Legends of Tomorrow "S1E12 Last Refuge" - Review: Past mastery!

Legends of Tomorrow "S1E12 Last Refuge" - Review: Past mastery!
10 out of 10

Last Refuge – With the Time Masters top assassin, The Pilgrim, out to erase the team from the timeline by killing their younger selves, Rip and the team must take desperate measures to ensure their safety which involves taking more than a few strolls down the memory lane.

Apologies to Casper Crump but this episode continues the trend of the best Legends episodes being devoid of Vandal Savage. That is primarily because when the main outward threat is removed, the story turns inward in the team itself, focusing on the show’s biggest strength: it’s cast. The story here makes wonderful use of the limitless time travel availability to deliver a group wide Terminator 2 setup (as always, Ray is on geeky form, dropping a “Come with me if you want to live” within minutes). We have a big unstoppable bad of The Pilgrim/T-1000 going after their younger/pre-team selves at key moments in their timeline with their old selves sending themselves back in time as T-800 protectors (“Oh look I’ve gone cross eyed”). It could easily be an almighty mess but director Rachel Talalay (helmswomen of Doctor’s Who's two-part season finales for the last two seasons) really holds in all together well. Many of obvious timey whimey points addressed with Hunter advising “paradox prevention” measures. Especially through the first half she keeps the episode incredibly pacey and flowing as it quickly transitions from one time and location to the next. Yet most of all, she keeps it fun. From the little moments like Sara and Kendra brooding out over how cute baby Snart is, to Mick happily labeling his younger self as an idiot and even getting to spend some great bantering moments with a younger (full haired) Quentin Lance. Although the episode stealer comes from meeting Rip Hunter’s (adopted) mother as none other than acclaimed Brit actress Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones, Calendar Girls), and she absolutely smashes it. She’s like a cross between the British Nanny stereotype and Sarah Connor. Her scenes with Arthur Darvill are particularly enjoyable as they raise a smile while bringing in the episode’s other strength: it delivers some great drama.

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While Last Refuge is a fun time-hopping affair, it does not shy away from heavier material when confronting people or places from the team’s past. It draws this effectively from the more unexpected team members. Rather than taking the more travelled roads of Ray losing his former fiancé or Snart’s daddy issues, it places the spotlight of Mick and Jax. Mick’s confrontation with his teenage fire-starting self are more key steps in his post-Chronos rehabilitation into a more caring person. At first, all Mick wants to do is beat seven hells out of the kid that just burned his family's home (and family) down because that is how old Mick thinks; he sees someone that has wronged him as scheduling a Facetime with his fists. Yet as their interactions progress, he comes to see his adult self as the product of such hatred and instead tries to reaching out to him, “Don’t be like me, be better than me”. As good as Mick gets, its Jax that has his fist clenched tightly around the heartstrings this week with the standout performance of the main cast (for someone that spent the early episodes as the weak link that should not be undervalued). He gets a little help by his story tapping into the memories of Flash fans from last season’s finale (apologies to the many people now crying at the mention of it). In meeting his soon to be KIA military father for the first time at his own birth, Jax is presented with a mirroring dilemma over Barry Allen saving his mother. He wants to save him but knows that he mustn’t, creating some heart wrenching moments, and crucially Franz Drameh really gets that across. We feel what this means to him and want nothing more than to see him screw the rules for even a long shot at saving him.

Although we don’t get much info on Faye Kingslee’s The Pilgrim, she still makes for a great guest staring villain by sticking to her T-1000 casting principle: she’s cold, sinister with visually stunning abilities. The effects of her, “Temporal micro manipulation” Click-style pause and rewind abilities are impressive, and at times jaw-dropping as the camera takes a 360 turn of the room during the full team final battle, including a Kylo Ren style bolt block. She feels like a formidable foe for the whole group in a way Chronos never did and even in her earlier one to one fights delivers plenty of great action. The episode also ticks another name off the show’s time travel riffing checklist as the past attack injury scenes feel a nice little nod to Looper. Quentin also slips in a cheeky Supergirl Easter Egg, “What’s next? Aliens?”.

Despite having some inconstancy in form, Legends continually shows that it can pull a perfect episode out of absolutely nowhere. There really is nothing worth bad saying about Last Refuge. It also nicely manages to place a ticking clock escalation in the team’s mission in build-up to the final 4 episodes. If the show can hold this form to the finish, then the future is looking very bright for us.

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