[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 1×05: “Fail-Safe”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

Previously on Prison Break

Hm? Oh right, Legends Of Tomorrow.

Last time, nearly half the team was captured by Vandal Savage’s secret project to create a Soviet Firestorm. Stein, Mick and Ray are now in a Soviet gulag where Valentina Vostok is hoping to use Stein’s knowledge to aid in her research.

The episode opens on S.T.A.R. Labs, where an impressed Stein looks over formulas written by Cisco Ramón. “Who?” you ask, prior to me beating you over the head with a season 1 box set of The Flash. Well, Cisco is a bright young scientist who works at S.T.A.R. Labs and develops technology, weapons and equipment for heroes in the DC TV universe. Stein is impressed with his knowledge and his newfound interest in his work. Cisco keeps pushing him for information about the specifics of Firestorm’s creation, but…Cisco saying “sir”? Wearing a suit jacket? GASP! Something strange is going on here! Oh, Cisco has been reading GQ. That makes sen—HEY, WAIT A MINUTE! No, this is just some illusion or hallucination caused by Vostok in her interrogation. Savage arrives and Stein says he’ll never give him the secret to creating Firestorm.

Jax’s mental link tells him that although Stein’s trying to be brave and stubborn, the old guy is afraid. Rip, Leonard and Sara are getting briefed on the gulag by Gideon, who says that no one has ever escaped in the history of the prison. History’s about to change. Sara suggests talking to the Russian mob about getting inside. Cut to Rip and Leonard trying to get information from a mob boss named Yuri in a steam room. Yuri ain’t having it, so Rip resorts to fisticuffs while Sara takes on six of his henchmen in the next room and Leonard sits back and does nothing because he’s Leonard. Sara finishes her work early and comes to brag. “I just took out six men, you guys couldn’t handle one?” I like Sara. ^_^ Either the opportunity to rid his country of Vandal Savage or the desire not to get beaten to a pulp by Sara convinces Yuri to help smuggle them in.

Rip, Sara, and Leonard go over the revised plan but rest assured this- “This isn’t my first prison break.” Damn it Leonard, stop stepping on my jokes! Rip sidelines Kendra and Jax, not wanting to put the only person who can kill Savage and the other half of the Firestorm equation in Savage’s hands. Sara is pulled aside by Rip before they can leave. He stresses the importance of preventing Savage from creating his own Firestorm and shows her a projection of what Star City will look like if they fail. She’s being given an extra mission parameter: if they can’t free Stein, she needs to kill him. Leonard figures this out and objects…I’m going to have a lot to say about this in a bit, so I’m just mentioning it briefly now.

Meanwhile, Ray is really not cut out for prison life. He’s smiling, he’s chatty, he would be doing a lot worse on something with a harder rating. While trying to get information from another prisoner, Ray runs afoul of a “prison alpha” and gets a beatdown while pyromaniac Mick stares at a lighter. Ray asks why he didn’t have his back since they’re supposed to be a team, but Mick says the only team he’s on is Leonard’s. They’re then taken deeper into the prison to be tortured in front of Stein, who receives a message from Jax and Kendra via their link – a message carved into Jax’s arm which appears on Stein’s. Uh…back up a second. This is cool and all, and they did this once before with Ronnie and Stein on The Flash, but after the last episode it makes less sense. Jax received a pretty big wound to the stomach in episode 4 but Stein appeared unaffected. Their link is weirdly selective.

Ray taunts the torturer and gets a beating meant for Mick which puts him out of commission for the rest of the episode. Stein can’t take it and agrees to cooperate. When Mick and Ray are taken back to their cell, Mick catches a glimpse of Leonard in a guard’s uniform. In their cell, Mick can’t quite understand why Ray took the torture for him. Ray talks about team loyalty, fighting for what he believes in and, if necessary, dying for it. He says Mick must have something he’s willing to die for, and Mick answers “A perfect score.” Ray notes the only difference between them is how they define “score”.

Leonard and Sara split up inside the prison, each having their own mission. Sara fails to prevent Vostok from taking Stein to the lab meaning Plan B is a go – Stein has to die. When she’s given the opportunity, she hesitates and doesn’t take the shot. Leonard finds Ray and Mick, but when he sees that Ray is in no condition to walk out of there, he’s about to leave him. Mick refuses since Ray took a beating for him. They carry Ray and head for the door. Kendra and Jax convince Rip to tag them in because they’re the only ones who think someone who can fly and a potentially reunited Firestorm could actually be beneficial to the prison break. Kendra drops Jax inside the fence and Jax turns off the power, setting all of the prisoners free. Mick and Leonard are dressed as guards. Oops.

Kendra plants bombs in the lab and she’s confronted by Savage. That’s short-lived when Rip comes in and demands his watch back at gunpoint (Savage took the watch with the picture of Rip’s family in episode 3). Rip takes his watch back and blows up the lab with Savage inside. Not very effective, but damn, that had to feel good.

Vostok discovers the message carved into Stein’s arm and realizes that he’s one half of Firestorm. She exposes herself to the radiation of the backup therma core and fuses with Stein to become a new Firestorm. Jax confronts Vostok-Firestorm and gets through to Stein and causes them to separate. Happy reunions for a brief moment, and then oh yeah…Vostok is going to explode. The team runs to the jump ship and gets out of Dodge just before Vostok goes nuclear, destroying the prison.

Back on the ship, the team drinks to a successful mission (????) and Stein reconciles with Jax. The happy victory is short lived as Chronos’ ship attacks the Waverider. Remember Chronos? The Legends keep forgetting him. They crash land “in place and time” – specifically Star City in the year 2046. They go out for a walk in a hellish post-apocalyptic city and are confronted by Green Arrow. Sara and Ray both try to get Oliver to recognize them, but as the archer draws an arrow it becomes clear that not only doesn’t he recognize them, but he’s not Oliver.

On the bright side, Felicity Smoak owns a building now.

In the past few weeks I’ve been asking for some character development for Mick, and this episode delivered a little bit of that. He doesn’t exactly look comfortable in prison, but he does know how to survive in one. He’s more than a little familiar with life on the inside. We also get a bit about why he hasn’t worked with the rest of the team much – to him, Captain Cold and Heat Wave are the only team he knows or cares about. He doesn’t stand up for Ray in the prison yard but Ray taking the brunt of the torture gives him pause when he’s presented with the option of leaving Ray behind later. Maybe down the line we’ll see that “criminal code” bond extend to the rest of the team and not just Leonard.

Speaking of Leonard, he’s sort of all over the place this episode. When he’s rescuing Ray and Mick he’s willing to leave Ray behind to save himself and Mick, but throughout the episode he’s strongly opposed to Sara killing Stein. We’ve seen signs of loyalty from him before – when Carter died it gave him a reason to go after Savage since he killed one of his crew. Last episode he verbally tore into Rip for leaving Stein, Ray, and Mick behind. One of the best exchanges from the episode occurs when he offers Sara advice on how to kill Stein.

Leonard: “Don’t use your gun, do it with your hands. Do it while you’re looking right into Stein’s eyes.”

Sara: “You’re talking about a member of our team.”

Leonard: “I just don’t want you to forget who we’re talking about.”

It’s weird for the criminal to be the one appealing to a hero’s sense of right and wrong. Leonard is a complex guy, and I’m really seeing whatever good Barry saw in him earlier this season on The Flash…seriously, if you’re not watching The Flash, DO IT.

Anyway, Leonard and Mick have the potential to be some very interesting characters on this show. We know why the heroes do what they do – because it’s the right thing to do. Good triumphing over evil, needs of the many, truth justice and the American way. But these guys? Two criminals who are only out for themselves? We could see some amazing character arcs.

Sara had a major victory over not only her resurrection-induced bloodlust but her training as an assassin this episode. As Rip observed, killing Stein was the smart play, the safe end to the mission, but Sara couldn’t go through with that. It would have been easy to make the cold math-based decision: billions of lives for one, but Sara refused. She trusted her team to find another way – that’s what heroes do, they find another way. It might be a little unrealistic in the real world, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking the shot that Sara didn’t, but we have ancient hawk priestesses and nuclear-powered heroes on this show. Give me a little “the good guys win” here.

I liked Jax and Stein reconciling a little bit, but I would have liked to see them sit down and discuss some of the issues brought up in the last episode. They’ll continue to butt heads as the series goes on. I honestly think they need some kind of couples counseling. I’m sure there’s someone out there who works with superhero pairs or specializes in fused hero counseling.

Ray is a dork. I really don’t know what more to say about him. I’ve never been in prison or even been arrested in my life, but even I know you don’t walk into a prison with a smile on your face and try to make friends. Comparisons to scout camp are also probably a no-no. I think Ray is a little too altruistic and naïve for his own good. That’s probably going to bite him in the ass at some point – and he might end up with more than a beating next time. He did manage to get through to Mick in this episode, though.

Not much to say about Rip and Kendra this episode except goddamn, that was pretty awesome of Rip to confront Savage, demand his watch back, and then blow him up in a “badasses walk away from explosions” shot. It’s fantastic to see Arthur Darvill go from being a loveable goober on Doctor Who to playing a role like this.

I really dug this episode. After inadvertently causing the death of an old professor, losing a member of their team, nearly wiping Stein’s marriage from existence, revealing the existence of superpowered individuals to the Pentagon in 1986, wiping out all of the Pentagon’s magnetic media (which presumably includes more than just security camera footage), crashing two ships in Soviet Russia and causing two nuclear detonations only eleven years apart, I’m starting to question this team’s definition of a “successful mission”. I’m sure the season will end with a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner on the side of the Waverider while the team has a cookout in the next smoldering crater they make.

Next episode looks really promising! There have been rumors about Connor Hawke – could he be the Green Arrow of 2046? What happened to Oliver? Why does the Star City of 2046 look like the Detroit of modern day? Did Felicity Smoak completely take over Ray’s company? We’ll find out next week!

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

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