Spoilers ahead for“Night of the Hawk,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
The search for Vandal Savage continues, as the gang decides to head upstream in the time stream and confront the immortal baddie in an idyllic small town that turns out to be not so quaint. Racism! Hawk monsters! Lessons! This one has it all.
The short version: The gang learned Savage was hiding out in small-town America circa 1958 last week, so they headed for the quintessential 1950s town to take another shot at Savage. Turns out, he’s laying low as a doctor at the town insane asylum, using the remnants of an asteroid (the same type that gave him, Hawkgirl and Hawkman their powers) to experiment on local teens.
Everyone goes undercover, and the two not-so-white members of the team learn some hard and fast lessons about racism in the 1950s (turns out, small-town America was not so tolerant in those days). Hawkgirl decides to take on Savage by herself (which seemed so, so dumb) and is saved at the last second by Ray, while Jax is infected with the meteorite juice and turned into a hybrid hawk monster. Lucky for us, Dr. Stein is the king of Science MacGuffins and quickly whips up an antidote to get the other half of Firestorm back to normal.
But, just as it seems like the gang can hit the road again (having knocked Savage out a window, but not killed him? Why not take another shot at him here?), Chronos inexplicably busts through the Wave Rider’s defenses in a matter of seconds and takes the ship, leaving Ray, Hawkgirl and Sara stranded in the 1950s — while the rest of the team is still trapped about the ship.
Vandal Savage wants to make a Hawkman army
Considering the fact that he’s been around a few thousand years, Vandal Savage has to find some things to keep him busy along the way. So, having him experiment with the alien asteroid in an effort to build a Hawk-army was an interesting twist (but what was Savage doing at the hospital before that meteorite crashed?), as he tries to figure out a way to leverage the sci-fi magic that actually gave him his powers. An interesting enough catalyst to kick off the plot, and it served as a good enough excuse for Hawk-monsters.
But, when Ray shot Savage out of the window to save Kendra, why not go after him and try to finish the job? They’re far enough back in the time stream to actually have the drop on him here (since Savage has yet to meet the team, and doesn’t know the power set he’d be facing). Let Ray don the super suit, and get Snart to freeze him, and let Kendra take care of business with the dagger. This doesn’t seem like rocket science, people.
Not to say it was bad, just (like much of this show) kind of boneheaded.
Team-ups and a Supernatural riff
Once the gang arrives in the 1950s, they immediately divide up into teams and start working the angles. Which was great! Pairing these characters off in unique ways is what this show thrives on, and this episode was no exception. Stein and Sara teamed up as a doctor and nurse, as Sara was jammed into the conventions of a nurse in the era — forced to fetch files and coffee. That goes about as well as you’d expect, and it was a ton of fun.
Kendra and Ray go undercover as newlyweds (barf), though why Rip didn’t stop to think about how an interracial couple in this period might raise some eyebrows (they're supposed to be undercover, after all) seems like a miss for a Time Master. But, it gave Ray and Kendra some time alone (fresh off their kiss last episode), which was fine. It makes sense they’d want to introduce some relationship drama into the mix (that stuff is bread and butter for flagship shows Arrow and The Flash), but this pairing just seems so forced. Plus, again, it just seems too soon so fresh off the death of Hawkman.
But, possibly the best team-up of all was Rip and Snart, fake FBI agents (the hats! the suits!), likely borrowing some fake badges from fellow CW series Supernatural. Thought the Pleasantville setting made for some fun gags, this episode definitely had a Supernatural “Case of the Week” feel, as the two looked into the mysterious murders, while posing as FBI agents sent to assist in the investigation. As has been the case most of this season, Snart continues to steal the show.
Racism and sexual liberation
As silly as this show can be at times, it’s never really shied away from trying to tell some tough stories and consequences (as weird as that juxtaposition might be at times), and this installment was no different. The 1950s were not a very tolerant time for anyone not male, straight and white (as Jax and Sara so eloquently point out) and we see that play out in a number of ways. Jax is bullied by jocks (and knocked out and kidnapped by the sheriff), while Kendra receives a not-so-subtle message from the real estate agent that the town down the street might be a bit more progressive.
Sara also gets a bit of a love story this week, as she falls for a nurse who is still trying to figure out her sexuality (which, again, isn’t so easy in the 1950s). It’s an interesting angle to tell this kind of story in this era, and it’s also a deeper personal journey for Sara, who hasn’t really been intimate with anyone since coming back from the dead back on Arrow. Score one for a nice character moment, here.
Rory’s absence still lingers (with no answers)
Last week’s cliffhanger ending with Snart (seemingly) killing Rory after he sold out the team to space pirates didn’t receive much of a direct follow-up, though the scene did linger large over much of the episode. Comments are made about his absence, and Snart still seems to be smarting from the decision he was forced to make (though, I’m still not sold on him actually being dead).
The crew’s reaction is largely told through Jax’s eyes, as he (heavy-handedly) comes to realize Snart wasn’t just icing his old partner because he was cold cold blooded (so many Captain Cold jokes) — but because he chose to protect the team over backing his oldest friend and partner. Snart’s journey toward heroism continued this week, as he took some extra risk to save Jax, while protecting Dr. Stein from the Hawk-monsters (a sentence that seems really strange to type, I might add).
Up next: The team is separated after Chronos’ attack, so Rip will apparently be leading the attack to retake the ship, while the other half of the team tries to survive a while longer in 1950 — in a city where we’re assuming Vandal Savage is now looking for a fight. Here’s hoping Chronos can finally become more of a character, as opposed to a walking plot device. The only bad part? We have to wait until March 31 for the season to resume. Le sigh.