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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Legends Of Tomorrow falls into lackluster patterns with a journey to 1776

Illustration for article titled Legends Of Tomorrow falls into lackluster patterns with a journey to 1776

After a couple standout episodes that gave DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow some newfound momentum, the series takes a step back and falls into familiar patterns with “Turncoat,” which has the team travelling to New Jersey, 1776, to prevent the murder of George Washington by their old leader, a now-evil Rip Hunter. The most entertaining part of this episode is the introduction from Mick Rory, which begins with him asking, “Seriously, you idiots haven’t figured this out by now?” He goes on to explain the general concept of the series—Time Lords were destroyed, causing aberrations in time that the Legends fix, but sometimes they make things worse—and then he ends with, “Who writes this crap anyway?”

This episode isn’t necessarily crap, but it is a significant step down from the last two chapters. Those offered something new; the George Lucas conundrum had strong personal stakes for Ray and Nate and opened the door for more clever storytelling, and switching focus to the Legion of Doom last week was a nice change of pace that brought depth to the villainous trio. “Turncoat” does what most Legends episodes do. The team has to stop a major historical event from going wrong, in this case George Washington and his army crossing the Delaware River on Christmas, 1776, and there isn’t much tension surrounding this situation because it’s a given that this show isn’t going to erase the American Revolution.

I would love to see this show try to present historical figures as multidimensional characters rather than generalized ideas of the people that viewers will be familiar with. George Washington is essentially a conduit for platitudes about gentlemanly conduct and the importance of resistance, and while he functions as a contrast to Mick’s dastardly character, he still comes across as very shallow. Mick ends up being responsible for the American troops embracing guerilla warfare tactics, and at the end of the episode, Sara learns that a statue of Mick now appears in Washington, D.C. because of his friendship with Washington in the past.

The major drama in this episode doesn’t involve the team saving Washington, but stopping Rip from getting his hand on the piece of the Spear of Destiny that is hidden in the Waverider. Given the Christmas holiday, it’s fitting that this episode would have homages to Die Hard and Home Alone homage as Jax tries to protect the Waverider from invasion by Rip and his British companions. Arthur Darville has blossomed in the last few episodes, and after doing a great job playing confused/terrified Phil Gasmer, he gets to bring out his malevolent side as a vicious new Rip. He’s a formidable opponent that knows intimate details about the Legends and their ship, and Darville clearly delights in playing the bad guy.

The scenes on the Waverider have much more suspense, even though it’s hard to be invested in Sara’s “death.” (This show should really stop relying on death fake-outs because they’ve lost all narrative value at this point.) Jax taking on Rip is intense, but my favorite moments on the Waverider involve a shrunken Ray facing off against the rat in the air vent. I want to see the show have more fun with Ray’s size-changing abilities, and some of the best moments of this episode involve Ray trying to stay alive when he’s stuck in miniature.

Nate and Amaya’s romance has been developing in the background for a while, and this episode forces them together in the most basic ways. There’s a totally uninspired cute moment at the start of the episode where Nate gets powder on his nose and asks Amaya to brush it off, which she does, and then she’s pushed into his arms by a time quake that shakes the Waverider. This is some romantic comedy 101 writing, and the set-up for the two of them getting in bed together isn’t much better. When Nate gets thrown into the Delaware River, Maya rescues him by channeling the powers of a seal and then takes him a tent where she treats his hypothermia with skin-to-skin contact, which requires the removal of their clothes. Despite his near-death state, Nate still finds the energy to crack a few jokes about how this isn’t how he planned on them getting naked together, and it’s hard not to roll your eyes at corny it all is.


The scene right before Nate gets thrown in the river is a much better example of getting these two characters to make an emotional connection. Nate learns more about Amaya’s past courtships and he tells her about the sexual revolution and the ways sex and romance change in the decades after Amaya’s time. This stroll feels like a genuine first date, with the two of them discovering different facets of each others’ lives before they knew each other, working to bridge the gap between their different experiences. In the end, Amaya still isn’t comfortable with fraternizing with her teammates, but she uses this as an opportunity to embrace a more modern, chill mindset about romance. This is far from the end of this pairing, and I like how the two of them coming together brings out a new sexually liberated side of Amaya. She’s realizing that she doesn’t need to live by the standards of her time now that she’s living outside of time, and while her coupling with Nate doesn’t feel especially organic, I appreciate that it leads to some forward development for Amaya’s character.

Stray observations

  • When is Captain Cold coming back? I feel like this series could use his campy energy right now.
  • I’m not thrilled by the Nate and Amaya plot, but him gifting her with ruby slippers at the end of the episode is nice moment.
  • The medical technology on the Waverider is basically the Purple Healing Ray from old Wonder Woman comics. Shine it on a person and they’re instantly healed, as long as their brain isn’t completely dead.
  • Rip looks very cute with his new haircut.
  • “Now I know why Franklin’s on the $100 dollar bill. I bet you 100 yous you’re wrong.”
  • “Hitler ruins everything.”