‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 2, Episode 13: ‘Land of the Lost’
The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow follows a time-traveling team of misfits that includes historian Nate Heywood, Vixen, Arrow’s Atom and White Canary, both halves of Firestorm, and Flash rogue Heat Wave. Recappers Matt Wilson and James Leask are on hand to deliver our Legends of Tomorrow post-show analysis, Stuff of Legends.
This week's episode, "Land of the Lost," finds our heroes trapped in prehistoric times, in the Waverider, and in the prisons of their own minds. And also by their feelings. The episode was directed by Ralph Hemecker, from a script by Keto Shimizu and Ray Utarnachitt.
Matt: You know, James, I don’t usually get emotional when things happen on this show, but a tear certainly entered my eye when regular old jerkwad good guy Captain Rip Hunter finally returned to the team at the end of this one. It was so nice without him! But now he’s back.
At least he seems... I dunno, mellower?
James: We can only hope that a couple of months being a much more interesting person has chastened him somewhat. That is, when he is not having extremely unchaste thoughts about Gideon.
Matt: Okay, I didn’t know if I wanted to get into this up front, but we’re doing it, so let’s do it. Sara and Jax go into Rip’s mind to retrieve his real personality from inside. He’s trapped in there by the NegaLegends, but we’ll get to them in a sec. Also in there is a humanoid and darn near fully human Gideon, for whom Rip feels some feelings. And, you know what, that’s fine. Gideon has a personality and intelligence, and Rip has spent a lot of time with her.
But isn’t it weird that his wife and son just plain aren’t in there at all? Was I missing something there?
James: I think, in any of these situations on shows like this, it’s largely hand-waveable by the necessity of focusing on the actual show’s characters, and on a show like this --- which fudges the exposition a lot in general --- I find it relatively easy to believe that for whatever reason --- like, say, something to do with the Legion’s programming, or just random chance or whatever --- Rip’s mind prison is exclusively his friends, i.e. the regular cast of the show. Plus, it really saves on building another set.
And I wasn’t sure where we’d get into that whole thing this quickly, but not only was it a surprisingly horny episode, even for the CW, but they promised dino action and didn’t deliver, and what’s left to talk about? Everybody wanting to have sex with a spaceship. Mass Effect has a new game coming out, after all.
Matt: Oh jeez, it was quite Mass Effecty, wasn’t it? But along those lines --- and despite the glaring omission of Rip’s family that he spent all of last season trying to get back --- I thought this episode did do a pretty good job of acknowledging character histories and relationships.
Ray getting to use his prehistoric know-how and show more than just a few seconds of him in the Cretaceous period was good stuff. Sara’s figurative and literal battle with herself was good. And even the stuff with Amaya, as contrived as “you can’t change the timeline because think of the kids” is, wasn’t bad.
James: I think I might have been a little cooler on the episode than you, but I did appreciate that the episode pretty quickly left behind the premise of the cliffhanger from two weeks ago, which made it seem like Rip would be running wild in the Waverider. I wasn’t looking forward to that hypothetical episode as much, since we more or less already got it a few weeks ago in “Turncoat.”
In comparison, I really did like that the episode seemed to make an effort to discuss relationships, be it Rip’s relationships with the crew (and the ship), Nate and Amaya, Stein and Jax, and Sara and herself. But at times, I still felt like the show was doing a bunch of half stories and not really committing to enough of them, if that makes sense. Even Amaya’s plot --- and you and I have discussed how badly she needs it --- was really just about Nate and the ethics of boning down with someone from the 40s.
Matt: Oh, for sure. I’m just taking my victories where I can get them. Like how the start of this episode made sure we got a little clarity from the last one, where the Legends aren’t quite as stupid as we thought. They told Gideon not to listen to Rip, but it turned out he had codes. Dang those codes!
And I was pleased that we got something other than a bottle episode. In fact, this was one of the more effects-heavy episodes in a while, with the extended ship crash sequence, lots of Evil Firestorm (who basically engulfs Jax in flame at one point with no consequence) and that little tease with the T-Rex.
But yeah, of course it’d be great if Amaya had a character with some motivation. Making it all about how she has to have a granddaughter so she can appear in a streaming-service animated show and Arrow is not the way to do that.
James: I did appreciate that the episode leaned on the effects a bit more than others have recently, though I did find it funny that we finally got to see Firestorm again and it wasn’t quite him. It’s still effectively the same thing, but the show definitely seemed to be having fun with keeping Jax and Stein separated while still incorporating Firestorm.
I know I’ve been the downer of the episode so far --- I didn’t even get into Mick Rory’s casual sexism about women drivers --- but I did like that, imperfect or not, “Land of the Lost” did commit to having some good forward movement, as well as some really nice moments. Like you, I really did enjoy the final scene of the episode with Rip addressing the team, and I also thought Arthur Darvill did a heck of a job in the reveal that Rip remembers all the crummy stuff he did, whether it was as Evil Rip With Good Hair, or almost erasing Star Wars from existence.
Matt: Just to be clear, I was crying because I hate Rip, not because that scene was great (everyone seemed really tired for some reason). Though it was one of the only times it felt like Rip was actually bonding with any of them since the show started.
James: I’m hoping one of the side effects of a couple months of Evil Rip is that Good Rip is actually a bit of a better guy now. Because I think the reason I liked the end of the episode --- as much as I’m going to miss Evil Rip --- is that he did seem a bit different, at least in the limited amount of time we saw him.
I also thought the episode had some great humor, whether it was Mick digging into Stein by declaring himself to be the lead scientist on the journey inside Rip’s mind, or Brandon Routh friggin’ stealing the episode by explaining that he accidentally made enemies with a T-Rex because he needed protein and one of her eggs made like 70 omelettes. Ray Palmer is too good for this world.
Matt: The expression Routh made when he came back to the urine-ringed camp with the iguana was an absolute delight. Routh has really been the MVP of the show since the mid-season premiere, and Ray Palmer has skyrocketed to become the most likable character. I say this as a noted and vocal Sara Lance stan, so you know I mean it.
James: I’m interested to see what the show does with Rip back on the Waverider, since Sara has really tried to grow into her captaincy in his absence. There was a hint of that as a comedy beat at the end of the episode, where both characters respond to Gideon giving an update to the captain, and I hope they don’t let that go by the wayside.
Matt: Stein definitely called him “Mr. Hunter” there at the very end, so maybe Sara will actually stay captain? Maybe Rip will learn a little humility and not try to make everything about him and his weird martyr complex? Maybe he’ll actually think about the feelings and agency of those around him?
Haha, sorry I disappeared there for a minute, James. I had to laugh for several minutes at all those thoughts.
James: It’s okay, I just played some Zelda.
I agree that it would be an absolute shame if literally everything they did with Rip this season was negated by his return to the ship, because he absolutely made the best villain on the show to date. I’m trying to remain optimistic about this possibility, in part because the show seemed to actually hint at doing something with it. But I’ve been burned before.
Matt: So what else? They told the one Stein/Jax story where Stein learns he should respect Jax as a partner that they’ve told at least four times already. Nate finally decided to break it off with Vixen, but, haha, not until tomorrow, because Nate sucks.
And very little Legion of Doom. Just a quick Reverse Flash appearance there at the end to set up next week’s show, which looks to be absolutely bananas.
James: “Bananas” is this show’s best gear; just look at “Camelot/3000,” where the ridiculousness of a lot of the episode definitely allowed us to glaze over some of the less smooth parts. And as someone who loves the story of the Apollo 13 mission enough to shout “Jack Swigert!” at the screen when he appears at the end, I’m hoping for bananas. Maybe the real cause of the Apollo 13 crisis is time hijinks.
Matt: Tijinks. Personally, I can’t wait to hear about how much Ray and Nate love Tom Hanks, because you know they’re going to talk about it. They’re gonna be rankin’ Hanks throughout the episode, mark my word.
And I hope we don’t get a big “Nate’s grandfather in danger” story, because the very moment that came up in this one, I got the old time-travel-story problem of “why not just go to an hour earlier” stuck in my head. I hope I don’t spend all of next week thinking they should have just arrived an hour earlier.
James: I know a lot of time travel shows often make a big show of explaining why the characters can’t just do that, and this is a genuine question, as someone whose viewing of Season 1 was pretty spotty: has the show explained that at all? Because I’m not going to read the comments to find the answer there.
Matt: Kinda, but in the most rote “these are just the rules” way possible. And I think most of those rules were tied to the Time Masters, so now there’s really no excuse.
James: I know that in “Turncoat,” the team really did just show up before Evil Rip had a chance to kill George Washington. So who knows why they don’t do that all the time, beyond the fact that the series would kind of just stop then.
A final thing I enjoyed about the episode: the absolutely, hilariously fake iguana that Ray brought back to his dino shack. That thing looked like he stopped by a Discovery Channel Store on his way around the forest.
Matt: That whole thing was just wonderful. More iguanas. More Ray Palmers.
And more problems being reported to Houston, next week!