Spoilers ahead for “Shogun,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
We had a feeling it was going to happen, and this week it’s official: Legends of Tomorrow is probably the most crazy fun show on television. If you gave up during the stilted first season, it’s time to come back. For real. You’re missing something truly unique on network television.
The latest episode of Legends sent the team back to feudal Japan, and it included all the jokes you’d expect and every crazy scenario tailor-made to take full advantage of the setup. It was Doctor Who without the Doctor, and instead a bunch of crazy companions are running the TARDIS. It was pure joy.
The good: Nate and Ray, Vixen and Sara, Rory
I have not kept my disdain for Nick Zano’s Nate (aka Citizen Steel) a secret this season, but he finally started to make a little progress this episode. He’s still not great, but they’re turning him into a much-needed pal for Ray, and seeing them bro-out actually worked a bit better than expected. It turns out that Ray’s Nazi super soldier cocktail didn’t just heal Nate of his injuries and hemophilia — it also gave him the ability to turn his skin to steel, like a D-grade version of Colossus (with some cringe-worthy effects work, sadly).
So Capt. Sara tasks Ray with training Nate to use (and access) his new abilities, which results in the two numbskulls accidentally knocking open a hatch on the Waverider. (One note: All it takes to open a pressurized, sealed hatch on this ship is for someone to bump into it? C’mon.) That ends with Nate crash-landing through the time stream in Japan circa 1641, and Ray comes tumbling after him a minute or two later. This story gives Nate a chance to have his first Kirk-like hero’s story. He meets a lovely lady, stands up to a bad guy, and all the classic tropes. But then the story actually gets interesting. It turns out Nate has spent so much time being excited and dreaming about being a hero, he’s never dealt with the doubt that comes with taking on that responsibility. We see him grow up a lot this episode, and Ray’s tutelage is a big part of that.
Speaking of Ray, he finally got some much-needed character growth this week. They’ve been leaning hard into his goody two-shoes boy scout persona for way too long, and this season he had to (literally) face who he is without his Atom suit armor. Having him actually fight someone wearing his Atom suit might’ve been a bit on the nose, but it worked. Ray has become a hero in his own right the past few years, and even without the armor, he can still hold his own in a fight and jump into the fray to save an innocent life. Weaving that into Nate’s origin story was an excellent flourish.
This episode also teamed up Sara and Vixen (who stowed away on the ship in her search for Rex Tyler’s killer, who is actually Reverse-Flash). This episode absolutely passed the Bechdel test, as we see these two strong women hold their own against a team of samurai. It’s great to see Sara lead the team, and she really seems to be embracing that leadership role. Yes, Rip Hunter might still be missing (and they mention they haven’t given up hope of finding him), but Sara is doing a fine job keeping the Waverider afloat.
Other random good stuff: All the Yoda jokes, and Rory finally getting his faceoff with those ninjas in the trees.
Rory also get a bit of the spotlight this week, and we see him once again came through for the Legends. He’s had a long and strange journey, but this character is finally reaching a point where he can function outside the shadow of Snart (R.I.P.). He’s well on his way to being a bona fide hero.
The bad: … umm, not much.
This was a really solid episode. Yes, the show continues to just ooze cheese from time to time, but it was still a lot of fun. It had some good (if clunky) character growth, and was an excellent exploration of just how much chaos the Legends could cause in feudal Japan. One thing: VIxen’s constant distrust of Rory started to get annoying after a while, but that was pretty much it.
There are quite a few of these. Sara tells Vixen they’re tracking a time traveler who is mucking with the time stream. As viewers are well aware, that rogue is actually Barry Allen’s archnemesis Reverse-Flash. It looks like Vixen will be sticking around for a while, at least until they bring Thawne to justice. It’ll be interesting to see what Ray Palmer does in the coming episodes. Can he build a new suit? How will he deal with not being the Atom for a while?
The big one: What’s up with Future Barry’s mysterious message sent back from 2056? Grizzled Barry seemed to have something very important to tell Capt. Hunter. Does it explain his disappearance? Is it connected to Reverse-Flash’s efforts to change history?
Lines of the night:
“The day’s still young.” - Rory
“If I've learned one thing from Lost, it's that you don't go opening secret hatches.” - Jax
“League of Assasins. Class of ’09.” - Sara
“Konnichi wa, scum bag.” - Rory
Up next: Civil War zombies. Oh, just watch it.