One of the biggest obstacles holding ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ back from achieving its potential has been its dependency on focusing every episode on the conflict with Vandal Savage. He’s really not that interesting a villain, and the show needs more variety to keep viewers engaged. The latest episode helps address that concern, and is all the better for it.
During an attack by the bounty hunter Chronos, the Waverider ship plummeted out of the Temporal Zone and crashed in Star City during the year 2046. To clue you in that this is a dystopic future, fires rage uncontrollably throughout the city and gangs openly roam the nighttime streets. Barely a few feet outside the ship to take a look-see around, our band of heroes encounter a figure that appears to be the Green Arrow, except that he’s a black guy and says he doesn’t know them. He’s also pretty distrustful and almost immediately lobs a bunch of arrows in their direction for no reason, forcing them to retreat back to the Waverider.
Rip emphasizes the urgency of repairing the ship so they can go back in time and fix whatever went wrong in the timeline. In order to do that, they need a prototype computer thingie that Ray believes should be in the Palmer Technologies building (called Smoak Technologies in this future). For some reason, it never occurs to Ray that a few things might have changed in the 30 years since he ran the company. The old technology he last worked on must seem positively antique now. Even worse is Sara, who utterly fails to grasp the concept that she’s in the future, and repeatedly throughout the episode expects everyone and everything to be exactly the same as she last left them.
Rip asks Ray to stay behind and work on repairing the ship, while he goes with Snart and Mick (his experts on stealing stuff) to retrieve the prototype. Sara insists on tagging along because she allegedly knows the city better than anyone.
The streets are a chaotic warzone. Sara spots the Green Arrow guy getting shot by a gang and runs to help, despite his previous behavior. Mick and Snart hang back. Mick is having an absolute blast. This is exactly the world he always wanted to live in. In basically no time at all, he takes out a gang leader and becomes the new neighborhood warlord. He couldn’t be happier and wants to stay forever. Snart, of all people, has to be the responsible one and urges him to get back to the mission.
The new Green Arrow guy is fine, and gets over his fear of outsiders when Sara demonstrates that she wants to help him. He tells her that his name is Connor Hawke, and he’s the son of her friend John Diggle. He says that he took up the mantle of Green Arrow when Oliver Queen died, and that the city fell into its current state during an “Uprising” led by the supervillain Deathstroke. Sara expresses shock; she thought that Slade Wilson, the original Deathstroke, was dead. Connor explains that this one is his son, Grant Wilson.
Connor brings Sara and Rip to Oliver Queen’s old base of operations, where they’re all surprised to discover that Oliver (Stephen Amell) is still very much alive, though missing his left arm and sporting a white beard that’s not very convincing in high definition. He’s an old, bitter man now. He blames Sara and Ray for leaving, and basically tells Sara to go screw herself.
When Sara insists that she needs to find a way to fix things, Rip reminds her that, “This world isn’t real.” It’s just one possible future. He warns her not to get invested in anyone or anything here, because the only way to fix it is to go back in time and prevent it from ever happening. Sara isn’t convinced.
While partying with his new gang, Mick is interrupted by the Deathstroke douchebag, who orders the gang to hunt and kill Green Arrow and his new friends. Snart says that they need to go save their comrades, but Mick is indifferent to their plight.
Sara, Rip and Connor make their way to an old Palmer Tech warehouse where they find the prototype doodad. Unfortunately, they’re interrupted by Deathstroke’s gang. Snart and Mick show up to help fight the goons off. (Mick has decided that he’s always up for a good fight.) Connor gets kidnapped during the fracas.
In the aftermath of the battle, Mick continues to assert that he intends to stay in this world. Snart knocks him out and drags him back to the Waverider. With the new computer thingamajig installed, the ship is fully operational again and Rip prepares to fly back in time. However, Sara refuses to leave things as they are. She can’t accept that this world doesn’t matter. She asks for time to rescue Connor. Rip says that he will give her an hour.
Sara returns to Oliver’s lair and begs her old friend for help. Although she finally breaks through some of his apathy, what’s he going to do with just one arm? Sara has an idea about that.
Deathstroke holds a big rally to execute Connor. Before he can do that, however, Oliver Queen arrives to bust up the proceedings, in full Green Arrow gear and with a brand new robo-arm!
Where exactly did Sara get this arm? How did she install it? How did Oliver learn to use it so quickly? (He’s already at 100% fighting capability.) Did they really do all this in less than an hour? It’s a good thing he hasn’t let his fighting skills get rusty at all during the last 30 years.
Oliver fights Deathstroke and Sara frees Connor. Suddenly, all of Sara’s friends arrive. Rip has had a change of heart. Another big battle commences, during which Deathstroke is defeated. Oliver and Connor pledge to rebuilt the city together.
Victory achieved, Rip and the group return to the ship and rocket off to a new time period not announced. Everyone is happy, except Mick. He’s pretty pissed about leaving.
Despite some quibbles with its plotting, this is probably the best episode of the show so far. While I don’t mind Vandal Savage as the overarching Big Bad of the season, we need more episodes in which the Legends arrive at a new time period and deal with issues unrelated to him.
That said, a dumb love triangle subplot involving Kendra, Jax and Ray is an annoying waste of screen time. The episode would have been even better without any of that.
I also hope that the show remembers to address the fact that Sara and the team still have to do something in the past to stop Deathstroke, or else that dystopic future will be their reality after all.