Spoilers ahead for "Raiders of the Lost Art," the midseason premiere of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow.
The short version: The team goes back to 1967 and finds Rip working as a film student with George Lucas; the Legion of Doom attacks and takes him prisoner; Stein helps Rory with his Smart hallucinations; there are a ridiculous amount of Star Wars and Indiana Jones jokes.
The good: This is the most meta, ridiculous episode ever in the best way possible
Let's just get this out of the way first: This is arguably the most fun episode yet of Legends of Tomorrow, which is saying a lot for a show this utterly ridiculous. Seriously. While searching for the Spear of Destiny, the team stumbles onto Rip in Hollywood circa 1967, who has a young George Lucas working as his prop manager. When the Legion of Doom attacks, they scare Lucas away from his film career — which wreaks havoc on the lives of Ray and Nate, since they were both so heavily inspired by Lucas' work.
It's played for big, goofy laughs (most notably with Nate, who passed on being a historian to become a yoga instructor), but it's really a sweet commentary on how art can have such a profound impact on who we become. Without Indiana Jones, Nate didn't care about history. Without Star Wars, Ray never became interested in science. While delivering that sweet message, the jokes come fast and furious. The Legion of Doom tosses Lucas and the heroes into a trash compactor (hee hee) and Vixen gives him a speech eerily reminiscent of the one Leia sends to Obi-Wan. Heck, they even work in a dig on Howard the Duck by the time the episode fades to black. Now that's dedication. They even work in a literal joke about McGuffins, which might've been the most meta moment in an episode filled with them.
The big news this episode is the long-awaited return of Rip Hunter and the explanation for how the heck he disappeared. Turns out, Rip touched the raw time drive to save himself after the Wave Rider crashed, a move that literally reprogrammed his brain and dumped him off in a random time (in this case, the 1960s). To him, his real-life space adventures are just repressed fantasies that inspired his screenplay. Arthur Darvill does a great job with the material here and, in a lot of ways, channels the early, goofy days of his fan fave Doctor Who character Rory Williams. He leaves all of Rip's swagger hanging with his duster in the Wave Rider's closet and it's a lot of fun to see him play against his typical type.
The Legion of Doom also steals the show here as we get to see a bit more of the dynamic that keeps Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Eobard Thawne working together. The small talk is hilarious, the laser guns are great, and the little moment with Darhk and Merlyn would've wound up on the cutting room floor on most shows. But here? It's a signature moment. The first season of Legends of Tomorrow struggled to make Vandal Savage compelling for a full season, but mixing it up with a team of Arrowverse all-stars is the perfect palate cleanser.
The bad: … umm? I dunno?
Seriously, there wasn't much to hate in this episode. The only iffy aspect was Snart enlisting Stein to help him figure out why he's hallucinating and seeing Snart so much. Stein finds a receiver left over in Rory's head from the years he served as Chronos (remember that?) but it isn't active, so it seems these visions are just in Rory's own subconscious. We already know Snart will be back in a few different capacities (he's signed on for various roles across the Arrowverse), but this storyline is kind of starting to fall flat.
Lingering questions: Spear of destiny, Rip's memories
Fans have been wondering when Rip would return to the ensemble, and having him be a completely different character with no memory of his past was a nice twist. Darvill gets to rejoin the cast while Sara still gets to run the Legends (at least for now). For now, the team just needs to worry about rescuing Rip from the clutches of the Legion of Doom (took long enough for that name to officially enter the lexicon, right?) and getting back on track.
So, everyone is after the Spear of Destiny and Rip apparently knows where the other shards are hidden. With the Legion of Doom getting ready to torture him, it's probably good he doesn't know where the other pieces are hidden. Next week is gonna get ugly.
Line of the night:
"Great. George Lucas has the Spear of Destiny." -Sara
Up next: The team embarks on a mission to rescue Rip and it looks like the Legion of Doom might not be getting along all that well.