‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Recap: Season 2, Episode 6: ‘Outlaw Country’
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, "Outlaw Country," finds the team returning to the Old West to stop a rascally varmint from taking over the entire region with some science-fiction rocks. Cherie Nowlan directed the episode. The script is by Matthew Maala and Chris Fedak.
Dylan: Well, Matt, we’re back with another episode of Legends of Tomorrow, and we’re back in the Wild West, home of our old mangled-faced friend, Jonah Hex. This week served us up some claim-jumpin’, some whip-crackin’, some train-heistin’, and a literal dynamite showdown. Overall, how’d you like the episode?
Matt: Some good, some not so good. The stuff with Mick Rory in the saloon, palling around with the villain of the episode; that was some good stuff. And I liked the team’s out-of-date attempts to seem like cool Old West types, even though I think they hit that button a little too hard.
That said, the resolution to everything was a whole bunch of nonsense. And has there been a single episode so far this season where a member of the team hasn’t had to have his or her life saved in the Waverider’s magic healing chair?
Dylan: Oh geez, you’re right. I didn’t even think about that, but it’s been the crux of every episode so far. They’re really gonna get their money out of it, I guess.
Matt: Seems like it. I mean, they can tell Nate about his 51 percent chance to live all they want, but the real purpose of that chair is to remove all narrative tension and suspense from everything.
Dylan: Yeah, it’s hard to worry about anybody getting hurt when they can just put the glowy bracelet on them while they wince a lot.
The main plot this week concerned the Legends teaming up with Jonah Hex to try and stop the world’s biggest Libertarian from taking over the wild, wild West. Which means we got double the guest stars this week, with Johnathon Schaech returning as Hex, and the always-fantastic character actor Jeff Fahey in full villain mode as Turnbull, a federal government-hating mogul who wants to cut off access to anything west of the Rockies.
It’s a fairly stock plot, but it takes a few fun turns along the way, I thought, even if it also relied on some serious suspension of disbelief in order for some parts of the plot to advance. Matt, how’d you enjoy the main plot, and, by extension, Jeff Fahey?
Matt: The idea of it is silly and comic booky enough that I could enjoy it. Basically Quentin Turnbull (whose resemblance to his comics counterpart is really only in the name and his blood feud with Jonah Hex) has found a mine full of dwarf star, the incredibly volatile material that powered the ATOM suit, thanks to the carelessness of a wandering time pirate. That, of course, leads to Turnbull loading a train up with the stuff and trying to blow up the only pass that leads to the West, thereby claiming the West for his own (“Turnbull Country”).
That’s bananas. That’s goofy as all get out. And I kind of love it for that? Fahey’s unhinged, scenery-chewing performance helps in that regard, too.
Likewise, Turnbull laces the bullets in his gun with the stuff, and despite the fact that Turnbull’s clearly causing big, black explosions all over the place with his shots, Nate decides to stand in front of a bullet after things pop off at the saloon. Even though he’s steeled up, the bullet goes through. Between this and Luke Cage, it’s a banner season for guys who think they’re bulletproof getting shot.
Dylan: Nate is really smart, Matt. He talks about it all the time, how he has to study all the time.
Matt: Boy’s got book learnin’, but he ain’t got the sense to see the world around him. (If I was a character on the show, this is where I’d say, “I’ve always wanted to say that!”)
Dylan: There were some good character bits in here. Ray and Nate both bonded over being huge nerds, Mick and Amaya continued to grow closer as friends, Sara got a chance to step up in her role as team leader, and Jax and Stein, well, we’ll talk about them in a little bit. I liked the relationship stuff a lot, but that’s always sort of been the stronger part of this show. How did you feel about it?
Matt: It was mostly good, yeah. The stuff about Jonah not having respect for a woman and having to learn to accept Sara as a leader felt forced (he seemed fine with her on the team last time, if I recall), but it’s believable enough. Schaech was really understated in the role again --- with that makeup, I think he has to be --- and I liked their little toast at the end.
Dylan: I’m getting real tired of the “But she’s a lady!” every time Sara shows some competence. We get it, they were backwards in the past, but do they have to hang a lantern on it every time? Oh, and do they have to mention that Sara is a lesbian every episode or something?
Matt: Thing is, I’m pretty totally sure she’s bisexual. She dated Ollie on Arrow. So that’s not even accurate. And as for the “she’s a lady!” stuff, I think it’s a disservice to her character. Constantly having to prove herself to men of the past shouldn’t be her whole story.
I still think Ray and Nate are too similar, but them bonding here was nice. Ray made him an outfit! Out of plastic!
Dylan: I did like that Ray was like, “I will replicate this goofy drawing you did of yourself to prove I am a true friend.”
Matt: But the best stuff was between Mick and Amaya. With Sara as the team leader now, Vixen has sort of taken on Sara’s old role of... you might call it team counselor. Going around, talking to the team members, getting them to work through what they’re thinking and feeling, and offering help where it’s needed. It’s a role this show needs, since things move so quickly you just kind of need characters to state their feelings sometimes.
I hope we get a deeper look into what makes Amaya herself tick soon, but I really liked her bringing out the animal in Heat Wave (and getting him to reveal he sort-of knows what a metaphor is).
Dylan: I liked the Mick/Amaya stuff too, but I gotta admit I rolled my eyes when she told him he had to put the animal back. Because that’s her power. Get it?
Matt: Oh yeah, there were definitely some groaners in there. (Like, what Amaya said about fire? Those weren’t metaphors. She was just talking about fire.) But I’ve just come to accept that as part of the show.
Dylan: Fire is cool, Matt.
I mentioned Jax and Stein. We’ve brought up the writers’ need to manufacture reasons to keep them apart for what I assume is plot reasons (most problems can get solved pretty easily by a guy who can fly, shoot fire, transmute matter, and absorb nuclear energy) and budget reasons (it can’t be cheap to have to animate a guy who can fly, shoot fire, transmute matter, and absorb nuclear energy).
This week, Stein had a headache that is probably caused by him messing with his own history, causing him to have visions of another woman he has no recollection of. Would it be insane of me to think that the writers are looking for a way out of the Firestorm game with this Time Travel Sickness development?
Matt: Could be. Or it could just be leading to another Stein-centric episode later in the season. I’m not really sure, because all I could think about the entire time he was having these memories was how much it all felt like a second season episode of Red Dwarf where Lister implants his memory of a relationship with a woman in Rimmer’s brain as a gift. It’s really close, even down to the way the memories of frolicking in the grass are shot.
So what I’m saying is I hope we find out that Jax implanted one of his dating memories in Stein’s brain. Let’s just totally go for the homage.
Dylan: Huh. That’s an interesting angle. We’ll see!
There was a concerted effort to tie this episode in with the events of last season, where the Legends helped Hex liberate a town beset by bad hombres. Did that work for you, because I felt like not only was it was really forced in there, but it also undid the work our heroes did just a year ago?
Matt: Maybe it’s because this version of Hex is a real mumbly Joe (even when he’s yelling), but I did think it was hard to follow what he told Sara about his past. Here’s what I made out, though:
Jonah met Rip Hunter in the town of Calvert just after the Civil War. There, they also met Turnbull, who was a real bad guy. Rip hung around for a while, but he left when things got really bad. That’s when Turnbull burned down Calvert’s church with everyone who lived in the town inside. Jonah escaped, but got badly scarred (no “mark of the demon” here).
Here’s where it gets confusing, maybe: The town from last season’s episode was a whole different town, Salvation, in the Dakota Territory. And this week’s takes place in Colorado. It’s literally all over the map. Also, Jonah didn’t want to kill Rip on sight, which you’d think he’d want to do after the jerk left a whole town to die.
Dylan: Yeah, I did not get it at all. I’m fully able to admit that I am not the brightest bulb, so maybe it was on me, but it felt like an unnecessary contrivance. What else did you like or dislike, Matt?
Matt: The way things resolved was dumber than a bag of hammers. The way Mick and Amaya deal with there being a mine full of incredibly volatile, explosive material? They blow it up. With dynamite. That stuff is supposed to be like uranium, right? Wouldn’t they have blown up all of Colorado? (They also kill a bunch of goons, but that’s normal for Mick.)
Dylan: Maybe they did blow it all up and that’s what we now call Wyoming. Ya burnt, Wyoming! But seriously, Wyoming sucks. Literally the worst state in the Union.
Matt: Major state opinions up in here.
And the stuff with the train is...well, I guess it’s a good redemption arc for Nate, but 1) he just had surgery and 2) there was really nothing for Ray and Jax to do? If this was all for Nate to do by himself, then Ray and Jax could have been helping at the mine. As it is, they’re just there to sit on horses and cheer.
Dylan: Yeah, the whole third act was really mushy. Only thing that made it worth it was Mick smacking dudes with a shovel. He was smacking that one dude’s butt a lot, Matt! “This show is rated TV-14 for scenes of intense butt-smacking.”
Matt: Also: Back-patting. Probably my favorite thing in the whole episode was when Ray, Nate and Jax decide to dress in the outlaw clothes and go to Turnbull’s camp, and they just cannot get enough of patting each other on the back about it.
Dylan: Literally patting each other’s backs! Them sneaking into the desperado camp was maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on this show since they bluffed their way into the supervillain auction back at the beginning of season one. I’m still puzzling out if it’s good-dumb or bad-dumb, but one thing’s for sure, it’s dumb.
Matt: I’d call it good dumb. Ray faking his way through some outlaw talk (from hanging out with Mick, probably) was good for a laugh.
Dylan: Well, and also he’s been to the Old West before. We know this because he tells Nate roughly 1,000 times.
The episode ends with Sara telling them they gotta get their butts back to 2016, which means only one thing: the Invasion crossover is coming! In two weeks! All four CWverse shows are teaming up to fight some aliens, man! Are you stoked or nah?
Matt: Am I stoked to watch only the last part of a four-part crossover and try to figure out what’s happening? You bet!
Dylan: I’m so looking forward to moaning about “crossover fatigue” in comic book shows in three years’ time.