‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1, Episode 3: ‘Blood Ties’
After a half-season of set-up in both Arrow and The Flash, it’s finally here: the CW’s latest super-show, Legends of Tomorrow, featuring Arrow’s Atom and White Canary, as well as both halves of Firestorm, the Hawkpersons, and rogues Captain Cold and Heat Wave from The Flash, the show follows Rip Hunter and his team of misfits across time.
Our longest-serving Arrow and Flash recappers, Matt Wilson and Dylan Todd, have joined forces for Stuff of Legends, our Legends of Tomorrow post-show analysis. This week in “Blood Ties,” cults are revealed, heists are pulled off, and voyages are fantastic. The episode was directed by Dermott Downs, and written by Chris Fedak and Marc Guggenheim.
Matt: Well, that was a lot to chew on, wasn’t it Dylan? How many episodes did you think it’d take before an immortal-worshipping cult drank Hawkman blood out of a gold goblet? Would you have predicted it’d be three?
Dylan: I put money on four, so I guess that’s $7,000 I won’t be seeing again. Also, can I borrow $7,000? But seriously, this episode wasn’t as audacious as last week’s but there was enough crazy stuff to keep me interested.
Matt: We’ve talked before about how a lot of what will make or break this show will be how creatively the writers split up the team. This time out, Jax gets dragged along on a heist with Captain Cold and Heat Wave, Dr. Stein and Ray Palmer do some Innerspacing into Hawkwoman’s bloodstream, and White Canary and Rip Hunter go participate in the A plot with Vandal Savage. What’d you make of those team-ups? In some ways, they felt like the safe bets.
Dylan: I kind of agree. While I didn’t think any of the pairings stunk up the joint, I also felt like they didn’t really bring anything else out that wasn’t there before. The Canary/Hunter pairing did give Rip something to do beyond pouting that his team of misfits wasn’t listening to him, but it also ended with Rip planting the idea of killing his family in Savage’s mind, so that’s probably a wash for him. (Which, if you saw The Flash last week, this is the exact outcome of their run-in with a time-displaced Reverse Flash. Pro Tip: When time traveling/dealing with time travelers, do not give them ideas on how to hurt your loved ones in their futures.) And any time Cold and Heat team up for “tiiiime criiiiimesss,” I’m into it.
The one pairing I thought was the least interesting on its face --- Martin Stein and Ray Palmer, AKA “The Science Guys” --- turned out to be the most entertaining of the lot for me. I like how Stein is such an unrepentant jerk that even his pep talks are dickish. Which pairing did you like the most?
Matt: I think White Canary and Rip played off each other the best. They’re the show’s “tragic” characters, even though Canary hasn’t done a lot to show it yet. She got to show more of it in this episode, though, bringing up her history with the League of Assassins and her Lazarus Pit madness (which was supposed to be fixed by John Constantine digging around in her brain, but I guess that didn’t stick).
What I really liked there was how some of it was them playing against type. They’re the ones who got to swagger around in ‘70s clothes --- and honestly, if this show was just Caity Lotz getting to wear cool stuff from different decades, I’d be completely into it just for that --- and they sort of served as stopgaps for each others’ bad decisions. Keep in mind that I’m saying this in spite of, not because of, Rip’s line about seeing “Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall.” That was excruciating.
The interplay between Ray and Dr. Stein was interesting, but I got a little sick of the “you were lying to me about not remembering me/oh wait, no you weren’t” backtracking. It sort of set back the progress they made.
Dylan: Ray just got Stein-ed. I did think that Ray needing Stein to validate him all these years later was a little farfetched, but it gave them something to do that wasn’t “Professor Stein basically just watches Ray play a video game on a TV.”
Matt: Ray got to dig into a little of his tragic past, too, about his fiancee dying (why couldn’t they just go save her, too?). He’s had some crises of self-doubt on Arrow in the past, so it’s not altogether far-fetched, but yes, he’s the most insecure billionaire who ever was.
Dylan: I feel so bad for Brandon Routh whenever he’s in that suit. Dude is pretty svelte, but that collar immediately gives him the worst double-chin on TV. Poor guy.
Matt: At least he didn’t spend the whole episode lying on a slab. Last week, we learned that only one person can flat-out kill Savage. That’s Hawkwoman, and that’s where she is. And yet, in this episode, Rip and White Canary get sidetracked from hitting him where it hurts (his wallet) and instead just go try to take Savage on face-to-face because he’s stolen Hawkman’s body. While that big fight scene was pretty fun, the rules sort of took me out of the action. I was thinking, “You know Hawkwoman has to kill him, right?” the whole time. You?
Dylan: Yeah, that seemed kind of dumb, but these shows are propelled by plot more than logic most of the time, so I forgave it and just let the “kung fu fight at a Hawkman blood party” wash over me. That they jettisoned a situation where they’d have to solve a problem by doing something besides fighting was sort of a let-down. I’m all for them punching stuff, but I’d also like to see some variety.
More worrying to me was the idea brought up by the Captain Cold plot, that no matter what sort of changes these guy effect in the past, they can’t beat City Hall, and by City Hall I mean The Permanence of the Time Stream. If they do succeed in killing Savage before he kills Hunter’s family, what’s to say that time won’t find another way to kill them dead anyway? I feel like maybe this is a thread they don’t want to start tugging on.
Also, that they thought a highly-trained bank ninja who is also a Vandal Savage cultist wouldn’t be able to escape a car trunk was cute. These Legends are fun, but their plans straight-up suck.
Matt: Well, they’re the loveable losers, right? The Brain Trust was otherwise indisposed blasting knife pieces in Hawkwoman’s veins.
Also: Points to the show for casting the poor man’s Eric Roberts (who, I should note, is already the poor man’s Eric Roberts) to play the aforementioned bank ninja.
Dylan: I literally had “Starring Poor Man’s Eric Roberts as Katana Bank Dude” in my notes. I can almost guarantee Actual Eric Roberts would have done this for the same amount of money. Geez, how much fun would Eric Roberts be on one of these shows?
Matt: I think his appearance isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. While we’re discussing the bank stuff, one unquestionable positive for me in this episode was the music cues. I loved it when The Isley Brothers’ “Fight the Power” started up when Rip and White Canary were rolling into the bank. Did you dig this music this time out as much as I did?
Dylan: Oh, for sure. I was hoping for another one during the Eyes Wide Shut blood ritual fight, but we just got generic superhero score music. Bummer, because this song would have ruled right there. Speaking of that scene, since when was the Hawkperson/Savage poem-knife a magic wand? Vandal Savage was shooting magic out of there like he was at Hogwarts.
Matt: I bet he just took his Pottermore test like all the rest of us did. Surprise: He’s a Hufflepuff!
Dylan: As a lifelong Hufflepuff, I resent this so hard.
Matt: But yeah, I don’t know. I’m not big on “turn your brain off” rhetoric, but here, it’s like a kid’s pretend game. The knife is a magic wand now because someone said it is. It’s improv. We’re “yes-anding” it.
Dylan: I’ve said it before, but this show feels like it’s a log of the weirdest roleplaying game session ever. Even the fight in the bank felt like a, “Well, you failed your Computers and Bluff checks, so now you have to fight these minions.”
Matt: I have a question about Captain Cold. Actually, a couple. The first one is, how old is he supposed to be? If he was school age in 1975, he’d be pushing 50 now. The second one is, was there a lot of this stuff about him and his dad on The Flash, or is this pretty new territory?
Dylan: I’ll work backwards on these questions. Snart’s dad showed up in exactly one episode, played by veteran character actor Michael Ironside, where he forced Leonard to pull off a heist with him that involved Leonard freezing lasers with his cold-gun and breaking them like glass. You read that right. (This is still my go-to scene whenever I want to criticize these shows for not hewing to the laws of physics too closely. It’s better to just roll with it.)
I can’t tell you how disappointed I was that we didn’t get Michael Ironside in young person makeup for this flashback section, but I will carry on somehow. Spoilers: that episode ended with Snart killing his dad for being such a crumbum, so their relationship has always been… complicated.
As far as the age thing goes, they’re fudging quite a bit on the math. Wentworth Miller is 43 years old, which would mean he was 3 in 1975, so I guess his Cold is supposed to be older than that? Again: this show has freezing laser beams, trying to make it make sense is the surest path to madness.
Matt, what did you think about the Hawkwoman stuff at the end of the episode, as meager as it was? They finally get Carter Hall’s body back and bury him and now she’s the forlorn one, giving him a, “Please find me again.” I guess what I’m asking is: are we really done with Hawkman yet, or do we have to deal with more of her mourning this creep she didn’t even like?
Matt: I deeply hope that the mourning period is short. I did think it was hopeful and also weird that it was so clearly not Falk Hentschel laying on that altar getting his throat cut during the cult ritual. I mean, I guess you could get basically anybody to put on a Hawkman costume and do that, and they clearly did (also, how great was it that they left on his costume for the ritual, for easy identification), but it was stone-cold obvious. Makes you think Hentschel only signed up for a certain number of episodes.
Dylan: Let’s hope that certain number is two. So next week we travel to Mother Russia in 1986. Are you ready for some Reagan/Gorbachev-era Cold War hijinks?
Matt: Only if they deliver on the promise of the whole team in parachute pants.
And that's it for this week! Join us again next week, as we are mad about or delighted by the absence or presence of parachute pants.
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