Terminator: Genisys had so much wrong with it that just mentioning its name feels like kicking a puppy, but one thing it got right was the old man Arnie. It utilized an effective concept of time travel based science fiction in “taking the long way”, placing characters out of sync with each other from the perspective of those that took the short instantaneous route. Such as an excellent episode of Star Trek Voyager(Blink of an Eye), in which the hologram doctor was beamed down to planet with rapid time movement and returns to reveal that in the passing of seconds he’d been stranded there for several years, and in the uncertainty of his return, started a new life there. It’s the extreme equivalent of catching with an old friend and being shocked by how much their life has changed. When Legends of Tomorrow concluded for a little mid-season break, its departing cliff-hanger was leaving Ray, Sara, and Kendra stranded in 1958. This week the team catches up with them the short way round but how much will they have changed from taking the long way?
Left Behind – After being abandoned by the others in 1958, Ray and Kendra spent 2 years making a new life for themselves before being rescued while Sara returns to her only remaining home: Nanda Parbat and The League of Assassins. Pulling the team back together is more difficult than expected.
The episode is really split into two sections. The first follows the trio from being marooned before The Wave Rider catches up with Ray and Kendra, while the rest of the episode is based around the League of Assassins and Sara’s reluctance to be The White Canary again. The early section has its charms but some problems as it shows the trio’s journey to accepting the idea of being abandoned. The arguments are well-balanced and distributed amongst the three with Eagle Scout Ray as the optimistic holding on hope for the longest while survivalist Sara becomes the clear pessimist, accepting the truth within mere minutes. This positions Kendra well as being conflicted between the pair but that barely comes across, which leads to the biggest problem of this section. Even with the time jumps, way too much is skipped over. The biggest shortfall is the jump from 10 weeks later to two years with Ray and Kendra now as long term committed couple in domestic bliss. We just can’t relate to their relationship because we’ve barely seen anything of it which removes almost all the impact of their back to reality return to the Wave Rider. All the material is there and waiting in the aftermath with Ray clinging to their past while Kendra rushes to let it go, hurting his feelings, but without the laying the prior groundwork properly it all falls down. What’s more things don’t improve as the subject gets dragged out across the episode with “Rendra” getting relationship conversations as regularly as commercial breaks.
The Nanda Parbatt story is a vast improvement and like Star City 2066 becomes a great play by the show on its existing lore. Matt Nable makes his previously announced return as Ra’s al Ghul and while his character is really just scene dressing (he rarely feels like a villain in the episode), it is of a high quality as dishes out his smooth and commanding tones to the team. We even get an eyebrow-raising Easter Egg in the Flarrowverse’s first appearance of Talia al Ghul, first daughter of Ra’s and sister to Nyssa (in most cases the better known daughter of the pair). Her appearance comes with a curious tease for future Arrow stories. We could well see a future Arrow actress revealed to be Talia, most likely behind a reformation of the League following Nyssa disbanding it earlier this Arrow season. As for this episode, Rip Hunter being a walking League-Wiki is enjoyable as despite the less fortunate events, you have to believe that part of him is loving it all. Caity Loitz delivers a great transformation in her full-blooded assassin persona and her encore with The League sees the show ditching the tired concept of her blood lust in the best possible way. She may never be over it but after some time studying with the best living teacher imaginable, she can now control it to a degree of negligible effects. The setting provides some good action in melding the warrior/ninja skills of The League with the science fiction of the Legends, including a decent full team tracking shot during then climactic battle.
However, the biggest thing the show gets right this week is how it answers a lingering series question: what happened to Mick Rory/Heat Wave? We all knew that wasn’t dead (even Snart isn’t that cold) and that we would see him again eventually, but the when and how make for a great reveal and even better development on Dominic Purcell’s character. While Mick was a lovable violence-loving wise-crackling hulk before, this really plunges his character into major dramatic territory and he completely nails it. His return has meaningful impact on the whole cast and sets up a good new story arc for the coming weeks. Obviously, the best material comes from putting Mick and Snart together with a feeling of both facing the consequences of their actions, “You and I both made choices that led us to this moment”.
Although it doesn’t quite pick up from its cliff-hangers as well as it could this is still a very enjoyable episode about choosing who to be. Hub City gets its first name drop (home of The Question and featured prominently in Blue Beetle comics) and the Bill Gates joke was brilliant. In other cool news, Patrick J. Adams of Suits fame has been cast as a major comics character to appear in the finale and launch the season 2 story. Next week, the team heads even further into the future where it’s likely we’ll get an introduction to Jewel Staite’s (Firefly) future tech genius; until then, stay shiny.
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