Director: Glenn Winter
Writers: Phil Klemmer, Marc Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg
DCTV has been a resounding success for quite a number of years now. Since Batman: The Animated series first debuted in 1992 (and even before that) DC has been massacring it's competition on the small screen. More people got to know B and C list DC characters like the Flash and Zatanna from television than anywhere else; and before Marvel began their onslaught of movies you could have bet money that those characters were better known than Iron Man or Ant-Man. That said, for the past couple of years, Marvel has been building a presence in television; and with hit shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, DCTV's dominance is now called into question. In response, DC has released what essentially amounts to a TV version of the Justice League: Legends of Tomorrow. Last week, Legend's of Tomorrow premiered with a half episode that this reviewer found kind of underwhelming and this week I got to see the second part. How did it fare? Let's find out...
Last episode, Rip Hunter (Time Travel Master from the future) gathered a crew of heroes and villains in order to defeat Vandal Savage (immortal dictator and the greatest evil of Rip's time). What none of these crew-members (Martin Stein, Sarah Lance, Kendra Saunders, Carter Hall, Ray Palmer, Leonard Snart, Mick Rory and Jefferson Jackson) knew, is that Rip gathered them together only because they were all non-important to the timeline. Of course, this being television the secret was soon discovered and tensions rose within the team...
Flash forward to today's episode and none of the crew members want to listen to Rip Hunter anymore. With a lead to Savage's location in time, everyone decides to quickly capture him and then return to their respective timelines. What follows is one of the most impressive fight sequences I have seen in television in years. We get a straight up Justice League action shot with: Canary kicking ass, the Atom re-sizing and IronManing, Captain Cold and Heatwave freezing/burning everything to death and the Hawks flying around; all at the same time. Vandal Savage decides that enough is enough and activates his portable nuclear bomb in order to make a quick escape.
Vandal my buddy, my brother from another mother, my good friend, you don't just make a nuclear bomb that you can turn on with one button! Any idiot could've pushed that shit by accident! I get that you're immortal, but nukes are expensive and so are extra henchmen. Anyways, the nuke somehow distracts the Hawks even though they can't really do anything to stop it; and everyone stands pointlessly in terror. Cue in Firestorm, the Nuclear Man, who actually manages to contain the blast. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I was never a huge Firestorm fan (primarily because I think his costume looks terrible), but here he is somehow cool and I loved his entrance. The team exits the building in abject failure, only to find out that Ray has left a piece of his Atom suit behind...
As Rip explains, the piece that Ray left behind will be used by Vandal to take over the world even faster than he did before. For some technobabble related reason, however, things are still okay as the team still has time to retrieve the piece. That said, for another technobabble related reason, they cannot keep doing this and if they don't retrieve the piece this time, then they fail for realsies. Cue another classic Justice League moment: the split teams.
Stein, Jefferson and Sarah leave to find a device created by younger Stein (that can track Ray's technology), while Cold, Heatwave and Ray go to steal a dagger (the only one that can kill Savage) and the Hawks stay in to try to bring forward Kendra's memories of the past (in order to read the incantation that must be used with the dagger). Rip Hunter gets a sudden case of uselessness and does nothing. Predictively, these side trips all lead to some comedic moments and eventually, to everything going to hell. Team Sarah is forced to knock out younger Stein and Team Cold is caught by Savage. As Kendra remembers her incantation and Sarah recovers Ray's tech, all teams are called in to rescue Team Cold and we get yet another excellent action scene.
In a stunning twist for the second episode of a CW show, Hawkman dies, and Savage once again escapes with his life. After Carter's death, the team all form stronger bonds with each other and together decide to accept Rip's leadership (in order to prevent another massive failure).
Bits and Pieces:
If I was to describe this episode in one word it would be: fun. The character dynamics have evolved to a different level from last episode and now it's truly a joy to see all how all the varied teams work. The special CGI effects are a step above any of CW's other productions and dare I say it; Supergirl. Finally, in Vandal we find a competent and genuinely interesting villain that we as an audience want to know more about.
Is it a perfect episode? Of course not, there are still inescapable contrivances that arise due to the nature of time travel, cliched dialogue and some truly weird plot threads (like the whole roofie incident that they brought up back again). But the characters resonate. When Stein was talking about becoming a better person, I could see myself in him; and at the end of the day; that's way more than I had ever thought to ask from a super hero show.
(all images courtesy of https://todaynewsshow.com/legends-of-tomorrow-episode-1-02-pilot-part-2-full-set-of-promotional-photos/)