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Friday, 19 February 2016

Legends of Tomorrow S1E5: Fail-Safe.

Legends of Tomorrow
Series 1, Episode 5

You know, as a Gen X-er, by which I mean 'as someone born in the nineties', not 'as a member of Generation X, the youth X-Men team whose title met with critical acclaim', I always find myself slightly bitter about the Cold War. Quite apart from it being an oddly grandiose name for what was essentially not an actual war, it's also today almost always insulting used to add weight to baby boomer's claims that their lives were difficult and tortured, as they start actual, non-imaginary wars.

So, I mean, bit apprehensive for these two episodes, I admit. But they've been fun! Almost no navel-gazing about the terrors of the Cold War, just good old fashioned 'we've got to break someone out of a Russian gulag' fun.

In this week's episode, with Stein, Mick, and Ray imprisoned in a high-security Russian gulag, Valentina Vostag and Vandal Savage attempt to force Stein to reveal the secret behind Firestorm, thus allowing them to build an army of Soviet Firestorms that would eventually take over the world. Meanwhile, Rip, Sara, and Len come up with a plan to rescue Stein and the others, with Rip leaving Jax and Kendra on the bench and urging Sara to kill Stein should freeing him become impossible.

This is the second shirtless man with burns I've seen this week.

First off, I'd like to note just how great Stein was in every scene he had this week. Victor Garba managed to pull off Stein's iron will perfectly, as he sees through (kind of shoddily put together, and never explained) illusions of Cisco, flatly refuses to be intimidated by Vandal, calmly tells Vandal to 'get on with it' when being threatened with torture, and even, when faced with Mick and Ray being tortured, tried an ultimately-doomed play at pretending he didn't care about them. When he eventually breaks, it feels - well, believable by tv-land logic, even though we all know that torture and intimidation tactics don't work in real life.

(Extra credit for then not giving Vostag the most important part of the Firestorm-ery process, forcing her to figure it out on her own.)

In general, this episode was full of great character moments. Sara deciding not to shoot Stein, Ray drawing a torturer away from Mick, Mick insisting on rescuing Ray, Jax shaking off Firestorm blasts as he makes his way towards Stein and Vostag. Lots of characters got chances to shine in this episode, and the only ones who didn't, really, were Kendra and Rip.


I still like Rip, but he has spent the last few episodes being - not inactive, as such, but unhelpful. He's done plenty, it's just that none of it has ever really helped the team, advanced their goals, or progressed the plot at all. It's getting to the point where Len's hatred for him makes more sense than the fact that the rest of the cast don't hate him, because at this point in the show he seems to mostly be a narration-and-uselessness machine.

Kendra, as well, has been mostly sidelined for the past few episodes, and that's - odd given that she is undoubtedly the biggest name on the cast list. Hawkgirl has an impressive history behind her and is fondly remembered by pretty much anybody who watched the Justice League cartoon, so having Kendra spend most of her time on the Waverider makes very little sense from a meta standpoint.

I also kind of wish we'd gotten to see more Ray and Mick stuck in a gulag antics. We get pretty much two scenes, and then their subplot is subsumed by Stein's. I mean, we all knew it was going to happen, to be honest the biggest surprise is that it wasn't what Vandal and Vostag started with. I mean, why bother with the illusions and the pain stuff, Vandal pretty much said that this is what he was planning to do in the first place. They didn't need Mick and Ray for anything else, after all.

The distant sound of fanfic writers typing furiously.

Nevertheless, I would have liked more to have happened in that particular subplot. A bit more development, a bit more time spent establishing that Mick knows how to navigate prisons.

We get Chronos showing up at the end too, to once again basically wreck everyone's day by forcing them to crash land. This was what happened when they arrived in Russia too, remember. It seems to be Chronos' hat: Not actually killing his targets, just making them non-fatally crash. Apparently, this time they've crashed in Star City of the future, where the Green Arrow is a mysterious - okay, it's Connor Hawke, alright? It's Connor Hawke. God knows how he exists when Oliver is in a happy and presumably monogamous relationship with Felicity.

Next week seems to be the 'slightly unusual crossover' week for all three Arrowverse shows: Legends of Tomorrow is crossing over with Arrow in the form of a future Star City; The Flash is crossing over with Arrow in the form of Diggle and Lyla visiting Central City; and Arrow is crossing over with Vixen, previously only seen in animated form.

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