[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 2×02: “The Justice Society Of America”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

THE JSA IS HERE! YES YES YES! *ahem* Professionalism. AAAAAH, there’s Stargirl! Okay no, seriously, I’m fine now. *deep breath*

The episode picks up where the last one left off, in 1942 with the Legends being confronted by the Justice Society Of America who demand to know why they’re impersonating OSS agents. The Legends say they know Rex Tyler and Martin Stein tries to explain the events of the last episode, but the JSA is understandably skeptical about Nazi plots, atomic weapons, and time travel. Yeah, I’m right there with you. That last episode was weird. When the JSA try to take them into custody, the Legends start the billionth This Is Just A Tragic Misunderstanding Superhero Battle. Pretty sure they get an achievement for that. Flashy effects start, hero versus hero, Legends versus actual legends. How will this battle of titans end?

A few minutes later the Legends are in a cage discussing the royal curb-stomping they just received. The JSA watches them bicker through a security camera and considers shipping them off to a mental hospital. Rex Tyler is there and says he has no idea who they are, so he hasn’t met them yet. Vixen and Commander Steel go in to interrogate the Legends and accuse them of being Nazis, but historian Nate says he knows about the JSA because he studied them, and shows Commander Steel the future version of his own dogtags revealing that he’s Steel’s grandson. Oh, to be a non-comic nerd who would be surprised by that revelation…

Meanwhile in Paris, Eobard Thawne a.k.a. the Reverse-Flash meets with a Nazi soldier to discuss some item that Hitler won’t part with. Eobard offers the Nazis the means to make super-soldiers of their own in exchange for said item. Because you can’t have a time travel story without Nazis being made to look like cartoony villains at least five times. I honestly feel a little weird about stories like this, taking the group responsible for some of history’s greatest atrocities and putting them in a whimsical story about them working with comic book supervillains. It kind of reduces genocidal monsters to fucking G.I. Joe villains while tiptoeing around the actual horrible shit that they did in real history.

The Legends are let out of their cell to have a meeting with the JSA where they meet Rex Tyler again…or for the first time, from his perspective. He tells them he doesn’t know them and asks what they’re doing there. Sara tries to explain but Rex stops her and says he was addressing the team leader (Stein). Hahaha, 1940s casual sexism is so funny.

We get a flashback to last season’s cliffhanger and we finally see Rex Tyler’s full warning. If the Legends go to 1942 “the consequences will be catastrophic”. Ray assumes this to mean the Legends will die, but Rex never confirms this. Interesting. Instead, after delivering his cryptic warning, Rex seems to fade from existence.

Back in the present…past…present-past…in 1942 the JSA gets a call from the President of the United States. They’re wanted for a mission. Rex and Stein both agree it’s best that the Legends be on their way so the team heads back to the Waverider. They talk about the JSA and how organized and team-like they are compared to the Legends who, well, aren’t. Then they squabble over who’s in charge before appointing Stein captain. First order of business: kicking Nate to the curb. Sara delivers the bad news, but Nate wants to stay with the team. Then he realizes his grandfather’s dogtags are missing from his neck, but he never removed them. History is changing. Nate consults his notes on the JSA – the mission they were called to when the Legends were leaving is the one they all die on.

Back to the past!

Stein has a plan to infiltrate Paris as Max Lorenz, Hitler’s favorite singer. Oh this is going to go bad on so many levels. Sara notices a rather large bruise on now literal grandfather paradox Nate’s back. He suspiciously dismisses it, then says he doesn’t need one of the universal translator pills as he fluently speaks German, French, Japanese, Italian, and Latin. No one likes a show off, Paradox Boy.

Wait, time out. If we assume Rex Tyler’s disappearance after delivering his message to the Legends is because of his rewritten death in 1942, that means that by the Legends’ timeline, Rex Tyler disappeared from existence six months before they even met Nathan Heywood, the grandson of Hank Heywood a.k.a. Commander Steel who also should have been erased from existence. Last season, Ray Palmer started to disappear when his younger self from two years prior was about to be killed. We also saw a man being executed by the Time Masters get erased instantly when his past self in an unknown timeline was killed by the Pilgrim. How is Nate still around? Sure, his travels on the Waverider might have slowed down his erasure from the timeline but he didn’t start traveling with the Legends until recently. Plenty of time for him to be erased from existence. Time travel rules on this show make no goddamn sense!!

Did I mention that Eobard Thawne – villain of this episode – was erased from existence when his ancestor Eddie Thawne killed himself? Blah blah blah, time remnant, blah blah HEY LOOK A SHINY THING!

The Legends infiltrate a party looking for Baron Krieger. Wait, didn’t Arrow already use Baron Blitzkrieg in one of its many pointless and nonsensical island flashbacks? I mean he wasn’t German in that, but we’re talking about a show that made Deathstroke and Ra’s Al Ghul Australian. Ray spots Vixen and starts dancing with her to deliver the warning that she and her team are about to die. She asks how he knows that the Legends interfering isn’t what causes the JSA to die. Ray didn’t think of that. Causality paradox! How have none of you ever seen a time travel movie before?!

The Nazis request a song from “Max Lorenz,” so Stein takes the stage to sing a little song from Austria “where the hills are alive with the sound of music”. Fffffff– I swear to god, this show is going to be the death of me.

“Key of A, watch me for the changes and try to keep up.”

MOTHERFU–

[We at Made of Fail apologize for the removal of the sixteen pages of swearing between this and the next paragraph. We felt it wasn’t pertinent to the review.]

Anyway, that’s why they bolted my monitor to my desk. So yeah, Stein starts singing Edelweiss and I swear to god if someone calls up their cousin Oscar Hammerstein to show off that great new sound he’s been looking for, I’m going to throw this monitor and the desk it’s bolted to. Victor Garber sounds great, and I’m glad the show found an opportunity to have him sing because he actually does have a background in music and musical theatre.

Nate overhears Krieger talking about an amulet that’s to be transported the next morning. Sara signals Stein to wrap it up. Ray is confronted for not doing a Nazi salute like the other men there and oh my god they’re turning the Nazi salute into a fucking comedy bit. I mean good on Ray for refusing to do it, but you’ve still got actors repeatedly saluting and saying “heil Hitler” long after it becomes cringe-worthy. Rather than do the salute, Ray throws a punch and barroom brawl #87 of this series begins. I’m sorry, I love these. A room full of people in one giant fistfight is never not funny to me, and this one is set to either Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing or a very similar song. The JSA finally puts a stop to it, the killjoys.

The JSA join the Legends on the Waverider, where Stein suggests the two teams stop arguing. “Does your team ever stop arguing?” – oh hey, Rex watches the show too. The two teams agree to work together and begin planning their next move. Sara notices even more injuries on Nate and concludes that he’s a hemophiliac. Yep, Nate doesn’t have any powers at this point. Why do I think the super-soldier serum Eobard was offering the Nazis is going to be used by Nate? Speaking of people with no powers, Vixen asks Ray about his suit. His superpower is just wearing a suit of armor. Oh oh oh! Without it is he a billionaire genius playboy philanthropist? Vixen tells him he’s not a hero. Ouch. Also ugh, does this mean a full season of Ray feeling inadequate again?

The Legends and the JSA attack the convoy to get Krieger and the amulet, but Krieger sneaks off and uses the super serum to become the Hulk…seriously, I have no other way to describe this. Stein freezes up giving commands, Ray and Vixen get captured by the Nazis, and the rest of the heroes flee with the amulet. Ray agrees to help Krieger mass-produce the serum in exchange for his and Vixen’s lives.

Stein falls apart under the pressure of leadership and cedes the role of team leader to Sara, who refuses to let Rex call in an airstrike that might kill Ray and Vixen. Commander Steel has a heart-to-heart with Nate about why he’s been avoiding him. Steel doesn’t want to be anyone’s hero; he does what he does so people like Nate don’t have to. Nate always wanted to be a soldier and a hero like his grandfather but because of his condition, his parents sheltered him his entire life. Commander Steel tells him he doesn’t need to be a soldier to be a hero.

Ray and Vixen escape with the help of a microscope and a chair. Look, I know decking a Nazi with a microscope is impressive, but Vixen knocked a guy out with the chair she was tied to. Sorry Ray, you’ve been outdone. The Atom suit is damaged, so Ray shrinks it down for storage. Vixen says they took her totem, which leaves her a powerless fifth-degree black belt with training in edged weaponry. Wow, Ray really sucks – but he has a plan! He’s going to inject himself with the serum and become superhuman himself. An attack on the base ruins that plan and they’re both recaptured.

Holy crap, they actually brought Firestorm in this time. Must be the third act. Sara and Mick save Ray and Vixen, returning the latter’s totem. Nate rides in on a motorcycle to save his grandfather from the super-Nazi and a bombing run takes out Krieger, but Nate and Commander Steel are hit too. Commander Steel is fine, but Nate is severely injured and his hemophilia makes his condition more serious. He’s dying. Ray injects Nate with a modified version of the serum to save his life. It works and Nate’s vitals stabilize. Commander Steel’s dogtags reappear around Nate’s neck signifying that the timeline has been restored.

The JSA takes the amulet for safekeeping and Vixen apologizes to Ray for saying he’s not a hero, that giving up his chance at superpowers to save Nate was pretty heroic. The teams depart on good terms, but back at the JSA’s brownstone headquarters, the Reverse-Flash shows up and kills Rex. Oh, so that’s why he vanished. Reverse-Flash makes off with the amulet just as Vixen comes in to hold the dying Rex in her arms.

Yay JSA! Kind of. I was really looking forward to the introduction of the Justice Society Of America in this series, but this episode felt kind of lacking. There were familiar faces, but it’s a little disappointing that there was no Jay Garrick or Alan Scott. I understand why we couldn’t have either character, but it’s still a little bit of a letdown. Vixen, Commander Steel, and Hourman get a lot of screen time in the episode, but others like Doctor Mid-Nite, Stargirl, and Obsidian might as well have been set decoration. Hopefully we see more of the team and these characters, especially in other episodes.

The superhero brawl at the beginning was kind of neat, but way too short, and while Obsidian’s darkness made effects like Vixen’s gorilla and Firestorm’s fire stand out, it obscured everything else that was going on. It could be my dark TV, but I could barely make out the rest of the fight. The fights toward the end of the episode with two teams working together to fight the Nazis were brighter, but the fast pace and close camera work made some of the action hard to follow. I feel like sometimes the show could learn a thing or two from the Avengers films about how to do big superhero team battles. It’s not all in the budget or effects, but also in the camerawork and choreography.

Nate wasn’t given much time last week, but this week we learn a little more about him. I like the angle of him wanting to be a hero like his grandfather but dealing with a medical condition that prevents it. It adds more weight to everything he does in this episode.

The Eobard/Reverse-Flash thing looks to be the season-long plot arc. I know we’re only on the second episode, but it’s really hard to tell what the hell is going on. The Legends don’t know about Eobard’s involvement, if any of them even know who he is. He’s meddling in the timeline, which goes against some of his character traits in The Flash. For one thing, he’s usually way more cautious about changing the future. For another, his entire plan this episode looks like it was to obtain that amulet he could have stolen himself without giving the Nazis super-serum. So he’s risking drastically altering the future to get his hands on a trinket. Who is this guy, Barry Allen?

And I hope we see Rex Tyler/Hourman again. If nothing else, at least to find out how the hell he managed to get hold of the Waverider and pilot it to 2016. For that matter, what happened to that other Waverider? And why didn’t it disappear when Rex disappeared? UGH! Time travel in this show is stupid!

Next week: Colossus! Feudal Japan! Ray fucking up some more!

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

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2 thoughts on “[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 2×02: “The Justice Society Of America”

    • Either Stein accidentally referenced Back to the Future or he did it on purpose and he’s seen it. In an episode last season, Ray quoted Terminator. These characters have pop culture awareness! HOW DO THE FUCK UP TIME TRAVEL THIS BAD??

      And yeah, it makes me wonder if they wanted “Sing Sing Sing” but couldn’t get the licensing rights or whatever to use it.

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