Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Legends Of Tomorrow’s season finale abandons the show’s weakest elements

Illustration for article titled Legends Of Tomorrow’s season finale abandons the show’s weakest elements

DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow is a TV show for people that love DC Comics’ mythology. That’s not to say that people who love DC mythology will necessarily love the show, but it’s definitely catering to people that have an appreciation for DC characters and concepts and are willing to accept certain narrative concessions because that comes with the territory. For example, last week’s episode hastily introduced the threat of the alien Thanagarians to the series, and in “Legendary,” Thanagarian technology is the thing that Vandal Savage plans to use to destroy the world in three different time periods, creating a timequake that will return Earth to the point of its first chronothermal reaction in Ancient Egypt.

This season finale’s success depends on the viewer accepting the ridiculousness of a plot that centers on an immortal man using blood-activated alien meteorite bombs to destroy the timeline, but given the general ridiculousness of this series, viewers have been conditioned to accept it if they’ve made it this far. Legends Of Tomorrow is a silly TV series, but I’m accustomed to silliness as a superhero comics fan, and especially as a DC Comics fan. The fun of reading superhero comics is that they aren’t tethered to reality, and thinking too hard about the logistics of alternate timelines and multiple Earths just gets in the way of enjoying the stories for the fantasies they are.

Of course, sometimes these fantasies just aren’t very good stories, and the problems that have been plaguing the Vandal Savage plot persist until his final moments on the series. He’s been a lousy villain, so it’s a pleasure to watch the team kick his ass in three different time periods before finally killing him off. “Legendary” wipes the slate clean for the future of this series, ending the Vandal Savage story while also writing Kendra and Carter off the show, and both of these events make me optimistic about the show’s future. Savage and the Hawks’ shared storyline was the driving force of this season but also one of the series’ weakest elements, and removing them from the plot feels like a big course correction moving forward.

The majority of this episode’s drama involves Vandal’s exploding space rock nonsense, so it’s important that the writers bring some emotional stakes to the story via the character relationships. The big emotional arcs of this episode involve Sara, Rip, and Mick letting go of the people they’ve recently lost, and Sara has a particularly strong episode thanks to Caity Lotz’s performance of Sara’s grief after learning about Laurel’s death. The episode begins with Rip leaving his remaining teammates in 2016, four months after they initially left on their mission, and it’s a pretty useless development except for Sara receiving the news of Laurel’s death from her father.

Lotz does great work capturing the devastating effect Laurel’s death has on Sara, and this news brings her closer to Rip, who is finally coming to terms with the death of his wife and son. Rip has been where Sara currently is, desperate to travel back in time to rescue the people he loves, but he also knows that sometimes it’s useless to try and change time. It’s not always useless, because then this show wouldn’t exist, but it looks like the writers of this series are establishing that more personal events are harder to alter than the big stuff like Vandal taking over the world, perhaps because time manipulation is part of why Vandal gains power.

I was introduced to Firestorm through his appearances on Super Friends, and the thing that made him so compelling to me as a kid was his ability to transmute objects into different elements. He was an extremely powerful character whose abilities could be applied in a lot of different ways, and he had a cool visual, too, puffy sleeves and all. It’s been disappointing to see Firestorm as a Human Torch rip-off in the Arrowverse, but he finally starts to explore the full range of his power set in tonight’s episode. Firestorm transmutes a gun into sand in battle, and his new power is introduced so that he can turn one of the meteorite bombs to water later in the episode. It’s a very convenient time for him to manifest this ability, but I can excuse the shortcut when it opens up so many possibilities for the character, and I’m eager to see how the writers will utilize Firestorm now that he’s leveled up considerably. (He’ll probably still mostly just fly around and shoot fire out of his hands.)


“Legendary” ends with everyone but Kendra and Carter agreeing to continue working with Rip to protect the timeline now that Savage has been destroyed and the Time Masters are out of commission, but as they prepare to board the Waverider again, another timeship appears carrying a new character with a warning for the team. That character is Rex Tyler, which DC fans will recognize as the civilian identity of the superhero Hourman, member of the Justice Society Of America. Rex namedrops the JSA in the final moment of the episode, and it’s the kind of tease intended to make DC superfans salivate.

The JSA is DC’s first superhero team, assembled in World War II to fight the Axis powers, but the costume design of Rex Tyler and his relationship to Mick Rory suggests that the Arrowverse’s JSA will be operating in the near future. Whether the JSA is in the past or future, it’s still an exciting twist, and there’s a rich cast of JSA characters for this series to explore next season. Time will tell if the series takes advantage of these new storytelling opportunities to improve in its second season, but hopefully the writers and producers will learn from their mistakes this season and deliver a more compelling overarching narrative when Legends Of Tomorrow returns in the fall.


Stray observations

  • Any guesses on who will be in the Arrowverse’s JSA? We know Hourman is in there, and Arrow has already introduced Ted “Wildcat” Grant and Michael “Mr. Terrific” Holt, so they might show up if the JSA is a team in the future. As a big fan of Geoff Johns’ JSA run, I’d love to see Stargirl, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, and Jakeem Thunder in there as well.
  • There’s apparently going to be a crossover between The CW’s four DC series (welcome, Supergirl!) next season, and I’m hoping that crossover involves the JSA in some way. I’m curious to find out just how many superheroes the writers of these shows can fit in a single storyline.
  • Curious about who Hourman is? You could start with JSA comics, but I’d recommend seeking out Michael Allred’s brilliant Hourman short story in Solo #7. And then binge on JSA comics because they’re pretty awesome.
  • Anyone else get the impression that Mick has a deep-rooted crush on Snart? Their scene together gives me that impression.
  • “I never thought I’d utter these words but I think we need a Nazi.”
  • “Oh man, you got my boots wet!”