Picking up where last week left off, the episode opens with the Waverider completing its jump into 1986, where the group lands in Washington DC, with a mission to infiltrate the Pentagon and steal classified information on the whereabouts of Vandal Savage. The plan seems to run pretty well at first, with Ray and Cold posing as janitors so they can steal ID cards, Kendra and Sara posing as officers to use stolen ID cards to get into the classified sections, Heatwave acting as a distraction as he challenges the enlisted men to an arm-wrestling competition (no seriously), and Firestorm working down in the cellar to blow the power so alarms do not go off. Problems arise when Jax ignores Stein’s advice on how to safely siphon the power, and they end up setting off alarms. Next , as Kendra and Sara try to escape with the stolen files, Kendra’s warrior side is set off, and she mauls a couple of guards before they manage to flee the Pentagon. Rip orders everyone home, annoyed at all the noise they’re making, and how the plan fell apart, with Stein lecturing Jax for not listening to him and Sara calling out Kendra for losing control (ironic considering her own bloodlust). Still, the mission was a success, and they know Savage has defected to the Soviet Union, which is where the Waverider is heading next.
Unfortunately on the way, they are found and attacked by Chronos’ ship, who followed them from the 70s. Fortunuately, Rip has a plan, as he de-cloaks so the Russians can spot him, and allows the ship to get fired upon. The Russians fire heat-seeking missiles, so Rip shuts down their engines and allows the ship to plummet, causing the missiles to switch targets to Chronos’ ship, which they hit and take out. As Chronos’ ship crashes, the Waverider barely manage to safely crash-land down in Russia, with Gideon excitedly telling them that no major damage was sustained.
Next mission is for Ray and Cold to infiltrate the ballet to speak to Valentina Vostok, who is head scientist on a new project funded by Savage, codenamed Operation Svarog. They are aided by an ingestible translation device provided by Rip, which allows one to effortless speak in a new language as defined by Gideon (aka how they could do the episode without worrying about the Russian language or sub-titles). Ray strikes out when trying to talk to Valentina, but Cold swoops in and hits it off with her, enjoying their night together and managing to snatch her wallet and ID card while kissing her, all while Ray freezes while keeping look-out for his teammate.
Back at the ship, Rip and Heatwave go out to investigate the remnants of Chronos’ ship, as Gideon has reported a temporal anomaly, and discover Time Master Druce is there, offering a deal to Rip. If he turns himself in, his team can go back to their times without issue and Rip will be forgiven for all of his sins. Rip seriously considers the offer, knowing the damage to the timeline his team has already caused, but Heatwave later points out that Druce is clearly just there to kill Rip, and gave him time so he could gather the rest of his team. Still, Druce is an old friend of Rip’s, and he seems to want to hear the man out, so he returns to the forest to speak with the Time Master, and instead finds Chronos, and realizes the whole thing was a trap. Druce confirms as much when he appears, but before they can kill Rip, Firestorm and Heatwave attack, rescuing Rip as Druce flees. Stein warns Jax to be careful fighting Chronos, but Jax has his own ideas, and confronts Chronos head on. While he manages a solid hit to the temporal bounty hunter, Firestorm is also hit by a blast, which is powerful enough to separate Firestorm back into Jax and Stein, with Jax taking an injury to the stomach. Rip saved, they head back to the ship to tend to Jax’s wounds, but not before Stein goes over-protective parent on his “partner,” laying into him for being young and naive and cocky, while Jax yells back about being kidnapped and how Stein is a dictator. In the aftermath, Stein instantly regrets his words, but tells Ray he is hard on Jax because he wants him to be better, as he does not want to lose another partner the way he lost Ronnie Raymond.
Sara and Kendra meanwhile have been told to train together by Rip, believing the two can learn from each other, since they both have control issues, though he points out that Kendra’s issue is learning to embrace her warrior side while Sara’s issue is learning to find her human side again. The training does not go well at first, as Sara lays into Kendra, eventually leading to Kendra’s eyes flashing red and her wings sprouting (as at the Pentagon) and knocking Sara back, followed by Sara’s bloodlust coming forth and forcing her to almost strangle Kendra to death. Once they are both aware of the other’s flaws they seems more comfortable in sparring, and remain training for the rest of the episode, even when they might have been needed elsewhere in the field…
Now that they have the ID card, Cold and Ray head in to infiltrate Operation Svarog, with Stein leading the way, feeling he needs to contribute to the team on his own outside of working with Jax, and knowing he is ideally suited for reconnaissance in a lab (though technically speaking, so is Ray). So the trio head to the lab, with Stein quickly learning that Svarog means “god of fire” and learning that Savage is trying to create his own Firestorm after seeing Jax and Stein at work in the 70s. They even have a working thermacore, which is what powers Firestorm, and Stein decides they need to steal it to prevent Savage from creating a Firestorm. Unfortunately, at that moment Valentina arrives, and Ray and Cold need to distract her, even while Stein needs Ray to power down the core so Stein can grab it (being one -half of Firestorm makes Stein the only one there who can safely handle the thermacore). While Ray powers down the core, Cold distracts Valentina, who instantly recognizes the ploy, and calls for guards, and holds Cold at gunpoint (I don’t like how easily he was taken hostage there). The guards knock out Ray, and while Stein still manages to get the thermacore into a suitcase for transport, the jig is clearly up. Cold demands reinforcements,but the only help they get is Heatwave, who is shot while freeing Cold, and taken captive. Rip demands that Cold take the thermacore and flee, and Cold follows orders though he is pissed that Rip did not send in the rest of the team. Stein, Ray and Heatwave are taken as prisoners, with Valentina immensely interested in Stein as she knows of his power and knowledge of the Firestorm matrix. Stein is thrown into a cell and told that they will torture/kill Ray and Heatwave if he does not cooperate.
Cold arrives back at the Waverider pissed about losing teammates, and that Rip did not send help. Rip points out they needed to get the thermacore from Savage, and that their allies can still be rescued, he was just trying to save lives, as Rip worried sending in the rest of the team to a losing battle might result in another death like Carter’s. Sara and Kendra are unhappy to have been left out, while Jax can feel Stein’s worry and fear through their connection. The team is going to have to free their comrades, but not this week, as their hour is up.
THEORIES FOR TOMORROW:
– Are they really changing the time-line that much? Doesn’t Gideon constantly monitor the timeline to ensure nothing has changed? This whole thing where Druce claims they have significantly changed time just seems to have come out of nowhere.
– Why didn’t Ray wear or bring the ATOM suit with him for this mission? Why would he ever got ANYWHERE without it? Certainly would have come in handy once things got Dicey.
– How did Savage get so far with his Firestorm project, when Stein’s project was not complete until 2014? (almost 40 years later)
– I hate how Stein complained about Rip’s “piloting” ability, Rip is NOT flying the ship. Gideon is. Rip is merely giving orders.
Not a bad episode, though I was surprised they ended on a cliffhanger, I had really hoped most of these episodes would be able to stand on their own without a feel of a two-hour special. Either way, I still think the show is improving, just not as fast as I would have hoped. They still need to do a lot more time-travel explaining, and Rip needs to stop feeling bad about manipulating everyone, it seems they’ve already forgiven him so he needs to get past it. Ah well, see you back here next week!