‘Legends of Tomorrow’ 1×09 Review: ‘Left Behind’

Time travel can be a tricky thing. While we’ve gotten to experience it in different arrays on Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash there’s never a time when it won’t be confusing or have severe consequences.

Legends of Tomorrow returned after a torturous three-week break that left us wondering what was to become of Sara, Ray, and Kendra, who were literally, as the episode title says, “Left Behind” following the Waverider’s run-in with Chronos. We got the answer to that depressing question as we saw our three Legends were forced to accept that perhaps the crew was dead, they were stuck in 1958, and that they had to move on with their lives.

Once again this show excelled with the absence of its central big bad, Vandal Savage, who’s mere mention makes my eyes roll into the back of my head.

rolls eyes

“Left Behind” examined what happens when everything you know changes and you’re forced to adapt and move ahead with your life. While it was easier for one of our Legends, there were two that ultimately struggled with that. Until eventually our Legends were reunited with the rest of the team and not forced to live in the past. Literally. Because what fun would that be?

Stuck in the Past

For the three Legends stuck in the past – Sara, Ray, and Kendra – it was all about losing themselves in this time. While Ray was content with living life during this time – with Kendra – Sara and Kendra weren’t at peace being stuck in the past and losing themselves in the process. We saw Kendra keep that internalized while Sara decided to be proactive and sought out a place where she felt comfortable enough to move on.

While two years had ultimately passed for Sara, Kendra, and Ray, it had been merely minutes for those aboard the Waverider. This is something that obviously will have lasting repercussions for the three that had to live those two years and the experiences they had they’ll take with them.

One of the great things about Legends of Tomorrow is that this ensemble show has stressed the importance of this team as a team. This isn’t just about one person and every single member matters. They need the team just as much as the team needs them.

Sara Returns to Her Roots

The thing about being stuck in the past was eventually realizing that you couldn’t keep waiting around for something to happen that obviously wasn’t going to. That’s something that Sara realized from the start, and it took ten weeks of playing house with Ray and Kendra for her to realize that she needed to move on. Also that she didn’t belong here. So she went to the place that, while not the morally just place she’s known, was somewhere that she felt like she belonged: Nanda Parbat.

No matter what point in her life Sara has always struggled with finding her place in the world. Following her crucible on Lian Yu and with the League of Assassins, Sara has grown up in a very real way. She’s someone who’s struggled with what’s right but always wanting to do the right thing. She’s someone who questions whether her humanity remains in tact and every day and every mission is a new challenge. She believes a part of her is broken.

Hold me

So when Sara sought a sense of belonging she went to the one place that she had felt that she belonged: the League of Assassins. This was interesting to see Sara join the League 50 years prior to when she first joined in 2008 – long before Nyssa’s existence but during the time when Talia al Ghul was a young girl (no, but seriously, was that just an Easter Egg or are we going to see more of her?)

But the more time that Sara spent in this time the more she lost the person that she had become – that while imperfect was someone who believed in what was right and sought that justice. Luckily Kendra was able to remind her of who she really was — White Canary — before she did some real damage or lost herself completely.

Sara’s development this season continues to be one of my favorite things about this show. She’s always been the female version of Arrow’s Oliver Queen although with different experiences they are both two damaged people that are fighting to be good. Oliver has achieved that to some degree, but Sara is still working on it. But it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight; that’s what makes it intriguing, that’s what keeps us coming back for more. And I can’t wait to see where Sara’s story goes next.

Ray and Kendra’s Relationship Struggles

When it comes to relationships in any aspect the most important thing is development. It’s seeing the growth between two people as they grow into their relationship. But most importantly as a viewer we need to see that growth. That’s something that we just have not gotten with Ray and Kendra.

Ever since the Ray/Kendra pairing literally came out of nowhere with no build-up or explanation, I’ve been waiting for Legends to take its time to explore who these people are as individuals and then as a couple. With an episode like “Left Behind” teased to give us that exploration, I was left feeling even more confused about this relationship and wondering why Legends refuses to show us Ray and Kendra’s development as a couple.

Huh

This episode gave us some real insight as to where Ray and Kendra were in their relationship – the relationship that we never actually got to see evolve into what it was after two years. Ray and Kendra were both in two entirely different places in their relationship. While Ray was more than satisfied and content with their relationship – so much that we was ready to propose – Kendra was secretly praying for a return to their life aboard the Waverider. And while Kendra no doubt cares about Ray, it was clear that he cares more than she does.

But the thing that was disconcerting was the lack of development that we actually got to see on screen. I understand that this is a show featuring time travel that only lasts for 43 minutes, but we were essentially robbed of this relationship. It felt too rushed because it was, at least in television time. The art of the slow burn is something that has proven to be successful most of the time. It’s because of that gradual evolution.

While episode’s end resulted with the semi-happy couple passionately making out, it was very clear that these two remain at different points in their relationship. While Kendra really likes Ray and is committed to this relationship, Ray remains at that point where he’s ready to propose. And that’s not going to go away. Their struggles are only just beginning.

The Villain We Deserve

When it comes to Legends of Tomorrow the one significant flaw that the show has is the villain that it was built around: Vandal Savage. There is so much hype and focus on this guy who is more bark than bite that it really hurts the show more than it helps it. It’s the episodes where Savage isn’t the focus that really shine, and this one was no different.

But in “Left Behind,” we got a glimpse at an ally-turned-enemy when Rory revealed himself to be alive – after Snart didn’t kill him like most people assumed (I was not one of them) – and the one responsible for attacking the Waverider and trapping Sara, Ray, and Kendra in 1958 and kidnapping Snart for reasons that were soon made clear.

OHH

After Marc Guggenheim told us at WonderCon that we’d soon see that scene when Snart “killed” Rory in its entirety we just knew that Rory wasn’t dead. But I didn’t expect we’d see it so soon. While Snart may have joined this mission as a criminal and someone who didn’t seek to do any good besides that for himself and Rory, we’ve seen his character grow to be a part of this team – a team that he cares a lot about. So much so that he chose them over Rory. So in that scene after Rory threatened that only one of them would be getting out of there alive, Snart didn’t hesitate to pull his cold gun on Rory. Only he aimed to the right of Rory and decided to knock him unconscious instead of kill him, a choice that obviously in this present episode that he was seriously regretting. Snart chose to let his friend live instead of killing him, which shows both how much he cares for Rory and how much he’s grown as a person by not taking the easy way out. I remained confident that Snart continues to surprise himself with his decisions.

So apparently after Rory came to he was recruited by the time masters as a bounty hunter to track down Rip and the team and return them. But things have always been personal between Rory and Snart, as we saw in this episode. This pitted the former friends against each other as Snart stood behind the team and Rory behind the time masters. Their dynamic all season has been one that wasn’t quite what I expected but has easily become one of my favorite dynamics on this show. It’s their differing ideologies and their differing progressions of character that showed that some people can change while others could remain stuck in their old ways if they don’t actively choose to change. That, and the fact that the time masters had supposedly turned Rory against his team.

After the team was able to subdue Rory and bring him back to a contained area of the ship, we saw that there were two different views on what to do with Rory. While Snart remained convinced that he was a lost cause, Rip Hunter believed that they could find a way to undo what had been done to him. But the fact of the matter is that even before the time masters had gotten their hands on Rory that he was willing to betray the team while Snart was willing to protect them. Can Rory really be saved? I mean, what other reasoning do we have but to assume that yes, he can be saved. But if this universe has proven anything it’s that even the darkest of people can be redeemed. Now, whether Rory can be saved, we’ll have to wait and see.

But this episode showed me that Legends deserves a villain that is not only powerful but has a distinct motivation behind his actions. Basically anyone other than Savage, who is a laughable excuse for a villain that we’re supposed to believe was able to bring an end to the world. Really? This guy?

As if.

NEXT TIME ON ‘LEGENDS OF TOMORROW’

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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