Review: ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Finale Reveals a ‘Legendary’ Justice Society
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Legendary”:
Earlier on in the season, I thought to check in on Legends of Tomorrow with more regularity, whether to cover some of the more notable episodes like the group’s venture to 2046, the appearance of Jonah Hex, or even Ray fighting a giant robot, but on the whole, Season 1 has been pretty rough going. The concept never seemed to aim much higher than the Guardians of the Galaxy meets Doctor Who mashup it began as, perhaps hoping the rough-and-tumble humor of the team would sustain any emotional investment we had in these characters, but an increasingly convoluted system of rules and one seriously lacking villain only made things worse.
At best, It feels like Season 1 found a few notable pairings through trial and error, like Snart and Sara, or Mick and Ray, but just as often attempted to mash together sleepy relationships like Ray and Kendra.
“Legendary” perhaps hoped to consolidated all those strengths into a final showdown, but Vandal Savage himself never really grew any more compelling a characterization than the one we started with, and staging that final battle across three time periods (each just a haze of wide shot choreography and special effects) never got any less confusing. In earnest, I barely understood Savage’s plan in the first explanation, and by the time of those three different fights, I still couldn’t tell you why killing one Savage in the past wouldn’t affect him in the future. At best, it felt like an opportunity for Rip to sacrifice himself by destroying Savage’s meteor, only to undo that at the last second with a sudden escape option Rip had apparently forgotten.
The getting there didn’t feel much cleaner, as the first 15 minutes of the hour simply dropped off the team to kill time in the present before calling back the ship, the only fruitful purpose of which appears to have been catching Sara up on her sister’s death. It’s not a great look for Legends to have one of its biggest emotional beats dealt out by another series, and while Caity Lotz does some fantastic work confronting Rip over the revelation, Laurel’s death didn’t’ seem to weigh very much on either in the final battle. Not to mention, it makes exponentially less sense that Sara would rejoin the team in the end, rather than at least stick around to help fend off Damien Darhk, or offer some extended consolation to her father.
Instead, tonight’s finale throws the most emotional resolution at Kendra and Carter in their decision to exit the team; a sensible choice from their perspective, but one that feels a lot like Legends giving up on two characters it hadn’t found a use for, and especially shrugging off anything that happened between her and Ray. As far as goodbyes go, Mick’s revisiting Snart in 2013 carried much more emotional weight, even as it seems like Wentworth Miller will be around in some capacity next year.
Of course, Legends of Tomorrow wouldn’t be Legends of Tomorrow without one last Back to the Future reference, even after everyone spends another ten minutes in the present deciding to make the exact same decision to leave all over again. Like Doc Brown in the driveway, in crashes our mystery hero played by Patrick J. Adams, no Green Lantern, but rather Rex Tyler, emissary of the Justice Society of America. I’m surprised no one seems to have guessed that* ahead of time, considering The CW had in mind to develop Hourman as a series before Legends of Tomorrow got started, but it’s certainly a stronger jumping off point for Season 2 than anything the first year had to offer.
*In retrospect, Legends of Tomorrow had as far back as February teased both Hourman and Sgt. Rock. Can Sandman and Ma Hunkle be far behind?
I’m reasonably optimistic they can work out some of the kinks by fall, as promised, even if “Legendary” didn’t offer much implication of that. As I said of the first announcement, as well after the first episodes, I have no idea why we really needed this branch of the CW DC universe, and frankly, I still don’t.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Whoo boy, the mind-hump of these temporal paradoxes, like Rip offhandedly referencing the return of everyone’s younger selves to their original time.
- Glad to see no one ever solved the problem of “How do we have team members dramatically show up at this open lot, without making it look like they burst from thin air?”
- Is there a reason Kendra knew putting a note in that soldier’s helmet would successfully send the message? Yes, she’d seen the helmet on the ship, but what made her think it would jump across the wall for the team to find?
- Jackson and Stein finally gain Firestorm’s transmutation ability, though it’s unclear if the Flash deleted scene remains in continuity, or if Stein too was discovering it for the first time.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 will premiere this fall, airing Thursdays at 8:00 P.M. on The CW. Stay tuned for more on Tonight’s finale.
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