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Friday, 8 April 2016

Legends of Tomorrow S1E10: Progeny.

Legends of Tomorrow
Series 1, Episode 10

Okay, I mean, wow. I said in the last review that in spite of Rip Hunter's vow that they would stop Vandal Savage in 2147 or die trying, they obviously wouldn't be stopping him in that time period, but I kind of expected them to spend longer there than a single episode. As it is, they show up, have a fairly bland story in which not a tremendous amount actually happens, and then leave again. Not quite the dramatic showdown you promised us, show.

Arriving in 2147 in the dystopian, corporate controlled Kaznian Conglomerate, Rip reveals to the team that in five years, Per Degaton, the son of the region's ruler, will become a vicious dictator who releases a virus that wipes out most of the population, paving the way for Vandal Savage to conquer the world another fifteen years after that. With the team divided on what to do, they settle for kidnapping Per Degaton, reasoning that if they remove him from the timeline, the damage he'll do can be averted. Meanwhile, Ray discovers that automated versions of his Atom suit are being used as a brutal police force, while Kendra is haunted by memories of her previous happy moments with Carter. Sara tries to convince Len to visit Mick, who is still stuck in the brig.

If I'm being honest, more than anything this episode was just boring. 

In the future, everyone wears wool jackets in office colours.

The Ray plotline manages to go from 'what if this is the end point of all my work' to 'oh my god, what if I have a secret baby?' in about six seconds flat, turning an interesting if slightly hackneyed plotline about technology and ethics into a boring, tired, soap opera-ish, and very hackneyed plotline about having accidentally gotten someone pregnant.

The storyline even ends on a sitcom note, as Ray discovers that it was his brother Sidney who spawned the line that created the evil Atom suits. You can practically hear the laugh track that the writers wanted to put in but couldn't. Before that, though, it's mostly him angsting about how he might have gotten a friend-with-benefits pregnant, which - okay, Ray? I guess that would be a problem? It's certainly not the biggest problem on your plate right now, though?

The other side plot is Mick's reformation, which is seemingly done and over with by the end of the episode, so that's - nice? Again, show, you had rather given me the impression that this might span multiple episodes, not just the C-plot of a single one, so I admit to being somewhat caught off guard by the speed with which you've wrapped up that plotline.


We do learn from Mick that now that he's failed, the Time Masters are sending three more hunters after them, these ones much more brutal and efficient than he is. So that's nice.

(As an interesting 'tying into other canon' point, this episode takes place four years before Eobard Thawne is born. The fact that Thawne is apparently born a year before the most brutal dictator in mankind's history takes over the world and wipes out most of the population gives us some interesting hints to his character - and you have to wonder how the changes to the timeline, which now mean that he's born four years after that, since it now all happens earlier, might change him.)

The A-plot, meanwhile, mostly revolves around the moral dilemma as to whether to kill Per Degaton. After a few protestations that it would save billions of people, the show starts presenting this as a simple one-for-one exchange, in which killing Per Degaton would save Rip's son, which is a terrible waste, really, because, well, it would save billions of people. That's exactly why the 'do I kill Hitler as a child' dilemma works in fiction, because it presents characters with the choice of an immense personal evil that aids the greater good or keeping their personal moral record intact while idly allowing untold numbers to die. 

Kendra in a rare moment of 'doing something in this episode other than sitting around.'

Boiling it down to 'Rip can save his son if he kills Per Degaton' both cheapens the conflict and doesn't make a lot of sense - after all, they don't know that killing him will actually change much at all. In fact, given that Gideon tells them outright that removing him from his era and dropping him somewhere else changes barely anything, they have every reason to believe it won't, since surely 'vanishes mysteriously never to be seen again' and 'dies' are functionally the same thing for the timeline.

In a way, this might be one of the worst episodes of the series - and it also has Kendra go back to 'doing nothing much at all', which vexes me - as the show sets up a dozen interesting plot points only to utterly fail to go anywhere interesting with any of them. I'm disappointed, but it's not like there aren't six more episodes for the show to redeem itself in. Next week, we're apparently going to the Wild West, which I think everyone can agree is not a gigantically interesting time and place in history, but maybe they can do something fun with it.

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