[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 1×04: “White Knights”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

On this week’s Legends Of Tomorrow, international incidents and time disruptions are all the rage, team conflict is high, [everyone speaks Russian]*, the Time Masters show up again, and Rip Hunter is still a bad babysitter.

*Translated from Russian.

The team travels to Washington DC in 1986 – the middle of the Cold War. Gideon has intercepted a fax detailing Savage’s location that’s been inked as classified. Jax doesn’t know what a fax is and suddenly I feel older than the aged professor and the reincarnated Egyptian priestess on my screen. Ray explains to Jax (and some viewers, I’m sure) that a fax is like an email but on paper. “Wow. That’s totally useless,” Mick says, and I agree…then I realize he’s talking about the mostly redacted document and not fax machine technology. Rip has a plan! Break into a government facility and steal the original non-redacted file. Where is that, Rip? Just then, the team looks out the front window of the Waverider to see……the Pentagon.

This is going to go badly, isn’t it?

Kendra thinks it sounds crazy, Mick thinks it sounds fun, and Ray is excited because he thinks he gets to go undercover as a G-man. Yeah, this is going to go badly. Gideon can fabricate the necessary credentials but she can’t make the magnetic keycard that will get them past security for reasons. But hey, that means we get to see Leonard being all sneaky and suave, catching a woman who slips on a wet floor and pocketing her keycard…and her wallet. I like Leonard. The card is passed to Sara and Kendra who head to the records room while Mick creates a diversion with an…arm wrestling competition? Sure, whatever. As long as he has something to do this episode. Firestorm meanwhile is in the power room diverting power from the exit so that Kendra and Sara can make their escape. Pretty smooth heist, right?

Okay, so how does it go wrong? A) Mick starts a fire, B) Kendra and Sara start fighting guards, or C) Stein and Jax bicker and screw something up with the power?

If you answered D) All of the above, you are correct and you’ve been paying attention to this series. Stein and Jax bicker, Jax loses concentration, messes up, and sets off an alarm. Lieutenant Kendra Saunders and Major Sara Lance respond to the guards’ inquiries with “Uh…”, then immediately break into fighting, and the fighting awakens a sort of warrior rage in Kendra that gives her red eyes – oh, and the wings pop out, so there goes their cover. Mick hears the alarm and immediately pulls out his flamethrower because he’s Mick. Kendra rushes the guards outside and starts clawing the face of one and pummeling the others because no one has guns. Rip calls the retreat so Firestorm bursts through the ceiling of the C-ring and picks up Kendra on the way. I guess everyone else has to walk.

Worst. Time travelers. Ever.

The team argues about who’s to blame. Sara blames “Big Bird” (hehehe), Jax and Stein blame each other, and Rip blames everyone but assures them Gideon released an EMP that erased all of the Pentagon’s magnetic media….HOW IS THAT A FIX? Seriously, the Pentagon suddenly having every bit of magnetic media erased in 1986 doesn’t cause any ripple in the timeline? Ugh, anyway, Rip suggests a nice team building exercise to get them all back on track….nah, he sends them on another mission to the Soviet Union to fuck things up even more.

Savage has defected to the Soviet Union so they head there but Chronos is in hot pursuit. Rip kills the cloak and has the Waverider make as much noise as possibly to get the attention of the Soviets so they’ll shoot down Chronos for them. Oh Rory Williams, if only the Doctor could see you now. The Soviets fire heat-seeking missiles, so Rip cuts the Waverider’s engines, the missiles target Chronos, shoot him down, and the Waverider itself crashes to the ground in Soviet territory. Then it cloaks…in the middle of the crater at the end of the huge trench it just made. Yep.

This review is already long enough, so I won’t rant about all of that. We’re only nine minutes into the episode. I’ll be more brief about the rest.

Savage is working with Valentina Vostok on something called “Operation Svarog”. Leonard wants to kill Vostok but Ray cautions that she could have some thing of affect on history, like being the next Curie or maybe she’s doomed to patrol something. Rip gives the two of them some babelfish – or rather funny little pills that make you speak and understand any language. They’re sent in undercover to a ballet performance to find out what Vostok knows and what Savage is up to. Ray bones up on Vostok’s CV while Leonard bones up on ballet. “Gideon, bone me.” …I really like Leonard.

Rip assigns Sara to help Kendra get her warrior side under control while he investigates a temporal anomaly. Seems the Time Masters found Chronos’ crashed ship and Time Master Zaman Druce wants to offer Rip and his team a deal. If they stop what they’re doing now, Rip will be reinstated and the team will be allowed to return to 2016. Faster than you can quote Admiral Ackbar, Chronos attacks and Jax is injured in the fight.

Stein, Leonard, Ray, and Mick go to Vostok’s lab using credentials that Leonard lifted from her at the ballet. After some investigation, Stein discovers the Operation Svarog isn’t a weapon to be used in the American/Soviet arms race, it’s Vandal Savage’s attempt to create his own Firestorm in his arms race against Rip Hunter’s team. He finds that they’ve already built the therma core they need and it’s only a matter of time before they succeed. Ray takes the core offline while Stein tries to pack it up, but when Ray tries to stop Vostok from going into the radiation-filled core room, he, Mick and Stein are captured by the Soviets. Seems Vostok knows full well who she’s working for and she doesn’t care. She also assures her comrades that they don’t need the therma core now because they have something far better now – Stein. That’s oddly optimistic for Vostok. I thought she was more of a negative woman.

Rip orders Leonard to retreat with the core, considering its recovery far more important at the moment. Leonard gives him an earful in a very threatening way. Rip says that sending in the rest of the team for backup would have gotten them all captured. Having the core has bought them some time, and he believes Stein and the others can hold out that long. Unfortunately, they’re being held in a Soviet gulag.

To be continued.

This week saw some good team conflict – more than the little bickering and snide remarks that we’ve seen so far. In order to get Kendra’s warrior rage under control, Rip has Sara train her. That may not be the brightest idea considering Sara is already dealing with her own blood lust. Kendra learns about that after their first sparring session, and rather than Sara training Kendra to control herself, it now seems both women will be helping each other. Sara is worried her human side is gone and Kendra feels like now the Hawk is unleashed, she can’t control it without Carter’s help. Seeing them supporting each other makes me smile, but I do have some tiny reservations about the only two women on the team both having uncontrolled murderous rage issues. I’m worried we’re only a bad writer away from a PMS joke.

Stein goes off on Jax in this episode for being too reckless and not listening to him. Both say some hurtful things – with Stein saying some really personal and really dickish things to Jax. Jax is worried about his life back home, that his widowed mother is going to think that he just left her if something happens to him on the mission. Stein says if Jax’s father were still alive he would tell him to grow up and stop letting his adolescent ego put billions of lives in jeopardy. At this point I was ready to call Stein a dick and question where the character development of the past three episodes went, but when he’s confronted by Ray, Stein says he knows he was being cruel and unfair. He doesn’t know any other way to get through to Jax. Ray counters that Jax is just a kid. “So was Ronald, and look what happened to him.” Awww, Marty… :( He can’t go through losing someone that close again. Worse yet, if something does happen to Jax it will be his fault. He’s the one who kidnapped Jax and brought him on the mission. He’s the one who will have to go back to 2016 and tell Jax’s mother that he’s not coming home. This was a really emotional scene, brilliantly acted by all involved. I’m also glad that while he’s gone, Ronnie hasn’t been forgotten. Even if the memory is tearing up Stein emotionally and putting Jax in the crosshairs.

Rip is given the chance to go back to how things were before with the Time Masters – or so he thinks. When offered his old job back and charges against him dropped he doesn’t think of himself, he thinks of the team. He knows going back would mean Savage would win and his family would still be dead, but it’s a way out for the team. A team he deceived, put in danger, and lost one member of already. Even after Mick’s warning that this is likely a trap and the Time Masters just want them all together so they can kill them, Rip presents the offer to at least the Firestorm duo (presumably the others too). He wants them to have a choice in the matter, and I think one way or the other he would have gone with their decision. That’s pretty admirable.

Other than that we got some good Leonard stuff. I’ll never get tired of his cocky purring voice and snarky one liners. Mick goes along on the first field trip with Rip and schools Rip on things like traps and betrayal. Later he’s pretty defiant when captured by the Soviets – so much so that I thought for sure he was about to be killed off. This is better, give us more of this. Expand on Mick’s character, Legends writers. You’ve got a good actor in the role and you’ve done amazing work with everyone else. I know you can do it.

This felt like less of a “part one of two” than the first part of the pilot did. For an episode that ended on a cliffhanger, it felt complete. There was a lot of plot and character development here, resulting in a very good episode. I hope the next part lives up to it. I’ve said it before though, I’ve got faith in these writers. They’re crafting some great stories here that really allow Legends Of Tomorrow to be a worthy sister series to Arrow and The Flash.

Legends Of Tomorrow airs Thursdays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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One thought on “[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 1×04: “White Knights”

  1. I think LoT is struggling with a “great on paper” premise. The execution isn’t going very well, with repetitiveness and plot holes all over the place. Not to mention it’s only episode 4 and already we’re getting another two-parter? That’s asking an awful lot of a new drama’s audience.

    On the other hand, there are great actors working the hell out of mediocre scripts, the action sequences and SFX are spectacular, and above all else, Wentworth Miller is carrying this show on his back. I thought Captain Cold only worked well in small doses, but lo and behold, the man is riveting. No matter how LoT goes, I’m glad I got to see such a perfect performance.

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