DC'S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW PILOT EPISODE REVIEW!
By Jarrett Kruse
Mashups can be a hit or miss thing especially went it comes to movies and TV. In comic books they actually seem to work a lot better for some reason so when I heard that The CW was launching DC's Legends of Tomorrow, I was skeptical right from the start. Via The Flash & Arrow, the producers have been prepping us for this new show fitting in little snippets of the roster of characters that make up the Legends of Tomorrow so nothing here is a big shock. Throw Rip Hunter and time travel into the mix and I was one very excited Junkie going into the premiere episode. Unfortunately, DC's Legends of Tomorrow felt very one note and incredibly vanilla from the get go. There were a few bright spots in the episode though so lets do a play by play of the big new show from the DC canon.
The episode opens in London in the year 2166 during the "Second Blitz," alluding to a third World War. Vandal Savage has apparently conquered the world despite him "dying" in the Arrow/Flash crossover episodes. His soldiers are very cool looking and their is a quick interaction with a kid named Jonas who obviously is going to be important in the narrative. The destruction of London is massive and I guess that final scene during the crossover was the hint we needed to know that Savage would be returning indefinitely.
At the "Time Masters Council," Rip Hunter is begging them for one time-ship to go back and alter the timeline just this once to take Savage out of the equation in order to save the future. This scene reminded me a lot of Zod being sentenced in Superman II just before they are shipped off to the Phantom Zone. Anyhow, as a viewer, we assume that Hunter was given the go ahead, boards his "Waverider" ship and with the help of Gideon (the computer system that Barry Allen will design in the future seen in several episodes during the first season of The Flash) is the on board controls of the ship. When the exceedingly polite Gideon asks Hunter where he should set the ships course for, Hunter tells him that they are going to retrieve eight individuals from the early 21st Century. The CW has done a good job of setting up just who the Legends are going to be but I was kind of hoping for some kind of roster member surprise. Hunter basically steals all eight men and women at their respective locations and brings them all to a rooftop in Star City where he outlines that in the future, all of them are legends. To this ragtag band of B-listers, the offer to save the world sounds pretty tempting, at least to most of them. The lineup includes: Firestorm, made of up of Jay Jackson & Dr. Martin Stein, The Atom, Sara Lance aka White Canary, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Captain Cold and Heat Wave. The Hawks are quick to tell Hunter that they recently expedited Vandal Savage but Hunter is quick to point out that Savage can be restored unless you deliver the death blow yourself and can be reincarnated from a single cell. Definitely a smart move on the writing team's part to include this nugget to basically validate the existence of the entire team. The potential members are all given a deadline of when and where to meet should they decide to come along for what sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Obviously we know going in that everyone is going to be a "Yes," but it is the reasons for all of them that make each team member special. Ray Palmer seeks the council of Green Arrow and clearly he is conflicted but is leaning towards saying yes. Palmer points out to Oliver that when he "died," all of his billions and building and creations really did not matter in the end and he wants to take this chance. Heat Wave and Captain Cold are in because it is an opportunity to basically steal historic items throughout different points of time. Cold makes the point that they can literally steal the Mona Lisa off of Da Vinci's easel so they are definitely in, The Hawks are conflicted with Hawkgirl against and Hawkman for so they "fight for it" but obviously we know who wins that bout. Sara seeks the counsel of Laurel and reveals that she already has created a suit for her as the White Canary. The only holdouts seem to be the Firestorm duo with Dr. Martin Stein giddy at the opportunity to travel through time but 20-year old mechanic until a few weeks ago Jay Jackson is not in at all. Stein seems to respect his position and they toast to it but instead he has really dosed Jay's glass to knock him out and bring him aboard. These were necessary scenes to have but I feel like they could have been more exciting and they came off as very anticlimactic and kind of boring because we all know that they are going to be going on Hunter's mission. However my Spidey-Sense was going crazy that something was off with this trip.
The elite eight members meet at the random spot that Hunter told them to be at and the amazing Waverider ship appears. This would be an amazing toy vehicle and is kind of a cross between the Millennium Falcon & Serenity. The inside is super impressive as well and the ship operates via the on-board Gideon control system so no crew is needed despite the size of the vessel. They all strap in which looks a lot like a roller coaster seat and they are off to 1975 to meet with Dr. Albus Boardman at St. Roch University. Hunter details that Savage has kept all of his movements hidden throughout history and that Boardman is the next best thing. When the ship breaks the space time continuum, it is hard not to look at the Waverider as just a really big flying DeLorean train from Back to the Future III. And much like Biff Tannen witnessing the flying DeLorean, two onlooking kids sees the takeoff of the ship and are seriously wowed. Unfortunately, the futuristic bounty hunter "Chronos" just missed them and takes the two kids out with a laser blast. Spidey-Sense was now on overload that Hunter's little jaunt was NOT a sanctioned mission from the Time Masters Council.
When they arrive in 1975, Hunter benches Sara, Captain Cold & Heat Wave. Jay has now come to and is pissed that Stein slipped him a mickey just so he could travel through time so he refuses to even leave the ship. Hunter leads the team to St. Roch University to meet with Dr. Boardman who he says only has 24 hours to live so they must hurry. Immediately, Boardman recognizes Hawkgirl & Hawkman and seems to sense why they have arrived. He tells the story of how Vandal Savage was in love with Hawkgirl when she was an Egyptian Princess in the first life but she was with Hawkman who was pretty much a commoner. Savage killed them both but all three of them were effected by the meteorites that destroyed their city and it is that which them all their immortality. Boardman seems very disturbed by Hawkgirl's presence specifically and he reveals that during World War I, she told him that the next time she saw him, she may not remember who he is so it is pretty obvious that the good doctor is Hawkman & Hawkgirl's child all grown up.
Albus shows the team a slideshow (remember those?) of major historical events throughout history and Savage is in the background of most of them. Rip knows that they have to hurry because of Boardman's looming death but now the Hawks want to take him along because he is their son. The doctor gives Hunter a "Grail diary" of sorts like the one from Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade that contains all of his findings on Vandal Savage which should help them on their journey. The members left behind went for beers in 1975 and naturally a bar fight ensues before heading back to the ship. Jay tries to have Gideon take him back home but it is against his protocol to do that. However, the ship is shot with a thermite grenade from Chronos the bounty hunter and a battle ensues at the Waverider as they all magically arrive at the ship at the same time. A cute line of dialogue about Boba Fett is thrown in for good measure but it doesn't help the utter predictability of the first episode.
In the ensuing battle, Dr. Boardman is shot with one of Chronos' lasers and dies on-board making it clear that no matter what, you do not screw with time. When it is your time to go, it is your time to go. Rip is clearly very upset as to how this mission has started has started and soon it is revealed that Chronos is not just any bounty hunter, he works for the Time Masters Council. As it turns out, Rip DOES NOT work for the council anymore and his position was relinquished once he commandeered the Waverider and went rogue so to speak. He lied to all eight of them. The reason he really chose these eight people is that their lives have minimal effect on the timeline of 2166 making them completely expendable. It is then revealed that in the future, the Time Masters urge no procreation but Rip fell in love and had a son named Jonas who along with his wife was slaughtered by Savage. Hunter gives them all the option to return home to their regular time in 2016 and they all take some time to think about it and guess what? They decide that no one is going to decide their future and are gonna go for it. It was all very 80's television and the only thing missing was a freeze frame high five ending from two of the characters. I mean, obviously no one is going to say, "yeah, turn back, I'm not down for this mission." The final scene is of Vandal Savage in Norway 1975 with a bunch of slaughtered soldiers around and our key villain posturing as he has just gained control of a nuclear warhead. The end.
Its not that I did not like Legends of Tomorrow, its just that there was absolutely nothing new here or even the slightest bit groundbreaking. I'm not saying they need to reinvent the wheel but at least make the narrative way less predictable. This kinds of story has been told a thousand times in the history of television so besides the flashy costumes and slick production design, give me a solid reason why I should tune in every week. Plus, I am a HUGE time travel fan so I went in very excited and hopeful but was very let down by this pilot.