‘Legends of Tomorrow’ 1.16 Recap: “This Mission Is Not Over”

Throughout its first season, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ swung repeatedly from goofy comic book fun to infuriating nonsense. The finale episode certainly doesn’t try too hard to make much sense, but it’s entertaining enough to bring me back for another year.

Following the team’s conflict with the Time Masters, the Waverider returns to Star City in the year 2016. Without the Oculus to provide information about the timeline, Vandal Savage is once again lost to history. Even if they could find him, the team would have no way to kill him without Kendra or Carter. Feeling defeated, Rip drops everyone off and tells them to go back to their lives, then flies away in the ship. Mick grumbles, “I never liked that guy.”

For reasons they don’t understand at first, Rip deposits the others in May of 2016, four months after they left, not to the same moment they departed. Sara returns home to her father and learns that her sister Laurel was murdered by Damien Darhk while she was away. She’s furious with Rip for bringing her back late. She believes that if she could go back a few months, she could save her sister.

Mick goes to Central City and picks up his life of crime with a new partner he lets wield Snart’s freeze-ray. The kid doesn’t work out and Mick casually murders him. This very strangely doesn’t bother Ray, who shows up in town to apologize to Mick for the way he treated him during most of the mission. He says that he wants to team up, to finish the job they started.

Dr. Stein also gets restless in retirement, enough so that his wife urges him to get out of the house. Soon enough, all the remaining members of the team (Stein, Jax, Ray, Mick and Sara) join back up together with a plan to draw the Waverider back to them with some sort of poorly explained temporal subspace homing beacon doodad that Stein whipped up in an afternoon. Rip, who’s been wandering through time and space, feeling sorry for himself and hoping he might luck out and stumble across Savage, receives the signal and returns to the team. They yell at him for abandoning them and refuse to let him leave again without them.

The last we saw Kendra, Vandal Savage had flown back in time with her to 2166. Somehow, she’s now stuck in 1944 France, during the height of World War II. On the run from Savage, she encounters an American G.I. in the woods and begs him for a piece of paper and pen to write a note. She scribbles something down and sticks it inside his helmet, only for Savage to kill the guy and kidnap her again. Unaware of the note, Savage leaves the helmet on the ground.

Sara demands that Rip take her back to January 2016 so she can fight Damien Darhk with her sister. He insists that it wouldn’t work. If there’s one thing he’s learned from his repeated failures to save his own family, it’s that history is determined to happen. If Sara were present, not only would Darhk still kill Laurel, he’d kill Sara and their father as well. Nevertheless, Sara puts up such a fight that Rip has to knock her out with a neuralizer thingamajig and lock her up in her room to cool off.

Without any explanation at all, that soldier’s helmet from earlier is among Rip’s collection of bric-a-brac on the ship. (How did Kendra know how to find the exact helmet?) Jax knocks it over and finds the note from Kendra, which gives them the time and location to find Vandal Savage next.

With Kendra back in custody, Savage wakes up Carter from stasis and takes some blood from both the hawkpeople. He explains that the trio of meteorites that crashed into ancient Egypt back in the day and gave them powers were sent by Thanagarian aliens and contained advanced technology. Savage believes that the hawks’ blood will unlock that technology, which will allow him to “erase time” and return all the way back to 1,700 BC, from which he will start fresh and do things right this time, ruling the world early and for all history.

I’m not sure why he couldn’t just use the time ship, which he’s currently sitting in as he delivers this speech, to accomplish the same thing. That seems like a much simpler solution, frankly.

In 1944, one of the meteorites is in the possession of a bunch of Nazis, who were no doubt collecting it to store with the Ark of the Covenant. Savage fights with the Nazis to steal it from them (you’d think, of all people, Vandal Savage would be on good terms with Nazis), when both sides are interrupted by the arrival of the Legends team. Thus begins the first big action scene of the episode, a three-way battle between Vandal Savage, the Legends, and Nazis. Firestorm rescues Kendra and Carter, but Kendra gets shot and Savage grabs her again. Savage also absconds with the meteorite. The only thing the Legends get back is Carter. It’s a small victory.

In the midst of the battle, Jax and Stein discover that, as Firestorm, they have a new power – the ability to transmute matter at the molecular level from one thing to another, such as when they turn a Nazi’s rifle into sand. Jax is eager to test this out again but has trouble concentrating.

From the information that Carter tells him, Stein deduces that Savage’s plan is to create a time paradox by detonating the three meteorites (by dripping hawk blood on them) in three different time periods, which will cause a “timequake.” Through the benefits of time travel and eternal life, he can be three places at once to do this. Stein further reasons that the three best times to accomplish this are the years when Earth is in alignment with Thanagar: 1958, 1975 and 2021. To stop him, the team will need to split up and kill Vandal Savage three times. Fortunately, his exposure to radiation from the meteorites will render Savage mortal again, so anyone can kill him using any regular deadly force.

Whew! Did you catch all that? Don’t bother trying to make rational sense of it. There’s none to be found. It’s pure technobabble gibberish. Thankfully, the episode moves so quickly it doesn’t give you any time to worry about things like that.

The conceit of returning to these three time periods they’ve visited before allows the characters to interact with past events, ‘Back to the Future Part II’ style. The episode doesn’t dwell on this very much beyond a couple quick gags, such as Savage meeting his younger self to explain time travel to him.

The episode climaxes with a lot of frantic cross-cutting between the three time periods, as different members of the team fight Vandal Savage simultaneously. The action is both exciting and very confusing. Eventually, they’re victorious. Kendra, Rip and Sara each murder Savage in their respective time periods. Hooray?

Uh oh, Savage already dripped the blood onto all three meteorites, setting them to detonate. Quick-thinking Ray uses a shrink ray from his A.T.O.M. suit to miniaturize the meteorite in his timeline, rendering it laughably harmless when it explodes. Firestorm transmutes a second one into water. All the members of the team then converge to meet Rip in the final timeline. Ray and Firestorm both try to take care of the third meteorite the same ways they did before, but fail for conveniently contrived reasons. Rip then hops in the Waverider, grabs the meteorite with a tractor beam, and heads for outer space. His plan is to fly the meteorite directly into the sun… which seems like overkill when he could just take it a decent distance from Earth orbit and let it explode harmlessly in space.

But no, Rip goes on the suicide mission anyway. He flies into the sun, prepared to die, but has a dream about his family and decides that he’d rather live. He flings the meteorite into the sun and time-jumps back to Earth, arriving immediately after he left. The team rejoices. They’ve won!

Denouement

Back home in 2016 Star City, Sara visits her sister’s grave and makes peace with her death. Stein tries once again to settle into retirement, but his wife and Jax stage an intervention to make him go out and have more fun adventures. (When do we get the revelation that Stein’s wife is stepping out on him and just really doesn’t want him around?)

Mick, meanwhile, goes back three years to Central City in 2013, where he meets up with Snart in a bar and has a heart-to-heart, telling his very confused friend, “You’re a hero to me.”

Everyone gets together in 2016 to re-form the team. With the Time Masters gone, somebody has to take over protecting the timeline. (Also, let’s not forget the matter of the Thanagarian invasion that’s still on the way.) Kendra and Carter decline the offer, however. They say their goodbyes and fly off to do their own thing.

Just as everybody else is about to hop aboard the Waverider, a spaceship flies down from the sky and lands in front of them. It’s… also the Waverider? A man in a hood (Patrick J. Adams from ‘Suits’) steps out and asks to speak to Mick. He says that Mick sent him (clearly a future event) to warn them all not to get on the ship or they’ll die. When Rip asks this guy who he is, he very authoritatively announces that he’s Rex Tyler from the Justice Society of America.

Is that name supposed to mean something?

Episode Verdict

First off, I have to say that Patrick J. Adams looks even douchier than usual in his silly hood. Man, I hope he’s not a regular next season.

Vandal Savage is dead! Three times over! This has to be the end of him, right? I feared that the premise of the show was too entangled with Savage and he’d be the team’s nemesis forever, but now it appears that they’ve been freed up to have all new adventures next year. This is a very good thing.

Honestly, I’m kind of glad that Kendra’s been written out too. Ciara Renée is not a good actress.

I could easily nit-pick apart the plot of the finale. Frankly, it doesn’t make much of any sense. (Just the idea of Vandal Savage being three places at once is a contradiction of all the show’s rules of time travel. If the team kills him in 1958, he won’t be around to do anything later.) However, I don’t see the point of it. The episode may be dumb, but it’s still fun, which is better than some of the episodes this season were.

I guess we’re getting the JSA next year. That could be interesting. I look forward to that.

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