Spoilers ahead for “Blood Ties,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
The CW’s big superhero explosion continued this week as the gang rebounded from the death of Hawkman in the two-part pilot and prepared for the hard road ahead. Turns out, it didn’t take very long for the gang to run back into Vandal Savage. It’s not all roses, but this encounter does turn out a whole lot better for our titular heroes.
Rip Hunter vs. Vandal Savage
It’s still crazy to think we have a hit series starring Rip Hunter on prime-time television, but hey, enjoy it, folks. Arthur Darvill’s Rip Hunter is the centerpiece of this team, bringing the disparate pieces together and providing the occasional inspirational speech to keep them heading in the right direction. It’s also Rip’s personal stakes that really drive this mission home, arguably as much as (or more than) the blood vendetta Hawkgirl and Hawkman have against the immortal baddie.
Savage killed his wife and child, and Rip led this entire rogue mission to get revenge for them. Sure, he’s also trying to save the future — but when push comes to shove, it comes down to vengeance. Rip deals with those emotions head-on this week, as we learn he traveled back to ancient Egypt and confronted Savage before going after the B-listers that would comprise his Legends. He had the knife to Savage’s throat but hesitated, alerting Savage to his presence 4,000+ years ahead of time. Oops.
But Rip got another go at him this time and did not hesitate to slit Savage’s throat. Of course, Savage is immortal, so he will eventually come back. And there’s also the fact that Rip told Savage the name of his future wife and child while doing so (double oops), but still. It was a great moment for Rip and gave him the short-term win he desperately needed. This immortality angle is the perfect narrative tool — we can have an epic battle to the death every other week! (One qualm: Why not just bring Savage along and throw him in jail? Oh, right, because it'd make the rest of the season a moot point! But still, kind of boneheaded.)
Vandal Savage got a whole lot creepier
This week also delved a layer or two deeper into the mystery of Vandal Savage, and the mythical baddie finally gained some much-needed menace and creepiness. Rip tried to go after Vandal’s cash (thinking if they can’t kill him, maybe they can cripple his influence) but realized it’s a whole lot more than cash that keeps Savage so plugged into the important events of the world.
Since he’s immortal, Savage has spent the past few millennia building a cult around him, which helps him control things and retain his epic power. As a reward for service, he uses the blood of Hawkman and Hawkgirl (after he steals their life essence) to dole out some short-term immortality (100 years of so) to his most loyal followers. The scene is deeply unsettling and helps sell the brutality and menage Savage has been slightly lacking the past few weeks.
Oh, and this series of events also gave Rip and Sara a chance to go undercover, helping lay the foundation for their friendship. She also gets to kick a whole lot of butt. (One thing, though: The latest episode of Arrow said Sara didn't have a bloodlust from the Lazarus Pit, and now she's suddenly struggling with it. Let's get the small stuff right, guys.)
Ray Palmer finds his inner hero
With Hawkgirl on the mend, this episode also gave Dr. Stein and Ray Palmer a chance to spend some quality time together. Some shards from that MacGuffin Knife are apparently inside Hawkgirl and drifting closer to her heart. Luckily for her, Palmer has a super-suit capable of shrinking down and flying around in her bloodstream, Fantastic Voyage-style.
Palmer is still struggling with his self-doubt, stemming from his near-death (not to mention the fact that he was inconsequential enough to be recruited by Rip). But Stein gives him a rousing speech about how smart he was as a student (which was a total lie, heehee), and Ray suits up and saves the day. With anyone less charming than Brandon Routh, this whiny self-doubt could be annoying. But Routh’s perfect brand of wooden charm and bravado just makes it work.
Snart does exactly what you’d do with a time machine
You just knew the two crooks on the team would try and take advantage of the onboard time machine for some self-serving moves, though it didn’t come in the way you might’ve thought. Leonard Snart uses his downtime in the 1970s to steal a valuable jewel, which seems right up his alley. But, there’s a whole lot more to the heist than meets the eye. Turns out, that’s the job that gets Snart’s father tossed in jail — which set off a downward spiral in his family’s life and turned his father into a hardened, abusive man.
Be honest — this is almost certainly what you would do with a time machine, and it’s refreshing to see them deal with a story like this early in the show’s run. Snart meddles with time for something even more important to him than money. His family. It was a vulnerable character moment for Snart, as he told his younger self to stay strong, and barely hid his rage when he faced off with his (younger) father.
Of course, as Rip made clear a couple weeks ago, time doesn’t want to change. That turns out to be as true as ever in this case. Instead of getting busted stealing the jewel, Papa Snart goes to prison for trying to sell the diamond (to an undercover cop).
Lines of the night:
“I've seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall.” -Rip Hunter
"What the hell are parachute pants?" -Jax
Up Next: The team is apparently headed to 1986. But, judging by the teaser for next episode, it looks like the Time Masters might also be bringing a deal to the table.