaningful revelation for Spooner that fleshes out her character in unexpected ways. One attempt to find common ground is for Zari to ask her opinion on the attractiveness of the rest of the team. She starts by assuming she’s into men then moving onto the women before Spooner admits she doesn’t have those sorts of feelings about people. This is something she attributes to alien interference and sees it as something being broken within her but Zari corrects her on that by telling her that it’s totally normal. Spooner is asexual which is nothing more than another acceptable possibility when it comes to defining yourself. It’s clear a weight is lifted when Spooner has a word for what she once considered to be a failing and sharing that with Zari connects them in a very profound way. In terms of content this is treated a fact of life with no fanfare which is in line with the general approach this show has to similar things.
Ava and Gwyn start looking into a way to save Alun while making as few ripples in the timeline as possible. It’s almost exactly the opposite of what Sara and the others are doing though the motivation is very different. A connection is drawn between the two plots through Gwyn being proud that his invention resulted in a bar where time travellers could congregate. In a way his work brought people together and gave them purpose which adds extra value to what he did.
It turns out the only way to save Alun is for Gwyn to have no knowledge that it happened so that he is motivated to invent time travel in the first place. In order to save the man he loves he has to preserve his own misery for the greater good. It’s certainly a noble sacrifice though the knowledge that it may have a happy ending makes accepting it more palatable.
Added to this is Gwyn’s complicated feelings around his sexuality and how it relates to his faith. He talks about his religion condemning same sex romances and that he feels he is being punished by God for pursuing one. Ava being in a same sex marriage is ideally placed to have an opinion on the perception of such a relationship and assures him that love is love regardless of gender and that Gwyn shouldn’t feel any shame for how he feels. She does acknowledge her lack of understanding in regards to Gwyn’s faith though it’s odd that she still comments on the notion of a higher being condemning love in any form.
It’s a very complex issue because those who don’t follow a faith -such as myself- struggle to understand the mindset of those that do. Ava isn’t really in a position to interrogate Gwyn’s beliefs because she doesn’t understand them but at the same time it’s self evident that loving someone of the same gender isn’t something that is problematic so this creates an internal conflict that seems to have no resolution. It certainly represents an impasse between Ava and Gwyn founded on their shared inability to truly understand where the other is coming from though Gwyn does at least begin to accept that his feelings are natural and that he isn’t being punished for having them. The intricacies of religion and belief are a touchy subject and not one I’m sure this show is equipped to explore properly though Gwyn presents a unique opportunity to lean into that complexity.
The abrupt ending sets up the Legends facing off against their robot counterparts and the possibility of restoring some sense of normality to their lives. Thawne’s deal is hanging over Sara and will almost certainly be a fixture in the coming episodes but a victory has been achieved. The conflict has been well built over the season so seeing it finally come to a head will hopefully be satisfying. As long as the focus remains on the characters then the climax of the season won’t go too far wrong.
A strong episode that provides an excellent showcase for Sara as she gets her groove back, fleshes out Spooner in unexpected and profound ways while continuing Gideon’s journey towards Humanity. Sara approaching burnout and being uncertain about how to proceed has resulted in her being plagued by self doubt. In the end she gets her groove back with the help of her found family. The episode sets up the Legends having to bring something unique with it being established that what they’re trying to do is considered impossible. Spooner’s ability helps as does Sara’s history with Thawne. His appearance comes with a half baked explanation as to how he came to be in the role that he currently occupies and the momentum of the episode slows massively. Their conversation reinforces Sara’s concerns. A potentially compelling complication is set up though if it doesn’t pay off then it makes Thawne’s inclusion largely pointless. Running alongside this plot is Gideon coming to realise that she doesn’t know everything and would never be expected to. This realisation is specifically around time travel as she is made aware of details that escaped her before. This marks the next step on her journey towards Humanity. Her dynamic with Gary continues to be charming.
Pairing Zari and Spooner while acknowledging that this hasn’t been done before proves to be a delight. Their awkwardness as they desperately try to find common ground is played to perfection and fleshing out Spooner through the admission and acceptance of her identifying as asexual is handled brilliantly. It starts to forge a dynamic between Spooner and Zari while adding texture to Spooner. Ava and Gwyn looking into how to save Alun ends up raising a lot of complexities. One is around saving Alun and how that would impact the invention of time travel. Gwyn realises that preserving the timeline means also preserving his own misery so that he is still motivated to invent time travel. It’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make though knowing it eventually ends happily might make it more palatable. Added to this is Gwyn’s feelings around his sexuality. Same sex relationships are counter to his religious beliefs so he feels that he is being punished for pursuing one. Ava is on hand to advise him that his feelings aren’t wrong and a higher being wouldn’t pronounce judgement on anyone for loving someone else. Ava commenting on belief without understanding it is an odd choice and the issue is far more complex than this show will probably ever tackle but Gwyn accepting himself with Ava’s help was done well and his presence presents a unique opportunity to lean into the complexity of religious complexity.
- strong focus on Sara getting her groove back
- the fun failure montage
- the Fixed Point location as a concept
- Gideon realising that she won’t ever know everything and how that helps hour journey towards Humanity
- the charming Gideon/Gary dynamic
- acknowledging that Zari and Spooner have never interacted one on one and making that the story
- the meaningful declaration of Spooner being asexual
- Gwyn’s willingness to sacrifice his happiness for the greater good
- the complexities around his faith and sexuality
- the episode losing momentum when Thawne appears
- Ava oddly commenting on Gwyn’s faith
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