written by Kate Spencer
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
Racism, homophobia, and sexism – no, it’s not a Donald Trump rally, it’s a small town in the 1950s! Following a tip they received in the previous episode, the Legends land in Harmony Falls, Oregon in 1958. Though it looks more like Douglas, Arizona in one of the pictures Rip shows on the Waverider. Rip Hunter is a really bad time traveler. But whatever, “Harmony Falls, Oregon”. Seems there have been a string of murders and disappearances in the town lately and the team suspects Vandal Savage is responsible. Rip believes that since this is a point earlier than any time Savage ever saw the team (with the exception of himself), they have the element of surprise. Except he puts Kendra, one of the people Savage will recognize right on the front line. Yeah, this is going to go well.
I don’t think they’ve explained how paradoxes work in this show. If they were to mess things up and reveal themselves to Savage in 1958, wouldn’t he have already known about them in 1975? And would knowing about them change those events? It’s been stated that they can’t change events they were part of, which prevents them from saving Carter or Professor Boardman. Could their interference in this timeline alter those events, or are they just creating contained paradoxes by encountering Savage at earlier and earlier dates? Rip has implied that time has a way of course-correcting, so would Savage somehow forget them because he isn’t meant to meet them until the established events of 1975? What if they kill him before 1975 or even 2015 when Flash, Kendra, and Green Arrow first encountered him? For that matter, does Stein remember being aboard the Waverider and meeting his past self now? And if they continue to alter the timeline like this, will Dayna regret asking me to review a time travel show?
Rip starts handing out assignments. A woman was killed in her home, and that home is now up for sale, so Kendra and Ray are sent in as a married couple to buy the house and investigate the neighborhood. Laws against interracial marriage were repealed in Oregon by 1951, but the realtor still turns up her nose and tries to persuade them to look at a house in a more progressive town. Kendra assures her that she and her “husband” like their towns backward. Professor Stein and Sara are placed undercover as a doctor and nurse at the local asylum where one of the doctors was recently killed. Stein is hired for his background in sociopathology and Sara is hired for her looks. Jax is assigned to investigate the disappearance of three teenagers. Lastly, Rip and Leonard are posing as FBI agents investigating the murders so they can find out what local law enforcement know.
At a diner, Stein is feeling nostalgic about the timeline they’re in. I can see why – 25 cents for a strawberry sundae and 15 cents for apple pie? Hell yeah. Sara and Jax counter that it’s not so ideal for anyone who’s not a straight white male. Yeah…I guess I’ll take my sundae to go. Stein concedes their point but immediately follows up by calling Sara his nurse. Before I can think it, Sara firmly reminds him that Ra’s Al Ghul taught her how to kill someone and drag out their death for days. As Doctor Stein and Nurse Lance leave, Jax approaches Betty, a young woman he saw in the news report about the disappearances. He learns Betty’s boyfriend was one of the teens who went missing. A couple of guys try to give him a hard time, but Jax doesn’t back down to “Biff” (hehe) and they leave. Betty is impressed and asks Jax if he wants to hang out the following night.
While searching for files on violent patients, Sara saves a nurse from some good old-fashioned 1950s workplace sexual harassment. Stein is given the files he requested and says he could really go for a cup of coffee. Sara tells him to get her one too. It’s like she’s trying to fit in as poorly as possible, and I love it. Nurse Lindsay Carlisle gives Sara a tour of the facility with the exception of the restricted ward – Hall H, overseen by a Doctor Curtis Knox who has a conveniently placed picture of himself on the wall so Sara can see that he is, in fact, Vandal Savage. Later she searches Savage’s office, but she’s caught by Lindsay, who assumes she’s looking for booze. Lindsay shows her another doctor’s stash and the two of them drink together. Sara correctly guesses that her new friend doesn’t like men. Lindsay says she kissed a girl and she liked it. That it felt so wrong but it also felt so right, but that doesn’t mean she’s– “A lesbian?” Sara asks. Sara assures her it’s not a bad word, but Lindsay says that it is around here. Sara says it’s a good thing she’s not from around here.
Stein scolds Sara for seducing Lindsay. “Actually, I was liberating her…with an option to seduce her later.” Been there. Anyway, Stein cautions her against forming any attachments since they’ll eventually leave this time period. Sara suggests she’s only letting Lindsay know that the future is going to be a better place. Alarms start going off – there’s a problem in Hall H.
Ray and Kendra are enjoying playing house right up until the moment Vandal Savage and his wife arrive at the door with a casserole to welcome them to the neighborhood. Savage recognizes Kendra right away, and both she and Ray have terrible poker faces, but everyone stays in character. I guess Savage is trying to make everyone think Curtis Knox is evil because he acts like a serial killer the entire time. Doctor and Mrs. Knox invite the Palmers to a dinner party at their house that evening. At the party, Kendra and Ray split up. Ray searches the house while Kendra talks to Savage. Savage pretty much hints at past lives, fate, and destiny, trying to get her to remember her past life, but then he’s called away by the emergency at the asylum. In the meantime, Ray discovers Savage’s “man cave” – a padlocked metal door. Rip isn’t familiar with the term “man cave”, so hopefully that bit of idiocy dies by the year 2166.
The emergency at the hospital is a dead orderly in Hall H. Savage berates his three winged creatures for the murder. The three resemble the missing teenagers.
The next morning, Ray suits up and shrinks under the door to Savage’s secured home office while Kendra keeps watch from their house across the street Rear Window-style. Ray finds the dagger that would one day be used to kill Carter Hall which is also one of Savage’s weaknesses. He steals it and escapes just as Savage arrives back home.
At the asylum, Sara questions Lindsay about Hall H. Lindsay doesn’t know anything and prefers not to think about what goes on in there. When asked what she does like to think about, she kisses Sara, but Sara pulls away.
Betty takes Jax to Lovers Lane and tries to put the moves on him but he’s startled by the forwardness of a girl from 1958…and yes, he specifies “girls from 1958”. Worst. Time travelers. Ever. He asks her about her missing boyfriend, but they’re interrupted by the two jerks from the day before. Jax starts to fight them off, but the winged creatures from the asylum attack. Jax and Betty escape in the car and we see that Betty has been badly wounded by the creatures’ claws. They’re pulled over for speeding by a racist cop who knocks Jax unconscious and takes him to the asylum. Racist and working for Savage. Good job doubling down on evil there, Boss Hogg. Savage injects Jax with something and he slowly turns into one of the scary bird monsters.
Rip and Leonard discover Betty and bring her back to the ship’s medical bay. Betty tells them that one of the bird monsters was her boyfriend Tommy. Rip and Stein deduce that the missing teens discovered an Nth metal meteorite, like the one that gave Savage his immortality and gave Kendra and Carter their powers. Instead of giving them cool hawk god powers, it mutated them into feral creatures. Stein gets to work on an antidote using a sample from Betty’s wounds while the rest of the team formulates a plan to get Jax back and kill Savage. Kendra is tasked with the latter, but Ray doesn’t want her to go alone. She says she doesn’t need his protection and is determined to confront Savage alone since he won’t suspect that her powers and memories have emerged.
While the others search the asylum for Jax, Kendra fakes seducing Savage in order to get him close enough to stab him with the dagger. Savage has already taken the dagger from her purse, having noticed it missing from his house and guessing that Kendra was the culprit. He holds the dagger to her throat and sends a signal to release the hawk monsters. Sara saves Lindsay from one of the creatures and promises to explain later. Rip and Ray are briefly accosted by Racist Cop, but he’s attacked by one of the monsters. Stein and Leonard come across the mutated Jax, but when given the opportunity to shoot him, Leonard spares him instead. Ray is sent to help Kendra and blasts Savage out the window.
Jax is taken back to the ship, where Stein and Gideon have developed a cure for his condition. Stein credits Leonard with saving Jax, but Leonard dismisses it, implying he would have shot Jax if things had gone any differently. Stein doesn’t buy it and says Leonard’s actions were heroic. Once the cure works on Jax, it’s given to the other hawk creatures.
Sara visits Lindsay, who doesn’t think things will ever be normal for her again. “Good,” Sara replies. She gives Lindsay a goodbye kiss and they leave things open should Sara ever return.
Jax gives Betty a new car since her dad’s car got messed up in the monster attack. She doesn’t want him to go, but he says he doesn’t belong here, and neither does she. He advises her and Tommy to move on from the town and embrace the changing world.
Kendra apologizes for being headstrong earlier, but Ray stops her and apologizes for being overprotective and getting caught up in the whole “husband” thing. He has confidence that she’ll end Savage someday and says she doesn’t need a husband, she needs a partner. They shake hands, then kiss.
Back on the ship, Jax thanks Leonard for saving his life and apologizes for giving him such a hard time for killing Mick. He knows Leonard only did it to protect the team. Before Kendra, Ray, and Sara can return, Chronos attacks the Waverider. Rip orders them all to fall back to the jump ship. The others arrive back at the ship just in time to see it take off, leaving them behind.
I’m mixed on this episode. Funny enough, I liked everything except for the main plot. I’m really pleased to see the show tackle subjects such as racism, sexism, and homophobia when they’re bound to visit less-enlightened times. All of those problems still exist today, but they’re not as widespread and socially accepted as they were in the ’50s. As uncomfortable as seeing things like that onscreen might make some of us, it’s a good reminder that things used to be very different, and we still have a long way to go even in our own time.
What was particularly uncomfortable was seeing how Kendra and Jax were treated. Kendra was mistaken for a housekeeper and waitress, and her relationship with Ray was received pretty poorly. Jax got numerous stares throughout the episode, was threatened for sitting with a white girl, and talked down to. The most mind-boggling thing about that was that given how society was in those times, the racism was actually pretty toned down. In some parts of the country at that time, Jax would not have been allowed to sit down at that lunch counter. While Oregon legalized interracial marriage in 1951, many states didn’t until they were forced to by the 1967 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Loving v Virginia – and even then, communities weren’t likely to accept interracial couples in their neighborhoods. I’ve been too afraid to read online reaction to this episode, but I would hope no one complained that the depiction of these issues was heavy-handed. Believe me, this was mild. Even so, I’m glad they at least touched on the uglier side of 1950s society. I hope we see more of this kind of thing in future episodes rather than just presenting the past as quirky and full of weird fashions and music.
The subplot that spoke to me was the one involving Sara’s romance with Nurse Carlisle. Sadly, not a whole lot has changed in the past fifty-eight years. Communities where “lesbian” is a bad word still exist, and I know because I grew up in one. I know what it’s like to have to hide who you are because people around you won’t accept you. Sara “liberating” Lindsay was a wonderful thing, and the line “I would love for someone to drop into my life and tell me that the future is going to be a better place” put a smile on my face. I liked the little romance they had going on, especially because it revealed something else about Sara’s character. After the first kiss, Sara pulled away because she hasn’t really felt that kind of attachment since coming back to life. It was like a first kiss all over again, and it briefly scared her because she didn’t want to hurt someone or be hurt herself. And I know it was probably just an oversight, but I like to think Sara and Lindsay’s pin watches showing different times were symbolic of them being from different eras.
Ray and Kendra’s relationship is growing on me. As long as Ray stops being overprotective and trusts Kendra and gives her room to spread her wings, I’m okay with seeing where it leads.
Finally, Leonard and Jax. Twice in this episode Jax made a comment to Leonard about how he iced his friend and partner, and both times I thought he was in the wrong. It was nice to see Jax acknowledge that at the end. Maybe Jax was just still in shock about losing another teammate – even if this one was a traitor – and he was just looking for someone to blame. Leonard, for his part, shows that his loyalty to the team is growing. Not only did he not kill Jax (when that was the safe bet to save himself), but he subdued him without seriously injuring him. I think he cares about all of them far more than he wants to admit.
Okay, sorry, one last thing on the Savage timeline stuff – I did notice that throughout the episode, the only faces Savage actually sees are Kendra’s and Ray’s. Kendra keeps reincarnating throughout Savage’s timeline, so she wouldn’t be out of place. If I remember past episodes correctly, Savage and Ray never met face-to-face. So this episode actually does fit into his timeline without any problems.
Legends of Tomorrow is going on a three-week break, so we won’t see the resolution of the cliffhanger until March 31st. In the meantime we can all speculate over who’s piloting the Waverider, to where, and if they did it just to ditch Ray.
Legends Of Tomorrow airs Thursdays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.
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