written by Kate Spencer
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
This week is something of a bottle episode (sort of) with most scenes taking place on existing sets or redressed versions of those sets. Effects are sort of minimal, which makes me think maybe this was a money-saving episode. That’s probably a good thing since I’m already concerned about the show’s budget. Bottle episodes usually offer a chance for deeper character stories and yeah – we got that. Though probably not in the way some would like.
The episode opens on a heartbreaking scene of Rip watching a holographic recording of a message from his wife and child over and over. Arthur Darvill is the kind of actor who can convey so much with a single look, and the look on his face in this scene rips my heart out. Professor Stein interrupts and asks how the search for Vandal Savage is going. Rip admits that the trail has gone cold, and that they need to locate Savage at an earlier point in history when he’s not expecting them. We (and Rip) learn that he’s been in his office for a week, and the rest of the crew are getting antsy, particularly Mick.
The arsonist is getting restless being cooped up on a ship he can’t set on fire…and this is the point that I’d stop spending time in the same room as him, but Sara and Leonard are content with their card game. They’re very chill for two people in a room with a psychopath who’s throwing knives. Then again, one of them has worked with that psychopath for a while, and the other one could probably kill him with a cotton ball. Before Mick can go crazy, the Waverider receives a distress call from another time ship. Captain Eve Baxter and her ship the Acheron are stranded in deep space and in need of immediate help!
Yeah, Rip already knows it might be – but the Acheron has something the Waverider doesn’t: updated timeline data that includes Savage’s whereabouts. Apparently Gideon doesn’t get her Windows Updates now because Rip has been cut off from the Time Masters. Mick volunteers to go because the sooner they stop Savage, the sooner he can go home. Rip wisely takes both halves of Firestorm for once and leaves the rest of the team behind on the Waverider to have their own character development and side plots. On the ride over, Stein geeks out about space travel and how he dreamed of it since he was a child. I like to imagine a lot of scientists are like that, and it just makes me like Stein even more. Seems the Acheron’s engine is disabled and the circumstances appear suspicious, so Rip leaves Stein behind on the jump ship while he, Jax, and Mick explore the ship. They’re immediately attacked by Jon Valor (??? O.o) and his band of “time pirates”. Yo ho.
Seems Captain Baxter was on her way back to Vanishing Point with the pirates when they escaped and took over the ship. She destroyed the ship’s time travel drive so they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere. Funny, she never mentioned that in her vague distress call. Rip tries to convince the pirates to let them go by telling them about the Legends’ mission, and when that doesn’t work he threatens them. The pirates contact Acting Captain Ray Palmer to negotiate the surrender of the Waverider, but Rip uses the opportunity to relay coded orders to Gideon to fire on the Acheron and get the Waverider to safety. I liked Rip’s codeword choices: “Imperiex onslaught” is a reference to Imperiex, the DC villain from the Our Worlds At War crossover. “Kanjar Ro” went over my head, but it’s the name of a Justice League villain who is the dictator of another planet. This episode is crazy with references.
When the Waverider starts firing on the Acheron, Stein shouts out “Great Scott!” I love how dorky this show lets its characters be. Stein is brought up to speed by Gideon, and starts a pretty badass one-man rescue mission in the style of a comic book hero from his childhood – Rick Starr, Space Ranger. He does manage to disable the Acheron’s weapons which put the Waverider out of any immediate danger, but there’s still the threat of suffocation. He knocks out one of the pirates and steals both his gun and his beret. “That will teach you to mess with a nuclear physicist.”
In trying to seal the hull breach, Leonard and Sara are trapped on the wrong side of it when the bulkhead door closes, putting them in a room with a slow leak, a weak ice patch, and a rapidly dropping temperature. They have some time to talk, and faced with his own mortality, Leonard asks Sara what dying is like because she’s experienced it before. She says it felt lonely – like everyone she loved was a million miles away. Leonard tells her the story of how he and Mick met in juvie when he was fourteen, with Mick protecting Leonard from some of the older kids. Mick has been by his side ever since. He admits that the reason he didn’t leave Mick behind in 2046 is because without someone to keep him in check, Mick can be “a scary guy”. Sara says that even if they get out of their current situation, that will still be a problem because Mick is in a dark place and he’s not coming back.
The away team is taken to the Acheron’s brig. “Captain Baxter, I’m Rip Hunter. I’m here to rescue you.” Did…did you just reference Star Wars? Oh my god, this episode. I haven’t even gotten to Ray and Kendra talking Star Trek. By the way, I couldn’t find an Eve Baxter in DC Comics, but Rip Hunter had an ally named Bonnie Baxter in the 1990 series comic Time Masters, so that may be what they’re referencing. Captain Baxter mocks Rip for falling into a trap, and dismisses Jax’s attempt to open the door. She refers to Rip and his team as criminals and expresses her desire to turn them over to the Time Masters should they ever get out of their current situation. Mick and Rip start arguing, Mick blaming Rip for filling Leonard’s head with ideas of heroism and turning him away from a life of crime. Rip’s anger gets the better of him and he confesses that he didn’t bring Mick along for his skills as a thief or his willingness to work outside the law – he had to recruit him to get Leonard to come along.
Mick has had enough. He requests a “parley” with the pirates; and we can add Pirates Of the Caribbean to the list of references. Mick cuts a deal with Captain Valor: he’ll help them take the Waverider in exchange for being sent back to 2016.
Throughout the episode we get flashbacks to Rip’s days as a Time Master and we learn just how “forbidden” of a relationship he was in. Seems Rip didn’t just fall in love, but he fell in love with a fellow Time Master. Very very forbidden. They were both set up for disciplinary hearings but Miranda took all of the blame and resigned. Rip was given a second chance and told to work hard to prove to himself and the Time Masters that he’s the man Miranda claims he is. In the present, Rip tells Captain Baxter that she was right to call him a failure, but not for betraying the Time Masters – he failed Miranda and Jonas. He doesn’t regret turning his back on the Time Masters, but he’ll never forgive himself for failing his family. Baxter appears moved, but before this can go any further, Space Ranger Stein shows up to free them.
Ray is able to patch the hull breach with a spacewalk in the Atom suit while he and Kendra bond. He nearly dies when his oxygen runs out, but Kendra revives him while Sara and Leonard are finally freed from the closed-off section. There isn’t much time to celebrate though, because Mick arrives on the jump ship with the pirates to take over the Waverider. Mick tries to get Leonard to join him, but Leonard has already chosen his side, and shoots one of the pirates. The team fights the pirates and Mick makes his way to the Waverider’s time drive, but he’s stopped by Leonard and Sara. On the Acheron, Rip fights Valor on the bridge and manages to knock him out. Then, using a tactic that Miranda used in training years earlier, vents the ship, sending the pirates (along with a stray Wilhelm Scream) out into space while Stein, Jax, and Captain Baxter hold on for dear life.
Captain Baxter not only allows Rip and his team to go free, she gives him the location of Savage in 1958. That leaves the Legends with one question: what to do about Mick. Ray suggests dropping him off in 2016, but Leonard suggests that Mick might go after their families if they do. Rip says the brig isn’t suited for long-term incarceration, and Sara adds that letting him wander the ship free isn’t an option either. Leonard says he’ll handle it. Stein asks if that means “murder”, but Leonard just reaffirms that he’ll handle it.
Leonard drags Mick out into a small clearing in an unknown place and time and wakes him up. Mick reminds him that he told him if he ever hit him again it would be the last time. Leonard says he was right, and readies his cold gun. He laments that he wishes there was some other way, but Mick has become a dangerous liability to the team. Mick says they were a team, but Leonard tells him that he’s changed. Mick doesn’t buy it – Leonard sees himself as a hero now, but he’s still that scrawny punk he had to save in juvie all of those years ago. He taunts him further, saying he doesn’t have the guts to kill him, but that either way, only one of them is walking out of the situation alive.
“You’re right.” Leonard fires the weapon and the episode ends.
Damn. I wasn’t expecting that from this episode, and I wasn’t expecting to feel this emotional about it. The Frostfire Boyfriends are no more. Team Icy Hot has been disbanded. Snow Miser put down Heat Miser. I wanted to make some Old Yeller jokes when I realized what that final scene was going to be, but after actually watching it, I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m not sure I like them taking Mick out behind the shed. As I’m so fond of saying, heroes always find another way. While they did present a good argument for not incarcerating Mick or letting him go, I feel the death penalty was pretty harsh in this case. The final shot of the episode is somewhat open though – we don’t see Mick’s body, we don’t even see him get hit. Maybe Leonard aimed wide or froze his leg or something. It’s at least possible we could see Mick in the future, but even if we don’t, that’s all right. If we take the scene at face value, it’s a really powerful and chilling (sorry/not sorry) end for Heat Wave.
We all knew something like this was coming for Mick. After the gulag episode I kind of hoped maybe he would find his own sort of loyalty to the team apart from Leonard, but after Star City 2046 it became clear that things weren’t going to end well for Mick Rory. Throughout this episode we learn that there’s just no going back for him. Leonard even acknowledges that without him to keep Mick in check, he’s extremely dangerous, and they’ve reached a point where Leonard can’t get through to him anymore. Mick was teetering on the edge after the last episode, but this one pushed him well over the edge. Rip confirmed what I keep saying – that the only reason Mick is there is because of Leonard. Rip wanted Leonard, not Mick, but they were a “package deal”. A serial arsonist was never part of the plan to defeat Savage, so it sounds like Rip was really hoping Leonard would be able to keep him in check. During Mick’s betrayal I was wondering if it was all a clever ruse to get the pirates divided up for the team to easily take down. I would have even taken Mick claiming that was the plan when it all went south. But things didn’t end that way, and we came to the inevitable conclusion that Mick had to go. I felt sorry for both Mick and Leonard in that final scene. Long-term friends and partners in crime being brought to a moment like that. You could really understand Mick’s feeling of betrayal and Leonard’s reluctance to do what had to be done.
Leonard and Sara are one of my favorite duos in this series. I’m not sure if I see them as a romantic couple or just an unlikely pair of buddies. There’s a chemistry there that works in ways that neither of them have with the rest of the team. With the exception of maybe Rip, I can’t see Sara huddling together with anyone else for warmth while talking about what she felt when she died. Likewise, I can’t imagine Leonard confiding his regrets in anyone but Sara. They just work, whether it’s as buddies or lovers. However that develops, I look forward to seeing more of it.
Ray and Kendra bond in this episode as well. Kendra is left in charge of keeping an eye on Ray as he keeps an eye on the ship. While Ray fancies himself Captain Kirk, Kendra compares him to Picard and adds that “Picard was way hotter than Kirk.” Later when she’s trying to keep Ray awake through low oxygen levels as he repairs the ship, she asks his favorite color, favorite Beatle, and about his first pet. He has no favorite color or favorite Beatle (my favorite Beetle is Jaime Reyes btw), but he had a pet boa constrictor named “Slinky”. Ray is allergic to cats and dogs, but I’m more worried about his allergy to hawks. When Ray runs out of oxygen, he returns to the ship briefly dead. Kendra panics because she “can’t lose him too” and does that punchy CPR that always magically revives people in TV and movies. At the end of the episode, Ray tries to tell her that she doesn’t need him or anyone else, but Kendra interrupts him with a kiss.
“Surprising.” Yeah, no kidding, Ray. Wasn’t she opposed to a relationship like a week ago?
Arthur Darvill killed it with his performance this week. We see some of Rip’s past, we learn “Rip Hunter” isn’t his real name, and we see his current state of mind. Rip is a man who has lost what matters most to him, and he’s willing to give up everything else to try to get it back – even if it means risking the timeline. He’s not just motivated by anger, revenge, or some selfish need to save his family (as he was accused of last episode), he actually feels guilt. He thinks he failed his wife and son, and that he’s still failing them by not being able to locate Savage. According to Captain Valor and Captain Baxter, Rip was at one time feared by time pirates and well-regarded by the Time Masters. He was willing to risk all of that for his continued relationship and even abandon it completely to restore his family. The Time Masters don’t think too highly of him now, and it’s not likely he’d ever be welcomed back. There’s no going back for Rip, there’s only the mission.
Legends Of Tomorrow is definitely keeping up with its sister shows in the drama department. I would still like to see them move further away from the Vandal Savage plot, but it’s a solid series, and episodes like this one are a real treat. Next week we’re back with Savage in the 1950s. Will they kill him this time? Probably not, but at least we might get another good character episode.
Legends Of Tomorrow airs Thursdays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.
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