Spoilers ahead for “Compromise,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
The short version: The gang travels to the 1980s to stop Damien Dhark from making the Cold War a lot hotter. Ray tries (and fails) to be Snart. Sara tells Damien Darhk his entire future, so Eobard Thawne lets him travel through time. Uh-oh.
The good: The 1980’s setting, identity crises and Old Man Obsidian
The team has been zipping all over the time stream the past two seasons, and this week they landed right in the middle of the neon-drenched 1980’s. It’s a fun setting to throw the team into, and one just far enough away that they didn’t have to worry about fiddling with their own pasts and meeting their former selves (except for Dr. Stein, of course). Seeing the team kick it with big hair, shoulder pads and Miami Vice suits was a whole lot of fun. As expected.
This show has never been very subtle with its themes, and this week tackled the questions of identity. We saw that filtered through Ray Palmer’s story here, as he takes a stab at stepping into Leonard Snart’s shoes as the new Captain (or Colonel?) Cold. It doesn’t go all that well. We get to see Palmer try to hang up his goofiness for dark attitude, which just ends up even goofier. But by the end of it, Palmer (and Rory) realize that Ray just needs to be Ray — and he ends up science-ing his way out of a problem and saving the day. They’ve been riding the “Who Is Ray Palmer Without the Atom Suit” subplot pretty hard the past few weeks, but this was at least a fun little diversion there. Also of note: Rory’s genuine sadness at being reminded of Snart. Got ya right in the feels.
We also get a little micro-character study on Dr. Stein this week, as he once again runs into his younger self in Washington D.C. It seems Darhk’s meddling with the timeline has resulted in his week being thrown off, and he misses a date with his wife and almost gets himself killed. Seeing Stein come face to face with his younger self (again) made for a solid B-plot, and it’s a stark reminder of just how much he’s changed throughout the series. Just think, what would you tell your younger self if you could offer up some sage advice?
Last but not least, we got a look at Old Man Obsidian, played by sci-fi legend Lance Henriksen. Thankfully, he did not disappoint. He provided a nice counterpoint to the new Vixen, who had to come face to face with how her abrupt exit from the Justice Society affected the intervening decades. Also funny to think how the 1980’s is still technically the far-flung future, at least for her.
The bad: Sara going off the rails, and why not just freeze the bomb?
This show has fully embraced the utter goofiness that is its premise, and this was a fun episode in that regard. But a few quibbles: We’ve seen Sara come a long way this season after taking over as leader of the team in Rip Hunter’s absence, but when confronted with a chance to get Damien Darhk, she nearly causes an international incident in the White House that could’ve gotten the entire team arrested. Yes, it’s no surprise she would react rashly with an opportunity to take out the man who will eventually kill her sister. But Sara is in charge of protecting time itself now — she knows she can’t just go doing crazy stuff in the White House. Heck, if she’s dead set on getting Darhk, at least wait for a better time to confront him (i.e. not in the White House).
The big climax of the episode tasked Ray Palmer with dismantling a 1980’s era bomb in the White House, and he has to take apart Snart’s cold gun to fry the circuit board. Yes, it’s a moment of growth for Rory as he lets Ray mess around with Snart’s old gun, but it also begged the question” Why not just freeze the bomb? He needs to disrupt the bomb. So instead of sending a charge through it that could set it off, why not blast it with that cold gun capable of freezing a human rock solid in a matter of seconds? That’d certainly be cold enough to freeze and disrupt the timer, right?
Lingering questions: Legion of Doom is born, Vixen’s role on the team
This episode also brought Darhk and Eobard Thawne back together, and ends with the two heading off into the time stream. Yeah, this is about to get interesting. Sara tells Darhk his entire, sad future as a form of torture — but she didn’t know the ol’ baddie had access to time travel, too. That decision could really come back to bite her down the line. These guys are about to cause a whole lot of trouble.
Vixen had to face a lot of her own demons this week, and it’ll be interesting to see if she wants to go back to the 1940’s with her team after seeing how things turn out, or carry on the mission to track down Hourman’s murderer (aka Eobard Thawne). The gang now knows they’re dealing with a speedster, so it probably won’t take long to figure out who’s behind that super-fast blur.
Notes: You never cross streams. Being made of metal definitely comes in handy during a fist fight. Sara’s fight with the giant KG agent was great. Hey! It’s the old school time machine Rip invents (or invented. Time travel is hard).
Next week: The gang heads back to the old west with Jonah Hex.