One of the most frustrating aspects about DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has been its inability to provide consistency when it comes to the story. Something we’ve seen over these past few episodes has been a storyline dragged out for too long with characters that once appeared to be rather intelligent reacting in a way that is out-of-character if only to drag this Savage story along. But I understand because there are still two episodes remaining in what’s been a rough first season.
That frustration was not more evident than in this week’s episode “River of Time,” which found immortal evil bad Vandal Savage imprisoned upon the Waverider. Not dead like he should’ve been. Just alive and messing with everyone’s head that came to talk to him. Whether it was a nod to Laurel’s death (which Sara is still in the dark about) or Savage provoking a side to Ray we haven’t seen before, which caused him to do the stupidest thing possible and let Savage escape, Savage got exactly what he wanted when they didn’t kill him. He relished in being imprionsed and getting to taunt those that stood on the outside. He knew Rip’s plan from the beginning.
But then there were some highlights in this episode, which included a couple of heartfelt flashback scenes with Ray and Felicity, as well as Sara and Nyssa, which showed us the true strength of this show: the characters and the reason they’re on this mission in the first place.
But Legends of Tomorrow continues to remain frustratingly addictive with its approach. While it angers me to no end it’s also doing a good job of keeping me glued to the screen because I just need to know how this ends once and for all. The only thing saving me at this point is knowing that Vandal Savage will be no more come season two as they’ll have a new foe to battle. Speaking of…
Let’s get this straight: None of this would be happening if they did what they set out to do, which was to kill Vandal Savage. They’ve had not one, but multiple opportunities to put Savage down and rid the world of his presence. But instead Rip Hunter and Kendra Saunders are both guilty of letting his keep breathing and risking everything that the team has worked so hard to fight for. But I understand why: there are two episodes left this season. That’s basically it. That’s why these characters continue to do the most frustrating and quite frankly, dumb, things that have put everyone on that ship at risk.
But luckily this show has kept me glued with the characters and their dynamics with each other. They’re what keep me coming back each week.
Let’s break this down:
Just Kill Vandal Savage Already
Not only has Vandal Savage been the most annoying and ridiculous of big bads, but the fact that he’s still breathing irks me to no end. Why isn’t he dead? Why hasn’t someone killed him by now? Good God.
Following Kendra’s change of heart as Savage attempted to hold Carter over her head in order to keep himself alive, Savage found himself imprisoned upon the Waverider. But Savage got exactly what he wanted when they didn’t kill him and instead imprisoned him. He relished in being locked up and getting to taunt those that stood on the outside. But more than that it was as if he knew Rip’s plan from the beginning. That he knew that because Rip didn’t kill him that perhaps he’d decide to take him to the Time Council. And he knew that he had them in the palm of his hand. Like he predicted, he found his way free.
Once again this takes me back to: None of this would be happening if Kendra had killed Savage in the last episode. Or if someone had killed him this episode. Why was it so important for Rip to deliver Savage alive to the Time Masters? It wasn’t because . Once again it was for his own selfish reasons. It was more about him going, “I told you so” than actually accomplishing what they’d all set out to do, which was rid the world of Vandal Savage. The way to accomplish that was to kill him, not imprison him when he’s bound to get out eventually. Luckily there are only two episodes remaining this season, which means we’re bound to be rid of Savage in two weeks. Then perhaps Legends can find a more appealing and intimidating big bad for next season.
Rip Isn’t a Team Player
While Rip Hunter might be our dysfunctional team’s leader he’s far from a team player as he’s proven over the past 14 episodes, but that was no clearer than “River of Time” where he made it perfectly clear where the team ranked in terms of importance in his life: Right after his family and his own selfish needs. Does that sound like a leader to you?
In this episode we saw Rip not only let but especially make Jax go attempt to fix the Waverider’s engine noting the potential dangers if something were to go wrong. And something did go wrong. Jax got shocked by an explosion, which caused his cell regeneration to rapidly speed up (aka: he got old very fast). Rip’s selfish mistake essentially forced Jax to head home to 2016 (though not by choice, as Martin did what Rip did not, which was have Jax’s safety at heart).
The problem here is that Rip has never really looked upon his team as a family. It was almost as if they were merely employees of his tasked with helping him stop this immortal madman with slicked back hair in order to save his wife and son’s lives. If that’s how Rip planned on treating his “team” then this mission was doomed from the start. The thing about family is that it’s more than just blood; more than wedded relationships. Family is a group of people that love and care about each other and look out for their best interests. Family is something that we’ve seen develop on Arrow and The Flash as these teams have become closer than family. When you’re risking your life and putting it in the hands of someone repeatedly you have to have that kind of trust. And Rip has never viewed his team as something other than a means to help him get what he so selfishly desires.
But these shows are designed to give us hope, and perhaps there is hope yet for Rip after he did volunteer himself in order to ensure everyone else’s safety, as well as took a shot for Kendra from Savage. For the first time it seems as if Rip might be open to the possibility of accepting his team as his second family, which is what he should’ve done from the start.
Carter Finds His Way Back to Kendra
Given Kendra’s willingness to spare Vandal Savage’s life in the likelihood that Savage would free Carter’s mind, that should tell you all you need to know about how Kendra feels about Carter. While Kendra was initially reluctant to be with Carter – because she was feeling forced into it (seriously, where did that character go?) – losing him only served to awaken these feelings that she has for him.
As Carter was chained up and clearly not in his right mind, Kendra tried to reason with him; to get him to remember their past; to remember their love that it might somehow awake his mind from Savage’s brainwashing. Intially it didn’t work out so well – with Carter putting his foot to her throat – but when Savage held Kendra within his grasp and prepared to end her next life, suddenly Carter’s mind was free. Memories of their past lives flooded back to him, including his love for her, and that’s all it took. Carter leapt at Savage and essentially saved Kendra’s life. While he was badly injured after Savage stabbed him, he didn’t die this time. And Kendra got a glimpse at the man she’d been trying to get through to all day.
While I’ve never been a huge fan of the Hawks, I have to admit that I’m okay with where this story is headed because…
Atomic Hawk is No More!
There’s nothing that’s angered me – well, after Vandal Savage, that is – more than this relationship between Ray and Kendra. From the start it felt forced and without any really substance. It was hard to connect to what the writers were trying to do here – as a crush turned into two-years away and a proposal. It also angered me how Kendra has essentially been bogged down by all this romance, which hasn’t allowed us to see who she really is behind all of it.
Atomic Hawk, or whatever they’re called, officially called it quits following an eye-opening episode for Ray where he realized that even he couldn’t stop fate. That while Kendra might love him, it’s not enough.
The best thing that Ray could’ve done was talk to Savage – it was also the worst, but that came later. While Savage is a psycho he was right when it came to the whole Kendra and Carter thing. They always seem to find each other, and loving her is a curse. And Ray finally had enough. Can’t blame the guy really.
But their relationship wasn’t all bad, I guess – well, according to Ray. It showed him that it is possible for him to envision his life with someone who’s not his late fiancée Anna, which is a good thing. Ray is a good guy. He’s always deserved better than the way Kendra has been treating him. He deserves to be first in someone’s book. And perhaps he’ll find it one day.
But I’m going to take some solace in the fact that we don’t have to waste time on a relationship that didn’t resonate from the start and start preparing for the epicness that’s going to be Captain Canary next week (watch the promo below).
Flashing Back to Before the Mission
There are times during Legends of Tomorrow where there’s a disconnect with scenes where it’s almost lost which was prevalent early on in the season – that being the characters and their motivation behind joining this mission. Back then we had a real focus on why they decided to join, including some initial hesitations, and it showed us a new side to these characters. Like I always say with superhero shows, if you don’t care about the people under the costume then you don’t really care at all.
Anyway, “River of Time” showed us three flashbacks that were right before Ray, Sara, and Stein each departed for this mission nearly four months ago. These flashbacks featured some familiar and beloved faces, including Arrow’s Felicity Smoak and Nyssa al Ghul. Each of these flashbacks essentially focused on what they intended to get out of joining this mission.
With Ray we saw that, as he was technically “dead” to Star City, that he was searching for a purpose. He told Felicity that he felt that going on this mission to stop Savage was a way that he could make a difference in this world. With Sara we saw her come face-to-face with Nyssa for the first time since she was a soulless monster earlier on Arrow, and Nyssa wish that she go forth with her life without letting her past control her. With Stein, we saw him essentially lie to his wife about going on this mission.
But these flashbacks provided something that Legends had been missing for some time, which is emotion. That character drive that shows us why they’re fighting, and the lengths they’re willing to go. And it was by far the best part about this episode.
Jax Has Returned to 2016
Have we lost a member of Team Legends for good? On a show that has promised to cycle in new faces come next season, “River of Time” saw one half of the essential Firestorm make his way back to 2016 in what was the ultimate of emergencies, and who knows if he’ll be coming back.
After Jax was electrocuted and his cell regeneration sped up, which found him ageing at an alarming rate, his other half Stein decided that it was time for extreme measures. He pieced together some sciency things that I couldn’t repeat if I tried that ultimately added up to one thing: perhaps a trip through time might help Jax return to normal. So Stein drugged Jax (“You roofied me again?!”) and strapped him into this smaller time ship that was programed to return just once to 2016 and sent him on his way in hopes of him finding safety. The difference here, as Stein noted, was that the first time he dragged him aboard was for his own selfish tendencies. But this time it was out of concern for Jax’s safety. So now the question becomes: Will we see Jax again? Here’s hoping.
NEXT TIME ON ‘LEGENDS OF TOMORROW’
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.
What were your thoughts on “River of Time?”