[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 1×11: “The Magnificent Eight”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a soft spot for cheesy westerns. One-horse towns, saloons, six shooters, shootouts, and quick-draw showdowns. All of it is tired, clichéd, and done to death but it still brings a smile to my face. Add time travel and superheroes to that and you’ve got an episode I’ve been looking forward to.

The Waverider has landed outside a town called Salvation in 1871. The time jump was big enough this time that several of them are experiencing time travel sickness. Jax can’t feel his face, Ray can’t feel his privates, and can’t right Leonard talk. Even Rip has symptoms but Mick just looks bored, like he slept through the whole thing. Interesting…does that mean Mick now has more time travel experience than Rip? Rip and Mick drop some exposition about temporal blindspots like Salvation. They’re going to hide out there and hope the Hunters don’t find them. Ray hopes to “punch a few doggies or bust a bronco or two” – if there’s one benefit of the Kendra/Ray relationship it’s her look of “Oh god, I sleep with that man” every time he says something like that. Rip wants everyone to stay on the ship but Sara asks what the harm is in a little field trip.

“With this group? Clearly you haven’t been paying attention.” Nice to see Stein actually watches this show.

Mick assures Rip he’ll keep an eye on them. Wait, why would that convince Rip? Mick Rory would have been the worst chaperone of the group before he became an evil bounty hunter. Eh, maybe Rip recognizes that Mick is the only other person on the team with any knowledge of the rules of time travel. They’re outfitted with weapons and clothes which come from a fancy 3D printer and instructed to not cause trouble by Rip (who knows he’s wasting his breath). Rip is staying behind to plan their next move against Savage, or so he claims.

The others head into town for a drink at the saloon. Look, I don’t know how historically accurate the costumes and sets are in this episode, but they look like something out of a western, however accurate or inaccurate those are. It all looks very cool and the props and costuming departments deserve a lot of credit. While Sara and Mick have a drinking contest (which Sara later wins), Stein plays some poker. When he defends a waitress from his disgruntled opponent, the man draws on Stein but is shot dead by Leonard, who doesn’t even bother getting up first. Actually, the laid-back shooting reminds me of Han Solo shooting Greedo. The dead man’s friends start a fight and pretty soon all of the Legends are involved in a brawl. Who had five minutes in the “fucking up the timeline” betting pool?

Punches are thrown, chairs are smashed over heads, tables are broken, the piano player continues uninterrupted, and I heard a Wilhelm scream when someone was thrown over the bar. Oh my god I love this. The fight is interrupted by a man with a badly scarred face shooting his gun into the air. He walks out with the Legends and correctly guesses they’re not from around here or even from this time period. They aren’t the first time travelers he’s encountered. Jonah Hex wants to see Rip Hunter.

They bring Hex back to the Waverider and before I can do it, Rip starts yelling at them about “picking up strays” in every single timeline. He stops when he sees it’s Hex, and Ray tells him about the “entirely predictable” bar room brawl. Hex tells him that one of the Legends shot a member of the Stillwater Gang.

“Mister Rory.”

“Snart, actually.”

“That was going to be my next guess.”

Rip, if you know this shit is going to happen, why do you keep taking these people everywhere? Hex tells them the Stillwater Gang has been terrorizing the town and they won’t be happy about one of their own getting killed by the newcomers. Ray passionately makes his case for helping the town deal with the gang by talking about wanting to be a hero. Rip relents, so Ray and Hex go see the sheriff – sorry, John Wayne and Hex go see the sheriff. Who had John Wayne? I was betting he’d say Clint Eastwood. The sheriff is happy to let them help as he appoints Ray the new sheriff and leaves town. Hex quietly informs Ray that in his new job he might find a few warrants out for Mr. Hex. Considering his wanted poster has been hanging in Rip’s office for several episodes now, Ray probably isn’t surprised. When the gang comes to town, Ray stands up to them with a little help from sharpshooter Leonard.

Hex doesn’t think it’s enough. They’ve run the Stillwater Gang out of town for today, but they could come back, and the Legends aren’t always going to be around to stop them. He name drops Calvert – a town in Oklahoma he and Rip have history with. The town was burned to the ground by Quentin Turnbull three years earlier (though much longer from Rip’s perspective). Rip was on a mission to Calvert for the Time Masters and experienced time drift – becoming attached to the timeline because of all its opportunities for heroism. He finally tore himself away because of his desire to return to his future wife, and Calvert was attacked the day after he left.

Hex finds the location of the Stillwater Gang, so he, Ray, Jax, Mick, and Leonard attack them. They capture one of the Stillwaters but the gang captures Jax. Back on the ship, Hex suggests a duel to get Jax back – if they win, the Stillwater Gang has to pack up and leave the town for good. If the Stillwater prisoner wins, they let him go free…and also die. Rip hates the plan, bringing up his past with Calvert again. Hex asks him if he had known Calvert would be attacked, would he have still left? Rip confesses that he did know, and gets a well-deserved punch. Maybe as penance or maybe as a way of getting back into the old west hero gig, Rip decides to take Ray’s place in the duel.

I hoped there would be at least one showdown in this episode, and it didn’t disappoint. Rip faces off against the Stillwater Gang leader. They draw at the same time but Rip gets a shot off first, killing Stillwater.

“Wait a minute!” you say, “You had a problem with Batman killing criminals in Batman v Superman and Green Arrow killing criminals in Arrow, but you’re okay with the heroes on Legends killing outlaws?”

Sssh, old west is happening now.

The town doesn’t have long to celebrate though – the Hunters have found them and they’re out to kill. Rip permits the use of superpowers and future tech because “fuck it, they started it” so the Legends jump into a pretty brutal fight scene. Rip gives Hex a fancy futuristic sixshooter (adding that he’ll want it back later) and then Hex has probably the best reaction to Firestorm anyone’s had to date – making the sign of the cross on himself. Ray shrinks down and flies through one of the Hunters like a bullet, Mick stabs another, and the third maybe gets blown up by Firestorm – it’s hard to tell. One gives a warning to Mick before he dies: the Pilgrim is coming for them. This was…honestly the disappointing part of the episode. All of that buildup for three bounty hunters who were less formidable than Chronos. One was wearing what looked like a motocross helmet and all three went down without much of a fight. The fight looked pretty cool, but…really? They were running and hiding from that?

The town goes back to normal. Hex leaves and he and Rip part on good terms. I like their friendship here. I hope we see more of Rip’s friends throughout time. Speaking of time, Rip says that revealing their powers and technology won’t cause much of a problem. No one will believe anyone who tries to spread the word. Not sure I buy that, given that people believe Sasquatch, chupacabra, lizard people, and Keanu Reeves’ acting talent exist, but I’m not a former Time Master so what do I know?

Mick relays the Hunter’s warning back to the rest of the team – the Pilgrim, the Time Masters’ deadliest assassin is hunting them now, and she’s going after them when they’re most vulnerable: the past. The episode ends on a young Mick Rory watching a house burn as the Pilgrim aims a gun at him from behind.

There were two side plots in this episode that bear mentioning. First, Kendra bumps into an older woman in the saloon and it causes her to have a flashback to a past life. She and Sara track down the woman hoping she’ll lead them to a version of Carter or something else that can help Kendra make sense of her visions. The woman is living as a hermit, and it turns out she has a very good reason for doing so – she’s one of Kendra’s previous incarnations. She and this era’s version of Carter, Hannibal Hawkes were married and stole Chay-ara’s bracelet from Vandal Savage years ago. Kendra wants the bracelet knowing that objects present at her original death can be used to kill Savage, but her past self says she lost it a year later and dismisses the idea of killing Savage with a bracelet. She also talks about trying to find love after Hannibal died, but that she could never find happiness with another man, saying it never works out for any of their incarnations. Every other relationship will end in tragedy and heartbreak…you know, unlike the constant deaths and reincarnations she has with Hawkman. Anyway, this puts doubts in Kendra’s mind about her and Ray. I actually liked this subplot even though I haven’t been much for the Ray and Kendra drama in past episodes. Maybe because this time it was more about Kendra learning about her past than just the two of them having relationship issues.

The other subplot involves Stein meeting a woman whose son is dying of tuberculosis. He doesn’t wrestle long with the “don’t interfere” issue and even tries to come up with a reasonable loophole for giving the kid a drug that won’t be used to treat tuberculosis for another 70 years. It also brings him into conflict with Rip given the latter’s concerns about not only interfering in the timeline but getting too attached to being a hero in any given time period. I think this was a good episode to do this type of a plot because it plays well into the theme of heroic cowboys fighting outlaws. Stein can’t stand by while a child dies from a treatable illness any more than Ray and Rip could turn their back on towns in need of heroes. Maybe the only real downside to this subplot was the unnecessary revelation that the kid is H.G. Wells. I probably wouldn’t have cared as much, and it probably would have had more of a positive impact had Ray not been teaching Bill Gates’ dad two episodes back. At this point the show is starting to remind me of the Assassin’s Creed games where you can’t turn around without bumping into a famous historical figure.

Okay, that was fun. Look, I don’t care if it was a perfect episode, I don’t care how many western clichés were in there, I don’t even care about the Hunters going down like punks – this was an entertaining episode. A strength of this show is how often it seems like a comic book with its fuzzy science, goofy plots, and over-the-top adventure. Well, in this episode they brought that mixed with zany western themes. There were some good nods to DC’s old west comics – obvious one being Jonah Hex. Quentin Turnbull was an enemy of Jonah Hex. Hannibal Hawkes was the old west hero Nighthawk and while I don’t think they mention her name in the episode, Kendra’s past self is likely Kate Manser a.k.a. Cinnamon. Little nods like that make shows like Legends Of Tomorrow fun for comic book fans. The episode is just fun in general. In fact, I may go watch it again when I finish writing this.

Next time: the Time Masters are desperate and hitting the Legends in their own pasts. I hope we get a clearer understanding of the Time Masters’ motives soon. Their complete disregard for the timeline while attempting to stop Rip’s team suggests they may be in league with Vandal Savage or serving an entirely different master. We shall see…maybe.

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

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