Monday, 18 April 2016

Legends of Tomorrow 'The Magnificent Eight' 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.

'The Magnificent Eight' is a prime example of Legends of Tomorrow working at it's absolute best, the episode forgets its bigger mission to stop Vandal Savage for a moment to allow its cast to have a fun adventure in an interesting location and with a great DC character cameo.  In an episode that acts as a good companion piece to 'Star City 2046' here we travel back to the old west as the team joins forces with Jonah Hex to save a frontier town from a gang of roving bandits.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with the episodes that adds to the overall mythology of the series and addresses the mission to take down Vandal Savage sometimes a show can be at it's best when it gives its cast the room to breath and take some time out.  That's what happens here, as both the characters and the actors are given the chance to have a little fun with time travel.

When the team discover that they are in the old west they immediately want to head out and experience one of the most iconic era's in American history, and despite being against the idea Rip knows he can't stop them, so allows them to head into town for a drink.  I like the idea that at this point Rip knows that even if he tells them not to or tries to make it so that they can't leave the team will just go anyway, and the way he agrees to letting them off the ship like a tired and defeated adult amongst children is a nice moment.

The team heads into town and hit the saloon, which gives us some fun character moments.  Sarah and Mick have a little drinking match and a small heart to heart, a moment that reminded me of the first episode when they and Snart went to a bar in the 70's.  These three characters more than any of the others have great chemistry, and I think it's being used to great effect here as the team is reintroducing Mick as a member after his time as Chronos.  Mick even goes as far as to opening up slightly to Sarah about his experiences as Chronos and we begin to get an idea of the sheer amount of time that has passed for him since he was last a part of the team.

We also get to see a bit more of a fun side to Stein, something which we don't get much of, as he and Snart play poker with some of the locals.  Surprised that Stein is so good at poker Snart learns that its because his father was something of a crook and a card cheat, and that Stein was frequently taken along by his father.  I thought that this was an interesting little piece of information, as whilst nothing really came from it here, it does help towards Snart becoming a hero as it shows him that other people have come from families with less desirable backgrounds and have grown into noble people.

As with any good western the fun times in the saloon soon reaches the point where a confrontation breaks out as Stein gets into an argument with one of the locals over the way he's treating one of the waitresses.  Luckily for him Snart is close at hand and manages to gun down the other man a split second before he shoots Stein, but the whole event sets of a bar brawl, complete with jaunty music.

The bar fight is quick, and none of the team uses their powers or gadgets, but it's incredibly enjoyable to watch these characters engage in such an iconic style of movie/television fight scenes.  The fight comes to an end with the introduction of the legendary gunslinger Jonah Hex, who actually gets a decent live action adaptation for the very first time (what with the Josh Brolin film being absolutely terrible).

The reveal that Jonah knows that the team are time travellers and is aware of time travel is a surprise turn, but one that leads to some very interesting developments that ties the character into the greater universe continuity, something that the comics have been doing much more of since the launch of the New 52.

It turns out that Jonah is friends with Rip Hunter, and that at one point Rip spent a great deal of time in the old west, to the point that he suffered with the same compulsion to stay in that time that Ray and Sarah went through in the 1950's.  We also learn that this is where Rip's love of duster coats and revolvers comes from, and probably most surprisingly, that his son was named after Jonah Hex.

Not only do these ideas means that Jonah can instantly join up with the legends and get involved in their adventure without having to go through the trouble of explaining time travel, but it also gives us a greater look at Rip too, and gives his character a lot more depth and emotion than we've seen in a long while.  I'm also hoping that this will mean that Jonah will return in the future, either with flashbacks to Rips time living with him in the past, or preferably as a member of the team in season two.

Ray gets to live out part of his childhood fantasies this week too as he winds up getting himself made sheriff and has to deal with a gang of bandits that the team accidentally started a fight with in the bar.  The pure joy on Rays face and some of the cheesy lines he comes out with completely sell the idea of this being something that he's dreamt of since he was a little boy, and even gives him a moment of great heroics as he talks the bandits down and gets them to leave town.

Elsewhere, we also get some developments with Kendra, as she meets herself from one of her past lives.  The idea is one that I kind of suspected would happen at some point, it's one of the beauties of having a character that keeps getting reincarnated, though I did expect her to run into another version of Carter over herself.

The meeting of the two is used to add jeopardy into the Ray and Kendra romance, as the past version of her tells her that she's tried to love men other than Carter time and time again in her different lives, but none of them work out.  This adds onto the conversation that Ray and Kendra has in the last episode, where Kendra equated the two of them being together as feeling like she is cheating on Carter.  At this point I'm so disinterested in the romance story that this 'revelation' didn't really matter to me.  I think that Legends of Tomorrow is a show that has the ability to stand up on it's own as a great show without the need for a romance plot, which means that the one we have feels very unnatural and forced to me.

Despite focusing more on the Ray and Kendra relationship, meeting her past self also hinted at something that will probably come into play when the team finally goes up against Vandal Savage, another artifact from Kendra's first life.  We know that objects that were present the first time Kendra and Carter died can kill Savage, and the introduction of this lost bracelet will surely be used to help give the team an advantage over him, if they can manage to track it down that is.

The episode ends with a final fight as the team and Jonah come up against the Hunters, the trio of time travelling bounty hunters that were sent after the team in the last episode.  Despite supposedly being even better than Chronos the three of them looked like people on a paintball weekend, and were dispatched about as quickly too.

There didn't feel like there was any threat from these guys, and other than giving the team an excuse to use their powers and give the episode some flashy visual effects their presence felt weak and wasted.  As one of the Hunters died, though, he did give the team a warning that the Pilgrim had been sent after them.  Mick and Rip tell the team that the Pilgrim is one of the best killers that the Time Masters have, and that she will travel to points in the teams past and kill their younger selves to erase their future counterparts.

Now this is the kind of villain a time travel show needs, and the shot of her coming up behind a young Mick and putting a gun to his head definitely sets the scene for what might be one of the more creative and tense episodes the season has in next weeks adventure.

All in all 'The Magnificent Eight' was a great adventure of the week story that lets the team have a little fun with the notion of time travel, gave us some good character development and managed to introduce a great new character in the form of Jonah Hex.  Definitely one of the highlights of the season.


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