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Friday, 6 May 2016

Legends of Tomorrow S1E14: River of Time

Legends of Tomorrow
Series 1, Episode 14
River of Time.

Okay, so, it's always a fun set-up when you have a villain trapped in a cell or something similar and the heroes keep going by to talk with them - or the Hannibal Lecter Plot, as it might well be called. Apart from being a great way to create conflict without violence, it also allows you to play up a villain's manipulative qualities, and since we're primed by now to expect that any villain who's put in a cell will escape in short order, there's an element of tension as we don't know how they're going to do it and who they're going to hurt doing so.

That having been said, goddammit, guys, you are all acting like total bleeding idiots. Especially, especially, Ray, who seems to think it'll be a grand idea to go into the cell (the cell opened via handprints, remember, which Ray possesses two of) with the expert hand-to-hand combatant in and engage him in a fist fight.

(Rip also acts in a pretty stupid fashion. We'll get to that.)

Only sane man Martin Stein.

In this week's episode, with Vandal in the Waverider's cell but the timeline seemingly unchanged, the team has a revelation when they discover technology from the future in Vandal's possession: With that, they have proof that Vandal has been time travelling and altering the timeline, which they can use to convince the Time Masters to undo all of the damage that Vandal's done. However, when Vandal starts getting into people's heads, and an attempt to repair the time drive leaves Jax rapidly aging, Rip's plans start to fall apart.

Okay, where do I start with this one. Well, firstly, for all of its many flaws, I did actually enjoy this episode. I enjoyed it a lot, even. It had a classic set-up, an interesting conflict (it's difficult not to sympathise with Len and Mick, since they're completely right, killing Vandal would be better, especially since they later find that he's barely necessary at all for undoing Carter's brainwashing), and it ends on a plot twist that, while not necessarily wholly unpredictable, is at least interesting and sets us up well for the last two episodes.

(I also really enjoyed Gideon. I always do, but Morena Baccarin pitched it perfectly this time, with just the right mix of computerised apathy and sarcasm.)

Nyssa! Hi Nyssa.

What drags down the episode, somewhat, is that all of the characters act like they're idiots who have never encountered Vandal before. Why, Ray, are you listening to Vandal - a man you are well aware is a creepy stalker - talking about how Kendra once loved him as well? Why are you going into a cell for a prizefight with someone who has demonstrated the ability to take on the entirety of Team Arrow simultaneously? It's not like you've just met the man and don't know how good he is in a fight, god knows he never stops talking about it.

Kendra, why did you not talk to Ray first about the actually quite sensible idea of using that love poem from your past to bring Carter back to his senses? Would that not have made more sense?

Rip, I realise that you're trying to have a moment of proving yourself to your team, but in what universe does it make sense for you, a man with an energy revolver and extensive time-piloting experience, to go and fight the immortal madman who's an expert hand-to-hand combatant, and Sara, an expert hand-to-hand combatant trained by Ra's al Ghul, to pilot the timeship?

Len, Mick, if you want Vandal dead so much, why don't you just kill him? As shown by Ray, it's not difficult to get into his cell. For that matter, Rip, why are you so against them killing him? The Time Masters love capital punishment, we know that already, and they're not big on fair trials. I doubt they need Vandal alive in order to go and correct the time stream, and Carter reincarnates so he's fine.

Mick's gun looks like a water pistol.

I swear, Stein and Jax are the only people acting sensibly in this entire episode, and they're a joy to watch because of it. Stein manages to get the information he needs from Vandal without giving him anything, because unlike everyone else he seems to have remembered who they're dealing with, and later makes a, to be honest, totally rational and sensible choice to send Jax back to 2016 in the dropship.

(I suspect Jax won't be gone all that long, because you don't write one of your central characters out two episodes before the finale, and because he's going back to Central City, where Zoom is, and god knows I wouldn't want to stick around there for very long.)

Of course, it's all in service of bringing us to the big plot twist of the episode, which is that the Time Masters and Vandal were working together all along. While it's not the plot twist I expected, per say, it's a pretty predictable one, and that's fine by me, to be honest. It's predictable, sure, but it still works just fine.

All in all, a good episode. Next week, the Time Masters are apparently going to be doing horrible things to Ray and Rip, so that's a whole thing, apparently. Also, it's just occurred to me that that scene from the trailer, where they're all fighting in a library and the Flash is there and a robot tears the roof open? Yeah, that hasn't happened yet. Weird stuff. Might we be getting a crossover for the final episode?

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