Leonard Snart and Mick Rory are a study in contrasts. It's evident given their criminal monikers, but their relationship goes much deeper than that. Without Leonard's influence, Mick's thirst for mayhem can turn quite dark. They balance each other out. Leonard brings the wit and intelligence; Mick brings the brawn and firepower. But Leonard's growing taste for heroism — and his decision to prevent Mick from staying in Star City, circa 2046 — has created a wide rift between them. Their disintegrating partnership provides the most compelling moments in "Marooned." Unfortunately, that isn't enough to make the episode work as a whole.
Legends of Tomorrow isn't meant to be taken too seriously, but that doesn't mean it gets a pass for its many problem. For a show like this to work, it needs a compelling villain, high stakes, an interesting mythology, and a fun cast. Unfortunately, this show is only halfway there. Vandal Savage veers too cartoonish. The overarching arc works intermittently. If the entire group of heroes were well-written and entertaining, perhaps the other issues wouldn't be so glaring. But Leonard, Mick, and Sara are the only characters who are consistently dynamite. Professor Stein and Jax are good when the writers know what to do with them.
Despite giving us some great moments that highlight the strongest members of the cast, "Marooned" doesn't offer any compelling developments in the main plot, which proves to be a problem. Instead, the main plot hinges upon Rip Hunter making one bad decision after another. How have they made this character not only boring, but an outright idiot? When he gets a distress signal from the Time Master's flagship, he jumps at the opportunity — and it means the team has to chase this week's Tech MacGuffin, which Gideon needs to figure out the right point in the past to find and attack Savage. Leonard and Jax are the first to bring up that this signal is obviously a trap. Does Hunter listen? Of course not. Does he make a plan in case things go awry? Sort of, I guess.
Mick, Jax, and Professor Stein join Hunter on his mission to board the second ship. Given that they're traveling through space, there are a lot of Star Trek and Star Wars references. Openly referring to better pieces of pop culture doesn't do Legends of Tomorrow many favors. (At least Kendra slightly redeems herself by mentioning that Captain Picard was hotter than Captain Kirk. I finally agree with her on something.) Professor Stein stays behind on the smaller docked ship while the others board. Almost instantly, they're overtaken by a bunch of time pirates led by the overly cocky Captain Valor (Callum Keith Rennie).
Here's the issue with this: For the second episode in a row, the main plot has nothing to do with Savage. As much as I don't care about his character, the show is spinning its wheels when it can't really afford to do so. Last week's episode was fun, even though it didn't advance the main story line. "Marooned" doesn't even have that and it gives us a lot of terrible Rip Hunter flashbacks.
In those flashbacks, we learn about Hunter's relationship with his wife, Miranda (Alex Duncan). When they met, she was training to become a Time Master too, but gave up her career to save his. Personal ties are against the rules for Time Masters. This bit of information is made even more cringeworthy because she's way better at the job than he is — she even says so — adding insult to Hunter's already eyeroll-worthy backstory of a dead wife and kid.
When Mick, Jax, and Hunter are thrown into the brig, they find the Time Master in charge of the ship, Captain Eve Baxter. She readily insults Hunter; he definitely deserves it. After hearing his perspective, though, she eventually comes to his side. Professor Stein coming to the rescue helps in that regard, too. But what's most interesting in this scene is the argument between Hunter and Mick.
Hunter screams at Mick that he has the IQ of meat. The only reason he's even on the mission is because he came as a package deal with Leonard. Hunter didn't even want him. So, to recap: Not only is Hunter a terrible captain, but he's also proven himself to be a temperamental jerk. This exchange pushes forward the inevitable end of Leonard and Mick's friendship, which is pretty much the only interesting story line happening here. Of course, Hunter and crew are able to get out of trouble. Of course, Captain Baxter decides to give them the tech they need to update Gideon, which tells Hunter he needs to target Savage in Oregon, circa 1958. Legends of Tomorrow is the kind of show where the good guys (mostly) win, especially in a filler episode like this one. So, let's discuss what's happening with the rest of the crew.
If you thought the potential romance between Kendra and Ray would be dropped off by now, you're unfortunately wrong. Expanding his spate of his bad decisions, Hunter leaves Ray in charge of the ship while he's gone. Ray seems out of his depth when contacted by Captain Valor, and the ship's hull is breached after a brief shootout with the other ship. (Luckily, Professor Stein is able to take down their weapons manually.) Leonard and Sara go to work on the hull issue from the inside, only to get trapped because of Gideon's protocol. In order to save them from freezing to death, Ray puts on his Atom suit and goes into space to seal the breach from outside. While his oxygen depletes, Kendra tries talking to him to keep him focused. The banter is meant to be endearingly awkward and romantic, but it's just annoying. Arrow and The Flash may focus on romantic drama quite a bit, but that doesn't mean Legends of Tomorrow has to do the same.
After Ray falls unconscious, he lands back in the ship while suffering a cardiac arrest. Kendra freaks out. She even screams, "I can't lose you too!" Wait, what? Did I miss an episode where they do more than just flirt a little bit? To make matters worse, she kisses him. It's framed as a moment we were all waiting to see. We really weren't.
While they're trapped near the hull breach, the moments between Sara and Leonard at least prove they have chemistry. They trade near-death stories while fearing they may freeze. Leonard speaks of his regrets about Mick and describes how they first met when he was 14 years old in juvie. If anyone from the crew should get together — even if it's just a fling — I hope it'll be Leonard and Sara. But I'm not sure that will happen for a variety of reasons.
Mick decides to make a deal with Captain Valor to hand over Hunter's ship in order to get back to present-day Central City. When he storms aboard with the pirates, Leonard is forced to pick a side. Will he join the friend who saved his life countless times? Or will he choose his new role as an anti-hero? Leonard chooses to go against Mick, ending what is probably the longest, healthiest relationship he's ever had, aside the one with his sister. When Mick tries to steal the ship's time drive for Captain Valor, Sara goes toe-to-toe with him first. Thankfully, Leonard comes to her rescue as Mick gets the upper hand.
Even though the day is saved, the team is left with a troubling dilemma. Mick can't stay aboard since he isn't trustworthy, but they can't bring him back to 2016 either. He would undoubtedly go after the families of his former crew for revenge. For all his gruff humor, Mick is a monstrous criminal. He's only balanced out by Leonard. Without Leonard, how depraved will he get? So, Leonard decides to handle it. He drags Mick into a desolate forest, intent on killing his closest friend to protect the rest of the crew and their mission.
In that moonlit forest, Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller create one of the best scenes in Legends of Tomorrow's short history. The history between both actors and characters feels palpable; the way their relationship has turned is heartbreaking. Purcell and Miller have known each other for a long time, dating all the way back to Prison Break. They clearly know how to bring out each other's strengths.
That's why I hope Leonard doesn't kill Mick, even though the episode's closing cliffhanger seems to imply that he does. Their dynamic has proven to be the heart of the show. Without it, I don't know if Legends of Tomorrow can survive.