‘Legends of Tomorrow’ 1.13 Recap: “Time, For Once, Is on Our Side”

I fully recognize that a TV series like ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ won’t have the visual effects budget of a feature film. Nevertheless, for the most part, the show’s VFX are usually pretty passable, even sometimes good. Unfortunately, someone got too ambitious with this episode and the laughable results are a big distraction.

The Waverider’s latest destination is the year 2166. Vandal Savage has conquered most of the world, with only London still resisting his rule. As soon as the ship appears in the sky, it immediately takes fire from ground artillery. When asked why they would come here, Rip explains that they don’t have the luxury of blindly searching for Savage throughout history anymore. They need to defeat him right away, and this is the one time and place Rip is certain he’ll appear. In three days, Savage will personally murder Rip’s wife and son.

Upon landing, Rip goes undercover with Sara, Snart and Mick at a rally where Savage gives a rousing Hitlerian speech. The four of them try to ambush Savage afterwards but get caught up fighting his stormtrooper bodyguards, commanded by an intimidating blonde woman. Watching on a video feed, Kendra sees that blonde wearing a bracelet that she recognizes as her own from her original life in Egypt. Snart gets a chance to shoot the woman but doesn’t do it.

The attack fails and the team retreats. However, Kendra believes that the bracelet, which was one of the objects present during the meteorite shower that made Savage immortal, may be able to kill him – assuming that Kendra can figure out a way to turn a bracelet into a deadly weapon.

Rip next takes Ray, Dr. Stein and Jax with him to visit the Resistance movement at a refugee camp. Adorable little children are sad and starving there, so obviously things aren’t good. When Stein asks Rip why he doesn’t use this time to go rescue his family before Savage kills them, Rip admits that he tried that before, many times in fact. No matter what he did to ferry his wife and child to safety, they still wound up dying anyway, because “Time wants to happen.” The only way to save them is to defeat Savage first.

The leader of the Resistance explains that Savage has gone to ground in a secure bunker following the botched assassination attempt. He also has a mysterious powerful weapon that devastated a nearby Resistance base.

Staying behind on the Waverider, Sara helps Kendra go through research documents from her late son, Prof. Boardman, looking for clues on how to kill Vandal Savage. Kendra has a flashback to a memory from 1941, in which Carter taught her how to fight with his mace. This gives her an idea.

Mick and Snart ambush and kidnap Savage’s blonde henchgirl. She already knows exactly who they are, as well as everyone else aboard the ship. The blonde introduces herself as Vandal Savage’s daughter, Cassandra. (Why would she admit this? Seems like she’s just giving them leverage over her father now that they know her value.)

Snart thinks he can win Cassie over by talking to her alone, because he understands what it’s like to have a terrible father. Cassie, however, has fully drunk her father’s Kool-Aid. She believes he’s a great hero who stood up to the despicable madman Per Degaton, and believes Degaton unleashed the Armageddon Virus that killed her mother.

Kendra asks for Mick’s help melting Cassie’s bracelet, which she then coats on top of Carter’s mace.

Upon inspecting the destroyed Resistance base, Rip and Ray discover that the place wasn’t bombed. It was stomped on by a giant foot. Vandal Savage’s new doomsday weapon is a massive jaeger robot. I guess he’s a big fan of ‘Pacific Rim’.

This robot… oy. It looks like something out of a PS2 game. The CGI is embarrassing, but even if the rendering quality were better, the basic design of the thing looks stupid and lame. It glows green and has a big nuclear atom symbol on its chest and head. If I say it looks like a comic book sketch, I’m talking about the amateur comics that kids draw in high school. It’s really bad. From what we see of it, the robot’s only weapon is its ability to stomp on things. It doesn’t do anything else. For an ultimate doomsday device, it’s terribly inefficient.

With the robot now lumbering toward the refugee camp, Stein and Ray bring all the refugees on board the Waverider. As they try to escape, the robot grabs the ship and tosses it to the ground about a mile away. The engines are damaged in the crash and the ship can’t take off again. Fortunately, the plodding robot can only move 1 mile per hour, so it will take a full hour to catch up with them again.

Dr. Stein is wounded in the crash. Rip brings him to the medical bay and has him sedated. With him out of commission, that means Firestorm can’t help protect the ship.

Realizing that torture would be useless on Cassie, Snart releases her from the cell and brings her to see all the helpless refugees in the ship’s hold. He also tells her the truth that her father was responsible for releasing the Armageddon Virus, not Per Degaton. She doesn’t believe him until Snart shows her video footage of him giving the order.

As the robot gets closer, Ray comes up with the clever idea to reverse the shrinking technology in his A.T.O.M. suit to supersize him to the same size as the robot. I have a lot of issues with the physics of this. If the enlargement works by spreading out the space between atoms, then Ray and his suit would retain their original mass even at the larger size. He’d be far too weak to put up a fight against the robot. Even if you can set problems like that aside, the CGI for supersized Ray looks even worse than the CGI for the robot, and their cartoony battle is played in slow-motion for some reason, which only makes the whole thing look completely ridiculous.

Cassie returns to her father and tells him that she escaped. He immediately notices that her bracelet is missing, and sees through her lie when she says she lost it in the struggle. He knows that his daughter has betrayed him. Rip, Snart, Mick and Sara reveal themselves and distract Savage’s army of stormtroopers so that Kendra can swoop down and attack Savage with the now-deadly mace. She gets in several good blows that actually injure him. (I wasn’t aware he was supposed to be invulnerable in addition to immortal.) However, before she can finish Savage off, another stormtrooper comes in and struggles with her. Kendra knocks his helmet off to reveal that it’s Carter underneath. Savage cackles with glee. He found Carter’s latest reincarnation at a young age and was able to brainwash him. Savage says that only he has the key to unlock Carter’s mind. If Kendra kills him, she’ll never get Carter back.

Ray gets knocked down by the robot, but gets back up with the help of an inspirational speech by Jax and punches the robot’s head off.

Kendra can’t bring herself to kill Vandal Savage now. Rip grabs him and brings him back to the Waverider as a prisoner.

Cassie joins the Resistance movement. Stein wakes up feeling a lot better. Kendra frets about how she’ll tell Ray that Carter is back. Rip talks to Savage, who taunts him about how his family is still fated to die. The episode ends on that note as a mini-cliffhanger.

Episode Verdict

First and foremost, I must give this episode credit for having a coherent plot. That in and of itself is a huge improvement over the prior episode. The details of the plot, however, leave much to be desired.

I still don’t buy into Rip’s insistence that they need to defeat Vandal Savage right now, given that the concept of “right now” is entirely relative in a show about time travel. Even if you go along with that, defeating him in 2166 won’t solve the problem that Savage had already wiped out most of the planet’s population with the Armageddon Virus. Isn’t the point of this quest supposed to be saving the world, or is the point just to save Rip’s family?

Everything about the giant robot is dumb. Never mind the shoddy visual effects, the entire notion that Savage’s super weapon would be a slowly lumbering robot is lame. This is supposed to be the 22nd Century. Warfare should be a lot more complicated than a big robot stomping on stuff.

Finally, why is Kendra so concerned with this incarnation of Carter being brainwashed? The guy dies and gets reincarnated over and over again for all eternity. Let this one go and meet up with the next one. For that matter, Carter probably had a couple of lives between 2016 and 2166. Jump back and find one of them, then remove him from the timeline to prevent 2166 Carter from ever being born or brainwashed.

Why am I the one thinking of these things, and not the show’s writers?

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