Friday, 1 April 2016

Review - 'Legends of Tomorrow', S01E09 - 'Left Behind'

While the previous episode might not have been the best that Legends of Tomorrow has had to offer over the season, so far, it did still managed to bring things to a close with an entertaining cliff-hanger. First, we had Sara, Kendra, and Ray seemingly stranded in 1958, when the 'Waverider' suddenly takes off without them. Then, at the same time, we have the rest of the crew once more finding themselves under attack by the mysterious time-travelling bounty hunter, Chronos.

On one hand, it had felt like a bit of a shame that the attention as, clearly, about to be shifted away from Vandal Savage, once more, so soon after he had finally been brought back into focus – but, on the other, it was difficult to deny the entertaining possibilities in splitting the team up in such a drastic way.

With Professor Stein unwilling to risk merging into Firestorm within the confined space of the ship, Rip Hunter and Leonard Snart are left to take on Chronos, themselves – but quickly find themselves severely outmatched by the highly trained and heavily armed bounty hunter. Oddly enough, though, Chronos seems content simply with grabbing Snart and sabotaging the ship before making his escape – leaving Rip, Professor Stein, and Jax to make some hasty repairs before they can emerge from the time-stream to recover the rest of the team.

In the process of that brief, though tense conflict, though, the team emerge to realise that they have managed to jump two years ahead, finding themselves in1960. In that time, Ray and Kendra have settled into a comfortable new life together – having come to terms with the fact that their friends are not coming back for them, and are likely dead. Sara, meanwhile, has made her way to the only place where she feels she truly belongs – Nanda Parbat, and the League of Assassins.

With Snart still missing, the reunited team make their way to Nanda Parbat to convince Sara to rejoin them, only to encounter further difficulties when they realise that, in the past two years, Sara seems to have entirely committed herself to serving the League and its leader, Ra's al Ghul (Matt Nable).

Leonard Snart, meanwhile, finds himself fact-to-face with the mysterious bounty-hunter who has been tracking them since their journey began – and, has the opportunity to learn a surprising secret about his true purpose, and his identity.

While there is a lot to enjoy about this episode, I do have to admit that it does seem to be based on a somewhat awkward premise. In order to accept the two-year time-skip for those members of the team left behind, for example, you have to be willing to accept Rip's vague explanation for why it isn't actually possible to just jump straight back to 1958 to the moment after they initially left – which could strain the ability of some members of the audience to suspend their disbelief.

If you can get past that, though, this might actually be the most entertaining episode of Legends of Tomorrow, so far. It is an episode filled with moments of humour, drama, and genuine tension – and, which features some of the best moments of action we have seen, so far. Also, while it is a shame that he didn't have a more important role to play in the episode, it was great to see Matt Nable in the role of Ra's al Ghul, once again (the third season of Arrow might have been its weakest, over all – but, Ra's al Ghul was always a compelling figure, whenever he was on screen).

Perhaps the greatest strength of this episode, though, is the way in which it manages to go some way toward correcting two of my lingering issues with the series.

By giving Ray and Kendra two years together, even if it did take place almost entirely off-camera, the series has managed to significantly alter the context of their relationship. While, previously, their relationship came across as too sudden to be entirely convincing, now they have a shared history beyond their experiences aboard the 'Waverider'. Brandon Routh and Ciara Renee still don't have an entirely convincing chemistry in their scenes together – but, at least, there is a much more convincing basis for their relationship, now. Also, the fact that Kendra is, ultimately, much more willing to abandon the lives they had built for themselves than Ray is becomes a source of relationship drama which doesn't feel contrived. These might feel small steps, sure – but, considering how poorly conceived their relationship had seemed initially, it still feels like a significant improvement.

The true high-light of the episode concerns Chronos, though. In all of his prior appearances, Chronos has barely even qualified as a character – seeming to have existed only to push the plot forward whenever things were in danger of slowing down. So, the fact that the man beneath that, admittedly intimidating, mask should turn out to have been Mick Rory, all along (having been picked up by the Time Masters, after being abandoned by Snart), was a fantastic twist.

It had been fairly obvious, of course, that Leonard Snart hadn't actually killed Mick Rory - and, it had been just as obvious that, despite the attempted ambiguity of his final appearance, we would be seeing more of him before the season came to an end. The fact that we never actually saw Snart kill him made the inevitable twist that Rory was still alive fairly obvious. With that in mind, the fact that the creator's of this show had actually managed to pull off any sort of surprise regarding Mick Rory's role on the series is genuinely impressive. On top of that, the moment of revelation also led to some fantastic scenes between Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller.

Legends of Tomorrow has been somewhat inconsistent throughout its first season – but, when it is at its best, it has been a very entertaining series filled with great moments between a cast of, mostly, well-drawn characters. Despite the lingering issues I might still have with the initial premise, here, this episode might still be the best example of what Legends of Tomorrow is truly capable of that we have had, so far.

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