Martin Stein and Valentina Vostok in Legends of Tomorrow

With a much shorter stay spent in 1986 as opposed to 1975, Rip Hunter’s team of Legends come together once again after being split off from last week’s cliffhanger and must devise an escape from the Russian gulag.

In essence there were four moving parts here; Stein resisting the (honestly pretty weak) tortures of the gulag to prevent the spread of Firestorm, Ray and Mick attempting to survive, Rip organizing Sara and Leonard to break in, and Kendra and Jax attempting to make it off the bench. Given how so far in the short run of this show so far, there have already been several instances of “We’re a team, we need to all work together!” has been an issue, it’s rather odd that Rip would decide to bench Kendra and Jax at all. Yes, they are the most valuable to Savage and letting them get captured is easily a worst-case-scenario, but splitting the Legends up is what got half of them captured in the first place.

Ray Palmer and Mick Rory in Legends of Tomorrow
It’s a trial-by-fire for Ray and Mick (as well as an opportunity to show off their chiseled bodies.)

Considering the lively presence Ray carried with him in Arrow, it’s understandable that the eccentric behavior of the local billionaire playboy is accentuated here in Legends of Tomorrow, though it teeters on the brink of buffoonery. His bumbling saunter through the gulag spelled out his inevitable beatdown more than anything at all. The audience knew it was coming just as much as Mick did, which makes his inaction rather understandable. Giving the two time to grow together in the pits was heavily reminiscent of Ray and Leonard’s bonding in the past, especially with Ray noting that the only difference between them is their definition of “a big score.” Despite being foolish in his behavior in the open, it prepared Ray to make the sacrifice in enduring the punishment for Mick, when Mick refused to fight to prevent Ray’s beatdown earlier. This fits with his stupid bravado, as well as showing that even though he had already gone through quite enough punishment, he’d rather take the brunt of it than share with his less caring comrade.

Then there was Rip’s secret task for Sara: if Stein cannot be saved, then the future still can be, but only if he dies. A tough choice to be sure, but the kind of call you would expect at this point from Rip, possibly even the kind of choice Stein would offer in his position. Do you kill a friend to save the future? It poses an effective moral dilemma for Sara, who is trying to avoid being the killer she believes she is on the inside, though she is the best one for the job. Having Leonard be the voice of moral reason, the angel on her shoulder, is yet another excellent subversion of tropes for the character to play. Oddly contradictory however, was his insistence that you never leave your own guys behind yet he was the one pushing for Mick to let Ray fend for himself. Yeah, he got him the Atom suit so when he wakes up he should totally be fine, but you can’t just pick and choose in which situations it’s ok to leave people and when it’s not. This picking of favorites from among the Legends is one of the few things left that keeps Snart from seeming like too much of a hero, and it’s one of those flaws in character that doesn’t hinder the storytelling so much as it raises a couple eyebrows.

Sara Lance and Leonard Snart in Legends of Tomorrow.
One of these is a superhero and the other a supervillain, yet the code each of them follows might not be what you’d expect.

Rip’s standoff with Savage was a fun highlight of the dance through time that the two have played. The payoff from stealing his watch in the third episode to here cemented Savage’s vengeance and desire to truly hurt Rip. It’s an interesting catch 22 in that Savage hurting Rip is what causes Rip to go back in time and attempt to murder Savage, and Rip going back to murder Savage is what causes Savage to want to hurt rip. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Detonating the charges right next to Savage was cute if nothing else, considering that it couldn’t kill Savage anyway, and the whole place went up in nuclear fire mere moments later from the merging of Martin Stein and Valentina Vostok. This was a cool setpiece, though considering how difficult it is to find a suitable Firestorm companion the odds seemed ridiculous (slightly subverted in that Stein pointed this out but she did not appear to give a shit, and went for it anyway.) Not having the DNA splicer, her going critical at the end was an inevitable conclusion to the saga, though rather curious in how it didn’t happen until after Stein broke free from the Firestorm matrix. Blowing up all the whole facility with a nuclear explosion is an effective way of closing out the storyline and ensuring that none of the Firestorm research made it past 1986 and into the future, though a bit unfortunate for all of the inmates at the gulag. RIP.

Then there was the arrival in 2046. While the reasoning for their crash-landing there due to an attack from Chronos’ was contrived as all hell, it will lead to some excellent tie-ins to the rest of The CW’s Arrowverse and give the Arrow cast alums some excellent room to put their screen-time and character development from before Legends of Tomorrow to good use.

For my review of last week’s episode, “White Knights,” click here.

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