‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1, Episode 12: ‘Last Refuge’
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.
This week's episode, "Last Refuge," finds the team in a tough spot: An assassin is hunting down their younger selves and attempting to kill them before they can make trouble for the Time Masters. It gets paradoxy! The episode was directed by Rachel Talalay and was written by Chris Fedak and Matthew Maala.
Dylan: Matt, did we just watch a primetime TV show that revolved heavily around our heroes kidnapping baby versions of themselves? What is even happening here?
Matt: It took 12 episodes, but the time travel stuff on this show finally collapsed under its own weight in this one. I think where it really lost me is Ray almost getting killed in the past (2014 Star City, even though it wasn’t called that then), which leads to him being hurt, but not dying, in the nebulous future. We see an example of time-assassin Pilgrim’s amazing time assassination abilities early on, and there, the guy she’s Loopering falls down and basically disappears.
With Ray, it, like, hurts him in the future when his past self gets hurt, but then the Legends show up and save him so he gets better? This is the show not playing by rules it just established. My note here was, “This is some nonsense.”
As for the baby kidnapping, it made a degree of sense, I guess, but it sort of put our heroes in a weird place of being kidnappers. And their family and friends... just forgot about them? But honestly, that was the least of this episode’s time-travel preposterousness.
Dylan: Oh, definitely. There was a scene where they tried to explain the rules that just sounded, in my brain, like a bunch of bees in a jar. Like you said, why hang a lamp on the fact that you’re playing loosey-goosey with the time travel rules you just established? It was almost worth it to see Widdle BB Leonard Snart all wrapped up in a navy blue blanket, because Captain Cold didn’t choose the ice life, it chose him.
Matt: And he’s being babysat by Sullen Teen Heat Wave, who wears a red jacket. Why isn’t that a show? Let’s lobby for that spinoff.
Here’s the thing that got me the most, though: They kidnap these babies and then don’t return them. At the end of the episode, the babies are still on the ship and they’re not immediately taking them back where they belong even though Pilgrim is dead. They’re risking erasing themselves from time as some kind of strategy against Savage? It’s off the deep end.
Dylan: I kept waiting for some sort of sign at the end of the episode that things had changed a little bit for them due to their mucking around, but nope. They mentioned it, but then they were like, “Well, let’s just go to the future and fight Vandal Savage even though I said we couldn’t do that like two episodes ago.”
So we got introduced to The Pilgrim, who is trying to kill off all the Legends before they can join Rip’s team. After being foiled in her attempt on teen Heat Wave, she tries to kill teen Sara in Starling City, 2007. Aside from some hilarious wigs, we also got a glimpse of a pre-League of Shadows Sara. Having not seen a lot of the earlier episode of Arrow, what’s her deal? When does she end up getting ninja-fied?
Matt: Before I answer that, I do want to mention how --- surprising no one --- I thought Caity Lotz was the best part of this episode by far. She’s the only actor who actually plays her younger self, and she’s very believably 18 or however old she’s supposed to be. Past Sara is so different from the present-day version that you can instantly tell the difference between them just from voice and mannerisms. (Being in the League of Assassins does the same thing that smoking does to one’s voice, it seems.) I think there were some lighting and makeup effects to make her look younger, too, but it’s a really good performance.
Dylan: See, I thought her younger self portrayal suffered from that sort of bouncy, arm-swingy thing that you see in amateur theater when an actor is playing younger, but it didn;t wreck the episode for me.
Matt: As for her deal, it’s this: She’s the sister of Laurel Lance and daughter of police Detective Quentin Lance, and up until she got on a yacht with Oliver Queen to go to the South China Sea, she had a pretty normal life. That yacht sank and Sara ended up having to survive on Flashback Island with Ollie for a while, but then she got recruited into the League of Assassins. That’s the short version.
Dylan: Ah, okay. I kind of figured there was some sort of thing, since Rip asked her why she didn’t warn her dad and his hilarious wig, or her teen self, about some portentous boat ride; I just wasn’t sure of the specifics.
Matt: Rip should have also mentioned that she was played by a different actress in those Arrow first-season boat-sinking scenes, and how they might want to go back and change that.
Dylan: Ha! One big subplot this episode is Jax getting to meet his dad and, possibly, changing his past and future once it “sets.” How’d this subplot work for you?
Matt: I thought the scenes between Franz Drameh and Eli Goree (the actor who plays Jax’s dad) were pretty good. Drameh really got to play the emotion of it. It was a little weird that it ends up being a mystery whether Papa Jackson will live or not, since Gideon usually knows what has changed, like, instantly.
The bigger problem with it is the overall problem with Pilgrim’s third-act plan to threaten the team’s loved ones if she can’t have their younger selves: She takes Papa Jackson like, three days before he’s supposed to die anyway. Same goes for Ray’s fiancee. What kind of threat is that? “This person who’s going to die anyway? I’m gonna kill them!” If anything, she’s giving Jax and Ray the opportunity to save them, even though Ray seems pretty disinterested in that idea.
Dylan: Ray’s got a new lady now and she has gigantic hawk wings. Move over, Anna.
Matt: Just like your typical cishet white male, only interested in wing size.
Dylan: We also got a subplot around Kendra and Ray, that started with a timestream beating by the Pilgrim and resulted in them getting engaged and then un-engaged and then engaged again, I think? I thought it was great that like mere moments after Rip explained that the Pilgrim was gonna come after them by trying to kill them in the past, Ray started getting all these weird injuries and it takes everybody a good two minutes to put it all together. What did you think of the lovey stuff this episode, Matt? Did it work for you?
Matt: It was kind of a bunch of nothing. I guess it’s interesting that Kendra and Ray are going to get married, but did she really have to accept when Ray’s dead fiancee from the past is basically within earshot? Is Hawkwoman one of those people who loves the idea of “danger” in a relationship?
Dylan: I mean, when your life is defined by being stabbed by a long-haired immortal creep, you find your pleasures wherever you can.
Let’s talk about the Pilgrim, who can travel whenever in time and has basically every superpower that is expedient to the story: she’s bulletproof, can reflect force back on the heroes and can seemingly slow down time to allow her to dodge bullets like in The Matrix. I’d have loved more of a character to be there, but she serves her purpose as a cold, calculating Terminator-type who’s out to kill all these people like it’s her job, because it is. What did you think of the Pilgrim, Matt?
Matt: She is definitely... overpowered. Not only can she do Bullet Time, she can also make it so she’s untraceable when she’s going traveling through the time stream. (I do want to note how good those effects looked, though. Some of the best effects on the show so far.)
Only a (very well cast) young-boy version of Rip Hunter, former cutpurse that he was, can distract her long enough for the entire team to murder her in unison. Once again, I suppose the debate about killing is settled.
Dylan: That was so weird. She was literally a pile of ash when they got done with her. Like, these dudes are savage. I also like that their plan amounted to: get this kid to stab her in the leg a couple of times and then everybody just shoot whatever you got at her.
Matt: Until she is dust.
As for her competence, she seems like she’s a great planner, but, as I mentioned... her plan is terrible. She seems like she’s a great combat strategist, but then in the big prisoner trade, when she asks where the rest of the team is and Rip says, “Around,” she doesn’t bail on it immediately, even though that definitely means there’s an ambush coming. In short, I wanted her to be better, too.
Dylan: She definitely felt like a concept more than a character, and that’s a shame.
Matt: The characters had to talk up how great she was because in practice, she was a one-off villain at best, which is indeed kind of a shame. What a waste of a Wildstorm.
Dylan: More like a Mildstorm, am I right? Haha we have fun here at ComicsAlliance.
So we also got a little glimpse into the structure of the Time Masters, with the weird orphanage RIp grew up in, as well as the information that the Masters are all orphans, plucked from time and sent off to repair the time stream by their callous masters.
Matt: Also of note is that the orphanage is in “a secret location in history,” whatever that means. By the way the headmistress acts, it’s a location where the only thing to watch is Downton Abbey reruns on repeat. Everything that lady does is a staunch reminder that she is deeply English.
Dylan: Yeah, the stylized Victorian feel of the orphanage was a weird tone shift, though it did lend a certain Dickensian quality to Rip’s backstory. Which, did Captain Cold read this week’s script? Because the minute the episode starts, he’s constantly haranguing Rip over the fact that they don’t know about his past because… we’re going to delve into his past this week.
Matt: This show is getting silly enough that I could 100% imagine a season-three plot about Leonard time and dimension-hopping into the LoT writers’ room and getting some scoops.
Dylan: I would enjoy that.
Matt: Again, if you’re going to go the nonsensical route, embrace it, right? I have high hopes that this show will be beautifully bananas in the near future.
Dylan: I’m hoping so. While this episode was perfectly fine, it also dragged like a sonuvagun and turned a pretty interesting villain into kind of a one-dimensional bore.
The best stuff for me was anything involving Mick Rory, who’s gone from a guy who growls exclusively about fire to a pretty nuanced character. His scenes with Young Mick were really touching and his comedic stuff (him and Rip as The Worst Fake Doctors Ever) was great. I like that they’re using this show to sort of fix stuff in these characters that would make a second season difficult, but like we talked about, the wonkiness of the “rules” of time travel on this show cause just as much damage as they fix sometimes. What really stood out for you this episode, Matt?
Matt: Aside from Caity Lotz’ impressive dual role, I did think the Heat Wave stuff was really good. He’s smart, except when he’s not, like thinking that a baby that has been born is “pre-natal.”
I’m also... cautiously optimistic about next week’s episode, where the team takes on full-power Vandal Savage (and... is that Chemo?). More than anything, I just hope it follows the pattern of bad episode/good episode that the show has set up.
Dylan: Oh, you mean these guys are actually going to fight the guy they were brought together to fight? For a group of superheroes brought together to kill Vandal Savage, these guys have spent an inordinate amount of time procrastinating this inevitable showdown.
Matt: Oh yeah, they’re professional procrastinators. The Legends of We’ll Do It Tomorrow.