‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Recap: Season 2, Episode 5: ‘Compromised’
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.
This week's episode, "Compromised," finds our team going to the neon and shoulder-pad styled 1980s to prevent a disaster from hitting nuclear weapons negotiations at the White House. David Geddes directed the episode, which was written by Keto Shimizu and Grainne Godfree.
Dylan: Well, Matt, we’re here, and this superhero TV show isn’t going to recap itself, so we should probably just jump right in. This week, the Legends travel to the 1980s to stop Damien Darhk from getting his wonderful hands on some primo, vintage nukes, Sara and the Professor deal with time-changes, and an old-time superhero makes a reappearance.. What did you think of the episode?
Matt: All in all, pretty fun. Just the right level of cheesy, I think. The White House in 1987 looks shockingly like a DoubleTree hotel in Vancouver in 2016, for example. And the macguffin Darhk and Reverse Flash are trying to steal? They straight-up only refer to it as “the item.” That’s how much of a macguffin it is.
These sound like complaints, maybe, but they’re sincerely things I loved about the episode.
Dylan: Yeah, I definitely agree. The A-plot this week is the team, after getting a tip from Nate’s nifty new time seismograph, being called on to stop baddy Damien Darhk from halting a Reagan/Gorbachev nuclear arms summit and making off with the nukes, which is fine. I mean, it’s obviously a huge missed opportunity not to have the entire episode be as baller as the Miami Vice cold open, but the plot we get is perfectly okay. What did you think of the main plot, Matt?
Matt: I think you found the right word. It was fine. It all just seemed to be a framework by which the writers could set an episode in the ‘80s (which they were clearly itching to do) and bring Darhk --- who isn’t time traveling, we discover, he’s just basically immortal --- back for another go-round.
Dylan: And I always appreciate how much fun Neal McDonough is obviously having on these shows.
Matt: He seems like he’s having fun. That goes a long way to make the show fun. If your character is an immortal supervillain with nebulous plans, then I think that’s the way to go.
The twist is that he’s not actually all that interested in the nukes, but is instead secretly talking with the KGB to trade nukes for some secret doohickey in a box he wants to give Reverse Flash (it’s a lot easier to just buy an engagement ring, bro). And that is also fine.
Dylan: While I like that we’re not beating the season-long megaplot in to the ground (Hello, Vandal Savage from last season!), I could do with a few more hints about what the bad guys are up to.
Matt: Yeah. So far, it’s just been some vague stuff here and there about nukes. Which isn’t too far removed from what Savage was up to, come to think of it.
Dylan: So the big complication for them foiling Darhk’s plan is, well, two things, actually: first is Sara being physically unable to stop herself from trying to kill Darhk (a complication that I have a sneaking suspicion is going to bite them in the butt before season’s end), and Younger Professor Stein once again being a humongous pain by behaving in a ways that are incompatible with the former timeline. After a couple weeks of Sara sort of waffling on her newly-appointed position as team leader, I enjoyed seeing her single-mindedness in her pursuit of Darhk. Young Stein is, well, Young Stein. I liked the part where he got stabbed. You?
Matt: He really walked into it, didn’t he? Literally and figuratively. Doing the mental legwork of figuring out a U.S. diplomat (because Darhk weaseled his way into that job) is covertly meeting with the KGB while standing in front of that very diplomat. It’s as though he asked Darhk, “Hey, would you mind stabbing me now that I know all this stuff I’m not supposed to?”
That said, the actor they got to play young Stein, Graeme McComb, is great. He nails that Victor Garber cadence with gusto.
Dylan: Yeah, his stammer game was “on fleek,” as me and my fellow young people like to say.
Matt: As for Sara, I really liked her pursuit of Darhk too. The thing where they first realize Darhk is there, she gets warned not to blow their cover, and she responds by just turning off her earpiece, is good stuff.
Dylan: We also got a continuation of the budding broship of Ray and Mick, as Mick tries to get Ray out of his post-suit-explosion funk by making him look and act like his dearly-departed “partner,” Captain Cold. It’s all very Vertigo. (The Alfred Hitchcock/Jimmy Stewart one, not the publisher of Sandman Mystery Theatre and Swamp Thing.)
It’s super goofy, but we do get to hear Mick say “you killed my beers,” and find out he’s really missing his old partner. That he’s sort of unable to figure out how to be Ray’s friend outside of the only other friend he’s ever had is kind of touching and nuanced for a show this dumb. I just love these two dudes, despite their subplot being real weird and not really necessary beyond getting Brandon Routh to be a grinning goof (he brought apple slices to their stakeout!) and Dominic Purcell a growling misanthrope. What did you think of the Temperature Boys’ subplot?
Matt: I found it really interesting that we disposed of the new Ray Palmer persona pretty much as soon as we got it. For reasons we’ll get to, the cold gun goes the way of its owner (it dies in the process of stopping a bomb) and Ray is left once again as a guy without a gimmick. I assume it’s building to him developing a new-and-improved ATOM suit, but I’d be into him trying a couple more things before that. Like, maybe he gets a duster and tries to be Rip.
Dylan: Ray “Hawkman” Palmer, where he’s just The Worst on a regular basis and also dies every other episode.
Matt: Don’t even kid about that, Dylan.
Dylan: I was also a very big fan of Mick eating a pastry while Ray tried to dismantle the bomb at the state dinner. “Heat Wave Loves Snacks,” is the best thing to come out of this show.
Matt: I wrote down, “I love that Heat Wave is a Food Man.” And I do.
Dylan: Snack Nation is here, and we’re not going anywhere.
Matt: Snack Situ-Nation. (Hello, the six Matt Wilson Media Empire fans who will like that joke.)
Dylan: We also got the reintroduction of another JSA hero, the no-longer-mute-apparently, Obsidian, played by the man himself, Lance Henriksen. I honestly have no idea why this is in this episode beyond giving Amaya an opportunity to reevaluate her decision to stow away on the Waverider, and giving us the cold comfort of Lance Henriksen’s face. Did you like it at all, Matt?
Matt: I love Lance Henriksen, so I can’t say I hated it. Obsidian sure seems like a weird guy, though. When Nate and Amaya come across him here, he’s just like, hanging out, in costume, in the rafters of the old, abandoned JSA training facility. It seems like maybe he lives there. But then by the end of the episode, he’s talking about how he has a husband back at home who loves him, and how Amaya should hold onto love.
He’s like Larry Burns. Remember Larry Burns? He has that souvenir stand at the beginning, but by the end of the episode, he remembers he has a family.
Dylan: Obsidian is a verified weirdo. And also, if you didn’t figure out that he was going to take a bullet by the end of the episode, you should probably see a doctor because that ish was super obvious from the minute he was flying around that nasty JSA training facility on his fart clouds of doom.
Matt: I think the big lesson of the episode is that if you’re bulletproof sometimes (in your gaseous state), then stay that way all the time. I know he had to be solid to take that bullet for Vixen, but still. What a waste of being bulletproof.
Dylan: In the end, the Legends thwart Darhk’s nuclear plans, everyone has a fight in a room with an embarrassing amount of cardboard boxes, Ray learns the meaning of being himself by defusing a bomb at a state dinner, young Stein (and now Old Stein, too, I guess?) gets a cool scar, and Darhk gets away, but not before Sara can manage to spill all the details of his future to him, a thing they said was Very Bad To Do in this very television program repeatedly. For a group who’s supposed to stop time aberrations, they sure do wind up causing a lot of time aberrations, right, Matt?
Matt: Yeah, no kidding. By that same token, Nate tells Amaya that she can’t learn too much about the future, but then he gets all weird about her not knowing anything about the Cold War. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, show!
Dylan: This show is as accurate and respectful of the laws of time travel logic as the Fast & Furious movies are with physics. Just continually contradicting itself in the name of fictional expediency.
Matt: But at the same time, I can’t really hate that. It’s one of the things that makes the show very DC Comics. It’s often true to the source material. Like, getting away from time-travel stuff, we see Mrs. Stein get very excited to see Jax at the state dinner after they met earlier (which we can talk about if you like). Later, Firestorm shows up with Jax’s exact face and she asks, “Who are you!?!” That’s the most DC Comics thing I’ve ever seen on television.
Dylan: Haha! Yeah, I was talking about the show to our mutual friend, Copernicus Jones artist Kevin Warren, last night, and he was saying he’d watched an episode last season and was completely lost because this show --- in its first season --- had already managed to wind itself up in its own continuity to a degree that jumping into it in the middle of a season was daunting. So at least it accurately reflects the comics reading experience.
Matt: And this season, you’re even semi-required to have watched other shows to know about Damien Darhk/Sara and the Reverse Flash. It’s frustrating as hell, but it’s also 1,000 percent comic books.
Dylan: I love it.
Matt: And next week, the hits keep coming, as our team returns to the Old West and gets together with their old pal Jonah Hex. Also, this show maintains its string of bringing on great B-list character actors, because Jeff Fahey will be in the house.
Dylan: Oh man, I love me some Fahey. I’m a Fahey Fanatic. Until then!