Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 30, 2016)
A spinoff from Arrow and The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow provides a new entry in the DC Comics TV universe. This two-disc set includes all 16 of Season One’s episodes. The plot synopses come from the Blu-ray’s packaging.
Pilot, Part 1: “Time traveler Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) assembles a team of heroes and rogues to stop the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).”
When I look at two-part episodes, I wait for the second show to discuss my impressions. Skip ahead!
Pilot, Part 2: “When things go from bad to worse, Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) sets off with Sara (Caity Lotz) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh) to contact a brilliant man – his younger self (Graeme McComb) – much to Rip’s consternation.”
Unlike the other DC TV shows, Legends gives us a team with no precedent in comics. Actually, DC put out an anthology book with the same title, but it involved different personalities/situations.
So while Legends delivers familiar characters, it gives us a new concept/theme, which makes it interesting. The big question becomes whether or not a series that revolves around secondary roles can become involving in its own right.
That remains to be seen, but the “Pilots” set up the series pretty well. I like the fact it acknowledges the characters’ inconsequential nature, and it uses time travel in a fun manner. The series launches well.
Blood Ties: “In an effort to weaken Savage by going after his financial assets, Rip and Sara infiltrate his bank. Meanwhile, Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) and Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) take the jumpship back to Central City for a job.”
After a good start to the series, “Ties” seems a bit on the lackluster side. Some good action results, but the episode feels more melodramatic than I’d like. While not bad, the show doesn’t zing as well as the “Pilot” programs.
White Knights: “The team follows Vandal’s trail into the 1980s Soviet Union, where they meet nuclear scientist Valentina Vostok (Stephanie Corneliussen), but only Snart gets through to her.”
After the lackluster “Ties”, Season One bounces back pretty well with “Knights”. While it doesn’t use the Soviet setting as well as one might like, it still adds some good action and adventure. This becomes a fairly satisfying program.
Fail-Safe: “After some of the team are captured and thrown into a Russian gulag during the Cold War, Snart leads the team in an elaborate escape plan to free their comrades.”
Essentially part two of “Knights”, “Fail-Safe” moves along the material well. I like the combination of the naïve Ray and the gruff Mick, and other threads fare well. I could live without the cutesy reference to Prison Break - Miller and Purcell’s former show - but otherwise this becomes a good show.
Star City 2046: “When a malfunction sends the Waverider crashing into Star City 2046, the team faces a disturbing version of their own futures where they never stop Savage or return home.”
Ah, the post-apocalyptic future wasteland! Well, I guess it’s the only way to go – after all, if Legends showed a paradise, there wouldn’t be much motivation for action and drama.
At least “City” uses the dark, violent environment to its advantage. Granted, it doesn’t reinvent the post-apocalyptic wheel, and the series continues to borrow from Terminator more than I’d like – but “City” still works.
Marooned: “After receiving a distress call from a stranded timeship, Rip answers – despite the team’s warning that it could be a trap – forcing them to battle time pirates.”
With a lot of nods toward sci-fi adventures like Star Wars and Star Trek, “Marooned” gives us a lot of fun action. It also reflects a bit of emotion via Rip’s story, sentiment that avoids sappiness for the most part. “Marooned” packs a lot of zing.
Night of the Hawk: “The team tracks Savage to a small town in Oregon in the 1950s where he’s working as a doctor in a psychiatric hospital. Sara and Stein take covert steps to uncover his plan.”
“Hawk” mixes action, horror and a distinct Back to the Future vibe. That creates an appealing combination, even if some of the material becomes a bit cheesy at times. More good than bad results.
Left Behind: “When the Waverider leaves them stranded in the 1950s, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) bond as a couple, while Sara rejoins the League of Assassins and Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable).”
Rather than develop the Ray/Kendra romance in a conventional manner, “Behind” gives things a spin, as it allows them to be together for two years while they await retrieval by Rip. That’s a clever choice, one that allows matters to become much more involved than otherwise could be the case. This deepened connection acts as one of many good threads in this above-average episode.
Progeny: “In an attempt to save his family, Rip takes the team into the future to eliminate one of Savage’s allies. But he crosses the line when the team learns the target is a child.”
Everyone knows the philosophical time travel question: if you could go back and kill Hitler as a child, would you do so? “Progeny” gives that notion its own spin, though I can’t claim the concept adds much charge to the show. Parts of “Progeny” work well and the show does seem more introspective than usual, but it’s a little lackluster after “Left Behind”.
The Magnificent Eight: “The team needs a place to hide out, so Rip sets a course for the Old West. When they run afoul of an outlaw gang, Rip enlists his old friend Jonah Hex (Johnathan Schaech).”
Every time travel show needs to hit the Old West at some point, so “Eight” became inevitable. “Eight” has fun with the genre and becomes a mostly good episode, though some stale qualities emerge. It’s still largely successful.
Last Refuge: “The team is targeted by the Pilgrim (Faye Kingslee), a deadly assassin who wants to erase them from the timeline by erasing their younger, pre-superhero selves.”
As I mentioned earlier, Legends owes a major debt to Terminator - one that “Refuge” acknowledges. The episode manages to bring some life to the format, though, as it mixes sentiment and action well. Even with the potential pitfalls, the show succeeds.
Leviathan: “Rip takes the team to London 2166 when Savage is at the height of his power, where they discover Savage’s daughter (Jessica Sipos) and the means by which he can be killed.”
After a slow start, “Leviathan” develops into a good episode. Its second half packs a ton of action and creates intriguing story developments as well, all of which allow it to overcome its mediocre first half.
River of Time: “After the team successful captures Vandal Savage, his presence causes dissension among them as they determine if he should live or die.”
Much of “Time” follows an unusually introspective path, as it explores connections and motivations among the characters. This all winds up with exciting moments and the show blends the components to create a satisfying expansion of the season.
Destiny: “Rip and Rory are incredibly disturbed by the Time Masters, while Sara takes control of the Waverider and Snart decides that he might be a hero after all.”
With one more episode to go, “Destiny” ramps up the drama. It sets up the finale and gives us compelling twists to take us home.
Legendary: “Rip returns the team to Central City a few months after they left, so they can decide for themselves if they’re willing to risk everything.”
No one will claim that “Legendary” brings S1 to a neat and tidy ending, but it does finish things on a fairly exciting note. The show wraps up narrative elements and offers the requisite nod toward Season Two developments. That makes it a quality finale.