‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Recap, Season 2, Episode 16: ‘Doomworld’
The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow follows a time-traveling team of misfits that includes Vixen, Rip Hunter, historian Nate Heywood, 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.
The season’s storylines start wrapping up in this week’s “Doomworld,” as the team finds itself in a warped alternate reality where things are supposed to be really bad, but they’re only just kinda sorta bad. But then they get really bad after the Legends try to fix it. That’s their M.O. The episode was directed by Mairzee Almas, from a script by Ray Utarnachitt and Sarah Hernandez.
Matt: I’d put this one square in the fun-until-you-think-about-it-for-even-one-second box, James. How about you?
James: After a couple of weeks where we disagreed a bit, I’m pleased to say we’re back in total agreement. “Doomworld” was incredibly fun until you started to actually ask questions about why the altered reality was set up the way it was. Luckily for me, I had someone sitting next to me on the couch saying that she actually felt bad for the Legion of Doom because their ambitions were so depressingly small.
Matt: Yeah! That was one of the big questions I had throughout the whole thing. Like, aside from them having sort of demeaning or embarrassing jobs in some cases, how was this world really that bad for the Legends? Or at all, for that matter? I mean, I guess it was run by a bunch of evil corporate overlords and self-interested politicians, but... yeah, how was it all that different from the world we have?
James: The scorecard of the evil world is: Malcolm Merlyn seems kind of generically bad, Snart and Mick steal from themselves, Damien Dahrk is an evil mayor (the first step to evil governor!) and Eobard Thawne has… made the world a quantifiably and demonstrably better place?
Matt: He solved global warming! Or at least, that’s what people have been led to believe. Again, I ask, how is this so bad?
I guess this is the reason why the spear had to be destroyed in the end, essentially giving the Legion of Doom (or at least Thawne) a big W on this whole deal. If the Legends had rewritten the world back to the status quo using the spear, that would have been... downright inhumane.
Also, how adorable is it, speaking of those low ambitions, that Darhk immediately got his magic back when reality got rewritten? I honestly don’t even know how he lost it. I kinda thought the idea was that this was an earlier version of Darhk who hadn’t learned it yet. It’s easy to lose the thread on this stuff.
James: As someone who hasn’t really seen Arrow since the first season, my notes for this episode had more than a few instances of, “Is this an Arrow thing?” That was one of them I just chalked up to my own ignorance.
There’s a lot to unpack about the ending, and the state it leaves us in for next week’s season finale, but before that, why don’t we talk a bit more about the weirdness of the alternate reality, like all the evil Legends’ terrible but absolutely cute bad guy voices.
Matt: Oh boy, don’t get me started on the attempt to give Felicity Smoak an Arrow voice. Lord help poor Emily Bett Rickards, that is just not her wheelhouse. So we have Sara and Amaya as a team of assassins who work for Thawne, and basically they just seem to be having a lot of... fun doing their job? Like, I don’t know how this is a bad deal for them.
Then there’s Jax, who is a sort of middle manager at... let’s just call it ThawneCorp. He’s a mean boss, with a raspy mean boss voice. That one’s a pretty rough go. And then Stein... isn’t exactly evil. He’s just an overworked scientist who never sees his family. So the main difference here is that he’s being pushed into shirking his fatherly duties instead of doing it by choice.
James: I’ll admit, after his exceptionally poor performance last week, I wasn’t that upset to see Stein be a mistreated employee in this one --- and he’s the one Legend who isn’t restored to his true self and just kind of continues being low-key awful through the end of the episode.
I will say, though, that I absolutely adored the Doomworld versions of Ray and Nate. Ray is still affable and wonderful, and Nate’s punishment is genuinely well-crafted, I think. Later in the episode, he complains to Mick that the Legion trapped them all in their own personal hells, and for Nate, it was basically true: he was stuck as being a, well, frankly smarter version of himself, able to tell that reality was wrong, but nobody, not even his own mother, would believe him. It was an actually well thought-out punishment for him that I thought was one of the highlights of the alternate reality.
Matt: Again, I feel like it’s one of those good-until-you-think-about-it things. The fact that his alternate reality hair is terrible is probably the most perfect thing about it, since hair is clearly such a top priority for him in regular continuity. But like, why would his personal hell be his mom being a great cook and having a nice house (I think Ray even points that out)? Why would Ray’s hell be doing honest work for honest pay? He acts grossed out by cleaning toilets, but the Ray the show has established wouldn’t really mind it.
And Sara is already an assassin. Why would being an assassin be bad for her? The only ones seeming to have an actually bad time are Stein and Jax, honestly. And Rip, I guess.
James: Oh no, I want to make it clear that I don’t think Ray’s reality, or Sara’s, were real “punishments.” But sure, Nate’s mom makes great sandwiches, but when we meet Nate at the beginning of the season, he’s a nobody who wants to be a hero, right? To me, finally becoming (to him, not me) that hero and then being basically a conspiracy theorist living in his parents’ basement but still having the sense that it’s somehow wrong is a pretty good punishment. It’s basically the opposite of a nerd power fantasy, and a nerd power fantasy is often Nate’s primary characteristic.
Matt: Yeah, that’s not a bad case. Back to Rip, he’s stuck on the Waverider (which we find out at the end is in miniature on Thawne’s desk) passing the time however he can. I don’t know why he’s decided to make cakes, since that’s not something we’ve ever seen him show an interest in before, but you know what, it’s a funny visual gag, so there doesn’t really have to be a reason. It’s just pretty funny for the sake of being pretty funny, and that’s okay.
James: I thought the cliffhanger for the episode was excellent, and it genuinely got me pumped for next week’s finale. As for Rip’s plot elsewhere in the episode, you’re right: it was a funny gag, and that’s basically all I needed from it. Though Rip should know, his computer will never sleep with him now that he’s been even more useless than usual.
For me, the big highlight throughout the episode was Mick. As you and our readers will remember, I was, to put it lightly, somewhat upset at his treatment by the rest of the team last week. I certainly have sympathy for a guy making a genuine, honest mistake, being rejected by his newfound family for it, and then going back with his old bad influence friend, only to discover that he didn’t enjoy this reality either. For a show that often has trouble making connections between characters’ inner states and their actions, it was always pretty crystal clear to me why Mick was doing everything he did in “Doomworld,” and the emotion he felt behind it.
Matt: Mick was definitely the centerpiece character in all this, since he served as the bridge between the Legends and the Legion, and, yeah, I thought the moment where it was up to him to choose between the two worked pretty well. His motivation and reasoning checked out, and he even made “Heat Wave is a dog, Captain Cold is a cat” into flat-out text rather than subtext.
And I have to say, undercutting that moment with Snart freezing Amaya was a genuine shock.
James: Once it happened, and I’d had a moment to see it play out, it made complete sense, because of course that’s what the show would do with Amaya, a character they’ve had consistent trouble making work all season. And listen, they’re going back to cross the time streams in World War I next week, so Amaya’s going to be back, and she may even stick around (or not?). But it definitely felt like an off-moment while it was happening, because it was sort of tonally out there and perhaps not jarring in the way they intended.
Matt: I had a lot of mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it felt, as you said, like the ultimate ignoble end for a character who got jerked around all season after it finally felt like she learned something and was going to take control of a situation.
On the other hand, it also felt like the first genuine heel move for fan-favorite bad guy Captain Cold. It’s the first time he felt hateable, you know? And as much as it irks me to hear our not heroes, but Legends, say, “I’ll kill all of you” more than once in the aftermath, it at least felt kind of earned.
James: Yeah, it definitely felt weird. I’ve missed a lot of parts of the various Arrowverse shows, but it felt like a big swerve for Snart from what I was used to. And as absolutely understandable as it is to hear the Legends say they’ll kill the entire Legion for this, after a season that was very much about characters like Sara explicitly trying not to kill (some of the time, at least), it felt like an odd jump. There’s still one more episode, and we’ll see how it shakes out, but the immediate aftermath of Amaya’s death didn’t quite work like I think they wanted it to.
It’s a series of things I one hundred percent understand what they were doing mechanically --- triumphant hero moment, tragic swerve, dedication to make things right in the wake --- but it needed another pass to truly work.
Matt: Well, there’s also the fact that it was infighting among the Legion --- not really the work of the Legends, per se --- that led to even a chance of the spear being recovered anyway. And Thawne’s weird only-comic-supervillains-do-this commitment to making everyone live out their lives in this new world rather than just killing them. The Legion more or less won, but they sure weren’t smart about it.
James: Like you did last week, I just mentally turned into the skid with that one. I’m resigning myself to the Legends winning despite their best efforts, and I actually liked the season-long throughline that the Legion is always consciously towing that line of infighting but also knowing that villains infighting is a trope and trying to sidestep it from going pear-shaped for them.
Of course, it was always going to go south for them in that regard --- the villains can’t work together better than the heroes --- but I did like seeing it fall apart. It more or less made sense to me, though I’ll admit I wasn’t trying too hard to think about ways it might not work. Merlyn and Dahrk never liked Thawne anyway.
Matt: I wonder what else those two wanted to use the spear for. Whenever anybody asked them that question this episode, they opened their mouths and a deafening silence came out, along with some moths that flew in zigzags.
James: I actually friggin’ loved that the Legion used the most powerful object in existence to do such mundane things. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it was a really fun juxtaposition for me. Merlyn just wants his family back, Thawne wants to basically be Harrison Wells with some potential for evil down the road, and Dahrk just wants to set up a run for Evil Senate. It was an absolute hoot.
Matt: Oh yeah, but it’s established that Darhk and Merlyn want to use the spear for more. We just have no idea what and never will. I guess that’s fine.
So in next week’s finale, the team --- despite not having done so before because of Time Explanation Reasons --- will return to a place they’ve already been to attempt to change some history they’ve already changed (despite the fact they’re not suppose to change history). It’s dumb as dumb can be, but it’s also the wild time-travel stuff I signed up for, so I’m hoping for the best.
James: I am unironically here for time nonsense.
Matt: Honestly this show should just be called Time Nonsense.
James: I’d use the Spear of Destiny for that.