Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Legends of Tomorrow 'Blood Ties' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain pot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

'Blood Ties' not only manages to keep up the momentum of the last two episodes, but acts as an unofficial third act to the opening two parter as the action stays in 1975.  Not only does the setting stay the same, but a lot of the themes and story lines from the from the last episode carry across directly into this one.

Initially I was concerned when I found out that the action would be staying in 1975, after all this a time travel that's spending three of it's thirteen episode run in the same time period, but I'm happy to say that the content of the episode stood up so well that any concerns were quickly forgotten as I found myself enjoying the episode just as much as the first two.

This episode features three branching stories that manage to not only give most of our cast a moment to shine but also manage to be strong enough that they could all be the leading story in their own episodes.  Rip and Sarah go on a mission to track down and destroy Savage's finances, Ray and Professor Stein fight to save Kendra's life from the injuries she suffered in the last episode, and Captain Cold, Heatwave and Jax go on a trip to try and change the time line and his family's history.

The Ray and Stein story, whilst good, is probably the weakest of the three.  After being stabbed with Vandal Savage's dagger in the last episode several shards of the ancient blade broke off and are rushing through her bloodstream threatening to kill her.  With no medical equipment on board that can successfully prevent this they're left with only one solution, use the Atom suit to shrink down and enter Kendra's bloodstream and destroy the fragments one by one.

What happens next is a great mash up of The Magic School Bus meets Inner Space as Ray gets to show off some of the ways in which the Atom suits abilities to shrink down can be used to great effect.  Sadly the whole part when Ray begins to doubt himself and needs a pep talk from Stein feels a little forced for a character as established in the Flash/Arrow universe as he is, though it did give a nice moment for Ray and Stein to speak about the loss of Rays wife, something that we haven't had in a while.  It's nice to be reminded that under Rays fun loving exterior there's a deeply hurt man with a very good reason for wanting to be the Atom.

The Captain Cold storyline in a big improvement over the Ray/Stein one, as Wentworth Miller gets the opportunity to show off just how amazing a character Captain Cold can be.  We've been given glimpses into Colds past during the Flash, and we've seen just how bad his home life was growing up and how nasty a person his father was.  So when Cold realises that he might have a chance to change his fathers past and make things better for him and his sister.

Cold hatches a plan to steal an emerald that his father ends up getting arrested for trying to steal in the original time line and give it to his father.  Miller has always excelled in the role of Captain Cold, and seems to have an absolute blast playing him with all of his swagger and scenery chewing fun, and whilst he's great to watch when he's acting that way it's a pleasant surprise to see him playing some emotional scenes this week.

The moment when Cold speaks to his younger self and is a touching one as he tries to impart some words of wisdom on his younger self and gives us a look a look at the damaged and vulnerable man beneath the charming villain.  It's also another example of how time might end up being the biggest villain of the show rather than Savage.  Cold tries to change the past, but time still manages to find a way of having his father sent to prison like he was meant to.  Can ur heroes even beat Savage when so far every episode has shown us the even if you manage to change history history has a way of fighting back?

The main Savage centric story follows Rip and Sarah as they try to track down Savage's money in an attempt to cripple his plans.  As per usual for our group of heroes things don't go especially to plan as the bank they try to infiltrate turns out to be a front for a group of Savage groupies.  When a fight breaks out you have to wonder why Rip only brought Sarah along instead of some of the heavy hitters of the group, but Sarah and Rip get to show just how competent they are as they beat down a room full of assassins.

Actually, a lot of this episode shows just how similar Rip and Sarah are in a lot of ways, they almost seem like kindred spirits, two damaged souls searching for a way to heal.  It even feels like their could eventually go on to be more than just a friendship between the two of them, which could add an interesting dynamic into the mix as Rip tries to bring his family back from death.

Rip and Sarah manage to track down Savage and discover that he isn't just powerful because he has the money to fund his schemes, but because he has a cult like following.  Using the bodies of Hawkman and Hawkgirl Savage can impart some of his immortality onto his followers, extending their lives.  This adds a new and interesting dynamic to Savage and his group, as it means that the team aren't just dealing with the head of basically a terrorist organisation, but someone who is worshipped, which makes him and his followers much more dangerous.

During the course of the episode we get to see a lot more of how downright nasty and evil savage is as he torments Rip with the knowledge that one day he is going to kill Rips family, and revels in that knowledge.  It's these looks at the cruelty and sadism that Savage has that's slowly making him one of the more memorable villains, he's not just evil because he's got a plan for global domination, he's evil because he's a really, really nasty human being who revels in the pain of others.

In an episode packed with action, character development and three great plots the writers even manage to cram loads of extra material in that builds on the Flash/Arrow universe.  We get to see Rip travel back to ancient Egypt in his first attempt to kill Savage.  We get to see a little more of Rips study aboard the Waverider, where we see a wanted poster for Jonah Hex (who will be appearing later on in the series).

We even get the line used in the trailer for the series that got everyone excited, 'I've seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall'.  What that means for the CW universe is anyone's guess, it could mean that one day Superman and Batman will appear, it could mean that Superman and Batman are further in the future and will sadly never meet the Flash or Green Arrow, or maybe Rip hasn't just travelled in time, but between universes too, as we know the Supergirl show exists as part of the television multiverse.  Whatever the line means for the show or the franchise it's definitely world building, and that's something we really want more of from Legends of Tomorrow.


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