Legends of Tomorrow
If the season finale of Legends of Tomorrow feels rushed and hollow, it’s because the episodes that preceded it were utter filler. The show meandered for long stretches of its first season, rarely finding any thematic coherence. A new MacGuffin was introduced nearly each week, many of which felt only tangentially connected to the main story line. There’s only one great thing to say about the upcoming season: We won’t have to deal with Savage, Kendra, or Carter.
Legends of Tomorrow won’t succeed until it begins correcting its mistakes. Leonard’s death has already proven to be a serious misstep. Wentworth Miller’s trademark wit and scenery chewing are sorely missed. Mick, Jax, Professor Stein, and Sara are all great characters. But Leonard added something different — a crucial flair that was almost fun enough to distract from the show’s flaws.
Even if he were around, though, I’m not sure Leonard would have saved this mess of a finale. It’s not quite unwatchable, but it certainly isn’t good.
“Legendary” opens in present-day Star City. Now that the Oculus has been destroyed, Rip Hunter can no longer track down Savage. This raises an obvious question: If the team knew that nixing the Oculus would mar their ability to find Savage, why didn’t they have a backup plan? Of course, that would require forward-thinking from a leader who actually has leadership skills. Which Hunter doesn’t. He deceives the team by dropping them into May 2016, which is a good five months after they left, meaning their friends and family probably think they’re dead. And what does all of this mean for Kendra and Carter, who are captured by Savage? Hunter doesn’t seem to care.
As everyone struggles to fit back into their lives, Sara has to deal with tragedy. Laurel Lance’s death has loomed over recent episodes, and Sara finally learns what happened when she tracks down her father. (A disturbing pattern has emerged within the CW’s superhero adaptations, when you consider how these shows treat iconic DC Comics characters. The treatment of Laurel’s death is just the latest example.) One of the biggest plot holes emerges when Hunter explains why he can’t let Sara save her older sister. After all, the entire show is driven by Hunter’s desire to save his family. He has endangered the team and the world itself. But Sara can’t do the same because … something bad might happen if she tries. Seriously?
“Legendary” contorts itself into impossible corners to keep up this farce. Everyone else finds closure by the end of the episode, including Mick, who gets to give Leonard a very sweet message. It’s a great moment when he tells his brother, “You’re a hero to me.” But it’s undercut by Sara not getting her own. Why not let her see her sister, too? It doesn’t make any sense. Ultimately, the choice just creates new plot holes — and this show already has enough of those.
As we quickly learn, Savage has a new heinous plan to conquer the world, which brings with it major plot changes. Why introduce all these new ideas in an episode that’s meant to wrap up Savage’s story line? This is yet another avoidable mistake. Anyway, the team learns that Savage wants to obtain the meteorites that gave him, Kendra, and Carter their powers. He’s going to use Kendra and Carter’s blood to activate these meteors in three different time periods … which would essentially create a time paradox … which would reset everything back to Ancient Egypt … which would allow Savage to rule the world. Just writing that gave me a headache.
As Jax says, “This is the craziest bad-guy plan in the history of bad-guy plans.”
Look, I love bonkers story lines. There’s a long history of comic-book villains who concoct absurd plots to conquer the world. But Legends of Tomorrow seems to forget that it still needs an internal logic. If you’re always rewriting the rules, everything quickly devolves into nonsense. You wind up insulting your audience.
Okay, back to the meteors. The team tries to get ahold of one in 1944 occupied France, with a vague plan to also save Kendra and Carter. It was only a matter of time before these time travelers stumbled into some Nazis. They’re able to find Kendra and Carter after she sends a message across time, by placing a note in a soldier’s helmet that winds up on the Waverider in the future. How she knows it’s this soldier’s helmet isn’t explained. The team is able to save Carter, but of course, Kendra’s wings are shot just as she takes off. Somehow, she had to be sidelined.
Eventually, the team separates to confront Savage and prevent the detonation of the meteors. Mick and Ray handle 1958. Sara, Jax, and Professor Stein jump to 1975. Carter and Hunter find themselves in 2021, where they’re also tasked with saving Kendra. Savage’s plan is almost complete, but he doesn’t realize that interacting with the meteor has robbed him of his abilities, making him mortal. This is a pretty big deal! I’m surprised he wouldn’t realize it. And so, the team kills Savage in each time period, with Kendra landing the fatal stab in 2021. Aside from that, though, she doesn’t do all that much.
Of course, they still have to deal with the meteors. The first two are neutralized, but the one in 2021 is still a threat. When the team reconvenes, Hunter gets one last bright idea: He’ll fly the Waverider into the sun with the meteor onboard. It’s meant to come across as a valiant sacrifice, but it simply isn’t. It’s a shame he doesn’t die, though. I’d be a lot more optimistic about season two if Hunter weren’t involved. After his brush with death, Hunter reconnects with the team and drops them off in 2016. They each face a choice: Resume their lives, or join Hunter as he maintains the timeline. The entire team decides to join him … save for Kendra and Carter, who want to start their lives fresh.
Mick’s not so optimistic about their relationship — his exact words are “I give it three months, tops!” — and I’m inclined to agree with him. Kendra and Carter don’t share an intense love. It’s obvious the writers don’t know what to do with these characters, especially Kendra. That isn’t a failure of the character’s potential; it’s a failure of imagination.
That failure is on full display when Kendra tries to apologize to Ray. If destiny isn’t something she needs to worry about anymore, why is she staying with Carter? “It’s meant to be,” Ray suggests. No, it really isn’t. No matter how many times this show tries to claim otherwise, it just isn’t. The last time we see Kendra and Carter, they’re flying off to live their lives. It’s an abrupt good-bye, to say the least.
The reason I’m being so harsh on Legends of Tomorrow is because it could be a fun show. But until the writers respect the canon a bit more and stick to their own rules, it’ll just be a potentially fun show. If there is one aspect of the finale I did love, though, it was Professor Stein and Jax. Their dynamic as Firestorm is great. Seeing them learn to transmute matter was awesome. Their rapport is fun and pulls at the heartstrings. During action sequences, Firestorm provides the few moments of wonder in “Legendary.” I’m happy it seems like they’ll return in season two, since their relationship is one of the show’s few strengths.
The finale ends with another Waverider crashing before the team. Out walks Rex Tyler, also known as the hero Hourman. He tells them that they’ll die if they get back onboard. How does he know that? A future version of Mick told him. When they ask Tyler who he is, he mentions the Justice Society of America, a precursor to the Justice League. How many JSA members might potentially appear on this show? Some of them have already appeared in the CW’s other DC Comics shows, so it’s hard to guess who we’ll see in season two. For comic fans, this little bit of fan service is fun. But considering how badly the first season bungled great characters, it feels like a double-edged sword. Legends of Tomorrow has a lot of potential. Next season, it’ll hopefully learn to live up to it.