Spoilers ahead for “Star City 2046,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
One of the most highly anticipated episodes of Legends’ young season finally arrived, but did it deliver on the delicious promise of visiting the future of the Arrow-verse? Kind of, but not really, sadly.
The short version: The team lands in Star City circa 2046 after the Waverider crash-lands following the attack last week. Our heroes quickly encounter a mysterious young version of the Green Arrow who turns out to be John Diggle Jr. (so, apparently, Diggle will be having another kid at some point), going by the pseudonym Connor Hawke (aka the comic-book son of Oliver Queen, who also assumed the Green Arrow moniker).
This version of the city is a burned-out mess, but not because of Vandal Savage — it turns out Deathstroke’s son brings an army to town in 2031 and seizes control. Team Arrow didn’t have the manpower to win that battle, due to the fact that Ray Palmer and Sara were still off gallivanting on their spinoff show (which raises several more questions about the nature of time travel, but they just make my head hurt).
Hawke claims that Oliver is dead, though a visit to the Arrow Cave reveals a still-alive, bearded, one-armed Oliver hiding out. The team goes after a MacGuffin to fix the ship, Hawke gets captured by Deathstroke Jr.’s goons, and Sara Lance pushes Oliver back into action for a climactic battle to take out Slade Wilson’s son and start the slow process of saving Star City.
Fun easter egg of the night: Palmer Tech is now going by the name of Smoak Technologies, meaning Felicity apparently does a pretty good job of keeping the company around (though she apparently couldn’t save the city itself).
Old Man Oliver and Deathstroke Jr.
In jumping to the future of the Arrow-verse, the possibilities were limitless. Yes, the writers gave us the closest thing we’ll probably ever get to a grizzled, Dark Knight Returns version of the Green Arrow (complete with the beard and missing arm), plus a unique spin on Connor Hawke (Diggle Jr. FTW), but aside from that, the episode didn’t “wow” nearly as much as expected.
Bringing in Deathstroke’s son was a nice touch to connect the baddie to the lore, but the whole future seemed contrived. Gangs are running the street trying to mug people in a city that has literally been overrun by criminals for over a decade. How would there be anyone left to mug? How has literally everything not already been looted to nothingness? (We’re looking at you, secret Smoak Technologies warehouse that is immediately attacked once our heroes visit.)
So, Connor Hawke is out there defending the city on his own, and he’s managed to survive this long? How? The entire city is literally filled the criminals, and he’s managed to not be killed or captured during all these years. And Deathstroke doesn’t make stopping the one good guy left in the city a priority until now? It just seemed silly.
But the hardest part to believe is that Oliver Queen would just give up on his city and let it fall into utter chaos. Yes, the circumstances were beyond dire, but it still didn’t feel true to the hero we’ve seen grow and evolve over the past four seasons on the flagship series. He’s apparently just been waiting all this time for an old friend to pop in and give him a pep talk? That’s weak.
Digging a bit deeper into the future premise, this would’ve been a perfect chance to really geek out and explore the lives of some other characters in this universe, but they just brush that off with them all being dead or long gone. It seems like a cop out, and a major wasted opportunity for some fun easter eggs that could’ve pushed this episode over the top. This is a show made for the fans, and they should’ve embraced all the opportunities a unique premise like this could provide. Just look at The Flash’s “Welcome To Earth-2,” which provided dozens of “Wow!” moments that perfectly paid off on the fantastical premise, and still packed in an excellent story. It can be done, it just wasn’t done here.
The middle school romantic sub-plot
How could they have managed to pull that off, you ask? Axe the ridiculous, and outright silly subplot that found Jax and Ray Palmer pining over Hawkgirl, as I can only imagine Hawkman is rolling over in his grave (in-between reincarnations, of course). It was handled poorly, and came across as insulting to pretty much every character involved. It belittled Hawkgirl into little more than a prize, and made Jax seem like a middle school kid. Which, sure, he’s younger than the rest of the gang — but the guy is still supposed to be an adult.
It’s understandable to develop a crush on someone you’re working closely with, especially when it’s a strong Egyptian hawk goddess who is quite lovely, but let’s play out that story in a way that’s a little less cringe-worthy. Also, to mention again: It’s pretty damn tacky to do this so soon after Hawkman’s death. For real, guys?
For all the time wasted on this atrocious B-story, we could’ve been developing the backstory of Connor Hawke, filling in the gaps for how Old Man Oliver became so broken, or maybe even sprinkling in some other fan favorites (i.e. Capt. Lance, Felicity, etc.).
Heat Wave and Capt. Cold are not getting along
It makes sense we’d eventually see some pushback from the criminals in the bunch, but having Mick immediately decide to stay in this burned out future and be a gang lord at the drop of a hat just happened way too quickly. Sure, it makes sense he’d “fit” in this world, but it erased any trace of character development over the past several episodes.
But, what they sacrificed for Mick they made up for with Snart, as he seems to be coming around to the mission and the goal of actually saving the world. Having these two characters at odds was an interesting story, but it could’ve been executed better. Here’s hoping they actually follow this thread somewhere interesting, or else it’s (again) just more wasted potential.
Rip Hunter is a terrible leader
The writers seem to be setting up the evolution of Rip Hunter, in a sense, as we seem him struggling with the right decisions as the team faces new and unexpected circumstances. But, planning to abandon a team member in this awful future — instead of just sending in the team to back her up and beat the bad guys — seemed needlessly stubborn. Yes, he came around in the end, but it shouldn’t have taken that long. Between nearly having Dr. Stein assassinated last week, and nearly leaving Sara this week, this is not a guy who seems well suited to lead the mission to save the world.
But, Sara did get in some good points on him in regards to when it is, and isn’t, OK to fight to change a bad future. She’s seeing her city, and her friend, falling apart in this world and wants to help fix it. It makes sense, and you’d think Rip, of all people, would see the merit in that.