The cast of Legends of Tomorrow already received one massive shake-up in the wake of the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover event, and now the team has lost even more. But this one actually made sense — and likely left fans a bit teary-eyed.
Spoilers ahead for “Beebo the God of War,” the midseason finale of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which aired Tuesday, December 6, 2017, on The CW.
“When you get a bunch of broken pieces and you put them all together the right way, it makes something new.” - Jax
Though it’s wrapped in a wacky story about Vikings worshipping a time-misplaced stuffed animal as a god and eventually conquering all of North America, the story is mostly a sweet goodbye and coda to the character of Martin Stein. After heroically killing Stein off in the crossover event, it was the type of story the show really needed to tell to give that death the weight it deserved. Thankfully, they nailed it.
With their grief over Stein’s death still raw, the team runs into the younger version of Stein in 1000 A.D. after he (and the stuffed animal he was buying for his daughter) are scooped up in an anachronism. It’s an opportunity for the team to process their grief, a story largely told through the lens of Jax, who has spent the past three years bonding with Stein as they team up to become the hero Firestorm. Their relationship evolved into a father-son dynamic, and had truly become the heart of the show over time. The team vaguely tells young Stein his older self is off visiting with family, while Jax eventually tells him the truth in an effort to save his life — complete with a Back to the Future-style post-dated letter.
Instead of reading it, Stein burns the letter. It all sets up a moment where young Stein tells Jax that, whatever happens in his future, he’s happy with the life he’s lived and the adventures he’s had — no cheating required. Young Stein knows his older self is fulfilled, and in addition to giving Jax that closure, his final interaction with Stein sees him with a long life of family and adventures still ahead of him. He’s a ghost, both literally and figuratively, for Jax. No matter how much comfort he might give him, he knows Jax needs to move on.
Which he does, in a surprising fashion.
Jax decides it’s time for him to leave the Waverider and have some adventures of his own to deal with Stein’s passing and process his death. There are too many memories and reminders on the ship, so the episode ends with a tearful but hopeful Christmas goodbye as Jax sets out to carve his own path. Though the door seems open for him to return down the line, Entertainment Weekly confirms star Franz Drameh has “exited” the show. Meaning it’s not a plot device to bring him back in a week or two — Jax is actually gone, at least for now.
The story really did feel earned in the wake of Stein’s passing, but it’s still bummer —Jax was one of the most developed members of the team, and Drameh is an excellent actor. They’ve spent most of the season showing him gain the confidence to be a hero with or without Firestorm. To shuffle him off the team was a surprise, to say the least. Considering how much this series loves to shake up its cast from week to week, here’s hoping that’s not the last we see of Jax. Because this isn't just a team. It's family. Unless you're Hawkman, then they just kind of forget you after a while.
*Constantine returns! After taking out a key team member, Legends knows how to drop something shine in front of fans to get their attention moving to the next thing. In this case, it works like a charm. Fans already knew Matt Ryan’s Constantine would show up on Legends this season, and we see him enlist Sara’s help on a case after she drops off Jax in the modern day. The case? A Possessed young girl seems to keep saying Sara’s name. Yeah, that will keep us intrigued enough to come back in 2018.
*The main story of Vikings stumbling upon a glorified Furby god and turning it into a god is hilarious, and a fun use of the old “butterfly effect” concept the show loves to play with. It was also a chance to dress up Damien Darhk as the god Odin, which was as fun and hilarious as it sounds. It was a risky move to bring him back to life this season, but Neal P. McDonough is so darn charming it just works.
*We finally got a bit of movement on the mysterious big bad Mallus, after Sara is sucked into an alternate dimension(?) and feels his emptiness and evil for a few minutes. We still don’t know much about how he fits into this whole thing, but he’s still lurking around the margins.
*Having Wentworth Miller’s Citizen Cold stick around another episode was also a good move, especially to bring some lighthearted balance to Jax’s exit. Miller is a testament to how a character can leave the show but still remain a key part of it.
*Agent Sharpe returned this week to help the Legends, and it seems the Time Bureau is falling apart in the wake of Mallus’ attacks and Rip’s imprisonment. Also, anyone else picking up on the sexual tension between Sharpe and Sara?
Up next: Legends is on hiatus until February 2018, but when it returns: Constantine!