Friday, 4 March 2016

Legends of Tomorrow 'Star City 2046' Review

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

After several episodes exploring the past of the TV DC Universe 'Star City 2046' (as the title may suggest) takes a lengthy look into a possible future for the franchise as the show jumps forward 30 years into the future.

With the Waverider damaged in an attack from Kronos (is that guy ever going to be used as more than a plot device?) the ship has to set down in Star City in the year 2046.  The team leaves the ship to have a look around to find a very different Star City to the one they left behind.  The city is in ruins and gangs of criminals rule the streets, with a new Green Arrow the only one left to stand against them.

Comic book fans were already excited to see this new version of Green Arrow, and based on his costume fans guessed correctly that he was Connor Hawke, though to change things up a little for the television universe the show had him be the son of John Diggle rather then Oliver Queen.  This change worked well in keeping a connection to one of the shows more popular original characters, but it also instantly told the audience why he was fighting for Star City without having to go into deep back story.  He's John's son, that's all we needed.

In this dark future we also get to meet an older Oliver Queen, sporting his much beloved pointy beard and moustache combo and, in a nod to The Dark Knight series, missing an arm.  In this version of the future Ollie lost his arm, and the city, to Deathstroke.  This future Deathstroke isn't Slade Wilson though, but his son Grant Wilson (the first Ravager in the DC Comics universe).

With the ship needing repairs and a piece that technology that Ray believes can be found in the old Palmer Tech building (now Smoak technologies) Rip, Sarah, Captain Cold and Heatwave set out into the city to find the parts they need.  Sarah and Rip end up running into the new Green Arrow and have to tag along with him when confronted by Deathstroke, whilst Cold and Heatwave end up taking over a gang of criminals.

Whilst at first the idea of Cold and Heatwave running off and doing their own thing might feel a little pointless and possibly even stupid, it's probably one of the best aspects of the episodes.  We've seen over the past few episodes how Captain Cold has been affected by his time with the team, and how the idea of being a hero appeals to him, and he doesn't want to give up on that chance, Heatwave on the other hand just doesn't care.  He doesn't want to be a hero, he doesn't care about stopping Vandal Savage and the idea of living in a world where criminals rule Star City is like Disney World to him.

This vast difference has been building for a while, bu this is the first episode where the wedge between them really falls, with violent results.  Cold and Heatwave have had some of the best moments of characterisation in the series so far, and this episode is taking that development to the next logical place.  Thankfully it would appear that whilst Cold won out this time it might not be the last we've seen of this particular disagreement.

Whilst Rip is initially reluctant to get involved in the events of the future Star City, even stating that it's only a possible future and may not even exist if they succeed in their mission, Sarah makes the argument that if the team really are going to go on to become 'legends' they have to be willing to stand up for what's right and fight evil wherever and whenever it is.

Sarah's argument wins out and the whole team turns up to help her, Connor and Ollie to take down Grant and his army.  The final action sequence isn't the best one the show has done (I still think that that title goes to the arms deal fight in the second episode) but it still delivers and looks very cool.

Some of that could come down to the visual design of the episode, where with the roving gangs, burning streets, boarded up buildings and piles of broken cars the whole episode has a very Escape From New York kind of feel to it.  Having watched that film only days before seeing this episode it was actually one of the first things to jump out at me.

The main two weaknesses that the episode has are that they didn't take enough time to show us more of this future world and the pasts of both Connor and Grant, along with a rather forced romantic triangle with Kendra, Ray and Jax.

With so many flashbacks in the main Arrow series it would not have felt out of place at all for the episode focusing on the Green Arrow part of the shared universe to feature flashbacks too.  Showing us the downfall of Star City, Ollie losing his arm, the deaths of the other main characters and the war between Connor and Grant would have all added to the story of this future world and given us a bigger sense of triumph when the good guys won.  It would have also let the show runners have a little bit of fun of killing off a lot of main characters without having to undo those deaths.

The biggest flaw had to be the romance plot that crashed into the episode out of nowhere.  With no previous set-up we suddenly find ourselves watching both Ray and Jax trying to flirt with Kendra in order to pursue a romantic relationship with Professor Stein stuck in the middle.

I might be alone in thinking this, but this was not needed at all.  It added nothing to the characters or the over all story, and if anything if felt very uncomfortable that two of the men on the ship would try to become romantically involved with a woman who has just lost the love of her life (and all her other lives over the last 4,000 years).  Neither character has had much screen time with Kendra in the previous episodes, and neither have shown any real romantic feelings towards her.  It feels like the show runners forced it into the plot because they feel all television needs romance, and it feels like the characters are only interested in Kendra because there's only two women on the ship and Sarah scares them more then Kendra does.

The unwelcomed romance story aside this is one of the more fun episodes of Legends of Tomorrow that we have had so far, and some of that must come down to the fact that we're getting to see a future setting for the first time and the Vandal Savage story gets put on the backburner for a while.  Whilst the show is telling some great stories centred around Vandal Savage I hope we get some more of these adventure of the week style stand alone episodes every now and then.


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