That crossover business with the alien invasion all conveniently wrapped up, the ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ crew head off on a new adventure through time. The show’s mid-season finale takes them to the roaring 1920s, which is basically an excuse for the show-runners to riff on ‘The Untouchables’.
The episode isn’t even subtle about the debt it owes to ‘The Untouchables’ – specifically, to the 1987 Brian DePalma film. The episode title, ‘The Chicago Way’, is a direct quote from that movie. The musical score is an unsubtle homage to Ennio Morricone’s. A character even name-checks the movie at one point just in case you didn’t get it.
In 1927 Chicago, the Reverse-Flash and Damien Darhk introduce themselves to notorious gangster Al Capone. They’ve even brought along a new team member in their little league of evil: Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). I believe that Darhk is the 1980s version who was last seen entering a “time sphere” created by Reverse-Flash. I’m not sure when Merlyn comes from. In any case, they demonstrate their powers against some of Capone’s goons and offer their services to help with his business ventures.
On board the Waverider, Ray is testing out his new A.T.O.M. suit (which basically negates the whole storyline where he partnered up with Mick) by sparring with his new BFF, Nate, when the ship’s computer detects a timequake emanating from 1927. The team suit up in fedoras and flapper dresses and go undercover at Chicago’s Union Station, where Ray screws up and utterly fails to protect Treasury agent Eliot Ness from crooked cops who whisk him away. As a result of this, Gideon informs the team that Ness will never arrest Capone for tax evasion, and the gangster will become mayor of Chicago. (What’s that, an abrasive and shamelessly corrupt criminal rising to a position of political power? Nah, that could never really happen in America…)
Nate, who knows every detail about everything that has ever happened in history, points out that Capone’s favored method of executing his enemies was to put them in cement overshoes and toss them off a city pier to sleep with the fishes. The Legends arrive at the pier just slightly too late. As the rest of the team battle tommy gun-wielding gangsters, Amaya adopts the power of a dolphin and dives in to rescue Ness. Meanwhile, Damien Darhk watches the whole scene from the sidelines, pleased that his trap is going according to plan.
Amaya saves Ness, but he’s comatose and suffering brain damage due to hypoxia. The team bring him to the medical bay on the Waverider and Gideon works on reversing the damage. Because he’s out of commission, Nate will have to impersonate Ness. Mick is strangely uninterested in leaving the ship for some reason, and Amaya stays behind as well.
Ray, who’s disappointed that he didn’t get to play Eliot Ness, has to settle for being his partner, Agent Bob De Niro. (Subtle.) They lead a police raid on one of Capone’s speakeasy clubs, but Reverse-Flash and Darhk foil their plans by replacing all the alcohol with harmless drinks, making the fake Eliot Ness look like a fool. They also kidnap Prof. Stein and Sara right from under Ray and Nate’s noses.
On the ship, Mick sees visions of his dead pal, Leonard Snart, chiding him for going soft and becoming a good guy. Mick tries to ignore him. When the others come back licking their wounds from their defeat, Mick takes charge, reasoning that the best way to catch a criminal is to be a criminal. Determined not to be useless without Stein, Jax has an idea about fighting the Reverse-Flash with an anti-speedster rifle he found in Rip Hunter’s secret armory.
Malcolm Merlyn interrogates Stein and Sara. He says that he wants an amulet thingie they possess (which is somehow different than but related to the amulet that Reverse-Flash stole from the JSA). In exchange, he offers to mess with time some more and not cause the shipwreck that stranded Oliver Queen on a remote island. Doing so would essentially give Sara nine years of her life back. She won’t have to become an assassin, her sister won’t die, and she can be happy. (I guess he doesn’t know that she just lived out that fantasy when the aliens kidnapped her.) Sara turns him down flat. When they’re alone, Stein asks her about that, and then confesses to her about how his daughter is a time aberration. Sara is disgusted by what she hears and threatens to fix the timeline again to erase his daughter. Shortly afterward, Darhk pulls Stein away and locks him in a room with Reverse-Flash.
Mick leads a raid and hijacks one of Capone’s delivery trucks. He, Amaya, Ray and Nate then infiltrate Capone’s compound and steal his secret ledger book. In the process, they fight Capone’s gangster goons again and rescue Sara and Stein. Once again, this appears to all be a ruse by Dahrk to manipulate the Legends.
After he’s brought back to the ship, Prof. Stein seems discombobulated. He offers to inspect the amulet that Merlyn wanted in order to see if he can discern any clues as to its purpose. Jax senses that something is up with him. When Sara asks Stein a question about his daughter that he can’t answer, the jig is up and he reveals that he’s not really Prof. Stein at all. It’s the Reverse-Flash impersonating Prof. Stein!
Jax fetches Ray and Nate, and shoots Reverse-Flash with the anti-speedster gun, but its effects are very temporary. Reverse-Flash locks himself on the ship’s bridge and opens its cargo back, allowing Malcolm Merlyn and a bunch of gangster goons onto the ship.
Reverse-Flash searches for the amulet, but Mick and Amaya trick him. Sara faces off against Merlyn. The Reverse-Flash runs off when an alarm goes off on his watch.
The real Prof. Stein is at the city pier about to be fed to the fish until Sara rescues him. She reveals that she had to give up the amulet to Reverse-Flash to find out where he’d be.
When Eliot Ness finally recovers, Nate gives him Capone’s ledger and feeds him a story about some well-meaning do-gooders who pretended to be him for a while.
Amaya gives Mick a gift of some booze she stole from Capone, and also gives him a peck on the cheek. It looks like these two are going to become an item – assuming that Mick stops seeing visions of Leonard Snart acting like a total dick. Sara decides that she’s OK with Stein’s daughter now and won’t eradicate the girl.
The Reverse-Flash now has two special amulets. He reveals that, when interlocked together, they project a 3D holographic map to what he claims is the Spear of Destiny, a mythical weapon that will give them control over time. Great work giving that up, Sara!
Back on the Waverider, Sara decides that they really need Rip Hunter back, and it’s time to start searching for him in earnest.
The episode ends with a bizarre epilogue set in 1967, in which Rip is seen (speaking without a British accent) directing a movie about a team of superheroes not unlike the Legends. This goes completely unexplained.
This mid-season finale is a decent enough episode and the ‘Untouchables’ stuff is pretty fun, but the actor playing Al Capone is kind of weak and the episode’s plotting feels very haphazard. Sara’s excuse for suddenly turning the amulet over to the Reverse-Flash is particularly flimsy and contrived. I have no idea what to make of that epilogue, but it seems… well, honestly, it seems dumb. I don’t know where the show plans to go with that or what good it could possibly be, and we’ll have to wait until January 24th to find out.