Sunday, 1 May 2016

Legends of Tomorrow 'Leviathan' 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.

If I hadn't of known better I'd have thought that 'Leviathan' was going to be the season finale for Legends of Tomorrow as the team head to the year 2166 to fight Savage at the height of his powers.  This episode has Savage commanding an army, the team rescuing a band of freedom fighters, a giant robot battle, kidnapping, betrayal and Kendra beating the crap out of Savage.  There was so much going on in this episode that showcased just what a series about time travelling superheroes can do if given imaginative writers and a big budget.

With time running out for our heroes the team heads to 2166, just days before Vandal Savage is due to kill Rip's family, where they plan on infiltrating his army and capturing him before he can launch his final assault on London, the last free city on earth.  

As even Snart points out, their plan is bound to failure from the moment they begin because their plans never work, and the group if forced to flee.  During the attempt though they do discover that one of Savage's lieutenants is in possession of a bracelet that Kendra owned in her first life and was present during her first death.  As we know, artefacts from Kendra and Carters first death have the power to hurt and kill savage.

This presents the team with a new challenge, infiltrate Savage's facility, track down the woman and get the bracelet.  We don't get to see how Snart and Mick get into the compound a second time, but considering that the team had already tried to get at Savage once already they seem to be able to get passed heightened security very easily.  Things take an interesting turn, however, when the woman seems to know exactly who they are.

Meanwhile, Rip, Ray, Stein and Jax track down the local rebel cell and try to enlist their aid in finding out a way of getting close to Savage.  Instead of a resistance army, they find a group of refugees who can barely defend themselves.  It's whilst at the refugee camp that Rip tells Ray that following his first attempt to kill Savage back in ancient Egypt Rip returned to 2166 and tried to get his family to safety before their deaths.  

Rip tells him that before they could get away safely though they were killed by Savage's forces.  Rip tried to save them a second time, but they were killed yet again.  Rip tells Ray that he tried to save his family time and time again but failed each and every time.  The scene is a little heart-breaking as it begins to look like Rip doesn't even believe that it's possible to save his family anymore.  After everything he's done and every attempt the team has made to stop Savage failing he seems resigned to the idea that fate want things to happen a certain way.

Back aboard the Waverider Snart and Mick return from their jewellery heist with both the bracelet and a prisoner.  The team soon discover that the young woman is not simply one of Savage's lieutenants, but his daughter.  

When it was announced that Vandal's daughter was going to appear in one of the upcoming episodes I was hoping it was going to be Scandal Savage, a great character created by Gail Simone as part of the 'Secret Six' comic.  I like Scandal, I think she's a very interesting and complex character that would have been a great addition to the DC television universe.  Unfortunately for me, the woman is not Scandal, but Cassandra, a new character introduced in the recent New 52 relaunch.  Whilst this version of Cassandra is very different from her New 52 incarnation it does give a fairly new character a chance to shine.

With his daughter taken hostage Savage sends his secret weapon to get her back, a giant robot.  Fearing for the lives of the rebels the team manages to get them aboard the Waverider and attempts to get to safety, but the robot gets their first and cripples the ship.

With Stein injured and the ship unable to fly the team comes up with a plan to combat the approaching super weapon and take on Savage.  Snart manages to build a connection with Cassandra and shows her footage of Savage ordering the release of the Armageddon Virus that would go on to claim the life of Cassandra's mother, convincing her to turn on her father and help their cause.

Whilst this is going on Kendra and Mick melt down the gold bracelet and use it to coat Carters mace, finally giving them a weapon to use on Savage.  This is a good idea, and it makes sense to melt down the bracelet to the point where it was so painfully obvious a choice that I had to wonder how it took the team so long to think of it.  Though it does pose the question of why coat the mace when they could have made some golden bullets and got Kendra to just shoot Savage in the head and end things really quickly.

Rip, Kendra, Sara, Snart and Mick head to Savage's compound with Cassandra to combat the immortal tyrant while Ray and Jax stay behind to prepare their defence against the giant robot coming to destroy the Waverider.

Using Ray's Atom suit technology he and Jax are able to reverse the dwarf star tech and instead of shrinking is able to increase his size to hundreds of feet tall.  The fight between Atom and the robot is a pretty cool one, especially for network television, and whilst it might not be perfect it's more than a little spectacular to see such a spectacle in the same television universe that started out as a 'realistic' story of a vigilante with a bow and arrow.

The fight is done purely through CGI, and whilst there are points when Rays face look a little bit plastic and fake from time to time is does have a grander scale to it than if they'd just of has two actors in suits fighting on a model set like an old Godzilla movie.  Though now that I've just written that I can't help but think that it would be pretty spectacular in itself.

The only drawback from the fight is that the creators seem to have made the same mistake I have seen in previous big monster/robot fights and have the participants moving a lot slower to give them a sense of weight and scale.  Unfortunately this just makes the fight seem slow and sluggish in places, with some moments almost seeming to happen in slow motion.  That being said the fight is still pretty amazing for an episode of TV that isn't even a season finale.

Whilst Ray is fighting a giant robot the rest of the team infiltrate Savage's lair and give Kendra the chance to finally go toe to toe with the villain.  After so many episodes of a Kendra that hasn't been anywhere close to as awesome as her comic book counterpart, or even her animated version, it's great to see her finally let loose and beat the crap out of someone with a mace.

It's incredibly satisfying to watch as Kendra bashes weapons out of Savages hands and hammers him around the room and throws him through furniture.  After all of the evil we've seen the villain do over the last thirteen episodes there really is a sense of satisfaction to be gained from seeing him powerless to stop the punishment that's long overdue.  

As there are still three episodes left of the season there was no way that Savage was going to meet his end here, and Kendra is forced to stop her assault on him when she unmasks one of his guards in the middle of the fight and discovers that it is Carter, Savage tells her that he has locked away Carter's memories, and that if she ever wants him back she has to let him live.  Despite Rip begging her to finish the mission and kill Savage she relents.  

The episode ends with the team back aboard a repaired Waverider with Savage as their prisoner.  As we know the season has more episodes before the end it raises questions as to what might happen next as having Savage as their prisoner definitely adds a whole new aspect to the show that I wasn't expecting.  The return of Carter was something that I was expecting, however, but the complications of his memory loss and brainwashing by Savage gives his return an interesting angle.

'Leviathan' could very easily have been a season finale with its huge amounts of character development, action and spectacle, but with three episodes left to go it makes you ask just how spectacular the season finale is actually going to be.


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