written by Kate Spencer
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
After a shitty election, sometimes you just want to forget politics, sit back, and lose yourself in some superhero escapism. What are they up to this week?
White House in the ’80s. Well, fuck.
Miami, 1987. Damien Darhk is doing a drug deal in exchange for a fascis – a bundle of sticks enclosing an axe. He says it originated in Rome during the reign of Nero and it’s actually the origin of the term “fascism”. I can’t find a definitive answer on its supposed symbolism – either meaning strength through unity or corporal and capital punishment. Hey, did I mention that fasces are often used as symbols of judicial authority and appear all over monuments and official seals? Seal of the U.S. Senate, the Lincoln Memorial, the statue of George Washington at Federal Hall in New York City. Fascism! Yay!
Minute and a half before I got political? Cool.
The DEA tries to shut them down, but what’s that? Do my ears detect the beautiful serenade of an angry helicopter on the horizon? No, it’s Eobard Thawne who zips in and kills everyone but Darhk. Darhk helpfully drops exposition that Thawne hired him to nuke New York forty-five years ago. Thawne proposes a partnership and offers Darhk power in the most vague way possible. Power, you say? As someone with a brain I’m inclined to question your motives, but as a supervillain I’m intrigued.
On the Waverider, Jax and Stein debate about using time travel to right the many, many, many wrongs throughout history. Jax wants to help people, but Stein fears the almighty butterfly effect. Stein says Jax isn’t thinking fourth-dimensionally.
Jax: “Did you really just use Doc Brown on me?”
Stein: “Who the hell is that?”
Okay, forget future Barry’s message. Forget Rip’s whereabouts. Forget Thawne’s motives. I want an episode that sits all of the team down and makes them answer the question of what time travel movies they’ve seen and what ones they haven’t. This is getting ridiculous. Either you know how time travel works or you don’t.
While Mick trains Ray to use Leonard’s cold gun, Nate is building a time quake detector because Nate is suddenly a historian, engineer, and quantum physicist. All right. He asks Amaya about the JSA – specifically, his grandfather – but Amaya is tight-lipped and says the JSA didn’t fraternize like the Legends do. Just then, the time seismograph detects a quake in Washington D.C., December 7th, 1987 – the date Gorbachev arrived in D.C. to meet with Ronald Reagan to sign the INF treaty. Stein was actually there that day as a nuclear physics expert.
While the others take a White House tour, Nate and Amaya try to make contact with the ’80s JSA by going to their Washington training facility. They find it completely abandoned. While Nate is a historian, most of the JSA’s history is classified, so he’s not sure what happened to them. Amaya blames herself for leaving 1942 as a shadowy figure watches from above. Shadowy figure is accurate because Obsidian attacks them and demands to know why Amaya abandoned them before Nate knocks him out.
Mick and Ray spot Darhk in the White House and warn the others. Everyone immediately says “Sara, no” but she ain’t having it, so she goes after Darhk. This is after earlier telling Jax that while she agreed with his sentiment to change history for the better, that’s not what Rip wants them to do. Ray and Mick have to intervene when the Secret Service spots her with a knife. Unsurprisingly, Ray immediately fucks up by crossing the cold gun’s beam with Mick’s flamethrower. Firestorm arrives to give them time to escape by shooting fireballs and disintegrating bullets in mid-air before flying away himself.
Hey, I’ve figured out where Rip is! Enjoying his retirement in some faraway time and place that the Legends can’t possibly fuck up.
Back on the Waverider, they see their antics made the news. Mick is quick to blame Ray and Stein is quick to blame Sara. Okay, Sara was the catalyst here, but she wasn’t the one whipping out superhuman powers and 21st-century technology decades before such things become public knowledge. Sara wanted to save Laurel by killing Darhk. You know, I can get behind that. Anything to erase Arrow Season Four.
Obsidian/Todd wakes up, a bit calmer now, and Amaya tells him she’s been time-traveling to find Rex’s killer. Todd tells them that the rest of the JSA went on a mission to Leipzig in 1956 and never made it back. He didn’t go because some thought he couldn’t be trusted. Nate asks why, but Amaya tells him to drop it. No no, go ahead and tell him. If it’s what I think it is, just say it – the last episode didn’t pull any punches; why should this one?
Nate and Amaya are recalled to the Waverider, where they browse the new post-timequake history. They learn Darhk is now an adviser to President Reagan and is credited with getting the disarmament talks back on track. Gideon is able to hack into a secretary’s IBM computer to get Darhk’s schedule…in 1987…before wi-fi existed and likely long before any secretary’s computer was connected to any sort of internet, Gideon has hacked into– no, no, I’m not going to get mad. Time travel, superpowers, Confederate zombies, magic, 4000-year-old reincarnation of an Egyptian priestess…yep, an A.I. “hacking” a non-connected computer is totally plausible.
Mick and Ray go on a stakeout to find out who Darhk is meeting in the middle of the night. There’s tension between the two. Ray says he can do better and promises to be more like Leonard, but Mick doesn’t want him to be Leonard. Ray trying to be Captain Cold is reminding Mick of his dead friend and that’s bringing up feelings. Awww, Mick. He turns on the radio as a distraction but Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” starts playing. Mick kicks the radio, “I hate the ’80s!”
Ouch. It must have been something I said.
Darhk is meeting a KGB agent, and they discuss some package that is supposed to be delivered during the state dinner after the treaty is signed. And then Stein shows up at the park – no, not our Stein, it’s Marty, the younger Stein who is deviating from his own personal timeline to try to further his career by meeting with Darhk. He quickly guesses Darhk is meeting with a Soviet agent and like a dumbass, he says this out loud. Darhk stabs Marty and flees. On the Waverider, the elder Stein collapses and starts bleeding out from a wound he received twenty-nine years ago.
*grumble grumble* Plot-convenient bullshit time travel rules. *grumble*
Marty is brought back to the Waverider and both Steins are put in the med bay, where Gideon cauterizes Marty’s wound and Stein berates him for abandoning his wife on her birthday to meet with Darhk. They did this last season, and I’m kind of glad we get to see our heroes arguing with their younger selves. Believe me, if I met my younger self I’d have a lot to tell her.
Trying to figure out how to infiltrate the dinner where the deal is going down, Amaya and Nate call on Todd for help. Nate correctly deduces that Amaya and Rex were together, but she corrects him – they weren’t, at least not yet. They were going to leave the team to start a life together after the war ended.
They succeed in getting invitations to the dinner. Stein asks Sara if she’s okay, going as far as to say he’s less worried about the timeline than he is about her conscience. At the dinner, Stein sees the younger version of his wife and asks her to dance. Marty, Marty, Marty…*sigh* Darhk makes an appearance and heads downstairs to make a deal – defense codes for something in a box. When Sara, Amaya, Nate, Firestorm, and Todd show up, Darhk tells them of a bomb he’s hidden upstairs which will kill Reagan, Gorbachev, and everyone else. Ray and Mick clear the dining room and Ray disarms the bomb by dismantling the cold gun in order to use its power source to overload the bomb. Todd chases Darhk, but is then forced to take a bullet to save Amaya.
Sara has some pretty cathartic revenge against Darhk by spoiling the entire fourth season of Arrow for him. Seriously, she tells him his plans fail, he nearly kills his daughter, his wife dies, and then he himself dies broken and alone. She doesn’t want to kill him – she wants to prolong his suffering. Before Darhk can react, Thawne speeds him away, but not before Sara has a chance to pickpocket the box Darhk received from the Russians. Now the Legends know that the time-traveling villain they’re after is a speedster.
Blame Barry Allen. We all do.
Stein argues with Marty, who’s so focused on the importance of his work, he overlooks his wife Clarissa. Stein tells him that no matter what his accomplishments are or how many awards he’s won, the one thing that always mattered more than anything else was Clarissa. Marty agrees to show Clarissa how much he loves her and leaves the ship.
Todd recovers from the gunshot and tells Amaya his hero days are over. He’s met someone and “he’s waiting for me at home”. Well, at least they addressed it. Yes, in the comics Obsidian is gay, and that’s likely what made him so “untrustworthy” in 1956. I’m kind of disappointed that while the show confronted racism and slavery so well in the previous episode, they didn’t have the nerve to address homophobia in this one. This is the kind of tiptoeing around hot button issues I expected out of Episode Four, and a perfect example of why that episode was so good for avoiding said tiptoeing. Anyway, Todd leaves and Nate walks in. Amaya tells Nate that his grandfather loved to sing and that he would always sing for the rest of the team when they were on long missions. She says that he could always be counted on to lift the team’s spirits.
The episode ends with Darhk asking Thawne to take him back to recover the item Sara stole, but the Legends have already left 1987. Darhk instead asks to be taken with Thawne to prevent his own fate, which Thawne happily obliges by revealing a time sphere and using it to take Darhk into the timestream with him.
And the episode ends…without revealing what’s in the box or the team speculating about who the mysterious speedster is or doing any kind of research into who it might be. Just…nothing. That’s probably my only real complaint about this season so far. Each episode is kind of giving tiny breadcrumbs about the season-wide plot, but not in a satisfying way. We still have no idea why Thawne is gathering the items he’s been messing with history to get. If there was something more substantial and satisfying here, it might give more weight to the mystery. Instead it’s just adding to or repeating the information we already know and drip-feeding it to the Legends. We’re only five episodes into the season and the main plot is just spinning its wheels. Hopefully things pick up soon. We need something besides “mysterious villains are doing mysterious things”.
The episode itself is okay. Not as good as last week, but still entertaining. I don’t find Damien Darhk to be a compelling villain at all, and any charm or menace is from Neal McDonough’s performance rather than the character itself. This isn’t just me taking another petty shot at Arrow Season Four – the character just doesn’t work. Maybe future episodes and this upcoming Legion Of Doom thing can turn that around. There’s a lot of good character development in this episode. Mick missing his friend, Amaya coming out of her shell a little, and Sara trying to find revenge without compromising herself. It looks like Ray doubting himself and finding his place on the team is going to become a season-wide subplot, but hopefully it doesn’t overstay its welcome like the grating relationship drama of the first season.
Next week: a return to the Old West and more Jonah Hex. I can’t wait.
Hey, he hasn’t seen Back To the Future, so what movies has Stein seen?
Legends Of Tomorrow airs Thursdays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.
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