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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Legends of Tomorrow S1E4: White Knights.


Legends of Tomorrow
Series 1, Episode 4
White Knights.



Thank god for Canada, right? Canada and their weird Superbowl lead-out show which for some reason means that they have to air Legends of Tomorrow several days early. Still not sure why, but I'm not going to look a gift country in the mouth.

In this week's episode, after a heist at the Pentagon gone wrong in the early 1980s, the team learns that Vandal has defected to the Soviet Union. Heading there, they find that he is working with a brilliant Russian physicist, Valentina Vostock, on something called 'Project Svarog.' As Ray and Len try to get information out of Valentina by meeting her at the ballet, Sara and Kendra train together in the hopes of learning to control their respective dark sides. Meanwhile, Rip is approached by an old friend and mentor, Druce, who offers to let Rip return to his own time if he'll drop his crusade against Savage.

Okay, there's one bugbear in the room that I feel the need to point out: So far almost every episode has had a 'If anyone wants to leave, they should' sequence, and it's getting a little boring. I don't know why that's an interpersonal conflict the show keeps throwing at the cast, since the answer is always 'we need to stop Savage, so no.' In this episode, Rip didn't even bother asking the entire gang: He just asked Stein and Jax, since they were the only people around at the time. It was kind of weird, to be honest.

I mean, c'mon, Rip, you can stop asking.

Apart from that, the show continues its general format of dividing everyone off into smaller groups and sending them off to perform various tasks, with our teams this week being Team Skience (Ray and Len), Team Slicing (Sara and Kendra), and Team Fire (Rip, Mick, Stein, and Jax) with Stein later ending up with Ray, Len and Mick for Team Burning Scientists. 

While I like that format, and it works quite well, I increasingly feel like they could mix up the teams a little more. In the past four episodes, we've had a lot of Ray teaming up with Len, and a fair amount of him teaming up with Stein - and this episode sees him team up with both of them. Similarly, with Kendra having been out of commission for the entirety of the previous episode, having her stay out of the action again this episode, training with Sara instead of actually going out and doing anything in aid of the mission, feels off, somehow, especially as I can't really remember what it was she was doing in the first two episodes either. I think she spent a lot of the time on the ship in those, as well.

We do get a little character development for Jax, which I am endlessly grateful for, but it gets cut short when he gets injured, forcing him to sit out the rest of the episode in the infirmary. I would be more vexed at that if not for the episode ending on Mick, Ray, and Stein all getting kidnapped after their attempt to shut down Project Svarog goes horribly wrong, setting things up for Rip, Jax, Kendra, Sara, and Len to become Team Rescue for the next episode. That will, presumably, give us both more character development for Jax and, I hope, more things for Kendra to do.

Ray, you scrublord, put on a tie.

This episode has a few plot twists, and while fun, they're mostly predictable. The moment someone mentioned that Svarog was a Slavic god of fire, I knew that Project Svarog would be Vandal's attempt to recreate Firestorm, so that particular plot turn did not come as a surprise to me, and I suspect that nobody was especially shocked by it. It does raise interesting questions, though, as to what extent the team are making the future worse: Vandal forming a cult around himself is implied to at least be partly because he wants protection from Rip, and twice now he has attempted to reproduce the powers of one of the team - first by getting his hands on Ray's Atom technology, and then by trying to recreate Firestorm. None of these things would have happened if the team hadn't been trying to kill him, which is not even getting started on how he wouldn't have gotten an early, extra shot of immortality from Carter.

(I wonder whose abilities he'll try to copy next. I'm going to place my bets on him trying to mass-produce cold and heat guns.)

Druse's remarks about how the Time Masters setting time right might also suggest that what the team's doing is pointless, as well. Unless they destroy the Time Masters, as well, who's to say that they won't just go back and alter the timeline so that Vandal survives? Then again, they didn't do a single thing about Wells altering the timeline in The Flash

Umbrellas.

The other plot twist is that Valentina is not an unwitting stooge of Vandal's, but actually knows (more or less) who he is and what he wants, and is willingly helping him. That one was a little bit more surprising, but again, not all that shocking, given that we'd learned but minutes before that these experiments involved enough human experimentation to result in rows upon rows of dead bodies.

All in all, while this is a very fun episode, it is probably also the worst episode we've had so far. Since this has been a generally strong series, that's not necessarily a huge problem, but this episode does raise some issues that might be problems for the series going forward: Namely, that it's at risk of getting a little formulaic.

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