‘Legends of Tomorrow’ 1.02 Recap: “What Part of Destiny Do You Not Understand?”

For reasons understood only to the show’s producers, the second episode of ‘Legends of Tomorrow’, which aired a week after the premiere, has been labeled Part 2 of the pilot, even though the first half had a natural stopping point. Whatever it may be, the episode showcases more of the series’ potential but also some of its weaknesses.

Still in 1975, Rip Hunter pilots the Waverider ship to Norway in search of Vandal Savage. With information that Savage will be participating in an illicit arms auction, Dr. Stein, Snart and Mick go undercover as terrorists looking to buy some WMDs. Conveniently, the Waverider has a “fabrication room” that can whip up whatever period appropriate clothes they need to blend in. What they don’t realize until they get to the auction is that Savage isn’t another bidder, but rather the seller of a nuclear warhead.

During the bidding process, Savage can tell that something is weird about the new guys in the room. His magic senses also get to tingling and he can sense that the hawkpeople are nearby. Mick inadvertently makes a winning bid for the nuke (which they can’t possibly afford), and Stein flubs a line that tips off Savage that he’s not from this time period. Savage immediately puts a new offer out to the room: He’ll give the nuke to whoever kills the intruders first.

The good guys call for reinforcements. Ray Palmer flies into the room with his size-changing super-suit and shoots up the place to cause a distraction. The hawks soar in right behind him and start busting heads. Snart and Mick pull their freeze and heat guns and blast away. Jefferson runs in and fuses with Stein to create Firestorm. I’m pretty sure Sara Lance gets in the mix as well. Basically, this is an excuse for a large-scale action scene in which all of the team show off their skills.

Savage escapes, but not before initiating a two-minute countdown to detonate the nuke (which of course has a big red timer on the outside). Firestorm grabs it and flies a couple miles away to an isolated island. When the bomb goes off, he’s able to absorb all of the energy from the blast.

In the fracas, Palmer took a blow that knocked a piece of his suit onto the floor. Vandal Savage was able to snag it on his way out. He orders the scientists on his payroll to reverse-engineer the futuristic tech.

Back at the Waverider, Hunter informs the team that this screw-up will result in Savage developing an advanced super weapon that causes the destruction of Central City in 2016. Whoops. The only way to correct the timeline is to retrieve the piece of Palmer’s suit before Savage’s scientists can crack it. Fortunately, the components of Palmer’s suit all emit something called alpha particles that are fairly easy to track – or would be, with 21st Century technology and equipment. In 1975, the only person with the tools and know-how to track alpha particles is… Dr. Martin Stein… or rather, the college-aged version of himself. Stein, Jefferson and Sara head off to Ivy Town, wherever that may be, to sneak into Stein’s old lab and borrow his alpha particle tracker doodad.

Meanwhile, Kendra recovers a memory from her first life in ancient Egypt. She remembers a magic dagger that she believes can kill Vandal Savage. The Gideon computer on the ship identifies that the dagger would be in the possession of a Russian gangster in 1975. Snart and Mick, the expert thieves, volunteer to retrieve it. Palmer tags along to keep them honest.

At the Ivy Town university, Stein runs into his younger self and pretends to be a new teacher named Prof. Elon Musk. (Har har…) Young Stein is not at all what Sara or Jefferson thought he’d be. He’s a super-arrogant douchebag who tries to put the moves on Sara and invites her back to his place to spark a doobie. Sara thinks he’s hilarious and flirts right back with him. Stein feels humiliated by his own behavior. Worse, he worries that if young Stein gets distracted by Sara, he won’t meet the girl destined to become the future Mrs. Stein.

Snart, Mick and Palmer break into the Russian gangster’s mansion and find the dagger on display in a glass case. Snart wants to steal a bunch of other stuff while he’s at it. He and Palmer argue over that and accidentally set off a security system that traps them both in a big cage. Mick goes to another room to look for the control panel that will turn off the alarm.

Sara attempts to keep young Stein distracted while old Stein and Jefferson steal the alpha tracker. When those efforts fail, she conks him over the head to knock him out. Old Stein sets an alarm clock to wake him up in a couple hours so that he won’t miss the faculty mixer where he’ll meet his eventual wife.

Using the alpha tracker, Stein, Sara and Jefferson locate the lab where Savage’s scientists are trying to reverse-engineer the Palmer tech. Stein worries about whether they should call for backup. Sara leaps in, beats the hell out of all the guards, takes the suit component out of the hands of a scientist and leaves.

It’s more bad news for Snart and Palmer when Mick gets captured by the owner of the mansion, who turns out to be none other than Vandal Savage. It seems that being a Russian gangster is his 1975 alias. Savage tells them to go ahead and call their friends for help. He’d very much like to see the hawks again.

Back at the Waverider, Stein is upset when the wedding ring vanishes from his finger, ‘Back to the Future’ style. That must mean that young Stein didn’t go to the mixer and never met his later wife. In fact, he followed them back to the ship. He gets on board and goggles at all the amazing technology on display. The only way to get him off the ship is for old Stein to admit who they are and where they come from. Young Stein leaves voluntarily. (Why doesn’t the old one have a memory of this happening?) As young Stein exits, Rip Hunter (where he’s been for most of the episode is not explained) sees him and rolls his eyes at how badly the timeline has been messed up.

With all that taken care of, Stein and Jefferson form Firestorm again and rescue their trio of friends from the mansion. They get the dagger and give it to the hawks. Carter stabs Savage with it, but the blade doesn’t kill him. Savage pulls it out and stabs Carter right back with it. He explains that only Kendra can kill him. As she watches helplessly in horror, Carter dies and Savage inhales his soul essence or whatever it is he feeds off from them.

This then leads to another big action set-piece with everybody blasting away at dozens of Savage’s henchmen soldiers. How they don’t kill any of them – especially Mick and Snart shooting heat and freeze rays directly into people – is one of those niggling plot holes we’ll need to suspend disbelief over. Imagine the tremendous timeline disruption a battle like this must cause.

Kendra tries to attack Savage, but he just stabs her too. Firestorm (I think? Maybe it’s Palmer?) rescues her, but Savage gets away. Our heroes carry Kendra back to the ship and take her to the automated medical bay, which is able to stabilize her. Hunter flies the ship away from the mansion, but can’t risk another time jump until Kendra has recovered. In the meantime, he does his own fiddling with events to ensure that young Stein meets his girlfriend after all, thus restoring old Stein’s marriage in the future.

Although they prevented Savage from building a futuristic weapon, that never would have been an issue in the first place if they’d just left him alone. By interfering, they only succeeded in tipping him off to their presence – not to mention that they’ve lost a member of the crew. Hunter considers this a big loss. Nonetheless, the episode ends with the entire team – minus Carter, who’s dead, and Kendra, who’s unconscious – re-committing to stick with Hunter and continue the battle against Vandal Savage.

Episode Verdict

Is Carter being written out of the show already, leaving us with Kendra as the only hawkperson? That seems sudden, and makes me question why Carter was ever introduced in the first place. I suppose the show may use some timey-wimey rationale to bring him back, perhaps by meeting up with a version of him from a past or a future life. Maybe that one will be less of a dick.

This episode has some good action scenes and nice visual effects. The humorous portions are pretty funny, and some effective character moments get sprinkled throughout. And yet, for all that, the time travel concept of the show is already straining credulity. The characters do some things that ought to have substantial impact to the future – such as revealing themselves to young Stein (and by the way, are we really supposed to believe that he’s going to just hook up with a girl that evening like nothing happened when he’d just been on board a time-traveling spaceship hours earlier?), exposing their futuristic technology to countless people in the past, and possibly even killing some of them. Are we not supposed to notice or question that sort of thing?

More importantly, some of the central cast members are not very good actors. I’ll go so far as to say that Ciara Renée as Kendra is a pretty terrible actress. I’m growing tired of Wentworth Miller’s hammy badassery as well.

Certainly, nothing here has turned me off from the show, but I do see plenty of room for improvement in some areas.


  1. Bill

    When I realised that this show was going to involve time travel a lot I turned it off. TT is one is difficult concept that few TV shows have ever gotten right. You have to understand a lot about it and the problems it poses or the stories just become a mess of paradoxes and illogic.

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