‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E15: The Beginning of the End

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Before the end, we go back to the beginning.

We start with a flashback to when Rip Hunter first attempts to recruit the team back in 2016 … and what happens afterward. Last episode, Professor Stein sent Jax back in time to 2016 to cure his accelerated aging issues, and when he lands, he seeks out the Professor Stein of 2016, who had not left yet. It reminds me a bit of Marty McFly meeting an earlier version of Doc Brown, and like Marty, Jax needs to get back … to the future!

In the future, Rip, Ray, Kendra, Carter, and Rory have been taken prisoner by the Time Masters, who are in league with Vandal Savage himself. Sara and Snart are the only ones who manage to evade capture by hiding in a floor compartment panel of their ship, just like Han Solo. Aboard the Waverider, Sara and Snart ponder what to do, and Snart has a crisis of faith and decides the best bet is to just run and leave the team behind. Sara, however, was having none of it and they have a standoff. Luckily, Gideon intervenes just in time with a plan.

Meanwhile, at the Vanishing Point prison, Rip has been shown a vision of the past and future by the Time Masters, using a device called the Oculus that not only sees the past and future, but lets them control the timestream too. Everything that’s happened so far, including the murder of Rip’s family by Randal Savage, was plotted out in advance by the Time Masters using the Oculus. They needed Savage to unite the world against an invasion from the Thanagarians, a future scenario they see in their digital crystal ball.

Jax, back in 2016, gets Professor Stein to help him jump back to the distant future. Sara and Snart decide to free their captive teammates. They hatch a plan to destroy the Oculus, and regain their free will. In the end, a sacrifice must be made. I won’t tell you how it goes, but it’s one of the most pulse-pounding episodes of the series, so far.

Tonight, we reach the electrifying finale. Don’t miss it!

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E13: Everything Is Better With Giant Robots

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Out of time and out of luck, the crew of the Waverider have no choice but to find Vandal Savage at the one place and time they know he’ll be; in London in 2166, three days before he murders Captain Hunter’s wife and child.

In this post-apocalyptic future, we see Vandal Savage already ruling what’s left of the world, after the Armageddon Virus wiped out billions of people. The team sneaks into a rally where Savage is speaking in front of his jack-booted troops. At the end, they all raise one arm to salute him, because if there’s a shorthand for evil, it’s Nazi imagery.

Among Savage’s followers is a mysterious woman who happens to be wearing a bracelet that used to belong to Kendra’s Egyptian self when she was first murdered by Savage. Any object that was present when Kendra died can be used to kill Savage, so it’s up to the team to steal the bracelet from the woman. It turns out, the woman is Cassandra Savage, Vandal Savage’s daughter. After a disastrous first attempt at attacking Vandal Savage after his rally, the team regroups and encounters the small band of people opposing Savage, a ragtag group of refugees and rebels.

Kendra tells the team she needs that bracelet, so Snart and Rory manage to steal it … by abducting its owner, Cassandra Savage! They are remarkably efficient in this, and Cassandra ends up a prisoner aboard the Waverider. Kendra finds out how weaponize a bracelet as they reach a showdown with Savage, perhaps maybe even the last one? On the Waverider, Snart slyly gets Cassandra to give up the evil side and join the good guys.

Meanhile, Ray fights one of Savage’s weapons, a giant robot. He himself turns into a giant, using his Atom tech with some techno-babble. It’s moments like that that make this show worth watching. We’re nearing the end, so keep watching!

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E12: Hot Pilgrim Versus The World

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Spoilers ahead!

Remember the ethical conundrum of going back in time and killing baby Hitler? Well, it’s an ethical dilemma for good guys. But what if bad guys had the power to go back in time and kill their enemies as babies, wouldn’t they be doing that all the time? We explore that theme in the latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow.

Last episode, we were ominously introduced to The Pilgrim, a rather sexy-but-evil time-traveling assassin the Time Masters employ to eliminate troublesome people when they were defenseless children, because the Time Masters are jerks. She has a cool black coat, so I’m giving her points for style, even if she is a meanie. We first see her in the introduction, going back in time, presumably to baby-murder a man judged to be guilty of “time piracy in the first degree” (seriously, what IS that?) by the Time Masters. We don’t see her do it, but we do see him writhe in pain and disappear from reality in a puff in the future. Nasty.

Then, the Time Masters give her a hit list of our favorite heroes, except Kendra (who can reincarnate) and Captain Hunter (who is too important to the timestream to be removed from history). The first person who gets attacked is Rory, during a fire at his home when he was a child (that litle pyromaniac). Teen Rory is saved by Ray, and then is abducted onto the Waverider. Next on the list is Sara, who was also targeted as a teenager, but also saved, by her future self, and put on the Waverider. At that point, the team decides to be pro-active and abduct all of their selves as babies to ensure the Pilgrim never has a chance to target any of them. They are successful at this, and watching the Pilgrim fail over and over at killing makes her seem less badass than she was made out to be.

Still, the point of the episode wasn’t so much the confrontation with the Pilgrim; it’s the characters confronting people from their pasts (including their younger selves). Time travelers get a unique opportunity to make peace with their past demons, and to fix past regrets. For Jax, it was getting a chance to talk to a father he never knew, because he was killed in action right after Jax was born. For Rory, it was to tell his younger self that burning down the house was a dumb thing to do, but he was just a kid. And finally, putting all these kids in a safe place was Rip Hunter, whose younger self and foster mother we also meet. We then learn young Rip isn’t as helpless as we thought he was, and shines a new light on his character.

I expected more of a Terminator-like episode (the movie is even quoted by Ray), where our heroes have to stop a relentless and efficient time-traveling killer, but they only got the relentless part right: The Pilgrim isn’t at all efficient. The episode, however, wasn’t about her, it was about the main characters. We get to know them a bit more, and thus we love them a bit more.

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E8: Tyrants Make the Best Tuna Casserole

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Spoilers ahead!

In a small town called Harmony Falls in 1958, four teenagers race their hot rods down a deserted forest road, as 1950s teens are wont to do, at least according to pop culture. After one of their cars crash, they happen to come across a mysterious glowing meteor; and Vandal Savage right beside it!

And, thus, we join our team of plucky heroes, now without Mick Rory, arriving in 1958. We aren’t shown Rory’s fate from the previous episode, we are meant to think Snart killed him, so the team is somewhat upset by this. However, their goal is finding Savage, whom their intel predicts is in the neighborhood. They put together an undercover team, consisting of a pretend-married couple of Ray and Kendra, who actually have a budding relationship going on.

Ray and Kendra rent a house in town, and their (fake) marriage front starts offending the bigoted small town residents who don’t like the idea of an interracial couple. As a cover, it’s pretty terrible; they draw attention to themselves and Savage would recognize Kendra the minute he saw her, so I’m not sure who thought that would be a good idea. And, by sheer coincidence, Savage lives just across the road from their new rented home, and even brings a housewarming gift of tuna casserole. Awkward. Does Savage recognize Kendra? He isn’t really letting on, and they continue their little charades.

Meanwhile, Jax, Stein, and Sara go about town to investigate the murders and disapperances of locals. Stein and Sara go undercover in a mental hospital as a doctor and a nurse, while Jax plays a new kid in town. Before long, in another totally unconvincing coincidence, they happen across one of the racing teens from the cold open. She is the girlfriend of the boy whose car crashed. Jax decides to flirt with her, a white girl, and raises more eyebrows in the small town.

Snart and Hunter also go undercover in town, dressed as government spooks, asking local law enforcement for the case files on local missing people. Their efforts all lead to Vandal Savage; he works at the mental hospital Stein and Sara had infiltrated, performing experiments on the inmates in a mysterious wing. The experiments turn out to be people who have been turned into bird monsters, using the power of the meteorite. The monsters are genuinely creepy, and this part of the episode plays out very well, thanks in part to this installment being directed by Joe Dante of Gremlins fame.

It all leads to yet another failed showdown with Savage in the end, since you can’t kill the big bad without ending the series. Throughout the episode, we are presented with ’50s small town America through the eyes of our heroes, who have 2016 sensibilities. There is a small subplot of Sara and one of the female nurses in the hospital falling for each other, and this was a no-no back in 1958. The episode often not-too-subtly addresses the sexism, racism, and homophobia of the era, providing a commentary on how far we’ve come (and yet, these problems still persist today).

Although they fail to kill Savage, our heroes did learn a thing or two about teamwork and about themselves. That cliffhanger at the end though, will half the team be stranded in 1958? We await next week’s episode to find out!

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E2: Love, Weed, and Nuclear Weapons

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Despite being a fan of superhero comics-related shows, I’ve never gotten into the Arrow-verse. When I heard of the CW’s take on Green Arrow, having already been bored by Smallville‘s long-winded run, I decided to pass on it. However, the universe of Arrow expanded to include other DC characters, including the Flash who got his own spinoff show, I began to regret not following it from the beginning. Since Legends of Tomorrow started, I was encouraged by my colleague Pandora to check it out, and so I did and I was hooked. Don’t get me wrong, this show is cheesy as heck, but it’s the fun kind of cheesy I can get behind.

When we last left our heroes, they were in 1975 and Professor Aldus Boardman had just died on board Captain Hunter’s timeship, but not before giving some clues on the whereabouts of their arch-nemesis Vandal Savage. Turns out Savage is about to sell nukes to international criminals at an international criminal weapons auction (that’s a thing, apparently). A haphazard team of Mick Rory (Heat Wave), Leonard Snart (Captain Cold), Professor Martin Stein, Ray Palmer (the Atom), and Sara Lance (White Canary), decide to go after Savage, despite Captain Hunter’s protestations that they should do things his way. They infiltrate the auction only to blow their cover, get into a fight with all the bad guys, and with Carter Hall (Hawkman), Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl) and Jax Jackson joining the fray and having to stop a nuclear explosion that Savage tried to set off as he made his escape. To make things worse, some bits of Atom’s suit broke off in the battle, and found their way into the hands of Savage.

Back at the ship, Captain Hunter is pissed, and rightfully so; the tech that found its way into Savage’s hands will be reverse-engineered to create deadly weapons which wipe out Central City in the future. However, the future isn’t set in stone yet: just in some “wet cement,” as Captain Hunter puts it. They still have time to put things right before Vandal Savage goes all Biff Tannen with his proverbial sports almanac.

To get the piece back, Palmer suggests they use an alpha-particle tracker to find his tech. They don’t have an alpha-particle tracker, but Professor Stein suggests they steal one from a younger version of himself in 1975. In real life, alpha particles are just high-energy bundles of two protons and two neutrons, identical to a Helium nucleus, created from any source of alpha decay. Therefore an “alpha particle tracker” is just a fancy Geiger counter; perhaps Professor Stein’s device works from long distances, hence the novelty. Anyway, you have to give the hokey “science” a handwave here, as this show is as comic book-y as they come. The stealing of the alpha particle tracker lends us some funny scenes where Sara flirts with the younger Professor Stein, much to his chagrin, and they all find out what a smug, pot-smoking asshole he was when he was younger.

Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice Time Ship, Carter and Kendra do their sexy mind-meld thing to uncover knowledge from their past lives about how to kill the immortal Vandal Savage. Turns out there’s an ancient dagger that can do it, and it happens to belong to some rich Russian dude, and Captain Cold and Heat Wave volunteer to steal it. Palmer tags along, and they break into the Russian dude’s house, only for it to go all wrong again when the alarms are triggered and the “Russian dude” turns out to be Vandal Savage (what a coincidence).

After a showdown at the end, Savage escapes, but not all of the team members survive; the goofy, rag-tag team at odds with one another are suddenly brought together solemnly as they process this. They decide to stick together as a team as they join up Captain Hunter’s cause in earnest.

The premise of this show is fun enough for me to stick around and watch how it goes; a team of second-string superheroes travel through time to fight crime, that’s kind of a unique combo we haven’t quite seen before on television on a comic book show. Stay tuned for more hijinks and DC comics cameos in the weeks to come!

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