So, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but The CW is spinning a new series out of the shared DC properties of The Flash and Arrow. They’re basically taking the B-list heroes and villains–who are very well cast, if you ask me–and giving them their own ensemble program in order to justify nabbing these actors and keeping them tied to these properties for a little while longer. I know… I wish they had promoted this new show a little more, too.
Okay, all snark aside, we here at GeekDad had mixed expectations and hopes going into the premier of Legends of Tomorrow.
“I’m hoping that they will break the trend of having crappy female characters. But that’s not what I’m expecting. I’d be really, really happy though if with that many females in the cast, they can actually break the mold and make them strong without having to fall back on the help of the male characters all the time.” — Will James
“I’m hoping for an Easter egg alluding to Arthur Darvill’s previous time-traveling.” — Matt Blum
“I want the fun that’s lately gone missing from Flash. There is a reason the first successful comic book was called More Fun Comics.” — Jim MacQuarrie
For me, I went into the premiere expecting spectacle. I expected The CW to burn a good-sized chunk of change trying to draw viewers into the program with all sorts of action and effects.
So, how did this first episode stack up?
The show begins in the year 2166, during the Second Blitz of London. Through voiceover, we learn that Vandal Savage and his troops have taken over the planet as we watch them lay waste to the city and the civilian resistance. Their last victims are a woman and her young son. In the moments after the boy watches his mother gunned down, Savage asks the child whether he is foolish like his father (who is absent from the scene) or brave like his mother. In response, the boy, Jonas, spits in Savage’s face, earning the boy his mother’s fate.
Rip Hunter addresses the council of Time Masters. He requests permission from the Time Masters to stop Savage and secure mankind’s future, making minimal impact on the past. The Time Masters don’t seem too keen on the idea. Nonetheless, with the help of Gideon, the AI program from the future, built by Barry Allen and last used by Reverse Flash, Rip takes off in the Waverider for modern-day Star City to put together a team that he’s had his eye on for a while now, in order to stop Savage.
I loved seeing Gideon back in action. That’s the one piece of future tech we’ve seen in this shared universe, so that was a nice bridge between the two shows. However, it also got me thinking. Reverse Flash had access to Gideon, so I’m guessing that Gideon is less of a unique program and more like Siri or Cortana. Now, an internet search reveals that Eobard Thawne was born in 2151, so he’d be ten years old during the Second Blitz of London. We don’t know much about the future from Thawne’s stint disguised as Harrison Wells, but we do know that he’s more than ten years old when he goes back and kills Barry’s mother. So, did Savage conquer the world in Thawne’s future? Did Rip succeed and change the future? Is there a paradox a-brewing?
Rip assembles his team from across the world. Ray Palmer from Star City, Sarah Lance from Tibet, the Hawks from St. Roch, Firestorm from Pittsburgh, and Captain Cold and Heatwave from Central City. What immediately stands out are that two of the team members were dead or considered dead (two and a half, if you count the time Professor Stein went missing) and two are criminals. Rip feeds the assembled the line we’ve all heard by now… while they may not all be heroes, in the future they are all legends. The show takes it a step further, with Rip pointing out that in all of time, he chose these eight in particular to stop Savage and save the world.
And no one asks, “Really? Why us in particular?” In fact, before anyone gets the chance to really ask any questions, Rip bounces out and tells those who are on board to meet him at a particular location in 36 hours.
Next, we get a montage of each potential member of the team going through some degree of conflict over whether or not to take Rip up on his offer. Trusting Ray asks cynical Oliver Queen what he thinks and reinforces that this is Ray’s chance to make his life mean something after his old life didn’t. Sarah reminds her sister, Laurel, that she is still feeling the effects of the Lazarus Pit and doesn’t trust herself to join the team. Laurel pushes Sarah to go and not fight from the shadows but in the light of day, without a mask. Kendra, whose life has been turned all sorts of upside-down in the past couple of months, would rather run from Savage than run toward Savage, while Carter thinks that this might be their best chance to rid themselves of their millennia-old enemy. Rather than sit down and work out their differences, the two engage in fisticuffs, with the winner making the decision. As if creepy stalker Carter wasn’t enough (remember when he pushed Kendra off of the roof of a skyscraper?), now we have creepy violent stalker Carter. World’s worst soulmate. Mick isn’t so keen on joining until Snart points out that with a time machine at their disposal, the two can commit crimes and take valuables before they are ever even valuable.
Wait, if they steal the Mona Lisa right off of Da Vinci’s easel, thereby changing its history, then wouldn’t that negate its value? I mean, what would the painting be worth today if no one had ever heard of it? How would you prove it was an undiscovered work by the original artist if there was no one to verify it as such? That’s not a good plan at all, Lenny!
Finally, we have Stein and Jax at odds. Stein is more than intrigued, he’s obsessed with the possibilities of time travel. Jax wants no part of it. What’s half a hero to do when his other half refuses to answer the call? Roofie him, of course!
Everyone shows and the crew boards the camouflaged Waverider. They no more than take off when a masked bounty hunter named Chronos arrives in pursuit of Rip. Unfortunately for a couple of dudes who are “not integral to the timeline,” Chronos has no problem with collateral civilian casualties.
While Gideon can’t pinpoint Savage in the past, Rip has a lead on a Professor Boardman (who we saw on video during the two-part The Flash/Arrow crossover event back in December) who is living in St. Roch–where the Hawks were picked up–in 1975. Upon arrival, Rip takes Ray, Stein, and the Hawks with him to meet with Boardman a mere 24 hours before his death. Boardman recognizes the Hawks, Kendra in particular, and tells the backstory of Chay-ara and Khufu. Stein is not impressed with Boardman’s knowledge of Egyptian mythology. Boardman explains that he got the story first-hand from his mother after World War I. His mother, who in a previous incarnation, was Chay-ara.
Maybe I just didn’t catch it, but did Boardman ever say that the incarnation of Khufu was his father? Before Carter intruded into her life, Kendra had a thing goin’ on with Cisco back in Central City. Khufu/Carter certainly seems like the stalker boyfriend type who keeps turning up like a bad penny, but I wonder whether Chay-ara ever gets away from him and has her own life and family before Khufu invariably turns up. Boardman says that Savage killed both of his parents when he was just ten, but he didn’t have a photo of his father and he didn’t seem as drawn to Carter as he did Kendra. Had Khufu been Boardman’s father, how easy would it have been to insert him into the photo of Chay-ara and Boardman at the World’s Fair? Something to ponder.
While the varsity squad is chatting with Dead Professor Walking, the bench warmers decide to head out for a drink, leaving the recently roofied and here against his will Jax behind on the Waverider. The bar scene that escalated into a barroom brawl is probably the single most fun scene of any of the shows in this shared TV universe so far, and I really hope we have more moments like this in future episodes. Well done!
Still moping around and trying to hijack Gideon into taking him home, Jax and the Waverider are attacked by Chronos. Stein feels that Jax is in danger and the varsity squad heads back to help him, bringing Boardman along with them. Most of the group’s weapons and powers are ineffective at stopping “Boba Fett”… so it’s a good thing that the brawlers found someone to loan (ahem) them a car. Boardman is injured and brought aboard the Waverider and the team hides out in a temporal limbo while Rip and Gideon make repairs and Boardman dies in the med bay.
Rip whines and complains about bringing Boardman on board the ship, which makes absolutely no sense in light of the revelation to come. After the ladies help loosen Rip’s tongue, we learn that the little boy, Jonas, was Rip’s son. This isn’t some noble endeavor to save the world. This is Rip’s personal vendetta–either to somehow change the future and prevent his son’s death or to get revenge on Savage for causing Jonas’ death. The bounty hunter is after him because he didn’t have the Time Masters’ permission to take the Waverider and stop Savage. The team wasn’t assembled because they were the best equipped for the task (in a world that has Green Arrow and The Flash, both of whom were able to stop Savage before, you’d have thought someone on this team would have figured this out by now, mind you) but because they were the most expendable. Should they go off the grid for a time or even get killed, their deaths would have no significant impact on history. That must be why the formerly deceased/presumed deceased and the criminals were chosen. Poor dragged-along Jax. They guy wanted no part of this, and here he is with a bunch of nobodies.
Which makes it weird that Jax is the one member of the team most enthusiastic about staying, right? In spite of their misgivings and sulking about how in Rip’s future, they are nobodies of consequence, everyone agrees to help out. If they can change the future, then they are changing their own destinies. Rip warns them that not only are they working against Savage, Chronos, and whatever else the Time Masters throw at them, but they are working against time itself, because time doesn’t want to change.
With the team and the rules of the game introduced, it’s off to Norway, 1975, where Savage has acquired a nuclear weapon.
Well, what did you all think of the premiere episode? Did it live up to your expectations? No wink at the audience about Rip the Time Master being played by Rory the Doctor’s companion. There were moments of fun (that bar fight!), but overall the dark tone feels more Arrow and current season The Flash than the more fun first season of The Flash. If we get (and keep) a Sarah Lance who is similar to Arrow season two Sarah, then we’ll certainly have at least one strong female character with her own complex motivations and doesn’t need to play the damsel in distress. I’m not sold that Kendra will evolve into such a character. Freeing her from domineering Carter would certainly help. Only time will tell.
Going forward, I really hope we get to see these different characters shine in their own spotlight episodes. When benching Sarah, Snart, Mick, and Jax in 1975, Rip tells Sarah that her particular skills are not required… yet. I want to see an episode where Sarah shines. I want to see an episode where Mick steals the show. I want to see different pairings and groupings within this larger team having to work together and how their relationships inform the action. I think that will be the key to this show’s success. Make it a show about the relationships and let those relationships inform the action. Don’t just move the pieces around the chessboard because the plot needs this character to move from Point A to Point B at just the right time so that a particular plot contrivance can occur.
I really hope that the writers and producers use the time travel McGuffin to explore the fringes of the DC universe. We’ve seen recent reports that Jonah Hex will be coming to Legends of Tomorrow. To quote GeekDad Jim MacQuarrie:
“I want to see a WWI story with Enemy Ace (including some Russ Heath homages in the dogfights); I want to see WWII with the Creature Commandoes, the Unknown Soldier, the Losers; I want to see future stories with Space Cabbie, Tommy Tomorrow, Kamandi and the Legion of Superheroes, a western with Tomahawk, and a caveman story with Anthro. Another caveman story that brings Simon Stagg’s caveman Java to the present. That’s for starters.”
With so much opportunity and what I assume will be an overall positive reception to the series premiere, I hope we see the team behind Legends of Tomorrow really get creative and explore the far corners of the DC universe timeline in ways that help us all to explore these characters and what it means to go from being inconsequential to history to becoming a legend.
What are your thoughts? What did you like about the season premiere? Was it what you hoped it would be? What are your hopes and expectations for the show going forward? Let us know in the comments.