[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 1×10: “Progeny”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

It’s one of the moral quandaries of time travel. If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler as a child, could you? Can you weigh an innocent child’s life against the lives of millions? Can you live in a world where one of the greatest atrocities never happened while living with the guilt of killing a child? From a cold mathematical perspective, it’s an easy decision. For many though, it would be difficult to pull that trigger even knowing who the child would become. Well, it’s not Hitler, but this week the Legends are faced with that choice.

Mick is still locked in his cell and Rip visits him to ask for his assistance in their current mission. He doesn’t have any luck with that, of course. Rip also apologizes to Mick for failing him. Rip acknowledges that he lied to Mick about needing him for the mission and that when he became too big of a problem, he asked Leonard to eliminate him. He accepts responsibility and asks Mick not to blame Leonard. Mick wants to kill them both, though. Gideon notifies Rip that they’ve arrived at their destination.

They’ve arrived in 2147 in the Kasnian Conglomerate (a map on the Waverider shows it’s made up of the Southern Slavic countries and Greece). In the year 2080, governments gave way to corporations, so it’s a company that owns the region. Rip says that in five years’ time, Per Degaton, the son of the current head of the Kasnian Conglomerate, will take control and unleash a virus that kills most of the population. After witnessing some Atom-like robots apprehending a purse snatcher, Ray takes the Firestorm Bros to investigate why his technology is being used in the future. Meanwhile Rip tries to infiltrate a Kasnian shareholders meeting with his “accountant” Leonard and Sara, his “personal assista–bodyguard”. Hehehe, Rip is learning. Leonard and Sara have to wait outside, but Rip overhears the meeting where some board members (including Vandal Savage) are pushing for Tor Degaton to “thin the herd” of the world’s population. Tor turns them down yet again, not wanting to fight chaos with more chaos. When the meeting ends, Rip trails Savage and learns that he’s the tutor of young Per Degaton.

Rip lays it out for the team: in five years, Per Degaton will rise to power, unleash the Armageddon virus and weaken the world, giving Vandal Savage the opening he needs to conquer and kill Per Degaton himself. They can’t do anything to Savage at this point because they don’t have the dagger to kill him, but they could stop him from taking over the world by taking one important piece off the board: Per Degaton. Leonard is on board with killing him, reasoning that if they don’t kill him, Savage will do it himself in a few short years and take over the world. Rip is considering the option too, but everyone else is either torn or definitely against it. Professor Stein equates killing Per Degaton to Savage killing Rip’s own son and asks what the use of saving the world is if they stoop to Savage’s level. I feel like Marty has had the “Let’s Kill Hitler” game before. I love this scene with Rip and Leonard taking the simple mathematical approach and the others – particularly Stein – arguing the ethics of killing a child. Jax emphasizes Per Degaton’s current innocence regardless of his future crimes and sees him as one of Savage’s victims. The actors do so well here with passionate deliveries – Victor Garber and Brandon Routh make Stein and Ray look like they’re on the verge of tears. Finally Leonard and Rip offer an alternate solution: remove the child from the timeline without resorting to killing him. In other words: kidnapping! They split up again with one team kidnapping the kid and the other team finding a way to disable the Atombots.

While this is going on, Kendra is staying behind on the ship for the time being so Savage doesn’t sense her. Her thoughts aren’t on Savage, though, because memories of 1920 fill her mind. Carter is back! Or rather Joe Boardman is back. He’s the version of Carter that Kendra was with when she was Edith and they had a son together, Aldus. In the memory they’re struggling with keeping their son safe and asking themselves whether they should reveal the truth to him. In the end they decide to tell Aldus everything just before they move again. It’s good to see Falk Hentschel back, even if it is just for one episode. One line in particular during the flashbacks struck me, though. When worrying over how a life of constantly moving and changing their names might affect Aldus, Edith says she didn’t know why she thought they could do this again. “Again.” Is that meant to imply that Aldus Boardman isn’t the first child of Kendra and Carter’s past incarnations?

The kidnapping goes off without a hitch. Sara and Leonard take out Per Degaton’s guards and Rip knocks the brat out and drags him away. Ray, Jax, and Stein are getting a tour of the facility by Jewel Staite playing…well, the wiki and IMDB both list her character as “Rachel Turner” but Professor Stein calls her “Doctor Bryce” so I’m not sure. I’m just going to call her Kaylee, because no power in the ‘verse can stop me. Kaylee says the autonomous Atom law enforcers have drastically reduced the crime rate. She also lets slip that the S.T.A.R. Labs Corporation took over Central City some time ago. “Doctor Hannibal Lecter” (Ray is the WORST) sees schematics for his suit and asks Kaylee about the specifics of the technology, like the dwarf star alloy. She says it’s proprietary and robotics have been the focus of her family since her great-great-great-great grandfather founded the company. Just in time, they walk past a bust which looks an awful lot like Ray with the inscription “Palmer” below it.

Ray concludes that the woman he was dating (and dumped by) prior to joining Rip Hunter’s team must have been pregnant and that’s where Kaylee’s ancestor came from. This confuses me because it discounts the possibility of Ray having a child after his time with Rip concludes. The only explanation I can come up with is that as long as they’re traveling on the Waverider, they never returned home as far as the future is concerned. So to have a descendant in a future they visit, they would have to have procreated before leaving their own time. But if that’s the case, then how did Mick Rory and Chronos exist at the same time in previous episodes if Mick hadn’t been left for dead yet? Shouldn’t Chronos only exist after Mick leaves the team? Or is the rule nullified because of the Time Masters? For that matter, how is Savage still alive in 2147 if there’s no Kendra or Carter in the present for him to kill to prolong his life? Does Kendra still reincarnate if she hasn’t returned back to her own time and died? What about Carter dying before that incarnation of him was born? Who has Savage been killing to prolong his life since 2016?

Wait, hang on, I think my editor is screaming at me. [EDITOR’S NOTE: so so much]

Back on the ship, Sara ponders what the sedated future tyrant is dreaming about. Gideon says he’s dreaming that he’s baking cookies with his mother. Gideon can monitor sleeping brainwaves, and she confirms this by briefly describing Sara’s dream from the previous night involving a nurse. Aww, Sara is thinking about Lindsay…or she just has a thing for nurses. Unfortunately, kidnapping Per Degaton has had no effect on the future – Savage still takes over the world. Leonard and Rip discuss “Plan A” again. The others are still against it, but Rip reminds them Per Degaton will one day be responsible for billions of deaths. Jax suggests talking to the kid and setting him on a better path, but Savage has spent years corrupting him. Sara uses her own redemption to illustrate the point that not everyone is beyond saving.

The talk of redemption reminds Sara of Mick, so she goes to visit him in his cell, telling him of the time she and Leonard were freezing to death and how the thing that was on Leonard’s mind was Mick. It’s hard to tell if what she’s saying gets through to him. She then talks to Leonard, trying to convince him to talk things out with Mick and talk about their feelings. Leonard says what I’ve been saying since the last episode: Mick is still the same rabid dog that the team asked him to put down weeks ago. Sara thinks that stranding Mick is still weighing on Leonard’s conscience, “so stop being an ass and go deal with it.” I love these two. I don’t mean that in the sense that I want them to be in a relationship, I mean they have such interesting friendship chemistry that every scene between them is a delight. Sara weirdly understands Leonard – even the parts he won’t admit to himself. I think in this case she’s the only one to get through to him, and that’s important because she recognizes that Leonard, in turn, is the only one who can get through to Mick.

Rip takes the kid from the ship and takes him to neutral territory by a lake, covering his tracks so the rest of the team can’t find him. It’s at this point the Hitler problem almost unravels because it’s hard to call this kid innocent when he’s five years from committing genocide, already corrupted by Savage, and acts like some obnoxious fusion of Draco Malfoy and Joffrey Baratheon. But nah, even then, he hasn’t technically committed genocide yet. Rip tells him about his son Jonas and how he never learned to swim because he was murdered. Joffrey Malfoy guesses that’s why Rip brought him out here – to kill him. Rip repeats over and over that he has to do this to save his family, but Per Degaton knows Rip won’t do it, because he’s weak. Rip lowers the gun, saying there are some things he would never do to save his wife and son, but it’s not weakness. He realizes there’s still good in himself and that gives him hope there’s good in Per Degaton too. He implores him to be the man his father wants him to be, not the man Savage wants him to be.

The Waverider comes under attack by Savage and Tor Degaton’s forces. The ship’s weapons are taken out and the shield is failing, so the team leaps into action. Yay, big team battle! Ray is outmaneuvered by the Atombots so he and Kendra go to the command center to shut them down. Kaylee holds them at gunpoint and Ray tells her he’s her great-great-great-great grandfather. “You’re Sidney Palmer?” HAH! Ray’s brother was the one who stole his technology and used it to start the company that would one day build the Atombots. Ray isn’t a father after all. Kaylee helps them disable the bots, but Savage holds Sara hostage and demands Rip in exchange. Rip offers a different hostage exchange – Per for Sara. Savage declines, but Tor accepts. Sara is released and gives Savage a look that should have killed him a hundred times over, then the Legends depart.

The whole ordeal didn’t have the desired effect. Savage talks Per into killing his father and according to Gideon, rather than being released in five years, the Armageddon Virus will now be unleashed in a few days. Rip doubts whether sparing the boy was the right call.

Leonard finally visits Mick and both agree that all of the words in the world won’t resolve things between them, so they’re going to talk with their fists. If Mick wins, he gets to kill Leonard and take the jump ship to escape, living out the rest of his life wherever he wants. If Leonard wins, he’ll kill Mick, which the latter also sees as preferable to being in a cage for the rest of his life. After a brutal fist fight, Mick emerges victorious but can’t bring himself to finish Leonard off. Leonard thinks it’s what Mick wants – Leonard dead and a way off the team, but Mick isn’t sure what he wants. He warns Leonard they’re all doomed either way. They go to the bridge where Mick tells the team that since Chronos failed, the Time Masters will be sending the Hunters after all of them – ruthless, inhuman mercenaries who won’t stop until they’re all dead. Their only option: run.

So…Mick is back on the team I guess? Or is this a “the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy but is way less likely to murder me” thing? Either way, Mick and Leonard make up in the only way they possibly could – by beating the shit out of each other. It seems like a brutal and savage thing to do, but it works on some level. I think Leonard recognized that pretty words weren’t going to get through to Mick, that he had to express his rage over Leonard’s betrayal. Leonard also knows, like Sara, that he and Mick have a bond and actually care about one another. They would never admit that out loud, and probably wouldn’t admit that to themselves, but it shows in their reluctance to kill each other when both of them have been really good reasons to do so. Mick still isn’t a good guy, but on some level, in his own twisted way, I think he and Leonard love each other whether as friends or as brothers. Also, for what it’s worth, I think Leonard was talking tough this episode. I don’t think he could have pulled the trigger on Per Degaton any more than he could on Mick.

Ray and Kendra have another fascinating talk about their relationship this episode. Ray is fretting over his responsibilities as a father to a potential child he left behind and what impact it could have on his future with Kendra. He’s also disheartened to hear that Kendra not only has been remembering her past life with Carter, but she feels like she’s cheating on Carter with Ray. In the end they remain together and Kendra reaffirms that while Carter is her past, Ray is her future. I’m glad that was resolved.

I feel like a broken record sometimes when I repeat the strengths of some of these characters, but Rip Hunter – holy crap, Rip Hunter. We’ve seen him go to great lengths before to protect the future and save his family. He’s betrayed his former organization, lied to his team on several occasions – including recruiting them under false pretenses, been ready to sacrifice one or all of them for the benefit of the mission, and shown some brutality. In most of those cases we do see some regret and even hesitation. Rip isn’t a bad man, just a desperate one in a lot of pain. In this episode he discovers a line he won’t cross, and I hope that he remembers that goodness inside of him the next time a decision like this is weighing on his conscience. The scene with him and Per Degaton by the water is a strong one. I loved the choice of words when he talks about why he never taught Jonas to swim – there was never enough time. As a time traveler he has the whole of history at his fingertips, but the time he really wants is the lost time with his family. Arthur Darvill’s performance is great, from the pain on his face to his trembling hand holding the gun. Legends Of Tomorrow puts a great spin on Rip’s character and they made an excellent choice in casting.

Next episode: the team heads to the old west to do…something or other. The preview isn’t clear, but we get Jonah Hex, so yay!

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

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