Last season's trip back to the Old West had been one of the early high-lights of Legends of Tomorrow. Not only was it a fun adventure in its own right, but it also allowed for the introduction of yet another of DC's varied cast of characters – the bounty hunter, Jonah Hex.
Given how much fun that previous episode had been, the idea of any sort of follow-up is one that definitely appealed to me – if only because it give us another opportunity to see Johnathon Schaech in the role of Jonah Hex. Unfortunately, though, the end result of this return trip proved to be somewhat disappointing.
It's not that the basic premise of the episode didn't have potential, of course. Here, we had the Confederate Genaral turned Criminal Robber Baron, Quentin Turnbull (Jeff Fahey), set on carving out his own little empire, once he is able to get his hands on a piece of future technology that allows him to detect dwarf star alloy (ie., the same substance that Ray Palmer used to power his suit). Also, we have Jonah Hex drawn back into the picture when it is revealed that, naturally, he has a very personal reason for wanted to go after Turnbull. We even have a fun scene involving the 'Legends' stumbling upon, and rescuing, Jonah Hex, just as he is about to be lynched by Turnbull's man, to properly set the scene and establish the stakes.
For one thing, action sequences which should have been fun and exciting instead feel somewhat stilted, and sloppily edited. Even the episode's big climactic scene, involving Nate's desperate effort to stop a speeding train, came across as somewhat unconvincing thanks to some underwhelming CGI work.
For another, Nate, Ray and Jax were each written as being so goofily enthusiastic about hurling themselves into more Wild West cliches that their reckless disregard for the seriousness of the situation they were involving themselves in actually started to get on my nerves. Nate is still new at this, sure – but, the others should really know better, by now. Their behaviour just felt oddly out of character, to me – as though the script was written by someone who didn't quite have a proper handle on the cast of characters they had to work with.
Similarly, after adopting a much more laid-back, and almost apathetic, attitude toward the action taking place around him over the past few episode, it was a bit strange to see Mick Rory suddenly struggling control his more violent urges, here – with his time on-screen taken up by quite a bit of talk about 'the animal within'. There is some sense behind it, of course – after all, Mick Rory is still a dangerous criminal who has, in the past, needed the support and guidance of his partner-in-crime, Leonard Snart, to keep him out of trouble. But, even if there is a basis for this behaviour, the sudden shift we see, here, feels more than a little jarring. Also, I have to admit that Mick and Amaya, who find themselves thrown together for much of the episode, don't make for a particularly compelling team.
It could be due to the fact that Amaya's belief that her own experience drawing on the spirits of actual animals, through her magical totem, gives her some insight into the much metaphorical one lurking inside Mick just rings false, to me. Or, it could be that all of that talk about 'taming the animals within' just struck me as a little too goofy to take seriously. It could even be due to the fact that Dominic Purcell and Maisie Richardson-Sellers just don't play off of each other as well as either has done with other cast-members, in the past. Whatever the reason, though, I can't say that I was much of a fan of these two characters, together.
Unfortunately, as with so many before him, Turnbull didn't make for a terribly memorable villain – and, even with the explosive bullets he was able to make from dwarf star alloy, there was never really a moment in which he felt like a plausible threat to the 'Legends'. Although, I do have to admit that scene of Mick, whose goal had been to provoke Turnbull, instead bonding with him over their shared dislike of the government was actually genuinely hilarious. There was definite potential in Turnbull, as a character, and Jeff Fahey played the part well – it just felt as though (again, as with so many before him) he could have used more screen-time in which to establish himself.
On a more positive note, though, Sara and Jonah Hex do make for a much more convincing team. I do have to admit that the idea that Jonah Hex would be reluctant to take Sara seriously because she's a woman did feel a bit overplayed to me, even it if did have some basis in the reality of the time period – but, it did provide some genuinely great moments toward the end of the episode, when the two were able to overcome their differences, at least.
On an entire different not, while Professor Stein's sudden illness did, at first, feel like little more than another attempt to keep the two halves of Firestorm apart, those images that we received of an important figure in Stein's life that he, and we, have never seen before were very interesting. At a guess, I would have to say that we are seeing more of the long-term consequences of Flashpoint – and, I am very interested in seeing how things develop, from here.
Unfortunately, though, those were very brief bright-spots in an episode which I found to be, overall, rather underwhelming.