DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1 Episode 11
“The Magnificent Eight”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes the team to the Old West as they try to hide from the people hunting them.
Why do they hide in 1871 I hear you ask? Well the answer is quite simple; it’s a time travel show and no time travel show would be complete without a trip to the Wild West. There is some attempt to explain why they’ve come here but it’s very technical and, honestly, quite boring so it’s not worth paying attention to. I’m sure if I had the inclination I could analyse all of the rules around time travel mentioned both here and on The Flash and I’d come to the conclusion that the writers are making this up as they go and not taking notes of what they have already established. The basic explanation for traveling to any time period in this show is fairly simple and boils down to “because there needs to be an episode”.
Westerns aren’t my favourite genre so I was probably never going to get along with this episode the same way that fans of Westerns will. It had all of the tropes such as Whiskey that tastes like gasoline, a barroom brawl complete with piano music, a Wilhelm scream, using famous Western movie actors names as aliases and I’m sure many others.
There were some things I really liked about this episode. One of those was the Wild West take on the theme tune combined with a slow motion walk. Another was the appearance of DC comics character Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech). The entire purpose of this episode was to introduce him to this universe and he certainly made an impression. Johnathon Schaech did a really good job playing the character and had solid chemistry with everyone he interacted with but he really wasn’t used enough and the episode would have been largely unchanged if he hadn’t been in it at all. It’s a shame as it’s a waste of a good character but hopefully he’ll return in some form later now that he has been established.
Jonah Hex has met Rip before and knows all about time travel. It turns out that he and Rip are such good friends that Rip named his son after him. It is mentioned very early on that Rip is feeling guilty about something that happened on his last visit to this time period to the point where he refuses to leave the ship as he can’t face the people he let down.
We are left to stew over this for a while before the heartbreaking account of how attached to living in Salvation Rip was and had to tear himself away because of his duty to the time masters. The day after he left a gang tore through a nearby town and Rip left knowing that it would happen. He was torn between his desire to be a hero and his commitment to being a Time Master. The Time Masters are forbidden from interfering which doesn’t really combine with the opportunities the Old West provides to exercise the more heroic desires that people have. Arthur Darvill delivers his lines with real pain and regret in his voice. It also comes across that he and Jonah Hex have a history that largely goes unexplored.
Ray is loving being in this time period because he used to watch a lot of Westerns so the prospect of living one of them is exciting to him. Though, come to think of it when does he not find something exciting? His story has a few references to Back to the Future Part III such as becoming the main target for the villain of the piece. Ray takes it upon himself to be the hero and save the town which may not be the best idea due to the historical interference that they are always warned against. Seriously, why does Rip let them go outside if he doesn’t want the timeline changed?
There’s nothing exciting or dynamic about Ray’s scenes other than his traditionally heroic outlook and his determination to do what he thinks is the right thing. Brandon Routh plays the childlike excitement well and there are a few comedic moments that work but beyond that I wasn’t overly excited by it. I imagine it will appeal more to fans of Westerns so I’m very much the wrong audience for this sort of thing.
Martin’s role in the episode involves curing a young boy of Tuberculosis despite it not being treatable for many years. It’s similar to Ray’s role in the episode but there’s a bit more heart to it since he is concerned with saving the life of a child to spare his mother the pain of that kind of loss. Having the child turn out to be H.G. Wells was a really cheesy note to end this on but it’s interesting from the point of view that their interference is sometimes necessary. This was shown before when Sara ended up being responsible for Nyssa picking her up near Lian Yu. If the show developed the characters being part of events meaning they have to volunteer then it would be far better than the random asides that keep happening to suggest this. Another thing I couldn’t help thinking was that the name Wells is very important in this universe. It would have been more effective if Martin had saved the life of an ancestor of Harrison Wells to further link this all together.
We see a different side to Martin as he proves to be quite the expert gambler which surprises Snart. Martin tells him the tale of his father being into gambling and learning a few things from him but points out that it’s possible to take a different path from the one set out by your parents. This is especially poignant for Snart as he is still running away from his father’s influence.
I found Kendra’s contribution to be the most interesting part of the episode. She meets an older woman (Anna Deavere Smith) who causes her to have visions and it turns out that the old woman is an aged past incarnation of her. I liked seeing Kendra confronted with the person that she could become and have that terrify her due to the uncomfortable things she is told. There was no real resemblance between the two actresses which made it slightly harder to accept that they were the same person but the content was strong enough that I could overlook that.
Apparently it’s impossible to find love and happiness with anyone who isn’t Carter so she should give up trying as it always ends in heartbreak. This speaks to the fears that Kendra has been having and only serves to amplify her own doubts. Luckily Sara is on hand to encourage her to make her own mind up and not listen to the predictions of someone else. Kendra’s relationship with Ray may not be doomed to fail but there’s no point in assuming it will be.
Sara takes on the role of a sounding board for Mick as well. He is starting to settle back into the team but it’s still a tense situation. I like how differently Dominic Purcell plays him since the reveal that he was Chronos. There’s something eerie about his calmer and more subdued yet angry performance that works really. It really has changed his dynamic with the other characters. Sara is able to dig into that because she understands trying to return to humanity after being an assassin.
The episode ends on an ominous note after the Hunters are dealt with. It is revealed that the Time Masters have sent out the Pilgrim (Faye Kingslee) who is going after the team when they were children to stop them from growing into the people that they become. As plans go it sounds almost Terminator like so I’ll be interested to see what happens with that.
A solid enough episode that has some fun with the Wild West time period but enjoyment will vary depending on how much you like the genre. Jonah Hex was completely wasted in a role that could have been removed with little changes but there were some really good character beats from Kendra and Martin despite some cheesy time travel conveniences.
- Jonah Hex
- Kendra being confronted with her possible future
- seeing a different side to Martin
- too many Western tropes
- the underuse of Jonah Hex