Spoilers ahead for “The Magnificent Eight,” the latest episode The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
The short version: The gang heads to the Wild West to hide from the Time Masters, but of course gets embroiled in some classic cowboy drama. But it does bring some interesting backstory for Rip — plus a version of Jonah Hex that isn’t terrible!
The Legends head to the Wild West
In yet another bit of world-building, we learn this week that there are certain places and times that serve as “fragmentations” the Time Masters can’t see (for reasons!), so Rip takes the Waverider to one of them to hide out while the team regroups. The fragmentation he chooses: the town of Salvation, circa 1871.
Rip half-heartedly tells everyone to stay on the ship, a piece of advice they all immediately ignore as they head out to explore. One thing: Yes, going to the Wild West is the setup for the episode, but it really could’ve used some more structure to serve as the catalyst. They’re hiding for their lives, and since there’s no real reason to get off the ship in the first place, it seems ridiculously stupid of the gang to just hop off and start looking around. Give them a MacGuffin to chase, or something, to kick this thing off.
But, once you get past that boneheaded jumping-in point, the episode really is a lot of fun. Dumb, but fun. The team gets into a bar fight again (BECAUSE OF COURSE), and Sara drinks Rory under the table. Yes, Rory’s transition back into a member of Rip’s gang happened entirely too quickly (and is largely improbable), but it’s good to have him back, regardless.
Ray Palmer also gets to geek completely out in his personal cowboy fantasies, becoming the sheriff of the town and helping fight off a gang of ruffians. It’s a fun central conflict, despite the fact they pretty much just stumble into it. But it leads to a positively badass moment for Rip, as he guns down the leader of the Stillwater gang at high noon — so we’ll give it a pass.
Jonah Hex doesn’t suck, and he has a great connection to Rip
Truth be told, Johnathon Schaech does a pretty good job of bringing the DC anti-hero to life here — but considering how low the bar was set by the dreadful 2010 film, he could’ve just stood around in the background and fans would’ve been happy. But, this version of Hex works because it takes a less is more approach.
He has a history with Rip, having met in a previous Wild West town where Rip played hero (a town that was promptly sacked and destroyed when he zipped back to the future). That history easily sets up Hex to fall into the story with little introduction needed, so he can just start cracking skulls with the gang. But, more than anything, it was a great way to finally dig into more of Rip’s backstory and explain his proclivity for western wear
Turns out, Rip experienced some of that time drift mentioned a few episodes back while on a mission in the Wild West, and almost didn’t leave. He crossed paths with Jonah Hex during that mission, and made the decision to leave and let the town of Calvert be destroyed (which was, apparently, supposed to be the town’s fate). It explains a lot: Why Rip randomly uses a sci-fi revolver, wears a duster and generally looks like a space cowboy. It’s because he is a space cowboy, and that’s kind of awesome.
Hawkgirl meets Old Hawk Lady
Hawkgirl crosses paths with a previous version of herself from the Wild West era (boy, isn’t that convenient?), who survived after Hawkman was killed and lives to be an older woman. She’s kind of a downer (not surprisingly), and warns her younger (future) self that no other relationship can ever work. She’s destined to be with Carter, and any other relationship will end badly. Which, it’s worth noting, doesn’t her relationship with Carter always end badly… since they’re murdered literally every time? But, yeah. We digress.
This sets Hawkgirl on a nice side mission with Sarah, but still still ends up pretty much where she was last week: Conflicted, and still kind of into Ray. But, also into Hawkman. Sigh, enough with this, please?
Wait, so Stein saved H.G. Wells? Whaaaaa?
Seriously, this was just a weird (and really unnecessary) twist. Stein gets a nice subplot where he uses modern medicine to save a young boy’s life. It’s a good story, and provides a nice entry point to talk about meddling with fate, etc. Rip tells him not to save the kid, but Stein does it anyway and everything works out fine. But…then the kid turns out to be a young H.G. Wells? So…Stein has always gone back here and meddled with time? H.G. Wells only exists in the future because Stein happened to save him? This was just weird and unnecessary.
Also, along those same lines: Rip spends the episode telling everyone not to mess with the time stream, then decides “Screw it!” and steps in for Ray during the shootout. Then, right after that, when the hunters show up, he tells everyone to suit up and show off all their future tech to the 1800-era townsfolk. Seriously? Sure, they obviously needed to fight their way free — but why not just retreat? Why is it so important one minute not to mess with time, then it’s OK to fire up a superhero free-for-all in a Wild West town (which was, admittedly, an awesome action scene). It’s just lacking in consistency.
Random, fun stuff
Despite the complaints, this episode was full of really fun stuff: Jonah Hex calling dibs on Rip's sci-fi revolver was a nice line; the big action set piece at the end was positively amazing; Rip’s explanation that “skepticism and disbelief” takes care of most problems actually does make sense if you think about it. If you try to tell that story, you obviously sound crazy.
Line of the night: ”Because the past is prologue." -Rip
Up next: The Time Masters have instituted the Omega Protocols, meaning they’ll be going after the younger versions of the Legends. Next week should be extra timey-wimey!