Last night, Flash revealed a bunch of secrets because the show’s writers seem incapable of creating drama without forcing the characters to lie to each other for no reason, and Legends of Tomorrow did its version of Doctor Who’s classic Neil Gaiman episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” likely forcing to Arthur Darville to think: “Something about this seems awfully familiar.” The episodes in question were “The Wrath of Savitar” (S3:E10) for The Flash and “Land of the Lost” (S2:E13) for Legends of Tomorrow, and here’s what I thought about them:
“The Wrath of Savitar”
Remember Barry’s big plan to up Wally’s speed so that he might be able to save Iris in the future? Yeah, that was actually all part of Savitar’s plan. They just didn’t know it. By Flash standards, this was a fairly well executed twist.
Savitar, that ole Shredder wannabe who pompously calls himself a god, has actually been trapped in the speed force this entire time, only ever able to break free for short periods before being sucked back in. It was future Barry’s brilliant idea to trap him there (because “future Barry did it” is this show’s go-to move for creating conflict), but it was Savitar’s equally brilliant idea to give Wally speed and trick him into getting fast enough to actually open a portal into the speed force. Wally got sucked into the portal while Barry just stood there and did nothing, seemingly freezing on the spot in the face of the strange sight of Wally crying out for help while being sucked into a tiny blue hole into another dimension.
In goes Wally, out pops Savitar. Fight, fight, fight. Exposition, exposition, exposition. Barry loses, but at least lands a couple of punches and tears off one of Savitar’s swords (I’m assuming he has more than one). Back at STAR Labs, everyone other than Caitlin gradually leaves Barry’s side, leaving him to say something profound about fear before we cut to a preview for next week’s super happy fun time guest star episode (Captain Cold, the original Firestarter and Eddie are all back as speed force ghosts).
Cue the adorably optimistic SnowBarry fans who take the ending as a sign that when it comes to Caitlin and Barry you’re telling me there’s still a chance.
Cue the Twitter freakouts over the episode’s many twists and grim ending.
Cue the interviews with Grant Gustin and producers discussing the process which led the show to this point. “That’s a moment that Barry then has to own up to the reality of, which is, he does love Iris more than anything, but he did propose because he wanted to save her life and change the future,” Gustin tells EW of the episode’s reveal that Barry only proposed to Iris to change the future. In that same interview, Andrew Kreisberg says, “Savitar’s prophecy (‘One shall betray you, one shall fall, one will suffer a fate far worse than death’) is starting to come true. Wally is suffering the fate worse than death. We will find out who the betrayer is (is it really Caitlin?) and then the real question is if the one will fall will be Iris?”
But, also, cue the snark from those who, like myself, are just getting sick of this show’s tricks:
On top of that, it’s getting harder to ignore the terrible dialogue spelling everything out for us, such as when Julian replies “But that’s not her” upon hearing Jesse describe how Wally hallucinated his mother and talked to her. Not her? Yeah, no shit, Julian. I think we covered that with “Wally’s seeing things.”
And while it is commendable that Wally’s visions don’t stay a secret for very long and that he at least gets a line of dialogue explaining why he kept it a secret (his “I didn’t think of it as being a secret” explanation is shot down instantly by Barry) it’s still the same damn thing over and over again with this show. The characters are often mad at each other for the flimsiest of reasons, but they are also keeping secrets from each other for equally flimsy reasons. Caitlin, in particular, has been a consistent offender this season, first keeping her powers to herself and now hiding away a piece of the Philosopher’s Stone because she thought she could use to remove her powers.
Just, stop. Stop what you’re doing with Caitlin and Killer Frost this season. It’s like you watched only half of Frozen, and thought the way to go was really to have a female character attempting to push down and repress that which makes her unique. Watch the whole movie. See what happens when Anna’s love and acceptance for her sister allows Elsa to truly let it go and be happy with who she is. That’s the empowering model to mimic, not this belabored Jekly & Hyde/Two-Face thing you’re running with, especially when it makes no sense compared to how Earth-2 Killer Frost been presented.
It is at least interesting that in “Savitar’s Wrath” Flash put forth less sympathetic versions of Barry and Caitlin, the former tainting Iris’ trust in him and the latter apparently using Julian (although she’s the queen of mixed signals with him lately). But, meh. Moving on.
“Land of the Lost”
Now the “let’s keep secrets from each other” curse which plagues the entire Arrowverse has infected Legends of Tomorrow. In “Land of the Lost,” Ray informs Nate that his relationship with Amara is fucking with history. She’s not like them. She’s not some expendable person who could be yanked from history without changing the future. No, at some point she needs to get back to her own time to have the daughter and granddaughter fate intends for her. Moreover, she can’t be told about her own future because her tragic ending is what shapes her granddaughter into a modern-day Vixen who saves lives in Detroit (on the CW Seed animated series and once on Arrow). If that granddaughter is never born what will become of all the lives she was meant to save?
Yep, that’s a real-time travel conundrum, alright. But, come on, Amara’s just so hot and badass. Look at her taming a T-Rex (it’s complicated). Eat your heart out, Chris Pratt. Nate’s awkward breakup conversation with her will have to wait.
Why am I okay with this but not with Flash’s secrets? Because Legends doesn’t have nearly as long of a history with this. Plus, this particular secret takes full advantage of the wonkiness of the show’s time travel premise. And, lastly, this isn’t a driving force of the episode’s plot. Ray, Nate and Amara’s BC dinosaur adventures are the B-plot, secondary to the A-plot of Sara and Jefferson incepting Rip’s mind to restore his original personality.
That’s where the Doctor Who homage/rip-off came in. Sara and Jefferson fought through the mental barriers Eobard left behind in Rip’s hunt, visualized here as more aggressive versions of the Legends crew. However, also present in Rip’s mind was a human version of Gideon, played by Amy Pemberton, the British actress who has voiced Gideon since the beginning of the series. Wait, why is she there? Because Amy Pemberton is very talented and attractive and deserved to be seen on screen at least once. It’s a hoot seeing Sara flirt with her a hot second. Plus, she’s important to Rip’s psyche, and there needed to be a guide character helping to push the plot along. But, mostly, it was just a neat way to put Pemberton on screen, and have her and Darville kiss before Rip escapes his mind and returns to reality.
This isn’t an exact replica of Doctor Who’s “The Doctor’s Wife,” a Matt Smith-era classic in which the Tardis is briefly given human form and Steven Moffat pulls a page from the Cheers series finale in arguing that the true love of the Doctor’s life is a place, not a person. Except unlike Sam Malone and his beloved bar, the Doctor is given a brief moment to say hello to the Tardis and have her say it back.
Legends scenario more closely resembles Killjoys, which also features a male character (Aaron Ashmore’s Johnny Jaqobis) who has oddly bonded with the female voiced-AI of his spaceship (other characters continually joke about how much nicer the AI is to him than them). To my knowledge, that Killjoys AI has yet to take human form. Plus, in terms of general comparisons there’s obviously the movie Her.
Still, the Doctor Who comparison is impossible to resist considering that Arthur Darville is actually in “Doctor’s Wife,” standing off to the side while watching the Doctor bid a tearful hello/farewell to Idris/Tardis. Now here he is acting it out as the captain (or ex-captain? co-captain?) of his own ship. One wonders if Matt Smith called and congratulated Darville on the promotion. A sidekick no longer, that’s for sure.
But you grant Legends these little indulgences because the show is so entertainingly weightless, featuring a cast that has fallen into a perfect rhythm and writers who always know when to work in a quick joke at Mick’s expense (such as Sara telling Jefferson “have Mick or the Professor wake me up, preferable the Professor”). Even though”Land of the Lost” ended with a somber exchange between the team and a newly returned Rip Hunter, who has much to apologize for, Legends season 2 never really forgets that this show needs to be about likable misfits playing time travel dress-up and going through sci-fi craziness. They all need to be paired off in interesting and usually funny ways, which is how Stein and Mick have suddenly become a hot comedic duo. Flash, on the other hand, is retreading much of what once made it great back in season 1, and stuck on a path of tying together prophecies and secrets.