The problem with Legends of Tomorrow has been the same since the word go: this team is just too big. If one character gets a bit of development, three more get the shaft. Or four, as is the case this week.
Spoilers are in the future and the present!
We start right where last week’s episode ended: In Star City, 2046, where a Green Arrow that is definitely not Oliver Queen is shooting at our whole gang. Sara calls him Oliver, and you’d think this new Arrow would maybe hold off shooting at people who (a) clearly knew his predecessor and (b) weren’t attacking him, but this hour is not strong on logic. (It never met a coincidence it didn’t want to snuggle up to, though.)
They run away from not-Oliver and his exploding arrows, and back at the ship, Rip explains that this future is not set; the timeline is malleable. “The events that you dread,” he says, “could very well come to be due to your actions to prevent them.” Not a minute later, he suggests they get the ship fixed and head back to their time to make sure none of this ever happens. So: sometimes you make the bad things happen, but sometimes you still need to go back in time and stop the bad things from happening. Everything’s totally clear now, right?
It’s pretty convenient that they crashed in Star City in the future, though, as there’s a burned-out piece of the Waverider that can be replaced with a similar device developed by
Palmer Tech Smoak Technologies. Rip tries to head out with just his pair of dastardly thieves, but Sara insists on going along, no matter what Rip says about her emotional investment in Star City.
Everybody else stays behind to fix the ship and attend to an incredibly weak thread of plot involving Jax and his crush on Kendra; Professor Stein and his awkward meddling; and Ray, perpetual optimist. (If anyone can remember any previous suggestion that Jax is into Kendra, please refresh my memory, as this seemed to appear from the dark yet hallowed halls of We Don’t Know What to Do With These Characters.) The four of them are ostensibly fixing the Waverider’s engines, but the gentlemen spend more time endlessly discussing who should get to date Kendra. Thankfully, this winds down with Kendra reminding Ray (and an eavesdropping Jax), in a speech she must have memorized by now, that she pretty much just found out she’s an immortal hawk goddess and had most of her family die, so maybe just drop the dating plans for the time being?
Out on the streets, where criminals have apparently never met a pile of garbage they didn’t want to set on fire, Rip and Sara get separated from Snart and Rory. Our morally dubious pals run into a gang of troublemakers with so little loyalty that when Rory knocks out their leader, they’re perfectly happy to follow him (and his fur coat) instead. Rory sees the post-apocalyptic Star City as the perfect place to stay: lawless, ripe for the taking, home sweet home for bad elements, including a candlelit dance party straight out of The Crow. But Snart has started to grow a conscience, and eventually knocks Rory out rather than have any further arguments with him saving vs. embracing a criminally destroyed future. (Hey, now he and Stein have something to bond over!)
The bulk of this episode is a curiosity for Arrow fans, but I’m skeptical that it would mean much to anyone who’s not also watching that show. Sara tracks down the new Green Arrow, who stops shooting and tells her that Oliver disappeared when someone else showed up with an army. That someone turns up with a true villain’s perfect timing—Deathstroke! Actually, Son of Deathstroke: Grant Wilson, son of Slade (Manu Bennett, come back, we miss you). Baby Deathstroke took over Star City with an army of men in matching masks, and took his style cues from Bucky Barnes.
Sara and Future Arrow escape his clutches with some help from Rip, and the three of them go looking for the key piece of tech, which might be stashed in Oliver’s old lair, where, to absolutely no one’s surprise, they find Oliver slinking around in the shadows. Beardy, one-armed, representing for The Dark Knight Returns fans, and sulky as all get-out, he reveals the identity of the younger archer: John Diggle, Jr., who says that he doesn’t deserve his father’s name because he couldn’t save him (what about Lyla?). He prefers to be called Connor Hawke.
This is a nifty twist on a comic-book storyline involving Oliver’s son, but hold on: What about Sara Diggle, John Jr.’s sister, who’s a baby in 2016? Why did we need to introduce another Diggle child when there’s already one in the Arrowverse—and one named after the then-presumed-dead Sara Lance, no less? This would’ve been an amazing opportunity to introduce a female Green Arrow—and the show spent so much time emphasizing how this timeline might never come to pass that they could’ve been coy about it if they didn’t want to fully commit.
Diggle’s daughter fighting Deathstroke’s son would’ve been a thousand times more interesting than the very traditional way this all plays out: when Connor is captured, Sara drags Oliver out to help her free him—this is Sara’s version of being a team player—and after their inevitable triumph, Oliver has a very symbolic passing-of-the-bow to Connor. But it could’ve been Sara Lance fighting for the future side by side with the girl who was named after her—and Oliver passing the Green Arrow title to that girl instead. (To be fair, it’s more of a much-needed sharing of the title, as the last scene in Oliver’s lair shows.)
That episode would’ve been delightful; this one was a passable if highly predictable tale about the way Sara and Mick Rory, the least team-centric people on the oversized team, react to others in a dark future. It’s also about Rip learning his own lesson about teamwork: you can’t just be the boss. You have to listen to your teammates, and care about what matters to them—even if what matters is a future that will cease to be if all goes well. When he sends in the team to help Sara, he’s accepting that even though this future can and should be avoided, the world you’re in is always real while you’re in it. Every future, he says at the end, is worth fighting for. (Sort of.) And in this future, that took everyone’s help.
Everyone except Mick Rory. When he wakes up, back on their ship, Rory snarls at Snart, “I don’t know who my people are anymore.” His interest in the world is purely destructive, but Snart grows more and more drawn to the heroic side of himself. Is this in any way connected to the pep talk he gave his little self? (Can we expect that level of complexity from this show?) Will we winnow down the team a little further next week? I don’t know whether to cross my fingers or not.
- Still bugging me: What if Mick Rory had stayed in that future? What would’ve happened to him if the timeline changed? Would it still change? Am I asking too many questions?
- Bless Gideon for noting that Kendra Saunders, former shipyard welder, did all the work.
- Having Ray’s face still be really banged up is a nice bit of continuity. Routh is the quietest of the show’s MVPS (along with Miller and Lotz), and makes his nice-guy character look impressively easy.
- Young Sara and old Oliver (bad fake beard and all) treated each other with the same gentle deference they have in the present; the way you could see their history in their faces was the most layered moment of a pretty shallow hour.
- “You’re not the boss of me!”
“Actually, I am.”