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Friday, 11 March 2016

Legends of Tomorrow S1E8: Night of the Hawk

Legends of Tomorrow
Series 1, Episode 8
Night of the Hawk

Well, after being absent for a couple of episodes, Savage is back, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about that. The man doesn't come off as quite as dangerous as I think the writers want him to, and a significant part of that is the constant, entirely non-permanent deaths, which make him seem less like an intimidating villain and more like an Itchy and Scratchy character, constantly being murdered in creative fashions only to pop up in the next episode, apparently no worse for wear and not even a little concerned at having died.

(He does die again in this episode, incidentally, and it's extremely silly, mostly for how abrupt it is.)

In this week's episode, the team travels to 1958, landing in a small town where Savage has apparently been sighted, and where several bodies have turned up, apparently killed with knives. Stein and Sara go undercover at the local mental institution, with Sara finding herself in a romance with one of the other nurses; Jax bonds with a local cheerleader who was the girlfriend of one of Savage's victims; and Ray and Kendra pretend to be a married couple, and just so happen to move in right next to Savage himself. Savage, meanwhile, has discovered another Nth Metal meteor, and is experimenting with its mutagenic properties.

This just looks like they all encountered a weird stain on the floor.

Well, first of all, fair play to this episode for actually acknowledging that the 50s were an awful, awful time, and having literally every character's starry-eyed nostalgia for it fade after about six seconds of enduring the racism and sexism. It's consistently brought up, as well, with both Jax and Rip pointing out that Jax is in very real danger of getting murdered (not that he isn't in 2016, given what America's police are like, but moreso) and with Kendra consistently finding herself the target of bigots.

The one nitpick I would have with that is with them making the racist sheriff one of Savage's henchmen. Doing that makes it seem like he's only racist because he's an evil Savage-worshipping cultist type, whereas if he'd had no connection to Savage at all, it would frame his racism as being, well, racism, pure and simple, with no outside factors like an evil immortal making him that way.

I was also pleased by how Kendra actually did something in this episode, having a major part in trying to stop Savage's plans. While the scene where she tries to seduce Savage so that she can stab him to death was painful to watch (seriously, Kendra, he's known you for thousands of years, he will notice you acting weird, especially since you're acting like the femme fatale in a bad noir film), it was at least her doing something, and the same is true of her distracting Savage at his dinner party, or acting as lookout while Ray buzzes around his house.

Looking very noir, guys.

See, writers? It's that easy to have Kendra actually doing something instead of being the character who stands around the Waverider looking concerned about things. Keep it up.

(We also had Ray insisting that she not go after Savage, only to be shot down, and while he annoyed me in that scene, I'm actually surprised that nobody else at least pointed out that Kendra would need to be very careful, given how perceptive and murdery Savage is, and how well he knows her. As it is, she only escapes because he decides to monologue like a fool.)

Sara and Stein's storyline, meanwhile, was sweet, with Stein playing the slightly befuddled grandfather type in what was essentially a miniature romance subplot (with added character development re: 'I only just got resurrected and everything's a bit weird for me right now') that takes its cues from, really, every 'time traveler meets woman from the past' storyline in fiction, and does so without feeling cliche so much as like a homage.

I liked it, and while I'd like romance to broadly stay out of Legends (I'm not at all keen on the Ray/Kendra storyline), I will make an exception for cute, one or two episode long romances. 

What a charmingly awful diner.

While we also got a little bit of acknowledgement that everybody knows Len killed Mick, with Jax being angry over it only to slightly bafflingly forgive Len at the end, it wasn't a lot, and to be honest, it just made me wonder more whether Mick was actually killed, or if he's going to pop up again some time in the future.

(Which, of course, is probably the point - Mick left the show because Dominic Purcell needed surgery for skin cancer, and I'm sure the Arrowverse writers would love to have him back, if and when he's well enough to return, so they've left it deliberately vague - enough closure that if he never returns, it won't feel weird, but open enough that he can come back should they so wish. I doubt we'll see him again in this series of Legends, but he might well be back for The Flash S3.

This was a really strong episode, and with the next episode, which sees Ray, Sara, and Kendra trapped in 1958 after an attack by Chronos, looming, I hope the writers can keep up the momentum they've had for the past few episodes.

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