For their latest time traveling escapade, the ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ crew shoot back into the past and take a detour to the Wild West. This allows them an excuse to cross paths with another famous DC Comics character, and also lets the show’s writers regurgitate almost every cliché from the Western genre they can cram into 42 minutes of screen time.
Following their last scrape with Vandal Savage, the team found themselves chased by a new trio of bounty hunters from the future. To evade them, Rip steers the ship to the year 1871 and lands in an Old West frontier town called Salvation. He explains to the time traveling newbies that the historical timeline is conveniently littered with “fragmentations,” which he describes as “temporal blind spots” that the Time Masters cannot see into. The Hunters will need to search every blind spot individually to find them. Rip believes that hiding in this one will buy them some time to figure out their next steps, and wants everyone to sit tight on the ship.
Of course, everybody else gets antsy to leave the ship and explore the new environment. They think playing around in the Old West sounds like fun – especially Ray, who’s quite a nerd for old Western movies. Exasperated, Rip shrugs his shoulders and lets them go after equipping them with appropriate period garb and old-fashioned revolvers. (Yet Dr. Stein struts around town wearing plastic-rimmed glasses, which ought to be quite an anachronism in the period.) Even Mick gets to go, because apparently everyone is totally cool with him being back on the team so quickly.
It doesn’t take long for the team to get in trouble and mess up the timeline. During a stop at the town’s saloon, Snart shoots a guy at the card table and causes a rip-roarin’ bar brawl. The fight is broken up by a mysterious figure with a stern voice and nasty burn scars covering half his face. He introduces himself as Jonah Hex (played by a guy named Johnathon Schaech, because the show’s producers either couldn’t afford Josh Brolin or just didn’t want to remind anyone of that flop movie). Hex not only recognizes the team as time travelers, he specifically asks to speak to Rip Hunter.
Rip doesn’t even pretend to be surprised when the others invite yet another stranger from the past onto his time-traveling spaceship. That’s just par for the course now. If anything, he’s surprised that he actually knows this one. It seems that he’s been here before and interacted previously with Jonah Hex. Jonah explains that the town is being terrorized by a band of outlaws called the Stillwater Gang and he needs help protecting the place, for reasons that I’m not entirely clear on.
Ray, using the oh-so-clever pseudonym “John Wayne,” is eager to help, but perhaps bites off more than he can chew when he’s recruited to be the town’s new Sheriff after the old one flees. Stein gets sidetracked helping a woman whose young son is sickly with tuberculosis. Despite Rip’s warnings about disrupting the timeline, he’s adamant about curing the boy with modern medicines.
Kendra and Sara also get tied up on personal business searching for an old woman that Kendra believes she may have interacted with in a past life. As it turns out, the old woman is Kendra’s past life. She tells her younger successor that she can’t fight destiny, and that any relationship she tries to have with a man who isn’t Carter will inevitably end in heartbreak or tragedy. That doesn’t bode well for Kendra’s new romance with Ray.
When the Stillwaters come to town, Ray is able to arrest the gang’s leader, Jeb Stillwater, but Jax gets kidnapped in the process. Jonah suggests that the two sides resolve this dilemma the old-fashioned way, with a quick draw duel at high noon. Rip agrees to be the gunslinger, and indeed wins the draw. Jax is released.
Before anyone can celebrate, the Hunters arrive in town and blast away at the place with their laser weapons. Rip gives everyone else permission to use their own futuristic technology and weapons, including Stein and Jax merging into Firestorm. Yet another of the show’s frequent big battle scenes ensues.
The fearsome Hunters prove to be not much of a threat. Ray kills one by shrinking down to projectile size and piercing through his heart (which seems really gross). Mick kills another. The third is captured and confesses that something called the “Omega Protocol” has been initiated and someone called “The Pilgrim” will come after them next.
With the battle won, Jonah Hex rides out of town. The mother that Stein helped reveals that her young son is none other than H.G. Wells (which of course means that the Legends have inspired him to write science fiction). Kendra sort-of lies to Ray about what the old woman told her and says it didn’t mean anything. Mick claims that this Omega Protocol thing is really bad news, and that The Pilgrim is the Time Masters’ most deadly assassin. He won’t come after them directly like these incompetent Hunters did. The Pilgrim will wipe each of them out of the timeline by going after their younger selves, Terminator-style.
I don’t have a problem with the show riffing on genre clichés, but this episode felt like little more than a collection of the most tired of those clichés, right down to reusing gags from ‘Back to the Future Part III’. I’m also growing tired of the team’s total disregard for the effect their actions have on the timeline. Using their futuristic powers in the big battle ought to lead to major repercussions, but it seems that everyone in town just forgets about it and goes about their regular business afterwards.
I feel like the only reason this episode exists at all is to establish that Jonah Hex is part of the same universe as ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ (and hence ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’ as well). However, the character’s introduction ultimately serves little purpose, in that he doesn’t actually do much of anything in the episode beyond say hello and reveal that he knows about time travelers. Perhaps the show-runners plan to bring him back around again later for a more involved crossover, but that doesn’t really excuse the pointlessness of this one.