It might seem strange to find humor in a Legends of Tomorrow episode (“Star City 2046”) which sent the team into a nightmarish future version of Star City where Laurel and Quentin Lance, Thea Queen and John Diggle are dead, Felicity is long gone and a worse-for-the-wear Oliver is dead inside and only has one arm. This depressing potential future sees the city ruled over by Deathstroke’s insane son Grant Wilson, with John Diggle, Jr. offering the only line of defense in his guise as Connor Hawke, aka, the new Green Arrow. There are Mad Max-wannabee street gangs running around shaking people down for money, yet even they have to answer to Deathstroke and his
Deathstroke dancers gang of identically dressed goons.
We get it. “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!” and all that. So where exactly did I see something to laugh about?
I could be referring to the episode’s C-plot involving Jax and Ray competing for Kendra’s affection back on the Wave Rider as Dr. Stein tried quite unsuccessfully to act as the mediator. That had its moments, but it was too much, too soon. Had Jax even talked to Kendra before last week’s episode? Or Ray, other than that one time he expressed his condolences at Carter’s funeral? There should have been some natural momentum building to this moment for all involved. Instead, it felt more like the writers simply needed something for Kendra, Jax, Ray and Stein to do this episode, and this is what they came up with.
Also, can we declare a moratorium on Kendra re-stating her crazy backstory for us, e.g., “Three months ago I was a completely normal person, and now I’m a hawk goddess traveling through time trying to avoid being killed by an immortal psychopath who murdered the man I was destined to be with.”
Yes, Kendra would logically still be struggling to adjust with what’s become of her life, and in this situation both Jax and Ray might need to be reminded of that. However, we need to start seeing Kendra internalizing all of that and moving forward as a character. Having Kendra continually re-state her backstory doesn’t make it seem any less insane and preposterous.
It reminds me of Sara’s early appearances on Arrow when she repeatedly worked in unnatural-sounding dialogue explaining the League of Assassins, e.g., “Digg, you may be a three tours special forces veteran, but I was trained by the people that make the special forces look like a kindergarten class.”
So if not Wave Rider’s brief impression of The Love Boat then what exactly did I find so funny in this episode? I might be nitpicking here, but:
Near the end of the episode, Deathstroke, Jr. captures Green Arrow, Jr., and is about to cut off his arm in the city square (I guess) before Sara interrupts things, clearly allowing herself to be captured. Deahstroke, Jr. moves towards her and logically asks what exactly her big plan was. As defiant-cool as always (a Caity Lotz specialty), she proudly states she was simply the distraction. Cue the signature Arrow music, and a pan to reveal old man Oliver standing atop a flaming schoolbus (?), draped in shadows and looking completely badass.
It’s fightin’ time!
Except it’s still just Oliver, Connor/Diggle, Jr. and Sara versus the combined forces of Deathstroke’s gang of lookalikes and the Mad Max-wannabees. Sure, the rest of the titular Legends will inevitably arrive like the calvary at the end to tip the balance in their favor, but before then it’s three people versus an army.
Connor and Oliver both take turns fighting Deathstroke, Jr., and Sara fights the dudes on the ground, initially aided by Oliver firing arrows into the crowd at a blistering pace. However, how are they not ultimately engulfed in the sea of stuntmen?
Because the bad guys simply start fighting each other!
I know that screencap came out really dark. So, if you can’t tell (even with the help of the white arrow I put in there), in that image Sara is kicking ass but just south of her you can see two thugs who have simply decided to fight each other instead of waiting their turn to fight Sara. At first glance, I thought this was hilarious, as if this was like an Old West scenario where once a bar fight between two people starts everyone in the bar instantly decides to join in.
Amazing stunts and fight scenes have been one of the calling cards of the Arrow/Flash universe, and since Legends has Caity Lotz around that should be among its strong suits as well. However, as fun as many of the show’s fight scenes have been they’re also sometimes overloaded with participants, particularly when the entire team gathers together for ultra-group combat. In this particular instance, in addition to the one part of that image I highlighted you can also see a whole lot of the people simply standing around doing nothing, likely because there’s only so much fight coordination this show can actually pull off given its various practical limitations.
At second glance, I realized there is a story explanation that explains this. The Mad Max-wannabees either instantly turn on Deathstroke’s gang, or they don’t care about the conflict one way or another and thus decide to do nothing. Those two goons I noticed fighting each other are wearing clothes clearly indicating they fall on different sides of the Mad Max/Deathstroke divide. Then again, if you watch the scene even closer you’ll notice that Sara is attacked both by Mad Max-wannabees and Deathstroke enthusiasts. They at least agree on a common enemy.
Darn. This isn’t really the funniest moment in the episode after all. It’s logical from the information we were given that people Deathstroke, Jr. ordered around like dogs would instantly seize the opportunity to end his reign as soon as there was a literal crack in his armor. At the end, Oliver even says Grant Wilson kept the town’s various criminal elements together, and without him they’d all splinter, which we probably see the start of during that fight. Still, much like Deathstroke, Jr. I am left wondering what Sara and Oliver’s big plan was. Were they banking on the street gang instantly turning on Deathstroke’s gang? Or did they just totally luck out?
AS FOR THE REST OF THE EPISODE…
Apart from the Wave Rider stuff, this was more or less an episode of Arrow. Same theme music. Mostly the same sets simply re-dressed. Same stoic Stephen Amell, strategically draped in shadow to not draw too much unwanted critical attention to his old age make-up/prosthetics and goatee. It was very nice to see Sara and Oliver sharing meaningful scenes together again, which is something they haven’t done since Arrow‘s third season premiere.
It was smart to use Sara’s conflict here to call out Rip on his hypocrisy for wanting to change his own future but not letting them change their’s. I don’t know how much I actually bought the idea that Sara and Ray’s absence caused this future, but it was a nice use of the show’s time travel premise, going to a scary future to personalize things for Sara as well as remind her of the potential consequences of her decision to go on this journey.
The B-plot with Mick and Snart was a campy, but necessary reminder that Mick is not simply a criminal but also kind of insane. It also advanced the inevitable split between these two due to Snart’s emerging heroic tendencies. That could happen sooner than expected, based on the trailer for next week’s (apparent bottle) episode.
“Star City 2046” might not have been completely successful for those who are simply Legends of Tomorrow fans, but it was practically must-watch for long-time Arrow fans. Nothing was really accomplished in the overall arc involving Vandal Savage, but it was actually refreshing to take a break from that and merely enjoy a “fun with time travel” episode, especially when the bad guys started fighting each other without warning.
1. Vixen (who was just introduced on Arrow) and Connor Hawke have both already been suggested as potential future additions to Legends since the show will cycle out its heroes (if it manages to get a second season). Here’s what Joseph David-Jones told EW about the possibility of reprising his role as Connor:
I’m talking to the writers about what they plan on doing as far as bringing me back as potentially a series regular or recurring for the show. Nothing has been decided. It’s all so up in the air, but I know they do plan on cycling different heroes onto the ship, so we’ll have to see. I hope this isn’t the last time we’ll see Connor Hawke.
To make room for newbies, who would you vote off the ship, assuming Mick doesn’t die or voluntarily leave next week? And don’t say Sara because she’s the one person I would absolutely not vote off the ship.
2. Easter Eggs: “Connor Hawke” (Oliver’s son in the comics), Oliver having one arm (ala The Dark Knight Rises) and a goatee (how he’s classically depicted in the comics), Grant Wilson (Slade’s actual son in the comics).
3. Favorite line: Oliver – “I’m literally half the man I used to be.” Well, not literally, but I take your point, grizzly Ollie.