With lots of action, expensive visual effects, and significant plot twists that may alter the course of the show’s narrative, Thursday’s episode of ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ sure felt like a season finale. Yet we still have one episode left. Will the series try to top it, or is this like a ‘Game of Thrones’ situation where the season’s big climax occurs in the penultimate episode and the last one just deals with the fallout?
As a reminder of where we started, episode ‘Destiny’ opens with a flashback to five months earlier when Rip assembled the team and gave them a deadline of 36 hours to decide whether to join him or not. Jax wants nothing to do with this scheme and storms off. Dr. Stein tries to talk him into it unsuccessfully. As soon as Jax leaves the room, however, the five-months-older Future Jax (whom we last saw being shot back in time to this moment) steps in to warn Stein that, “The team’s in trouble.”
In the future, the older version of Stein is sick. He needs to periodically merge into Firestorm in order to maintain “nuclear cohesion” (or some nonsense the writers just made up), and without Jax around his health is deteriorating. Being locked in a Time Master prison probably doesn’t help matters.
Guards storm in and haul Mick and Kendra away, leaving Rip, Stein and Ray in their cells. Meanwhile, Snart and Sara hide in the Waverider until the coast is clear. Snart wants to take the ship and hightail it out of there, abandoning the others, but Sara (the only one of them who knows how to fly the ship) won’t leave without her friends.
Time Master Druce demands that Rip tell him where his missing teammates are. When Rip refuses, Druce brings him to a room called the Oculus Viewing Chamber, which is the source of the Time Masters’ ability to see both the past and the future. He allows Rip to take a peek in the Oculus, where he sees a vision of Ray dying.
Druce reveals that, in the year 2175, Earth will be attacked by a war-like race of aliens called the Thanagarians, and the planet will only survive if it can be united under the rule of Vandal Savage before that happens. In fact, the Time Masters have not only been monitoring the timeline; they’ve been actively manipulating it to ensure that Savage rises to power – which includes manipulating Rip and his team. Druce claims that choice and free will are just illusions. Rip has been a pawn to the Time Masters the whole time without ever knowing it.
In the most devastating of his revelations, Druce says that he ordered Vandal Savage to kill Rip’s family, specifically to spur him into taking up his mission of revenge. Everything he’s done to stop Savage has actually been carefully orchestrated to help him instead.
Back in 2016, Stein and Future Jax work on fixing up the time drive in the jump ship to get one more jump out of it. For some reason, Jax refuses to tell Stein much about his own future, but Stein is smart enough to figure out that something bad happens.
Mick is forced to undergo “Induction,” a brainwashing process to wipe his mind and program him to become the bounty hunter Chronos again. Once completed (the evidence of which is merely to ask Mick his name until he responds “Chronos”), the Time Masters send him to hunt for Sara and Snart. Coincidentally, just at that moment Snart and Sara take off in the Waverider and use the ship to attack the Vanishing Point station.
Snart, who has come around on Sara’s plan, busts back into the prison wing to break out their friends. He’s blocked by Mick in full Chronos attire. Fortunately, the brainwashing didn’t take and Mick shoots the other Time Master guards to help with the escape. The whole group (minus Kendra, who’s currently traveling back through time in a separate ship with Vandal Savage) reunite on the Waverider. When the Time Masters grab the ship in a tractor beam, Ray pulls some complete BS nonsense and uses a computer on Mick’s glove to hack the station and release the beam. (Good thing he’s adept at 22nd Century computer programming.)
Amidst much moaning and whining from the team about destiny and all of their fates being predestined, Ray suggests that the only way to stop the Time Masters is to destroy the Oculus Wellspring, which is powered by a contained supernova.
This all leads to a big showdown with Druce and the Time Master stormtroopers. Just when it looks like Druce has the upper hand, Jax flies in with his jump ship and shoots up all the bad guys. He then promptly merges with Stein to form Firestorm, resolving the doctor’s health crisis.
Kendra and Vandal Savage (with Carter in storage in his ship’s hold) arrive in war-torn 2166. Savage announces that he has a date to murder Rip Hunter’s family.
While trying to sabotage the Oculus control core, Ray takes off his helmet and sticks his head inside. Rip warns him that this is exactly what he saw in his vision of the future, the one where Ray dies. Unfortunately, in order for his hack to work, Ray has to manually hold a lever and stay there until it blows up. He’s willing to sacrifice himself, but Mick shoves him out of the way and holds the lever instead. Then Snart knocks Mick out and takes his place. Sara gives Snart a juicy kiss, then she and the others retreat back to the Waverider. Snart holds off the Time Masters with his gun in one hand and the lever in the other until the Oculus blows up, (presumably) killing him and taking out the entire Vanishing Point station.
Back in 2166, Vandal Savage goes through with killing Rip’s wife and son. He attempts to contact Druce, but reaches another Time Master instead, who tells him that Druce is dead and they can no longer help him. He doesn’t seem too concerned about this.
Without data from the Oculus, the Gideon computer on the Waverider can’t review changes in the timeline anymore. Rip muses that, “We’re sailing without a map.” Regardless, he resolves to use their time ship to “change the world” (which is an interesting choice of words, as opposed to the expected “save the world”).
It’s difficult to get too invested in a shocking character death on a show about time travel. I feel confident that we’ll see some younger version of Snart from another point in the timeline sooner or later. Carter’s death earlier this season certainly wasn’t permanent, nor do I expect this one to be.
That aside, this is one of the show’s better episodes to date. If it had been the season finale, I’d think it was a good one. If anything, I’m worried that the actual finale won’t live up to it.