This week on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter and his gang are still stuck in 1975 as they wait for Kendra to recover in the med bay. They’ve jetted over to Zeipzig, Germany for the time being, however, and are taking a moment to reassess. This episode, entitled “Blood Ties”, is about both the bonds of family as well as actual, you know, blood. We get a deeper look into the crazy that is Vandal Savage, as well as some further peeks into the backstories of the team. If you haven’t watched the last few episodes, STOP HERE! SPOILERS will be rampant from here on out. You’ve been warned.
After a brief flashback to 1700 BC Egypt, the story essentially picks up right where it left off. Kendra is in the med bay recuperating from her near death encounter with Vandal Savage, and they cannot make a time jump because that would finish her off for good. So they are still stuck in Europe in 1975. Rip Hunter makes a big speech about how they are a team and the show must go on, surprise surprise. That man loves to hear himself talk, doesn’t he. He does mention that he’s seen “men of steel die and dark knights fall”, and that was a pretty great nod to DC’s golden children. But otherwise, it’s the same speech, different day.
As Kendra continues to worse, despite the futuristic treatment she is receiving, Professor Stein discovers that there are shards of the dagger that Savage used racing toward her heart. There is no way to get them out, except for Ray to shrink down in his Atom suit and zap them to smithereens. Think of that one episode of Rugrats when they shrunk down to get a watermelon seed out of Chuckie’s stomach. That’s basically what you’re working with here. Ray, however, has an attack of insecurity and bails. Poor Ray. His whining is starting to get really old. He succeeds in the end, though, after a pep talk from the professor who doesn’t remember mentoring him. He also makes a hilarious Titanic reference (Victor Garber played the shipbuilder in the iconic 1997 film).
Meanwhile, Rip and Sarah have gone to a super secure bank in order to steal all of Savage’s funds, thus derailing his diabolical plans for a decade or so. They’ve left Leonard, Mick, and Jax behind, as usual. While at the bank, Sarah realizes that it’s all a huge cover and they must be Savage’s cronies because of their scars, callouses, and a gun she couldn’t possibly have seen unless she has x-ray vision. Let the campy fight scene ensue! Sarah loses it, though, as her blood lust takes over, and Rip has to call her off the head minion. They need to pump him for info and can’t do that if he’s dead.
While they’re off kicking butt and taking hostages, Leonard and Mick convince Jax (who has learned how to pilot this space age vessel by reading the manual) to jet a carrier ship over to Central City so that they can steal a priceless emerald. Jax takes very little convincing because, while he wants to do the right thing, let’s fact it, that sounds like way too much fun. The heist goes off without a hitch, and we learn the true motive behind the theft. Leonard gives it to his 1975 dad so that he won’t get arrested attempting to steal it and end up in Iron Heights prison for five years. Apparently it is after his return from prison that he starts to be an abusive dirtbag. Before he hands off the gem, though, he has a very touching conversation with his toddler self, that shows off his heart of gold just a little more. And also makes one wonder how freaking old he is, because he sure doesn’t look like he’s in his 40s.
On their way back to the main ship, they get an SOS from Professor Stein asking them to go save Rip and Sarah, who have gotten themselves into quite a pickle at some fancy gala. The two had learned from the abducted lackey that Savage had Carter’s body and was planning to do something with it. Realizing said something could be nothing good, they naturally crashed the party. Dinner, dancing, crazy cult rituals. It’s all in a day’s work for these legends. Because, yes, there are some incredibly creepy cult activities going on. Vandal has discovered that if any of his followers drink the blood of the hawk couple, they can add an extra hundred years or so to their lives. Thus the mystery of Damien Dark’s extended existence is perhaps explained. We also learn that Rip tried and failed to go back in time and kill Savage back in 1700 BC. All of Savage’s followers know this, and that’s why Rip needs a team to do his dirty work for him. His cover is too blown.
Before Savage can properly kill the two, Jax, Leonard, and Mick come crashing in, cold and heat guns blasting. Without Professor Stein to meld with, Jax is reduced to tackling and punching people. And somehow, despite the fact that these are supposedly trained assassins and he is a 20 year old auto mechanic, he takes out several. The day is saved, though, all around. Kendra is happy and healthy now that shards of death aren’t making their way to her heart. Everyone who isn’t named Carter is alive and fairly unharmed. Unfortunately, though, Leonard wasn’t able to alter his dad’s future. Turns out he ended up getting arrested when he tried to hock the emerald to an undercover cop. Idiot. Changing the future, it would seem, is an awfully difficult business.
So, it’s getting better. It’s still pretty rough around the edges, but it’s definitely not dreadful. The acting is starting to feel less forced, and the campiness feels purposeful instead of a byproduct of awful dialogue. It’s still difficult to care for some of the characters, Hawkman and Hawkgirl especially. But other characters steal the show. Leonard Snark and Mick Rory kill it. They should have their own show. In fact, this should be their show. Rip is supposed to be the leader, but he is really immaterial. If he died, the show would be just as good if not better. The same can be said about the Hawkpeople (because, let’s face it, Carter will definitely be back). Sarah could be a great character, and so could Ray, but it doesn’t seem like the writers know what to do with them. They are probably aiming for sympathy, but that’s not where it’s landing. Ray is a mopey whiner and Sarah needs to stop trying so hard to be her sister. She’s more fun when she’s a little morally ambiguous.
The jury is still out on whether the door needs to be closed on this one. There is so much potential. The time jumps and myriad pop culture references are so fun. It’s campy, sure, but more and more it seems that it means to be. And that’s ok. So long as it figures its stuff out in the next few episodes. Because the internet is full of people for and against this show, and the numbers seem to be pretty equal. It won’t be able to survive unless it can pull some naysayers onboard the Waverider with the rest of the team. We’ll see.
Tune in for next week’s episode, where the team ventures to 1986 in “White Knights”, airing at 8pm ET on The CW.