Welcome to the world of ‘Legends of Tomorrow,’ which for anyone who has already been watching ‘Arrow’ or ‘The Flash,’ probably looks pretty familiar. Tonight was the first half of the pilot for the show that has been hyped up to the CW/DC audience for over 8 months, and there was certainly a lot of ground to cover.
The show opens in 2166 during the second Blitz of London, where we see Vandal Savage and his men mowing down dissidents, including a woman who literally stands up to him. Her child is then approached by Savage, revealing his name is Jonas, and when Savage basically asks if Jonas is going to be a problem like his mother, the kid spits on the immortal villain. Savage responds by shooting the kid in cold blood, thusly establishing that there are no redeeming qualities in the man.
Cut to the council of the Time Masters, the pompous assortment of human beings who claim to hold the best interests of the timeline as their mission, even when preserving said timeline means watching a madman like Savage destroy the human race. Fortunately, Rip Hunter is there to jockey the Masters into doing something about the situation, informing them that with one ship and a small team, he could stop Savage before he ever became the world threat he is in the present (present of 2166 that is).
Cut to the recruitment montage, where we see Ray Palmer aka the ATOM infiltrating a HIVE computer while working with the Green Arrow and his Quiver Crew, growing large to smash the machine and take down the ghosts in pursuit. However, he spots Rip Hunter as soon as he takes out his attackers, who flashes an MIB-like light gun in the his face. We then see Hunter pull a similar trick on Sara Lance, who is protecting women in a bar in Tibet, then on Captain Cold and Heat Wave following a heist of theirs, and then on Dr. Victor Stein and Jefferson Jackson after some heroics in Pittsburg, and finally on Hawkman and Hawkgirl after they save a woman using their flight (hereafter known as the Hawkpeople unless they are on separate adventures). The group later finds themselves unconscious on a rooftop, waking up just in time to hear the pitch from Rip Hunter. He informs them about the threat of Savage, and how they can travel through time to stop Savage. Rip then shows them on a handy portable holographic device what the future looks like once Savage wins. He seals the deal by informing the team that they were handpicked, all of them (including the villains) because in the future they are not just heroes, they are legends.
Every team member takes some time to think over the offer, with Ray discussing the situation with Oliver, claiming that it is his best chance to be remembered for something, lamenting that when he “died” the previous year there was nothing to show for his life (which to me is odd anyway, they renamed Starling City to ‘Star’ City in honor of Ray Palmer, how much more does a guy want?) Sara joins Laurel down in the Arrow Cave 2.0 and they discuss the call the action, with Laurel encouraging her sister to take the mission and channel her grief and confusion into something good, right before presenting her with a White Canary costume conveniently designed by Cisco Ramon (who apparently is now the Edna Mode of the CW/DC Universe) Captain Cold and Heatwave decide to go along for the ride as they see opportunities to thieve while in the past (they mention stealing the Mono Lisa, but I cannot help but wonder, if they steal the Mono Lisa too early in the past, and it never gains notoriety, will it even be worth anything in the present?), while the Hawkpeople make their decision by battling it out, the winner of the duel gets to choose what they do. As for Victor Stein and Jefferson Jackson, Stein is all about it, as he spent his life researching theoretic physics and things, and wants to see Time Travel in action. Jackson is not on board, which Stein apparently knew was going to happen, which is why he had a roofied drink all ready so he could kidnap Jackson and force him to come along (which officially makes Stein and Jackson the oddest pair, they already had the strangeness of sharing a body, now we get to throw in the date rape drug and kidnapping, not to mention the undertones of a privileged white man kidnapping a black man against his will and the pair ending up on a ship, all because the white man literally needed Jackson’s body to do the superhero work)
They arrive on Hunter’s ship, the Waverider, meet Gideon (who fans will recognize from her AI Experience on ‘The Flash’) and after a brief tour, prepare to take off, albeit not before Hunter briefly warns them about potential time travel side-effects, which we later find out are vertigo, nausea and blindness. Jackson wakes up during take-off and is pissed, but Hunter has his team and will not be stopping the discuss getting off the ship with the man. As they leave, we first meet the villain of the episode, who we later learn is named Chronos, who witnesses Hunter taking off. Chronos spots a pair of bystanders who also saw the Waverider, and after checking his computer to confirm the two are not important in the future, he disintegrates them and heads after the Legends. (somehow the butterfly effect does not factor into the time-travel of this show).
The team arrives in 1975 to track down a professor named Aldus Boardman, who apparently is the only person in history to ever become an expert on Vandal Savage. Hunter asks White Canary, Heatwave and Captain Cold to stay behind, and takes the rest of the team to meet the professor, all except Jackson who has decided to stay back and pout aboard the ship. The remaining team members decide to go out for a drink, and soon enough find themselves engaged in a bar fight with 70’s barflies, which I’m sure will not have any consequences for the future. Jackson of course is left behind as he is only 20 years old, and apparently making sure that minors do not imbibe alcohol is one law that even villains like Heatwave and Captain Cold do not want to see broken (uh….right?).
The team meets Aldus Boardman, and we learn he is the son of the Hawkpeople from a recent past life, and he immediately recognizes his mother and father. This of course explains his obsession with Vandal Savage and his own research into the man’s doings in 1975. However, Hunter had informed the Hawkpeople that Boardman was going to be found dead the next day (which is why it was ok to talk to him in the first place, as he would not be able to change time that much in the small period between talking to the Legends and his death), and now Hawkgirl wants to protect Boardman, insisting that he be brought back to the Waverider with them when they leave. For at that moment Chronos has found the Waverider and begun his attack, frightening Jackson enough that Stein can feel the man’s worry and fear, prompting the team to head back to their ship. They arrive to witness the might and fury of Chronos, and though they manage to work together to drive him off and escape (why they could not kill him right then and there is beyond me, it seems every member of the Legends team has terrible aim), Boardman is hit by one of Chronos’ lasers (who apparently has great aim), and is mortally wounded. Hunter flies the ship into a kind of time-limbo where he can make repairs, and the team assesses their situation.
The Hawkpeople are pissed at Hunter for putting their son in danger, and everyone wants to know why a time-bounty Hunter is after them if they are on a sanctioned mission from the Time Masters. Hunter reveals that he has gone rogue, and is working to stop Savage because Savage killed his wife and son Jonas, who we saw in the opening of the show. He also reveals that he chose this team because in the future, they are all relatively inconsequential, not Legends, but combined their powers might be enough to stop Savage. The team ruminates on these revelations, with Stein and Jackson coming to an understanding that they still want to stay and help (Jackson particularly impressed by how the team came running back to the ship to save him from Chronos), Captain Cold and Heatwave not caring either way but enjoying the chance for more mischief, and White Canary and ATOM realizing that if they stop Savage and change the future, they could write their own destinies and become Legends after all. As for the Hawkpeople, after Aldus dies, Hawkgirl realizes her own insistence on bringing her son back to the Waverider is what sealed his fate, and she and Hawkman want the chance to take down Savage and end the cycle of death once and for all. With the team reassembled and finally on the same page, Hunter prepares to fly the ship to the destination Aldus gave them back at the university, to finally get to stopping Savage.
In the episode tag, we finally see the Savage of 1975, as he speaks on how man is best fueled by war and destruction, as he takes control of what looks like a nuclear missile.
THEORIES FOR TOMORROW:
* So after they stop Savage in 1975, will they return to the future, find it did not change, and then have to stop the man again? Or is this an assassination show, where they will continue to stop Savage’s schemes until they manage to kill the villain? Just trying to figure out the formula of this show, if there even is one.
* How is Chronos able to track the Waverider through time? Also, how is he more powerful than EIGHT superheroes? All he had was one gun, they should have easily bested him.
* Will they go into more detail about time travel? I like the part where Hunter says “Time Wants to happen” which explains why things still happen the way they are supposed to despite changes, but I want to hear more of the time travel theories of the show, and why Hunter thinks they really can stop Savage if time “wants to happen.”
While I enjoyed what I saw, it definitely only felt like half an episode, and I feel it is unfair to fully judge the show until we can see the second half of the pilot next week (I am still wondering why, with such a high profile show, they had to split up the 2 hour premiere instead of just doing both episodes in one night). Definitely see a lot of potential here if they can find the right balance of character work and action, and I am excited to see where the show goes. See you back here next week!