After its two-part pilot, Legends of Tomorrow comes right out of the gate with an episode that utilizes every member of its large cast to their full potential, and finally made Vandal Savage into the compelling villain he needed to be.
Just when it seemed like we were done with the Winchester level lies, Rip Hunter reveals to the Legends that gathering this team of misfits wasn’t his first attempt to end Vandal Savage; at one point he went to essential kill baby Hitler and slit Savage’s throat before he gained his immortality. He hesitated, showing signs of humanity and in the long term may have doomed the planet right then and there. Alluding to how accustomed he is to failure in both his attempts to stop Savage and in being a Time Master (having seen “men of steel die and dark knights fall” was a cool line) Having this sense of guilt in blaming himself for not having the will to go all the way to murder and contrasting it with Sara, someone who has to fight every second to resist the urge to murder is a beautiful compliment that worked wonders for their dynamic. Seeing how Legends of Tomorrow splits up its cast differently episode by episode to give different team members more bonding time is easily the strongest thing the show has going for it, and the dynamic these two had on display here was the best of the best.
Some of the other team relations don’t quite go off so smoothly. The forced dynamic between Martin Stein and Ray Palmer is exactly that; while them bonding makes logical sense due to their scientific background, Stein’s headstrong nature and continued subtle manipulation of those around him just makes him seem like a dick. Are we supposed to be confused that Ray rebuffs his advances? Because I’d do the same. Going from “I don’t remember you in my class” to “I lied! You were my star pupil!” to “JK I have no idea man” was not only a rude move on his end, but a lazy approach in the writing.
Considering their prolonged stay in 1975, another avenue of attack on Savage needed to be devised: his wealth. This made for an interesting reason for Rip and Sara to team up and explore their bond, but it also revealed more about these people who Savage has working for him. We saw the scientists last week, but why do they care so much? Now it fits. The idea of having a cult worship him as a god makes sense, and could easily be passed through generations, but having him be able to share bits of his immortality with his followers is particularly powerful. Exactly how strong this immortality is (simply just negating natural aging, or harm immunity) remains to be seen but it makes him out to be a far more imposing threat on the world. The ferocity in his followers and the deep seeded connections seen here to various other forms of criminal organizations let us know that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Understanding how by 2166 he has an army capable of conquering the planet isn’t quite so far fetched now. His interactions with Rip in the ceremony room were savage (yes, I will say that every chance I get) and demonstrated just how lightly he takes everything. Killing Rip’s family is a joke to him. He laughs it off and looks forward to it. He has no fear, rather understandably so, and because of this he treats every threat that approaches him like a fun little game. Even pulling the whole cliched “I have the heroes cuffed up and dead to rights, but I’m going to parade them around, spill all my secrets, and THEN try to kill them!” isn’t quite as eye-roll inducing due to the way he acts about the whole situation. Seeing Captain Cold and Heat Wave burst into the room he begins to smile. He relishes in the chaos. It may have taken him a bit, but Casper Crump has finally found his footing in the role.
All of this is without mentioning the most intriguing aspect of the episode however: Leonard Snart. At first the way he and Rory bully Jax into letting them take a time traveling spaceship for a joyride just seems like a dumb excuse for the antiheroes to do more antiheroing while the rest of the Legends actually contribute to the team effort, but in the end it turned out to be a poignant introspective look into where Snart stands on not only this concept of becoming one of these Legends and making the future a better place, but trying to make his own past a better place for his family. Seeing him kneel down and comfort his ten year old self, knowing full well exactly what that poor little boy is feeling on the inside, was far stronger than it should have been with a character like this. Seeing it all be for nothing is truly sad however. Despite the massive ramifications it could have on the timeline, you WANT Snart to have a better childhood. Knowing that in 2015 he ends up shooting his father dead anyway sort of gives closure to this idea, and at the very least he knows that he did everything he could for his family.
For my review of the previous episode. “Pilot, Part 2” click here.