‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Recap: Season 2, Episode 3: ‘Shogun’
The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow follows a time-traveling team of misfits that includes historian Nate Heywood, Arrow’s Atom and White Canary, both halves of Firestorm and Flash rogue Heat Wave. Recappers Matt Wilson and Dylan Todd are on hand to deliver our Legends of Tomorrow post-show analysis, Stuff of Legends.
On this week's "Shogun," the team fights... well, a shogun. Also, Stein and Jax get a secret, mysterious message from the future. Kevin Tancharoen directed the episode, which was written by Phil Klemmer and Grainne Godfree.
Dylan: So this week’s episode gets right down to business, showing off Nate Heywood’s new superpowers, as well as setting up Vixen’s motivation for tagging along with the Legends. In Nate’s case, he can turn himself into a steel guy, and Vixen has stowed away on the Waverider to seek revenge for Hourman, who managed to choke out “time traveler” before he died. How do you like the new additions to the team?
Matt: They’re good for now, but I’m hoping for better things. Vixen has cool powers and I like the way Maisie Richardson-Sellers plays her, but so far she has been pretty devoid of personality. She tells one story about her childhood, and grows to trust Mick a little, but it kinda feels like there’s not a lot to her besides being a serious person. I’m hoping for a little more there.
As for Nate, he’s brimming with personality in this one. This despite the fact that he can’t figure out the perfect code name for him would be “Doctor Steel” since he’s a doctor. That’s just basic stuff. (I figure he’ll end up being Citizen Steel somehow.) I did, however, kind of get the feeling that --- besides being a history guy who knows history stuff --- he is... exactly Ray? Down to the “reluctant hero” stuff, his arc will be Ray’s from last season. Pairing the two of them up this episode made it very clear to me. Am I way off on that?
Dylan: No, you’re totally right. The big thing with Nate is that I really don’t understand why we need him. Like you said, his personality is basically Ray, his powers are… kind of limited, and he’s otherwise dull. Beyond being the guy who can drop history facts for the writers, he serves no purpose here. He’s just… here. Also, are they really just gonna call him “Steel”? Cuz we already have a Steel and he is Shaquille O’Neal, thankyouverymuch.
Matt: Damn right.
I mean, he’s clearly Rip Hunter, take two, right? An attempt at a more likeable center of the team --- if not leader, because Sara has thankfully taken that role. The trouble is they already had a white dude whose main attributes are being affable and knowledgeable and a little goofy.
Dylan: The meat of the episode focuses on Ray and Nate, who fell out of the Waverider and landed in Edo-period Japan. If you guessed that Nate was gonna go completely The Last Samurai, you win a prize. Ray’s struggling with having to blow up his armor to get it away from an evil shogun, and Nate’s having trouble getting his steel body powers to work. How’d you like this stuff, Matt?
Matt: It’s all very “filler episode,” especially considering that them even being there is a total accident because of Waverider goofers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nate bringing his historical knowledge to bear so he immediately knows the reputation of shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu (a real historical figure, not a DC Comics character) is some good narrative expediency. At the same time, the stuff about Nate suddenly not being able to access his powers just after he got them seems like a complication built in solely to stretch things out, so... maybe it’s a wash.
The plot of the episode definitely verges into “damsel in distress” territory, but at least Masako stands up to the shogun she’s being forced to marry. That’s something.
Dylan: Yeah, and they leave her in a pretty interesting place, as protector of their village. (And given the very wink-wink-y Easter Egg that she’s an ancestor of DC’s Katana, the math checks out.) The B-team, comprised of Sara, Heat Wave and Vixen, are tasked with rescuing Ray, who’s been captured by a local warlord. How’d you like this bit? Because, spoilers, I loved these characters together, and not just because they talked about ninjas a lot. Sara especially is very badass this episode. It’s really great to see her thrive as the leader, and her budding friendship with Amaya is real fun.
Matt: Yeah, I’m hoping Sara and Mick can be the ones to bring out a little more personality in Vixen. That seems to be the direction they’re going. The whole argument about whether ninjas exist or not comes basically out of nowhere, but it’s pretty fun and it leads to a mention of the Cannon Films classic Ninja III: The Domination, so I can’t help but approve.
Dylan: I just love that Mick Rory’s one big aspiration in life is to prove that ninjas exist.
Matt: The man loves ninjas! That’s something he and I have in common.
Dylan: Also, this episode continues his quest for food on the Waverider. I appreciate his love of sandwiches and snacks. We are all Mick Rory.
Matt: I bet that’s his character bio: “Just like you, if you were a murderer.”
Dylan: Meanwhile, Jax and Stein uncover Rip Hunter’s Chamber of Secrets, as well as a future voicemail from Future Barry Allen, AKA The Flash. One thing we talked about a lot last season was the trouble the writers got themselves into finding something for everybody to do, but I felt like they managed to keep everybody busy without having them laid out in the sick bay for an episode. Do you agree or am I full of crap here?
Matt: I do agree, but it’s always weird to me when the team decides to leave Jax on the ship. Like, in what circumstance do you say, “Hey, we probably don’t need a Firestorm for this one. We got it.”
Dylan: “Well, we need Firestorm, but we gotta save some money on the budget for later in the season, so… secret room?” is probably more apt.
So Nate finally gets a hold of himself and steels up in time to defeat the Atom-suit-wearing shogun and says goodbye to his time-sweetie, Ray learns the being a hero doesn’t mean wearing a suit, Mick and Amaya forge an uneasy friendship, Stein and Jax have a secret, and Sara flies them off into the time-set. The actual plot of the episode sort of plays out exactly like you’d think it would, but I kind of thought the little character bits redeemed it a lot. Do you agree or nah?
Matt: I think you’re right. Nate went from being a whole bunch of nothing to being a sympathetic character (though, again, he’s pretty similar to Ray). I went back and forth on whether his “here’s something from the future you don’t know about” references were funny or annoying, but it’s straight out of Back to the Future, so I can’t hate it. And though the plot was totally by-the-numbers, the outcome, with the destruction of the Atom suit, leads to some interesting questions. Namely, where does Ray go from here? For a filler episode, I do think this one accomplished some stuff.
Dylan: We’ve talked a little about how he’s sort of Ray-ish. Do you think they’re going to ditch the Atom? Is Nate the new Ray?
Matt: I hope not. I like Ray a bunch, and he has progressed considerably further as a character than Nate has. Replacing Ray with Nate is just taking a step back, honestly. What I’d prefer is finding something that differentiates the two a little further.
Dylan: I totally agree.
Matt: Yo, can we talk about the village for a second? Because from all I could tell, that village the shogun was attacking was one (1) torii. You brought up the Firestorm budget, but they were also clearly hurting on the village budget.
Dylan: Halfway through the episode, my wife, who barely pays attention to these shows, looked up from her phone and said, “Does this sort of look like a Power Rangers episode?” And it totally did. That same cheapness and “generic forest in Canada/New Zealand” feeling prevailed.
Matt: And as cool as it was that they showed up, those ninjas Heat Wave fought off could have definitely been putties. I assume Rita sent them anyway.
Dylan: So are we saying the CWverse is in the Power Rangers Universe? Did we create a fan theory?
Matt: A Jason David Frank guest spot in like, season five is something I’d lay money down on.
Dylan: Oh that is for sure gonna happen. He’ll be playing Richard Dragon or something. Which… wouldn’t be terrible TBH?
So Stein and Jax listened to Rip Hunter’s voicemail from Future Barry and are now acting like a couple weirdos. What do you think the Firestorm Bros’ secret is? Possibly Thawne-related?
Matt: Probably Thawne-related. It honestly feels like a cop-out that the Firestorm Fellas got to hear the full message and the audience didn’t. I hope they don’t stretch out that mystery forever. Then again, Jax mentioned Lost, so they probably will.
Dylan: For a 13-episode show, they sure do like to stretch stuff out.
Matt: You don’t get to be a legend unless your story stretches out just a little too long. And gets interrupted by Confederate zombies, as we’ll see next week.
Dylan: I’m crossing my fingers for the Haunted Tank.
Matt: Aw, now you got my hopes up.
Dylan: Matt, what if the Haunted Tank joins the Legends of Tomorrow? Them all having to strap him in before they time-jump. Rolling into the kitchen and cussing out Mick for “eating all the consarned Funny Onions!” The eventual begrudging respect for Jax and Amaya.
Matt: Dylan, please stop. The disappointment when this doesn’t happen is going to be too much to bear.
Dylan: I will not apologize for daring to dream of a better tomorrow.
Matt: You are a true optimist.