Legends of Tomorrow: Aruba

Mick: "You know what your punishment is, Leonard? You end up being a better man. So do I."
Snart: "Better? You mean softer."
Mick: "No. I mean better."

Part of me wonders if this wasn't structured so as to be a series finale if it needed to be, since what we have here really is the end of Legends of Tomorrow: Volume 1.

The Short Version —

Like a lot of this season there was a lot of good fun to be had here. The drawback is that a lot of the good fun is almost entirely built on the parts of the show that have never really gelled properly, so it's impossible to ignore the flaws while you enjoy the good stuff.

The Longer Version —

The reason I wondered earlier about whether there was ever any plan for this to serve as a series finale is that this episode accomplished pretty well most of what a good series finale does.

We got satisfying resolutions for a few ongoing character arcs (more on that in just a moment), the ongoing conflict with the Legion of Doom was wrapped up neatly and finally (or as finally as anything ever is in a comic book universe), and most importantly, we were shown absolutely that this group has been transformed from a collection of broken individuals into a cohesive team.

The parts of this that absolutely worked best were the resolutions to long running character arcs. Which means I'm looking directly at you, Mick and Sara.

Is it just me, or does Caity Lotz not get enough credit for how important both her character and her performance are to the current television landscape? Here we have a strong, female, LGBT character, unabashedly in command of her team, but who dodges the most common pitfall for that type of character — specifically, for Sara Lance, 'Strong' does not equal 'behaving exactly like a man does'. She manages to consistently show unquestionable strength side by side with confident femininity, and it's a credit to her as a performer how effortless she makes it look.

Equally impressive is the way that the struggles her character go through have absolutely nothing to do with her sexual orientation. It can't be overstated how refreshing that is to see on broadcast television, even in 2017.

So, yes, Sara addresses head on the lingering character thread about the darkness she stills feels inside herself from the whole Lazarus pit regeneration (a plot thread which they more or less resolved a year ago, but I am sort of glad they brought it back and definitively closed it off once and for all, because it resonated with the Spear of Destiny plotline nicely and the message, 'you don't have to be perfect to do the right thing' is one that could stand to be repeated more often.)

Huge props to Katie Cassidy as well for her performance as 'sort of Laurel/sort of godlike avatar of power'. Just a lovely scene.

And then there's Mick. Oh Mick. Honestly, the resolution of his character transformation from thug to the heart of the team could not have been handled better in this episode. When he died as a result of choosing his team over Snart it nearly brought me to tears. His final scene with Snart about becoming better men finished the job.

Oh yes... Mick died. Well, technically all of them did. My complaints about the return to 1916 aside (more below), having them realize that they were the aberrations and as such were going to have to die was a great twist. When Thawne ripped out Ray's heart it was a genuine shock, capped nicely by the earlier version of the Legends realizing that not all of them had survived to come back to 1916. Jax died to save Martin which felt absolutely right. Nate died in front of Amaya, neatly paralleling him watching her die last week. And honestly, I can't remember another show ever coming up with an excuse to kill off all its characters that didn't involve parallel universes, so big points for creativity there.

Which all makes it a shame that we now have to talk about...

What did(n't) we learn today?

So now the spear doesn't just re-write reality all at once, it takes time to set, just like changes to time. which makes the Legion's decision to pop way forward in time for no good reason even stupider. If they'd initiated the re-write of reality from 1916 they'd have been home and dry and Nate would still have terrible hair. That's just sloppy writing.

As was Thawne zipping out to pick up Malcolm Merlyn for no reason other than we wanted to get John Barrowman in this episode. Which meant he never got the super Spear Instruction book... Which means they never activated the spear... Which means the Legends never had to come back in time... Which means I'm going to have to start drinking more wine before addressing the time travel aspects of the show. Come on show, you're too good at too many things to remain this sloppy with your time travel rules. At one point they even said that Merlyn not getting the book was no big deal because it didn't matter anymore, which just made me want to chuck a model TARDIS at the screen.

Similarly, why in God's name would they need to use Ray's technology in order to shrink the Waverider? Does re-writing reality not have a shrinking capacity? No, the only reason for that was to allow for a way to undo it, and that's just sloppy plotting, I'm sorry.

Lastly, while I'm willing to revisit this after next season once I've seen how it plays out, the rules about exactly how damaging it was to time for duplicates to meet were never really made clear, and yet were still inconsistently applied. All those Thawne's should have pulled the universe inside out, just for starters, based on how they were describing it to begin with.

Everybody remember where we parked:

This week the Waverider took us from Central City 2017 (D.D.) to 1916 France, and then finished up by landing in the Doctor Who Season Six finale (a.k.a. LA 2017).

Speaking of the Waverider, if I followed things correctly the Legends trashed the earlier version of the ship in 1916 and then left in the older version of the ship that came back from Doomworld. Surely that's going to have some knock on effects, yes?

Quotes:

Ray: (To his suit) "Hah, Yes. Ah, I have missed you" (he kisses the suit)
Jax: "Really, dude?"
Ray: "I will never, ever leave you again."

Rip: "Gideon, what is that? Is that another ship?"
Gideon: "Negative. It appears to be a desk lamp."
Rip: "Oh, bollocks."

Nate: "I just need to get to the library so I can... you know... locate Christ's blood..."
Rip: "I need to run some repairs on Gideon."
Mick: "And I need to get the spear...uh... Beer."

Nate: "OK, figure we got about an hour before we.."
Mick: "Shut up, Pretty. I'm calling the shots. I'm the thief."

Mick called Nate 'Pretty' several times in this episode. He is not wrong.

Final bits and pieces:

— Damien was absolutely right. Tiny Waverider was adorable.

— Where did all the cake go? Did Rip eat all the cake? Did he leave at the end to go deal with his Type-2 diabetes?

— Speaking of: Yes. As much as I like Arthur Darvill, the show works much better without him. I have a ton of respect for both the character and the production crew realizing that and addressing it.

— I would have bet money that Nate and Amaya would leave to go back to 1942 together. That was a pleasant surprise.

— Matt Letscher is so good as the Reverse-Flash that I frequently forget that he only played him for a few minutes during the first season of Flash. I'm not sure if that's a compliment to him or Tom Cavanagh. Probably both.

— I liked that Mick had a beer with him during the time storm.

— The fact that present Jax and future Jax didn't really interact much made me realize how little plotline Jax has really had. More Jax, please.

So, all things considered, a lot of great resolution built on some very shaky and ill-defined time travel theory.

I'll give it 3 out of 4 LA Dinosaurs.
---
Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, volunteer firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

3 comments:

ladydmaj said...

I've been waiting for the review! As much as the time travel plot holes hurt me, they do so well with characterization and personal story arcs I can forgive it easily. Better a dinner of herbs where great characters reside than a fatted ox in a technically flawless yet dreary TV series.

Mallena said...

Yeah, great review. There's no way I could follow all that time travel stuff as well as you do. Hopefully this show will continue to be good next season. The cast has really come together well and I love the banter between characters.

Patryk said...

I do wonder if they wrote Rip out because Arthur Darville needs to film more soaps in the UK or was it a concious decision like you said in the review.

All the timetravel confusion and mistakes are just like the ones in the Flash so Timey Wimey Ball is in full effect in the entire Berlantiverse, thankfulyl the characters are good so I tend to forget that.

Can't wait for next season but at least iZombie is coming back to take over the slot so it won't hurt that much.