Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow, “Pilot Pt. 2”!
The journey to the 1970s continued in the second episode of Legends of Tomorrow, as the latest DC series from The CW worked out some of its kinks and made some of its most obvious homages to a few of the movies you almost certainly love.
After doing some heavy lifting to set up the premise and the expansive ensemble last week, Legends finally turned its attention to the big bad Vandal Savage. Considering there are still several episodes left on the docket, the gang obviously can’t take out Savage in the first round. So, yeah, this does not go well.
Lesson No. 1: Vandal Savage apparently learns really, really quickly. The gang tracks Savage down to an illegal weapons auction in Norway, planning to easily snatch him up and call this whole “world saving” thing a day. But Savage sees through their ruse and sets off an all-out melee (complete with the Patented Age of Ultron Spinning Camera!) showing off all the superpowers on display from the motley crew of heroes and, well, villains. From there, Savage makes light work of the wannabe Legends, leading to one of the biggest shocks of the young season ...
Hawkman is basically Coulson, right?
By the end of the two-part pilot, the team is officially down by one member. After trying to put an end to Savage with the Mystical MacGuffin Blade, Hawkman learns the hard way that only Hawkgirl can wield that particular weapon to stop Savage once and for all. Savage turns the blade on him and absorbs his essence (or whatever) to help keep him immortal. Oops. He almost takes out Hawkgirl, too, though the gang arrives just in the nick of time to pull off a rescue.
In the wake of that shocking death, producer Marc Guggenheim told Variety Hawkman’s demise was a narrative tool to show the stakes early. Yes, this is a fun, swashbuckling show — but that doesn’t mean any hero can’t die at any moment:
“The first thing we were searching for was, how do we establish very quickly the stakes of the show, particularly when you have all these people who are so powerful? The idea of losing one of their own spoke to us very strongly,” he told Variety. “It’s always a decision based on what’s gonna give us the most story, and the idea of Kendra losing the person who is helping guide her through this brand new experience of being a reincarnated hawk demigoddess, taking that support system away from her so that A: she’d have to deal with it and B: she’d have to lean on the other members of our team. That really spoke to us.”
Sure, we'll probably meet another version of him down the line (this is a time-travel show, with a guy who reincarnates, after all), but still a brave move.
Along with setting the stakes, Hawkman’s death also serves another purpose — it galvanizes the team together against Savage, and even pulls in the grudging support and respect of Captain Cold and Heatwave. Basically, he’s the Phil Coulson of the DC universe. Just as Coulson’s surprise death in The Avengers pulled the team together to eventually take out Loki, Hawkman’s death follows almost the exact same beat-by-beat structure. A bit on the nose, but hey, go with what works.
The gang goes rogue, and it does not go well
After following Rip Hunter’s lead (to a degree, at least) last week, the team takes his betrayal (namely: the lie that got them on the ship in the first place) to heart on this mission, and decide to take it upon themselves to capture Savage. They certainly draw upon their own expertise, but it doesn’t take long to realize they still need the resident Time Master to help run the show.
In the matter of one episode, the team almost nuked Norway (“You’re welcome, Norway”), expose all their powers (and their mission) to Savage, lose a critical piece of future tech that jeopardizes the future, completely fail in defeating Savage, and have one of their team members killed by Savage. That’s not just a fail. It’s an epic fail.
But, though it didn’t do much good in regard to stopping Savage, this mission provides some great character moments for just about everyone in the ensemble. Dr. Stein gets to show some remorse for drugging Jefferson and bringing him on the mission (we still haven’t forgotten that, by the way), and Ray Palmer gets to hang out and bond with Captain Cold and Heat Wave. These guys need their own spinoff (spinoff) series.
Sara Lance also got a chance to shine, and it’s great to see her character actually having fun again. Sure, she’s been through some terrible things in recent years, but there’s still a happy person buried under all that pain. Turns out a time travel adventure is exactly what she needed to dig it out.
Legends goes straight-up Back to the Future
Legends wears its heart on its sleeve, and its influences even more so. We’ve already seen some shades of Doctor Who (Arthur Darvill FTW) in the first episode, and the second part of the pilot provided the most obvious of its homages. The CW just went straight-up Back to the Future, y’all. Disappearing photo (or ring, whatever) and all.
To complete the mission, the team needs a piece of tech that the young Dr. Stein invented back in the 1970s (though, you have to wonder why Hunter’s future ship doesn’t have anything that could fit the bill, but whatever). So, they catch up with the marijuana-smoking young version of Dr. Stein, who has one of the most hilariously flirty little moments with White Canary (and she is drinking it up in the best possible way).
There’s just one problem — young Stein catches them, so they’re forced to knock him out so they can borrow the device. The even bigger problem: Young Stein is supposed to meet his future wife that night, and he misses the Enchantment Under the Sea dance faculty mixer, making old Stein’s wedding ring disappear. Then, young Stein finds the space ship, which makes things even more complicated. It’s a tangible reminder of what messing with the timeline can do, and it actually gives old Stein truly human moment, as he realizes a part of him is still that arrogant little snot from all those years ago.
Thankfully, the good ol’ Time Master is there to help clean up their messes, and Rip goes a long way toward endearing himself to the team as they lick their wounds and prepare to take another shot at Savage.
Next up: The team heads back to ancient Egypt, in an attempt to stop Savage before he gets started. It’s great to see them go this route early, because that’s the most obvious question fans have been asking (no matter how fun that 1970’s mission might’ve been). You have a time machine, so why not nip Savage in the bud before he actually becomes a super villain?
We’ll find out next Thursday!