‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1, Episode 9: ‘Left Behind’
The CW’s latest super-show, Legends of Tomorrow, follows Rip Hunter on his adventures through time, with a team of misfits that includes Arrow’s Atom and White Canary, both halves of Firestorm, Hawkwoman, and Flash rogues Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Arrow and Flash recappers Matt Wilson and Dylan Todd are on hand to deliver our Legends of Tomorrow post-show analysis, Stuff of Legends.
In this week's "Left Behind," nobody gets raptured, but a few of our heroes are forced to live in a repressed, 1950s society for two whole years. Meanwhile, a recurring villain is revealed to be... someone we've seen before. The episode's director was John F. Showalter, working from a script by Beth Schwartz and Grainne Godfree.
Dylan: We’re back! When we left our Legends, half of the team took off in the Waverider after an attack from time-hopping bounty hunter Chronos, leaving the Atom, Hawkwoman and White Canary trapped in 1958 Pleasantville. This week’s episode saw the continuation of those stories and a whole lot more.
Matt, let’s start with the time-stranded people. We have Ray Palmer and Kendra Saunders playing house in Hub City (home of The Question and Ted Kord, so… Charlton Town?) while Sara Lance went back home to Nanda Parbat, Home of One Million Candles. What did you think of this subplot, Matt?
Matt: Well, let’s break this down. I think the whole stranding half the team in the past plot point is pretty neat, and the show did just enough to explain why Rip and the rest of the team couldn’t just jump right back to 1958 to pick them up just after they got stranded. The “stranded in time” plot is not something altogether new in time-travel fiction, but it proves that this show is willing to do things to the characters that have big consequences. Or at least, they seem to. Ray, Kendra and Sara are really there for two full years. They build lives. In Kendra and Ray’s case, they fall in love and nearly get engaged. This is all told through a series of quick time jumps, so there’s a lot of story happening in a little space. It feels like these are big changes.
As it turned out, it was more or less just a shorthanding for moving Hawkwoman and Atom’s relationship a little further ahead. By the end of the episode, everything else has pretty much snapped back like a rubber band. So there’s the appearance of major change when it was really pretty incremental. I kinda wish they had been willing to pull the trigger on making this stuff stick a little more, but as it was, it was at least a cool story. And, to be honest, the appearance of major change without anything really changing is a hallmark of comics storytelling, so it stayed pretty true to the source material.
Dylan: Ha. Very true. What did you think about that throwaway Bill Gates joke? Did you also groan?
Matt: It made me wonder how many other times Ray has held up a big sign to his class that said “I’m from the future.” Tug at the strings of him becoming a professor in any direction and it basically falls apart. Where’d he say he got his degree? Did he say he graduated from MIT in 1999 or whatever? This is why seeing their two years in little snippets was probably the smartest way to do it.
Dylan: Also, how weird would it be to have your professor talk about your baby like he was buds with him?
Matt: “Tell him to open a window for me! It’s getting warm in my Microsoft Office 2011! He’ll know what I’m talking about.”
Dylan: I also --- and this is not a joke --- spotted a guy leaving the lecture who was dressed in a black mock turtleneck and jeans. So Poppa Jobs was maybe in the classroom, too.
Matt: Maybe Papa John was, too. Did you see a guy posing for a picture with Peyton Manning?
Dylan: Wait, if it’s Papa John’s papa, wouldn’t it be Papa Papa John? This is why you don’t mess with time travel. Too many Papas. A Papa Paradox. A Papadox.
Matt: We’re way down the rabbit hole here.
Dylan: Yeah. Sorry. Getting back to it, we had Rip Hunter: Time Douche, the two halves of Firestorm, and Captain Cold beset by Chronos. Aside from the Waverider getting all messed up in the fight, causing the two missing years, we also learned the true identity of Chronos. Spoilers: he’s Heat Wave, and boy is he not happy about Cold/Leonard Snart leaving him stranded back in time. Did this catch you off guard, or did the recap at the beginning of the episode sort of tip you off that it was Mick Rory under that helmet?
Matt: Certainly it clued me into Heat Wave showing up here somewhere, but I will admit I was pretty surprised when Chronos took off that helmet and it was Dominic Purcell under there. I’m not sure it was a positive sense of surprise, though. Chronos feels like kind of a step down for the character, doesn’t it? It doesn’t make Chronos cooler, it makes Heat Wave crummier.
But I will admit it was an effective reveal.
Dylan: The pre-show recap (precap?) sort of ruined the surprise for me, because I started wondering why they’d decide to call that plot up after what, two episodes? My first note is, “So is Chronos really Heat Wave getting revenge on the Legends?” So the punch didn’t land as hard for me. I agree that having Heat Wave be Chronos is kind of a step down, but it also gives them a chance to add some sort of dimension to a guy who was fairly one-note. Which is fine, but I just want Dominic Purcell grunting fire puns on the reg, to be honest.
Matt: Yeah. On the one hand, it basically eliminates Saturday-morning-bad-guy Chronos, who was a whole bunch of nothing, but it makes Heat Wave not Heat Wave anymore.
Dylan: We’ll see how it pans out, but alongside Cold, he’s one of the most fun Flash villains, so I’m kind of hoping we get Original Recipe Mick Rory back. Minus the roofie jokes, naturally.
This week’s mission objective saw the Legends traveling to Nanda Parbat to re-recruit Sara Lance, who had since gone back home to Assassin Town, all but forgetting the time she spent in a time ship with relative strangers as they mucked up the past and future with typical aplomb. Having not seen a lot of the earlier episodes of Arrow, I’m not sure this sequence was all that meaningful to me, though it was fun to hear everybody say “Nanda Parbat,” because nobody says it the same way. How’s you like the ninja action, Matt?
Matt: I’m having Arrow flashbacks, Dylan. I feel like this plot was largely a way to get to reuse some old sets, but, as you point out, it was also a way to get 15 different pronunciations of “Nanda Parbat” and “Ra’s al Ghul.” At one point, Rip says “Raj al Ghul.” Why can’t they just say it one way? It’s almost like everyone was instructed to say it differently in an effort to make me lose my damn mind.
Dylan: Also, Ghul’s propensity for candles reminded me of this classic tweet:
Matt: The poet laureate of our time. Yeah, the DC TV universe’s Nanda Parbat is one Enya CD and some sword removals away from being a spa resort.
As for the plot itself, it was...fine. It was pretty close to every other Arrow League of Assassins plot where it looks like someone has totally given themselves over to the darkness, but a heartfelt talking-to (and in this case, a swordfight in which hawk wings come out) can turn her or him back around.
It was pretty cool to see the old Ra’s back. After almost a full season of Malcolm Merlyn having the title, I weirdly missed him. And Talia, who we’ve never seen before, is there. It almost seems like she appears just so Ra’s could be confused when Sara mentions Nyssa, but I’m hoping it’s actually leading to a Talia appearance at some point in the present. She’d be like 65, but she’s got magic jacuzzi access.
Dylan: I’d be down with that. The romance stuff this week was pretty front and center, with Ray getting all clingy and needy once him and Kendra rejoined their team after two years of playing house. Say what you will, but the lady certainly has a type. Were you as put off by Ray’s thirst as I was? I get that he had feelings for Kendra, but the minute they set foot back on the Waverider, he was going full Carter Hall, practically begging Kendra to tell him she loves him or he was gonna pout. Am I being a jerk here or was Ray a bit of a dink?
Matt: Maybe if we saw more of the two years they spent together it’d be a little easier to sympathize with Ray. Like, they’re to the point in their relationship where they’re out having anniversary picnics and almost getting engaged, so I can understand how he’d be a little hurt by Kendra’s reaction of, “Boy, glad that’s over.”
I feel like there’s a lot going on sort of under the surface here. Ray’s a guy who feels a lot --- he’s about the right age to be emo --- and is still kind of an open wound after his fiance’s death a couple years ago. Meanwhile, Kendra has been living (and dying) for, what, 4,000 years? Two years is kind of nothing to her, but it’s everything to Ray. You kinda have to read that all in, though, because it isn’t there in the script. There’s not a lot of breathing room in this show in general, but particularly in this episode.
Dylan: Oh man, Emo Teen Ray Palmer in a Saves the Day T-shirt, kickflipping outside the Starling City mall on the rich side of town is something I never knew I needed in my life.
Matt: An emo guy who gets as small as possible. It’s a stereotype of a stereotype.
But yeah, their relationship got short shrift, so when Ray finally has “The Talk” with Kendra later in the episode, when he mentions they had a life, friends, rituals; that had never occurred to me because all we saw was a quasi-romantic lunch that got chronal-blocked by an uncloaked Waverider touching down in a park.
Oh, I also liked how almost immediately Sara was like, “Alright, if we’re stranded here for a while, I am definitely getting out of here because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with you two Sam & Diane-ing it up.”
Matt: She’ll play the game of Life once, but that’s it.
Dylan: “Okay, we good here? Because I need to be literally anywhere else RN.”
Matt: “Us playing board games and being very nonchalant about Ray’s inventions catching on fire is a fun break, but I need to sword some dudes.”
Dylan: The eternal struggle. The episode wraps up with the gang all vowing to do whatever they can to help reform Mick to his former psychotic self. As much as I wanted to write this off as schmaltz, I really liked the scene where they agreed to help Mick. These are some broken people who are trying real hard to pull their ish together as they bounce through time. How did this stuff land with you, Matt?
Matt: This is another one of those things where stuff is kind of rushed. The whiplash from “Oh no, Captain Cold lost a hand!” to “Oh wait, Rip can just make him a new one” is pretty severe. (By the way, how perfect is to have a limb-restoring machine in a DC Comics property? It’s like Rip knows.) Likewise, we kind of don’t get a lot of time to let Mick-is-Chronos sink in before it’s time for reform.
Dylan: I did like the hand machine, despite the Tron-level graphic on that user interface. And yeah, in case you forgot this was a DC show… SMDH. (Sliced My Darn Hand)
Matt: That said, I do like the team coming together to try to help him after basically giving up on the guy before. They’re all people who need redemption of one kind or another, so how can they judge this dude for needing it himself? There’s some pretty good drama at the heart of this show if you look for it. Maybe watch it at half speed.
Dylan: I’d have liked one more episode of knowing Mick is Chronos, make it matter just a little more. We know he’s going to reform and maybe/probably sacrifice himself to save his friends? I feel like this developing as quickly as it did sort of sort of sucked the dramatic tension out of the situation, but I’m willing to be wrong.
Matt: Even with all that, I definitely prefer that the show move things along quickly rather than drag them out like some others do (*cough*Arrow*cough*). I’ll take expedience over stretching a tiny little bit of plot over an episode or even a season any time I can.
Dylan: Oh definitely, And we’re past the halfway point on the season, so we’re on a mad rush to the final showdown with everybody’s favorite Immortal Eastern European Egyptian Warlord.
Matt: And next week, we’re going to the future --- 2147, specifically --- to get him. The preview indicates that this is a “Would you kill Hitler as a child” scenario. If it is, it’s going to be bananas.