This is a team in shambles, and that’s before half of them get captured by Soviet military scientists in 1986. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. The team blasts to Washington D.C., 1986. That’s the year that Mikhail Gorbachev introduces the world to the terms glastnost and perestroika. But before that, the Soviet Union welcomed Vandal Savage with open arms on the promise of building a weapon that would end the Cold War.
At the Pentagon, the mission to extract the secret files on Savage’s whereabouts sours. Stein and Jax bicker like… well, like an affluent, geriatric white man talking down to a young, black man. Alarms blare. Sarah and Kendra are stopped by military police. Kendra busts out the wings and red eyes (that’s new), then proceeds to make Sarah’s bloodlust look like nothing more than a blood-common-cold.
Back aboard the Waverider, blame is doled out. Ray urges the group to look at the positive (Mick: “Yeah. That was awesome.”). Now that they know where to find Savage, they can find out what the immortal warlord is up to and put an end to it.
We’ve got our mission. Roll that Legends theme music and logo.
In addition to dealing with whatever Savage has up his sleeve, Chronos and the headmaster from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Timemastery track the team to Russia and make Rip an offer. Turn yourself in and you’ll be pardoned for your time crimes. The members of the team will be returned to their homes. Mick tells Rip that it’s obviously a set-up, and he’s right. Rip, Mick, and Firestorm push back, forcing Chronos and the Time Master to retreat.
Their victory (if you can call it that… the Time Master and the bounty hunter are still out there) comes at a cost. Jax is injured, because he doesn’t really have a role on this show other than being the other half of Firestorm. Jax plays the “I didn’t agree to come along” card, even though he has continued to agree to go along with this plan to save the world in every episode since being roofied, so that made zero sense.
While we’re revisiting whiny character motivations, let’s talk about Kendra’s use (again) of the “two weeks ago I was a barista” complaint every time she’s asked to do something outside of her comfort zone. She has to be one of the most irritating characters on television right now. Even going feral didn’t improve her station all that much, especially when she is nearly killed by Sarah during their first training exercise.
I understand that the unspoken need is for someone to whip Kendra into an immortal-killing warrior priestess by the end of the season, and yes, Sarah is the best candidate to be Kendra’s Master Shifu. I understand that these two are yin and yang; one the barista who needs to become a warrior and one a warrior who needs to overcome her homicidal tendencies. I know these things, and they make rational sense, but they don’t feel right. I prefer Sarah in Black Widow mode, like she has been in the 1975. Not burdened with Kendra.
On the flip-side, Snart and Ray are a yin and yang pair that works infinitely better onscreen than Sarah and Kendra. Snart is smooth and confident. Cold and calculating. But not so cold that he’d willingly leave a friend or teammate behind. Ray is still the young labrador pup who piddles on the rug when he gets excited. The kind that’s never met a stranger. Anytime these two share screentime–which they’ve done a lot in the first four episodes–you have some of the best scenes in the episode.
Please, pull Sarah off of Kendra duty and let her run with Snart and Ray for a while.
To wrap up the first half of this two-parter, Professor Stein infiltrates the lab where Savage has Valentina Vostok working to create an army of Soviet Firestorm soldiers. Stein is able to remove the lab’s thermal core, but in doing so gets himself, Ray, and Mick captured and sent to the gulag. As Ray might say (if he hadn’t eaten the stock of a Soviet rifle), look at the positives. At least we still have Kendra and the useless half of Firestorm!
Be sure to check back next week when Sarah, Snart, and Rip save the captives while Jax and Kendra argue over which of them is the most irrelevant to the series. (Psst… it’s Jax. Kendra has to be the one to kill Savage, so she’s got that going for herself. Which is nice.)