Well, to everyone’s surprise, it seems this show is continuing its forward momentum. Although the first few episodes were shaky even by pilot standards, the last few have shown a steadily increasing quality. This one, “Night of the Hawk” is no exception. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the third series in the CW’s Arrowverse, a collection of television series that center around DC characters the Flash and the Green Arrow. While the other two shows each have only one title character, Legends has nine. Or had nine, the number has been decreasing slightly to a more manageable one. Because, let’s face it, nine main characters is way too many to care about.
In this episode, the remaining team members travel to Harmony Falls, Oregon circa 1958. They invade the sleepy town in search of Vandal Savage, and awaken things both in the town and inside themselves. Read on for more, but BEWARE OF SPOILERS! You’ve been warned.
The show starts with two beautiful cars from the 1950’s, each driven by some young and reckless teenagers. They have a race down the road, but one car careens off the road and into a ditch, extolling the dangers of drunk driving. In the ditch, the teens find not only a creepy meteorite, but an even creepier Vandal Savage. He is in this time period to find the meteorite, it seems, and is not exactly upset to see the kids there. In fact, he calls it “destiny”.
The gang is alerted to his presence in part by the news clippings they’ve read about a potential serial killer in the otherwise peaceful town. They develop a plan to infiltrate and fill the void left by some of the murdered citizens. Kendra and Ray are a newly married couple who has moved to the neighborhood. Professor Stein is the new doctor at the sanitarium (read: insane asylum), and Sarah is his nurse/assistant. Jax is the new kid in town. And Leonard and Rip are FBI agents investigating the string of murders. Rip affects an American accent for a hot second and it is hilarious. He’s spot on, to his credit, but it doesn’t sound anything like him. It could be dubbed, it’s so strange and different. Mick has been assumably killed off by Leonard, or at least been made to disappear.
The Legends all quickly realize they do not fit in here in conservative 1958 America. The new biracial couple in the neighborhood gets lots of stares, and everyone assumes that Kendra is the help. A fact which justifiably peeves the demigoddess. Jax is also stirring up trouble by being a charming young Black male who dares to talk to a White girl and stand up to the White jocks. Sarah finds a closeted lesbian nurse who is shocked and pleased to meet such a free and confident young woman, especially one who is also attractive.
It doesn’t take long, though, for them to find what they’re looking for. Savage, in fact, shows up on Ray and Kendra’s doorstep, casserole in hand to welcome them to the neighborhood. It seems he is one of the good doctors at the sanitarium, and his wing is the darkest and creepiest there. He only handles the murderers and other violent cases, apparently. Naturally. As Jax soon finds out, his “cases” are actually experiments. He, with the help of the evil town sheriff, has been kidnapping young men and injecting them with a serum from the meteorite, turning them into freaky bird-boys. They’re like a cross between the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz and something from Jim Henson’s workshop. Jax, while on a date with his pretty White friend, Betty, gets attacked by the creatures, and taken by the sheriff. Savage injects him and he becomes one of them. Oh no!
Meanwhile, Ray has stolen the mystical dagger from his immortal psychopath neighbor, and the team has developed a plan to help Kendra kill Savage. Ray has some reservations about this, but Kendra has found her sassy side, and won’t take no for an answer. It may be 1958, but this woman is modern and independent. Hear her roar. Or screech, or whatever hawks do. Naturally, this goes very wrong and she very nearly dies. But as a happy coincidence, Leonard and Stein are able to save Jax. The professor and Gideon work together to create an antidote for him, and they return him to normal before administering the cure to the other affected fellows.
It would be an all’s well that end’s well scenario, but as Sarah is saying goodbye to her lady love and Ray and Kendra are packing up from playing house, Kronos attacks the Waverider and even manages to come aboard. Jax insists on merging with Stein to create Firestorm, but the Professor hesitates due to his concern for the ship. In that moment of hesitation, Rip takes off, leaving Sarah, Ray, and Kendra stranded in 1958.
Legends really seems to have hit its stride. This episode moves quickly and plenty happens, but there is none of that overwhelmed feeling that surrounded the first few chapters. Also, like the CW shows of the 90s and early 00s, this episode tackles some relevant cultural topics, namely race and sexuality. With the Black Lives Matter movement fighting to rebuild the Black liberation movement, as well as the recent rulings on gay marriage, this episode feels very timely. The subjects are handled very well. Nothing feels preachy, in fact it feels very natural. A modern team of superheroes living in a small town in the 1950s would react and feel very much the way the team does in this episode. It would feel strange and backward, oppressive, even offensive. And that comes across.
In other news, what happened to Mick? No body has been shown, and Leonard is keeping mum on the subject. So, odds are he isn’t dead. But where is he? What happened? So many questions! It will be interesting to see how and when he and Carter are reintegrated into the team, because assumably they will be, right?
Also, Kendra was bearable this time. Yay! Both she and Sarah finally were written to have spines and do more than just mope and sulk. They are finally a full team with more than one dimension per character. About time! Of course, that doesn’t mean that next week won’t have the females being lame and awful, but here’s to hoping that isn’t the case. Ideally, the formula would consist of something kind of like Orange is the New Black or Lost, where each episode is character-centric, while still building the story and developing the team as a whole. It’s obviously possible, since other successful shows have done it.
If you’ve stuck with the show this long, congrats! You are starting to receive the reward you deserve, because it is definitely getting better. There isn’t much to criticize this time around, other than the questionable special effects for the bird-people. Although, when it comes right down to it, the bird-people were weird in and of themselves. Probably not necessary. And once Jax was turned into one, it was clear they’d find a cure. But other than that, this episode was stellar. Bring on more like it!
Tune in on Thursday, March 31 for the next episode: “Left Behind” at 8:00pm ET on the CW.