‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1, Episode 2: ‘Pilot, Part 2′
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 to deliver our Legends of Tomorrow post-show analysis. This week, our heroes and their more entertaining villain chums are still goofing around in the 70s, and some people might not make it out of the decade alive. (Well, obviously.) "Pilot, Part 2" was directed by Glen Winter, and written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim, and Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg.
Dylan: Before we get started, I have to admit that all of my critical focus for this show has been obliterated after this episode. I know it’s not perfect TV, but there was so much in this episode that was either enjoyable or just plain bonkers enough for me to completely lose my ability to be reasonable with regard to this show. But let’s get on with the show, as they say in the Biz.
We start this week’s episode off where we left it: the heady days of 1975. After a voiceover intro by Rip Hunter, Time Master (which is an actual thing that happened on a TV show), his future ship took his Legends through a doorway to Norway in hopes of locating everybody’s favorite aggressively-European-accented immortal Egyptian, Vandal Savage. From there, we branch out to main quests, side-quests and boss battles with varying degrees of success. What did you think of the episode, Matt?
Matt: That’s... a complicated question, because in my brain, I know it was completely, totally dumb as hell. It had a mini-Back to the Future plot. The team’s plans and machinations are dubious, at best. There were a shocking number of pot jokes.
In my heart, I loved it, though. Every Captain Cold line delivery, Sara just straight-up strolling out of a criminal’s high-tech lab with a “later y’all,” the complete insanity of going to the first act break with a nuclear explosion. It’s the full-out superhero craziness I’ve been asking for from Arrow for years now. I can’t exactly complain about it now, and I don’t want to.
Dylan: So one of the first tasks The Gang has to complete is infiltrating and navigating an illegal arms auction. You know, for terrorists. This is an amazing scene for a number of reasons, the least of which is the fact that, in order to bid on the weapons, the bad guys have to shoot their gun into the air like Yosemite Sam. It’s amazing.
Matt: As this scene was happening, I could feel myself trying to process it. “They’re trying to get into this secret meeting with an orange note card that looks like an ice cream coupon.” “This is a weapons auction for 1970s terrorists groups in the middle of Norway.” “Damien Darhk from Arrow is here, and aside from his Bond villain outfit he looks exactly the same as he does on that show.”
And then people started firing their guns into the air to bid on a nuclear warhead, and I just sat back and accepted it.
Dylan: Yeah, I did like the roleplaying game feel of them trying to break into the auction, with Captain Cold totally failing his Bluff check only to be saved when Stein rolls up a critical success on a Deception check and boom, they’re in. It made zero sense, but it also worked, which I think is sort of what this show has going for it at this point. And Savage realizing they’re fakes and turning the crowd on them by essentially offering a coupon to whichever terrorist killed them dead was amazing. Who knew terrorists liked a good deal as much as the rest of us?
Matt: It was all very Fallout, right down to the nuclear warhead. I expected a Mr. Handy to be in there handing out lemonade. And I did enjoy Savage just looking at these folks and thinking, “Hey, they’re not terrorists!”
Dylan: So is Damien Darhk immortal, too? And does Sara not know who he is? Because I feel like at some point she should have been like, “Oh hey!” except maybe she was stoned, so who knows.
Matt: If I recall correctly, I don’t think she’s had any face-to-face run-ins with him, and even if she did, they would have been when she was Lazarus Pit-crazed, so it makes some sense that she wouldn’t necessarily know him. As for Darhk, I have no clue. Arrow definitely doesn’t know what to do with him, so what the hell, let’s make him immortal and toss him in there. And he was supposedly an associate of Ra’s al Ghul, for what that’s worth.
Dylan: Honestly, any chance I get to look at my fellow Pale Bro Neal McDonough, I will take. I am a fan of that dude since Boomtown times.
Matt: His performance is the only reason that character works even a little.
Dylan: So, after they botch the assassination attempt at the arms auction, Rip Hunter informs them that a piece of Ray’s Atom suit fell off or whatever, and Savage’s goons got it, so they have to steal it back. In order to do this, they need Young Professor Stein’s Alpha Wave detector, which leads to a hilarious side-quest where White Canary, Jax and Stein try and charm Young Stoner Stein into giving up the goods, but they only make things worse. How’d this land for you, Matt?
Matt: It veered really hard into Back to the Future territory, and the crisis involving Stein never meeting his wife is barely a plot. It ends with a Rip ex machina. Still, it’s a fun little thing. My one question is: How does older Stein not remember that younger him built a tracker for his alpha particle detector? (This is how the young Stein finds Rip’s ship, the Shrip, so he can yell at his older self, who he doesn’t know is his older self.) Is memory loss one of those “long-term effects” of marijuana Stein brought up?
Dylan: Yeah, the No Prize explanation is that he was so stoned he forgot, but it was all really silly. Canary hitting on him made me kind of wish this show had more non-Hawkperson boning, though. What good is time travel if you’re not going to have cross-time sex capers?
Matt: Let’s create a spin-off of this spin-off. “Sara Lance Time Sex Conquest.” It can be like the porno that has all the explicit sex cut out. Just tons of innuendo and bad costumes in front of a cheap set that looks like the Colosseum.
Dylan: Meanwhile, Atom, Heat Wave and Captain Cold head off to steal a knife from some Knife Culture rando and also (unbeknownst to Ray Palmer) do some Time Criiiiimes. If we get these odd groupings every week, I will be so happy, because part of the fun so far is seeing these seemingly bizarre matches kind of work out once things get going. I thought Atom and Cold’s little talk about how similar their lives are under all the good guy/bad guy layers was really nice. They’re just two bros stuck in a cage, you know?
Matt: And they’re both tinkerers. What I really liked about that interaction was how Captain Cold never lost his funky line delivery and quirky, near Batman ‘66 sheen, but also got to have a character moment with someone who seems altogether different from him at first glance. That’s the kind of drama you’re looking for in a team-that’s-forced-together-by-circumstances scenario, and they found a place for it in the midst of all the chaos. I agree, it was good.
Dylan: It also helped that Brandon Routh was out of that costume that just looks so painful. It’s gotta be hard to act in that thing.
Matt: I’d say the hardest part has to be having that light shining directly into his eyes all the time.
Dylan: It just seems like a nightmare; poor guy. Somewhat related: when they were fighting all the terrorists, how great was it that Atom was action figure-sized and punching dudes? How embarrassed would you be to know you got beat up by a Ken doll?
Matt: Pretty bad, but I’d probably take that over getting blasted with a fire gun. Maybe I was hallucinating from the contact high, but I swear that when the ATOM suit showed up later in tiny form, it just flat-out looked like the plastic costume of a Kenner action figure. I want to believe it was.
Dylan: Back at the time ship, Hawkman is still being terrible, trying to trigger Chay-Ara’s knowledge of ancient Egyptian while also trying to make out with her like a creep. Easily the worst part of the episode, though it did lead to the Hawkpeople confronting Savage, which led to Carter Hall getting shanked by Vandal Savage, who then (and I am not joking here) straight up vaped his soul. So that’s nice.
I literally cheered for his death because I am a monster. I think we both knew one of the Hawks was going to bite it along the way and honestly, Hawkman taking a ceremonial knife to the gut made the most sense narratively, but will you miss Hawkman?
Matt: Not even a little. I honestly have a huge fear that he’s just going to show up reincarnated (or they’ll pull another him from another time) and there’s even a tiny nod to it when he dies. I hope he stays gone. There’s a scene on the ship where Hawkwoman is kind of edging toward allowing that they were lovers in their past lives and that she’s had a couple visions, and Hawkman’s first move is to try to make out. It’s instantaneous and creepy and borderline assaultive. Her reaction, quite rightly, is “What the hell are you doing?”
What a gross guy. Goodbye forever.
Dylan: Yeah, I mean, I have no idea how their reincarnation stuff works, and given Geoff Johns’ lack of response to my queries regarding if Hawkpeople give live birth or lay eggs, we may never know, but they possibly did set it up so he’d be reincarnated in 1975 and, when they eventually return to 2016, be roughly ten years older than Falk Hentschel is now, so who knows.
Matt: But isn’t this 2016 Hawkman who’s dying? Isn’t there another, 1975 Hawkman running around?
Dylan: Oh geez. Is there gonna be a baby showing at Hawkwoman’s door, trying to make out with her? All giving her love knives and whatnot?
Matt: I’d live with it if that meant we just got Falk Hentschel wearing baby clothes and having to play a baby.
Dylan: Another bonus to Hawkman dying is seeing every other character’s halfhearted pledge to avenge his death. “I didn’t really know him and he seemed like a creep, but I have literally nothing else going on, so let’s go kill Vandal Savage, I guess!”
Matt: I loved Captain Cold saying that he didn’t know Hawkman “from Adam” (not to be confused with ATOM) but he was in his “crew,” so Savage has to get got. Also, everyone kept referring to him as “Savage” in that scene, which completely made me wish we still had Randy Savage today to play that role.
Dylan: Oh man, I would be into that. Vandal Savage’s dialogue would still be largely incomprehensible, but a different kind of incomprehensible. And I just want to go on record and say that I want to hear Casper Crump (what a fantastic name!) talk for the entirety of the episodes. His voice is like music, but not like, good music. His voice is like if a Captain Beefheart song was a voice. I love it.
Matt: When he started speaking Egyptian, I expected a Stargate to open up. It was like the ominous chanting that you hear set to dark music in movies.
Dylan: Long live Casper Crump.
Matt: Can we talk a bit about how Rip Hunter’s role just seems to be scolding this team he brought together to help him save his family all the time? It’s making me really dislike him, and I thought Arthur Darvill was great on Doctor Who.
Honestly, if you’re going to get so huffy at a guy for losing a piece of his future suit in a fight with terrorists, why did you go recruit a guy with a future suit and bring him back to 1975? You are at least a little culpable here, Rip.
Dylan: Yeah, Rip Hunter: Time Scold was a bore. As much as I liked the quest-based plotting of the episode, his character seems the most broken after the premiere to me. Like, we got his motivation, but it’s boring, and his character seems really one-note. In a show where a large percentage of the cast seems to be having a blast doing time stuff, having Hunter lean on things and throw tantrums is a real buzzkill.
Matt: Of all the characters to make humorless and holier-than-thou, they chose the guy with a time-traveling spaceship? Who wears a swashbuckling pirate belt? Come on, allow the guy to have a modicum of fun. He’s like the put-upon teacher who can’t get his class in line. It’s tedious.
Dylan: I get it: it’s a large cast and finding a voice and assignment for everybody is tough, but I would really love for him to branch out of this mode he’s been stuck in.
Matt: Speaking of characters stuck in modes: Did it worry you at all that Hawkwoman’s suddenly going to be defined by being sad about Hawkman all the time? I’ve liked her up to now because she’s been such a counterpoint to Hawkman, but by the end of this, she’s talking about all her regrets of not telling him she remembered she loved him.
Dylan: Man, I hope not. It’s a huge flaw in the character, for her to not be able to have her own volition when it comes to love. I’m sure we’ll get an episode of her coming to terms with it (or less, given how quickly she got over her Old Son biting it last episode) and we’ll be back to her flying around, smashing evil in the face with a mace. I mean, given what Savage said, she’s going ot have to be the one to kill him (and shouldn’t Hawkman have known that?) to end their cross-time feud. But yeah, I hope we don’t have her wallow for too long.
Matt: I hate-loved Savage bringing out the whole “Hawkwoman has to kill me” thing, because it’s essentially, “Here’s my justification for staying on the show all season and nobody just burning me to death with a heat ray.” And Rip Hunter ran in and confirmed he knew it all along. Lore-wise, this show just does whatever the eff it wants. It can be frustrating, but I respect it.
Dylan: There is a lot of hand-waving on display, starting off with Hunter saying some mumbo-jumbo about how you can’t interfere with events that affect you because timestream-bloobity-bloop or whatever and then he Time-Wingman’s Young Professor Stein so Old Professor Stein can get married to a woman he never sees because he’s too busy hanging out with young buff dudes. On one hand, it’s kind of wishy-washy, on the other, we get evil auctions, cage-bonding and soul-vaping, so I’m gonna say it’s a fair trade.
Matt: One last question before we wrap up: Those scientist guys who work for Vandal Savage (and how did they end up with those jobs anyway) definitely died after Sara took the ATOM tech, right? Savage gave them 24 hours to reverse-engineer it, and instead they lost the thing.
Dylan: Oh yeah, them and the security guards at his house are all buried in shallow graves somewhere in Norway.
Matt: Hope none of them were important to the timestream.
Dylan: Ah, whatever. I mean, what did a scientist ever invent, right?
And that’s it for this week! Join us again next week as we go all the way back to Egypt for some surefire shenanigans.