Friday, 19 February 2016

Legends of Tomorrow 'Fail-Safe' Review

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

When it comes to the CW's television DC Universe The Flash is the lighthearted and funny show, Arrow is the darker and broodier show, and after this weeks episode that Legend of Tomorrow is the show that is able to effectively combine both of these tones to the best effect.

With half the team captured by Savage and thrown into one of the worst gulags in Russia things take on a much darker tone this week than usual.  That's not to say that there haven't been moments of darkness in the show so far, Savage's ritualistic butchery of Carters body was pretty grim, but this is the first episode where the show feel more like Arrow than the Flash.  Our heroes are in a bad place, literally and figuratively, and the oppressive and grim tone throughout help to reinforce that idea.

When Heatwave, Ray Palmer and Professor Stein are captured by Vandal Savage are locked away in a gulag whilst they try and force Stein to give them the secret of the Firestorm matrix it's up to Rip, Sarah and Captain Cold  to come up with a plan to break them out.

Surprisingly it's Heatwave who stands out as one of the best characters this week, with Ray and Cold in close second.  When the line-up for the team was first announced I was surprised to see both Cold and Heatwave on the list, I questioned the reasoning for two villains on this group of heroes, but after this week I totally get it.

Where Rip and Sarah made plans to kill Stein if needed in order to save the future it was Cold and Heatwave who saved the most lives.  Cold refused to let Sarah kill Stein, talking her down and telling her that she doesn't have to keep being the killer she once was, whilst Heatwave refused to leave Ray behind during their escape, literally carrying his teammate to safety.

One of the best things about the Rogues in the comics is that they had a code.  Yes, they were villains, but they had rules and lines they refused to cross, and it's great to not only see that reinforced in the television universe, but to see that in some ways the 'bad guys' on the team may just have a better moral centre than some of the 'good guys'.  Without Cold's intervention Sarah would have completed the mission that Rip gave her, Stein would be dead and Firestorm would be gone.  Captain Cold is quickly turning into the best character on the show.

Ray also had some character development this week as he bumbled his way through prison life, completely unaware of just how ill suited and stupid he is to survive in such a place.  By the halfway point in the episode I was definitely feeling Micks frustrations of being stuck with Ray, for a man who's supposed to be a genius Ray is possibly one of the dumbest people on the team, blinded by his constantly optimistic attitude.  

That being said, when Ray and Mick are being tortured and Ray steps up to take a brutal hammer beating that was meant for Mick I began to see just how good a character Ray can be.  He's constantly wanting to do the right thing, even if sometimes it makes things worse for himself, and he took beating after beating in this episode because of that, yet still refused to stop.  Like Captain Cold said, he'd take a beating for a complete stranger, and in a lot of ways that makes Ray one of the most noble members of the team, even if he's not the brightest.

It was good to see what could be the start of a more positive relationship between Ray and Mick, and if not a friendship at least mutual respect.  It also led to one of the episode's funnier moments as Mick carried a half conscious Ray out of the gulag, 'Hey Mick, this is a strange kind of hug'.

Victor Garber also got a lot of time to shine this week as he became the focus of Savage's plot to create a new Firestorm, and no scene showed off his acting ability more than when he had to watch Ray and Mick be tortured.  Selling the inner struggle Stein was facing during that scene was crucial, and Garber did it with ease, making it easy to see the guilt and despair he felt over their misery whilst also fighting not to give in for the greater cause.  

Thankfully this week also seemed to put an end to the Stein/Jax bickering as the young man tells Stein he understands why he was being so hard on him and saves him from the clutches of the evil Russian Firestorm, firmly cementing their partnership and friendship.

Despite being the concluding part of a two part story the episode manages to end on a great cliffhanger moment that brilliantly sets up for next weeks episode.  

When Kronos attacks the Waverider as it travels through the time stream the ship is damaged and crashes in Star City in the year 2046.  The city looks like it's seen better days as the team heads out to investigate, at which point Rip reveals the city was attacked in 2016 (does this mean that the bad guys plan succeeds in season 4 of Arrow?).  The team are barely out of the ship when they come face to face with Green Arrow, but this isn't Oliver Queen, but Connor Hawke.

Hopefully next week will be Savage light to give us a break from the main arc of the series, and will instead focus on the future Star City, the new Green Arrow, the older Oliver Queen and the return of fan favourite Deathstroke.


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