During its first season, DC’s ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ was often as frustrating as it was fun. Fortunately, with annoying villain Vandal Savage now out of the picture (hopefully for good, though with a time travel show that’s never guaranteed), the second season should be free to explore some new ideas.
The end of Season 1 not only brought an end to both the Vandal Savage and Time Masters storylines, it also killed off one of the show’s main characters (Leonard “Captain Cold” Snart) and wrote out two others (Kendra and Carter, who flew off to go do their own thing). As if the series didn’t still have an abundance of other character to fill screen time, the Season 2 premiere adds a new member to the team.
In a cold open, we’re introduced to Dr. Nate Heywood (Nick Zano from Fox’s short-lived ‘Minority Report’ spinoff), a historian and self-proclaimed “time detective.” In the present day of 2016, he barges into city hall to see Oliver Queen, now mayor of Star City. He knows that Queen is the Green Arrow, and insists that the Legends team is in trouble. He says that by studying history, he has discovered a number of changes to the historical timeline, one of which is an underwater detonation of an atomic bomb in 1942, three years before the Trinity nuclear test.
Hold up for a second. How could Heywood possibly know that the timeline has been changed? From his perspective, the timeline has always been the way it is when he looks at it. He’s not an outside observer in the Time Nexus. Changes would be invisible to him, because each would simply be the way things always were. I suppose we’re not supposed to put too much thought into that.
Anyway, Heywood convinces Oliver to mount an underwater salvage operation at the site of the old atomic blast, where they find the wreckage of the Waverider. The ship is still mostly intact. Inside, Mick is suspended in stasis. After waking him up and introducing themselves, the episode segues into flashback as Mick tells a story about saving the court of French king Louis XIII from time pirates. This has basically no bearing on the episode’s plot except to insert a goofy action scene involving swords and lasers (and Sara taking a break to screw the queen). After that mission is completed, the Gideon computer detects a “timequake” emanating from 1942, where Nazis have somehow nuked New York City off the map. Even though they’d been warned not to go to 1942 by that time traveler dude named Rex Tyler, Rip sees no choice and sets a course. With the Time Masters gone, he intones that, “We are history’s last line of defense.”
Upon arrival, clues point to Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) working with the Nazis to provide them with a nuclear weapon. To do that, he plans to kidnap Albert Einstein… unless the Legends can kidnap him first!
Rip, Mick and Dr. Stein go undercover to infiltrate a society party with Einstein (John Rubinstein) in attendance. Stein is dismayed to discover that his idol is a sexist pig and a groper. [Insert “Grab them by the pussy” joke here.] Nazi agents invade the party and try to abduct the scientist, but Rip and Mick fight them off. Stein punches his hero in the face to knock him out.
Even with Einstein brought aboard the Waverider and removed from the timeline, Gideon reports that the Nazis will still nuke New York. Stein can’t fathom how that’s possible, if Einstein is the only man on the planet capable of building an atomic bomb. Quickly deducing that they’re time travelers, Einstein explains that his ex-wife, Mileva Maric, is also a physicist and might be able to do it. (Question: If the Nazis already have his ex, why were they trying to snatch Einstein at the party?)
Ray uses his suit to track a radium signature from the nuclear materials to a Nazi submarine secretly docked in New Jersey. This results in a big super fight between the Legends team, Damien Darhk and the Nazis. Sara breaks off from the others to go directly after Darhk. Seeking revenge for her sister’s death, she wants to kill Darhk here in the 1940s before he has a chance to murder Laurel later. Ray tries to defuse the bomb but his suit malfunctions. Sara loses her fight against Darhk, and Mick gets shot. The Nazis get away with the nuke.
Once everyone gets back to the Waverider, Rip pilots it underwater to chase the submarine. Darhk orders the Nazis to install the nuke onto a torpedo and fire it toward New York City. Rip swings the Waverider around to block the torpedo. Before it hits, he has Gideon initiate a “time scatter” feature that disperses the crew to safety in separate time periods. Unfortunately, although Mick survived his gunshot, he’s too injured for time travel. Rip puts him in stasis until Oliver Queen and Nate Heywood find him 74 years later.
Back in the present, Gideon knows where everyone else went but has no record of what happened to Rip. Oliver says that he needs to get back to Star City and leaves Heywood and Mick to zip around through time and find the rest of the team. (You know, Oliver could have joined them and, through the magic of time travel, still made it back home in time for whatever important business he’s worried about.)
Rip and Heywood collect a bearded Ray in prehistoric times, being chased by a dinosaur. Stein and Jax are in 821 England working as wizards. Sara’s just about to be hung as a witch in 1693 Salem. Once this group is back together, they find a holographic message that Rip left behind, but it doesn’t indicate where he went.
Stopping off in 1942 one more time, Stein makes Einstein publicly announce that Mileva was his partner in developing the nuclear technology. I’m not at all clear on how this will somehow keep either of the Einsteins from being abducted by Nazis again, but Stein is pretty confident about it,. Even though this is a change to history, it’s a much smaller change than New York City being destroyed.
On board the submarine, the Nazis are pissed that their atomic bomb was wasted. Before they can execute Darhk, he reveals that he’s been working with a partner. Suddenly, Eobard Thawne (a.k.a. The Reverse-Flash) zips onto the ship and kills all the Nazis. This would explain how Darhk (who is slow-aging but not a time traveler) was using automatic weapons from several decades in the future. However, it also leaves open the question of why Reverse-Flash didn’t just bring a nuke back in time with him to give to Darhk and the Nazis, thereby negating the need to kidnap Einstein.
As the Legends congratulate themselves on a job well done and head back to the Waverider, a collection of superheroes in silly costumes block their way, announce themselves as the Justice Society of America, and arrest the team. I guess this is why Rex Tyler didn’t want them to come to 1942.
The season premiere is a very busy episode. As I’ve noted, some parts of it don’t make a whole lot of sense. However, this show frequently doesn’t make very much sense, so that’s normal. By the standards of what we saw last season, nothing here overly bothers me. It’s a fun episode and I enjoyed the “getting the team back together” aspect of it, but the guy playing Einstein is too much of a cartoon caricature and the reveal of the JSA members at the end is awfully goofy.