Many people are still up in the air about the latest addition to the Arrowverse on The CW, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Perhaps this episode was the deciding factor. Last week, after the crew aboard the time ship Waverider survived another near death experience, we heard they would be heading to 1986, but specifics weren’t exactly given. This episode picks up moments after the close of last week’s, with the team making the jump to their new temporal location. As usual, the legends are tested in new ways and more is learned about some of the characters. To find out more, keep reading, but be warned, there are SPOILERS from here on out. Read at your own risk!
The episode begins with the team plotting to break into the United States Pentagon circa 1986. For a nice change of pace, each member actually has a part to play in the grand scheme. Ray and Leonard are posing as janitors, while Sarah and Kendra are posing as part of the armed forces. Mick is the distraction element, as he arm wrestles another service member. Professor Stein and Jax are waiting to create a power surge as Firestorm. Things seem to be going well, but then Kendra looses her cool and goes full blown harpy on a passerby. Sarah, who is not particularly known for her control, manages to restrain her, but everyone goes into defense mode and their cover is blown. They do, however, manage to escape with the top secret file they came for, on the secret Soviet weapon Vandal Savage is currently working on. The file lists Valentina Vostok (guest star Stephanie Corneliussen) as the top physicist working on the project.
The team then travels to the Soviet Union to try and gain intel on Savage’s plans, and thwart them if possible. To do this, Ray volunteers to seduce the information out of the gorgeous and exceedingly intelligent Vostok. How, you may ask, as Ray cannot speak Russian? By the aid of ingestible translators. Yes, translators that when swallowed attach themselves to your vocal cords and allow you to speak and understand any language without even realizing it. Nifty. However, because he’s an absolute doofus on this show, despite being rather charming on Arrow, he fails humorously and miserably. Lucky for him, his wingman is Leonard Snart, playing himself, the consummate bad boy. Vostok immediately falls for him and invites him into her apartment. He declines to Ray’s shock (because Ray is reduced to being a creepy voyeur), but only because he has already stolen her access card, as well as her wallet. Because the opportunity knocked and Snart can’t help himself.
While this is going down, Rip takes Mick with him to investigate a temporal anomaly that Gideon has discovered. They assume it is Kronos, because the badass bounty hunter is back on their trail. However, it turns out to be Zaman Druce, Rip’s mentor and fellow Time Master. Druce promises Rip his sins will be forgiven if he only gives up his mission and returns to the Time Council. His team will be returned to their original timelines, and no one will be harmed. Naturally, he is full of crap and has every intention to kill Rip, but Mick realizes this and gives him the heads up. Rip leaves and comes back with Firestorm, ready to kick some butt. They do, but Jax gets hurt in the process. Professor Stein yells at him and takes an emotional swing at him, sure that it’s the only way to get through to him.
Meanwhile, Sarah has been instructed by Rip to mentor Kendra. This doesn’t seem to be a very sound plan, as Sarah is one step from being a psycho herself, but there you have it. Sarah, being of sound mind and all, decides that beating Kendra is the best way to draw out her harpy-like hawk goddess. She does succeed, but Kendra goes off on her, and in turn Sarah’s blood lust kicks in and she nearly kills her friend. Great call, Rip. You can’t tell which one is crazier. But supposedly his thinking is that two crazies make a sane.
After all of this fun, half of the team decides to break into Savage’s super secret Soviet lair and steal his plans. Once there, Professor Stein realizes Savage has been trying to recreate Firestorm. Desperate to keep that from happening, Stein takes things into his own hands, but he overestimates his abilities without Jax. Ray and Leonard try to help him out, but are instead caught by the beautiful and, it seems, evil Valentina Vostok. Leonard manages to get away thanks to Mick’s cool intervention, but is shot down when he asks Rip to send in reinforcements. The episode ends with half the team locked in an impenetrable Soviet gulag, and the other half pissed that they weren’t allowed to save them.
There was a lot going on this episode. And that may not be for the best. For a show that is still trying to find its footing, throwing too much at the audience may serve as a distraction, but not necessarily a good one. Yes, the characters are slowly being developed, but too slowly. To build a fanbase, the fans need relatable, fleshed out characters to get behind and root for. These aren’t there yet, and more time is being spent on creating outlandish plots that vaguely fit into history than on the legends the show is named for. The vote is still out on this one, and it seems people are pretty well split on it. This episode might be the deciding one for some. There was just something missing. It wasn’t captivating, and it should have been.
Where does the show go from here? It is certainly not a terrible one, and there have been far worse fourth episodes for shows that turned out to be great. Some things are working very well here. There is a clear tone, somewhere between the darkness of Arrow and the sugary feel of The Flash. The premise is great, too. A little Doctor Who, a little Guardians of the Galaxy. The special effects also deserve a solid two thumbs up. For a television show in general, especially one on a lower-rated network, the effects are better than one could hope for. The actors seem to be settling into their roles, too. The campy overacting of episode one is gone…or maybe now we’re just used to it.
But there is plenty of room for improvement. The pace needs to be picked up on character development. There still is no reason to care about Kendra, and Ray’s insecurities and lack of self esteem are starting to wear very thin. Mick is still incredibly one dimensional. Rip just seems like an ass. The writers have to come up with a way to solve these character issues. That alone could make this series a must-see. It’s not time to throw in the towel yet. Give it a few more episodes. This could be one that surprises you.
Tune in next week for episode five, “Fail Safe”, Thursday at 8pm ET on The CW.