Legends of Tomorrow: “Pilot, Part 2” Season 1 Episode 2 Review

Photo Credit:http://heroichollywood.com/home-1/2016/1/23/legends-of-tomorrow-102-images

What more could you want a from a superhero series? There’s insane mythology, inventive action, time travel, weed-smoking superheroes, and actual stakes. Honestly, I love pretty much everything about this crazy episode of television.

So let’s start with the nitpicks. Having Vandal Savage in the same room as Damien Darhk only highlighted how poor of a villain the immortal being is compared to Arrow‘s latest big bad. Legends of Tomorrow has already proven it can work without a villain that’s charismatic, but imagine if it still had that. It would just make an already fun series even more fun.

Also, some of the early scenes in the episode shared between Hawkgirl and Hawkman bordered on the melodrama that has recently plagued Arrow and The Flash. The ending of course provided a much more interesting take on their issues, but getting there was a bit clunky.

Okay, time to sing the praises of the second part of the remarkably silly pilot. From the big opening number of an action sequence to the two side quests that perfectly grouped various “legends” to the tragic final battle, this episode is probably the best work we’ve seen from the CW DC universe since Arrow and The Flash started up again back in the fall.

How smart it was to start Stein’s arc for the episode in the midst of a sweeping action spectacle. As the brilliant scientist started to become aware of his own arrogance, we got great moments like Captain Cold and Heat Wave cackling as they fire their weapons on a crowd of terrorists. Not to mention Atom’s reveal out of Stein’s pocket, leading him to take out a good portion of the room. But Ray accidentally leaves a piece of tech behind at the battle, which leads to the world’s destruction in 2016. Rip warned them about altering the timeline, and now they have to fix it.

Stein has a way to track down the tech, but he needs to visit his younger self to do so. Paired with Jax and White Canary, Legends of Tomorrow takes a deep dive in the ’70s. Sara comes out with rose-colored sunglasses and a fur coat. She then gets high with Stein’s younger self, only to later kick some serious ass while still high. At this point in the episode, I feel it’s impossible to not love this show.

But having Stein show so much anger toward himself was actually emotionally resonant. That’s right, this a show that gets to have high superheroes and strong character development. Facing his younger self, Stein fears how little he’s changed, especially after his arrogance got the entire team into trouble at the top of the episode. Appropriately, it’s Jax, his Firestorm partner, who pulls him out of his funk, allowing him to stop feeling anger and learn from his failures. Stein isn’t a person used to failing. But the context of his life, both past and present, pushes him toward a more calculated future.

Meanwhile, Atom, Cold, and Heat Wave go to steal an ancient Egyptian dagger that they believe can kill Savage. This allows the boyscout-y hero Atom to butt heads with the calculated criminality of Captain Cold. It’s fun to have them trade philosophies, and then eventually punches, before Savage catches them in the act.

This prompts the whole team to get in on the fight. After the mediocre fight against Chronos that ended the first part of the pilot, part two delivered not one but two epic brawls where the team takes on droves of henchmen. Clearly, unless a team of supervillains shows up, these will be the best action scenes for this series.

As for the fight with Savage, Hawkman is shockingly killed in just the second episode. This is a great decision because not only is he the weak link in the cast, but the cast was also a little bloated already. With Hawkgirl having essentially the same powers, it makes sense to off him here. It’s also a relatively effective death, inspiring the team to keep hunting Savage. With it just happening in the second episode, there’s also some heightened stakes.

All of this combined makes for one hell of an episode of superhero television. The show’s sheer insanity is breathtaking. This band of misfits is endlessly watchable and the concept gives the show an unpredictability others of this nature lack completely. Honestly, I didn’t expect Legends of Tomorrow to be this satisfying. Yet here we are. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • Rip took a backseat this week to develop some key team dynamics. But his scene at the end with Stein was quite effective.
  • In 1975, Damien Darhk wears an outfit that harkens back to classic 007 villains Dr. No and Ernest Blofeld. It almost feels like a small dig at the super-serious Arrow and I love it.
  • With Hawkman out of the way, the only character not part of all the fun is Hawkgirl. Let’s not leave her grieving too long, please. Throw her in with the rest of this goofy gang ASAP.
  • Frankly, the whole show could take place in the ’70s and I’d be just fine.

By Matt Dougherty

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