While DC’s Legends of Tomorrow at times may struggle with certain storylines that leave us scratching our heads, something that the show does right is address certain moral issues in an intriguing way that only time travel can demonstrate.
This week’s episode, “Prodigy,” saw the return of the evil, immortal and wrongfully-touted intriguing villain Vandal Savage, who had his sights set on mentoring a future dictator in the Casnia conglomerate. This boy would be integral for Savage’s rise to power and the destruction of the world, including the deaths of Rip Hunter’s family (keep that in mind as we address the mortality of things).
But aside from the whole moral question that is: “Do we kill a child that we know is destined to help bring an end the world?” came other issues that centered around Mick Rory – and whether redemption is possible – Ray’s future and Kendra’s past, and the emergence of a new threat that’s certainly not going to make things any easier as the team attempts to stop Savage from destroying the world.
The thing with Vandal Savage is that this show is crippled with his presence. He’s a villain that should pose an insurmountable threat that is believable to the audience when in reality he’s not all that scary. It’s all fear that has been told not shown. If we hadn’t been glimpsed a shot of the future that Savage destroys, I would doubt that Savage was even capable of such a thing. But after this episode we saw that Savage wasn’t – he needed someone else to do the dirty work for him. Such a terrifying villain, am I right?
Let’s dive into the hot topics of “Prodigy,” which feature the moral issue posed with killing a child that is a future dictator, whether redemption is possible, when love isn’t meant to be, and how this new threat poses an even greater danger than Savage.
A Question of Morality
Legends of Tomorrow has tackled several controversial topics over the course of its first season, including the issues of racism, sexism, and sexuality, but in “Prodigy” we found our team introduced to a new kind of dilemma that left us equally stumped: What do you do when you find a child that is destined to be a dictator responsible for the end of the world?
When this question was raised among the team it was Snart who stated the obvious: “You kill the bastard.” But this issue wasn’t as black and white as it may seem. When you’re fighting a war where death waits around every corner eventually you have to realize that it’s them or you.
Here’s the gist, a young boy named Per Degaton is destined to unleash an Armageddon virus that primes the world for dictatorship and Vandal Savage then snatches the power away from him. So our team is tasked with stopping this child from rising to power. Should be simple right? Wrong. Oh so wrong. Especially when there’s a child involved.
“Killing a kid. Not very hero like.” Well, Mick Rory might be a traitor, but he has some sense of morals and clearly recognized the issue here.
The fact that the team encountered this future dictator when he was a child definitely threw a wrench in their plan. They all had assumed that when they came across this future dictator that we wouldn’t necessarily be someone with a bedtime. Had this been an adult it would’ve been a no brainer in a sense. I doubt that any member of this team would’ve voted against killing him. Eventually.
After Snart’s suggestion to kill this boy, Stein and Ray verbalized their disagreement. There was no way they could kill a child. That makes them no better than Savage. So the team agreed on kidnapping the child to ensure that Savage not get his grubby hands on him. So basically exchanging one sin for another. I see.
So they keep baby Hitler in a dream state where he dreams of baking cookies with his mother – no, I’m serious – as the team waits to see if them keeping the world clear of Per Degaton helps the future like it should. But it doesn’t, which prompts Rip Hunter to cross a line when he kidnaps Per Degaton without telling the team because he has every intention of killing him.
So we’re brought back to Rip’s own internal dilemma, which is responsible for this whole damn show: Rip will save his family. Whatever it takes. And that includes killing a child that didn’t appear to be much older than his son.
While Rip’s actions often tip toe the moral line, his intentions are never of mal intent. In his mind, Rip is doing what’s best for his family; he’s trying to save them. But he also is trying to save the other billions of lives lost that day. But at what point does Rip sacrifice the good within him – the good that his family believed in – in order to stop this war?
In Rip’s mind, killing Per Degaton is saving billions of lives and families, most importantly his own. So when he faces Per Degaton at a remote location – gun aimed and ready – Rip is faced with a decision that he believes is necessary. But Per Degaton sees it in his eyes; sees the hesitation; and he knows that he isn’t going to kill him. And he’s not wrong. Rip is able to maintain that sense of morality and not kill a child because he knows that he is better than that. So instead, Rip encourages Per Degaton to be something better. Be the man his father wants him to be, not the villain Savage wants him to be.
When all is said and done, Per Degaton’s destiny doesn’t change. In fact, it’s sped up in time, as we get a glimpse of him murder his father and take his place beside Savage. So everything the team did was all for naught. But the thing with heroes is that they don’t always win. They’re not heroes – or legends for that matter – because they always win; it’s because they never give up; never stop fighting; never stop looking for another way. And our team will get there. The right way.
Is Redemption Possible?
Redemption is an important theme in superhero stories – or in human stories for that matter. Despite everything that happens, can people really change?
The question of redemption was raised in two separate instances in “Prodigy” as we found the team wondering if Per Degaton could change his villainous ways (and change his destiny) and with Mick Rory, who had turned against the team. But it all came down to the same thing: Redemption is possible only if you want it.
Now, Rory and Per Degaton represented both ends of that spectrum. While we saw Rory initially fight this idea of redemption, he later embraced it; because he wanted to believe that it was possible. But with Per Degaton it appeared as if redemption was possible for the future dictator, and he chose to turn away from it and embrace his evil side.
Is redemption possible? We’ve seen it several times in this Arrowverse, whether it be Oliver Queen or Legends’ own Sara Lance – these dark souls that have battled back from the darkness to become heroes. The day redemption stops being relevant on these shows is the day that these shows cease to exist.
We saw Sara go to Rory to tell him that she believes that redemption is possible. Even in him. She’s living proof. But she also tells him that the team doesn’t think he can change. That’s why he’s locked up instead of standing beside them. So in order to prove that he is redeemable he needs to show it. Which is exactly what he did.
After Snart and Rory decided to have a battle to finish off that last fight – which would end in death – Rory got the upper hand on Snart and was prepared to deliver the death blow. Only he stopped himself. That hesitation, that decision to not kill his friend showed that Rory can be saved. The fact that he revealed the secret of a new threat of the team showed that he wants redemption.
Strap in folks, this is the beginning of Mick Rory’s road to redemption. And it’s going to be damn beautiful.
When Love Is and Isn’t Meant to Be
When it comes to love it’s either meant to be or it isn’t. When it comes to Kendra and Carter it’s always been meant to be. When it comes to Ray and Kendra it’s never been meant to be. How many warnings can you ignore until you open your eyes to the obvious and inevitable: when it isn’t meant to be, it isn’t meant to be. Oh, and if you’re lost, that’s intended for Ray and Kendra.
On Legends we have been introduced to a love story that transcends time – literally – with the reincarnated Kendra and Carter, who have found love in every lifetime. That’s not just something you introduce for the fun of it. It’s something that’s significant; it’s something that’s going to be paid off.
To be honest, Kendra and Carter’s relationship has been more intriguing to me than Kendra and Ray’s. I just haven’t felt what I think the writers wanted me to feel. I don’t believe it. Perhaps that’s because we were robbed of their development when the show left them alone for two years and didn’t show us any of that development. We were left to assume.
With Kendra and Carter it’s that tragic love that’s meant to be. They’ve found each other in every lifetime before. But what made their love story intriguing was that for the first time Kendra was questioning her destiny. She wanted to choose her fate. Ultimately she had chosen Carter, but it was too late when Vandal Savage killed him in front of her eyes. It was only then that she realized that she could’ve loved him. Again.
In this episode we were presented with yet another complication that essentially screams: Kendra and Ray are not meant to be. Kendra was having flashbacks to another life with Carter and their young son. Then you had Ray worried that he had a child out there that he never knew about.
For me this entire episode solidified why Kendra and Ray are not meant to be. They are different mindsets – and Kendra is still in love with Carter. She always will be. And yet it’s her asking Ray to not give up on them. Ray? Seriously? He’s the one that’s been fighting for their relationship while Kendra resisted – because she is still in love with Carter.
At this point I’m just waiting for one of these two to realize that they’re just not meant to be. And I really hope it’s Ray that figures that out.
A New Threat
When it comes to threats, our team of Legends is literally battling time itself, as well as an immortal villain who makes my eyes roll in the back of my head whenever he makes his presence known. But “Prodigy” introduced a new threat to the team which might actually prove to be more dangerous than Savage.
As his first act of redemption, Mick Rory revealed to the team that in his time with the time masters he learned that they had released a group to hunt them down, called the Hunters, and their mission to erase all of them from existence. Basically, they’ll never stop coming for them until every one of them is dead. So, obviously big problem.
The fact of the matter is that I’m more excited about this group of villains as the antagonists to our group of Legends than I’ve ever been for Vandal Savage. There’s a mystery about them, as well as a seriousness to the matter considering the time masters are responsible for their release. So in fact this is a two-headed monster is all the more intriguing, as well as a reminder that there are other viable threats out there other than Savage.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.