Episodes 101 & 102, “Pilot”
These first two episodes work back-to-back to set up our new adventures, and even though they’re separate enough to be considered stand-alone stories, they play to the overall goal of introducing the characters and the circumstances in which everything happens, so we’ll look at it as a whole.
It’s pretty straight-forward: In London 2166, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) has decimated the world in his conquest, and Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) rails against the Time Masters and their decision to stand idly by while the planet burns. They feel it’s time playing out on its natural course, and they’re restricted from interfering. But Hunter has a personal stake in things: his family was killed by Savage.
So Hunter wants to change things. The Time Masters say “No.” He is, therefore, going anyway.
Hunter comes back to 2016 and recruits Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh), Mick Rory and Leonard Snart (Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller), and the Hawks — Carter and Kendra (Falk Hentschel and Ciara Renée) — to help him fight Savage at various places throughout the timeline, in the hopes that they can defeat him before he has a chance to wreak havoc on the world.
Well… “recruits” is such a strong word. More like “kidnaps” — lifts them from their environment and gives them the pitch on a rooftop; this is the one we’ve seen in the promos where Hunter shines them on by telling them they become legends in his time.
And speaking of kidnapping, how in the world did the writers of this show think that it’s totally in character for Martin Stein to drug Jax and take him on the trip against his will? Even though it works out to a couple of apologies, that’s still one for the “Not OK” list. An even better — and more persuasive — argument would be that the two need to be in close proximity on a regular basis or the Firestorm matrix breaks down and they both go poof. Certainly would have played better for me…
The team makes its way to 1975, where they set out to meet Dr. Aldus Boardman (Peter Francis James), an academic who has spent his whole life studying and tracking Vandal Savage for some unknown reason. Hunter has brought the team to the day before Boardman’s mysterious death, and Stein realizes the goal is to get as much information about Savage as possible without disturbing the time stream too much.
Boardman, turns out, is the son of Carter and Kendra from a previous life, and he tells them that he’s been studying Savage his whole life in preparation for meeting his parents again someday.
Now, while this is going on, Jax has opted to stay on the ship because he’s not wanting to be in 1975 in the first place, but he’s also miffed that he gets left behind when Sara, Snart, and Rory decide to check out the scenery and end up in a bar… fight.
It’s just an excuse to give us a fight set, and as it plays out over “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tennille, it works as a fun bit that leads to some bonding time between the rougher characters on the show.
Meantime, the Time Masters aren’t too keen on Hunter trying to mess with the timeline, so they send back
the Terminator Chronos to put a stop to the team. Naturally, with everyone off the ship except Jax, he’s the one in the most danger; ironic, since he’s the one with the least amount of motivation to be there.
And we’re off to the races with our second big action set of the hour, this one complete with lasers and explosions and everyone making a break for it — because of course everyone makes it back to the ship at the same time, right?
The casualty is Boardman, mortally injured by Chronos as the team runs to the ship. So does this set up a predestination paradox? History shows Boardman died under mysterious circumstances, so the time travelers arrived just in time to be the cause of his death, which no one will be able to explain.
Boardman’s research leads them to an arms deal in Norway, where Stein gets to pretend to be a huge mustache-twirling villain, and Damien Darhk puts in a cameo as another mustache-twirling villain while dressed as another mustache-twirling villain (for those who need to keep up: Ernst Stavro Blofeld), and the other mustache-twirling villains all bid on Savage’s nuclear bomb by firing guns into the air.
It’s a special kind of crazy.
And is it just me, or is anyone else getting a 1970s James Bond vibe from this? Because it’s no accident Neal McDonough was dressed as he was. And what are the Bond films known for? Massive action sets with gadgets and gizmos and mustache-twirling villains and lots of explosions, right?
Savage picks up on the presence of the Hawks, and there’s our first action set of the second hour, and it’s a doozy, with
Iron Man Atom flying out of Stein’s pocket and explosions and guns and Snart’s cold gun and Rory’s heat gun and mayhem and chaos! In the midst of which, Atom loses a piece of his tech…
Did anyone see what happened to the bomb? Oh, yeah, Savage triggered it and Atom tried to stop it, only he couldn’t so Firestorm took it far away and absorbed the explosion!
His is known as “The Nuclear Man”… or as Sara puts it, “nucular,” when she goes with Stein and Jax to Ivy Town University to meet with 1975 Marty Stein, whose built a device to track alpha particles, which are given off by the dwarf star matter that powers Atom’s tech. So while Martin is unimpressed and dismayed at his younger, arrogant self, Sara kind of takes a shine to him, and the whole incident has the Professor on edge because his younger self could very well miss the faculty mixer that night, which means he won’t meet his wife.
Martin: “We wouldn’t want my former self tempted by a sexy assassin from the future.”
Sara: “Aww, you think I’m se—”
Martin: “Do not finish that sentence.”
Using the alpha particle tracker, they manage to locate and recover Atom’s tech. Which is good, because then Central City 2016 is back to normal. If Savage had managed to reverse-engineer Atom’s doo-hickey, he would have risen to power far earlier.
Meanwhile, Team B — Ray, Snart, and Rory — is off to steal a dagger from a private collector. Boardman’s notes show that this dagger could possibly kill Savage, and the Hawks recognize it as the knife that killed them. Turns out, the “private collector” is Vandal Savage, and he takes Team B hostage, inviting the rest of the crew to come in for the party.
Big action set number two!
And while Savage is defeated, it comes at a price, as Hawkman is the first to fall. The knife, turns out, can only kill Savage if Kendra wields it, something revealed just as Savage kills Carter and stabs Kendra.
So, in the end, the team wins, but loses. They’ve learned the hard way, that they can’t just go gallivanting off through history and ignore consequences. Martin almost lost his wife. Carter and Kendra lose their son. Carter dies. Which raises the stakes on the show, but also eliminates the weakest character as well.
Falk Hentschel, for whatever experience he has, is a bland actor in this role. And as we discussed on Rogues Gallery, he’s a little creepy in his “it’s destiny” demeanor towards Kendra. She’s just wrapping her head around this whole reincarnation thing, and he’s ready to pick up where they left off 4,000 years ago. If you take that element out of their story, he’s a stalker. And Hentschel’s delivery of certain lines, being as flat as they are, leaves you hard pressed to think these two people could ever feel anything for each other.
It’s good that he’s gone.
Now, Cisco can come in, hand Kendra an electro-shock Mace Full of Might, and she can be the Hawkgirl we all know and love from the animated Justice League.
Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8/7c on the CW.