Friday, 4 March 2016

Review - 'Legends of Tomorrow', S01E07 - 'Marooned'

For a series which began with a very clear focus (that being, Rip Hunters quest to stop Vandal Savage and, in doing so, prevent the murder of his wife and child) Legends of Tomorrow has already tended toward meandering a bit more than you might expect. The previous episode, for example, began when the 'Legends' were forced to crash-land in 2046, and concerned the wackiness that ensued as they tried to find the parts to repair their ship. It was a 'filler' episode in very sense of the word, regardless of how entertaining it may have been. Then, there's this episode - which begins with Rip simply having no idea where to look to find Vandal Savage, and feeling entirely lost - at least, until a sudden distress call from a marooned time-ship, stranded in deep space, presents him with an opportunity to acquire more data.

Even knowing that it is likely to be a trap (and, with various members of the team pointing that fact out), Rip is clearly desperate enough for some sort of lead that he is willing to take the chance. But, when it does (of course) turn out to be a trap, the 'Legends' find themselves at the mercy of a crew of 'time pirates', set on stealing the 'Waverider' for themselves.

As villains go, there was nothing really special about the 'time pirates' (beyond my continued amusement that such a thing as 'time pirates' exist in this fictional universe, now). They were a fairly generic threat, with no real personality - with even their Captain coming across as little more than a violent thug. There was also no sense of any greater scheme at work with them, beyond their clear desire to get their hands on a working time-ship - so, they remained a fairly small-scale threat throughout the episode.

In a sense, though, these 'time pirates' actually weren't the true antagonists of the episode, anyway. That honour, in the end, would have to go to Heat Wave. With the previous episode adding a strong element of tension to his relationship with Leonard Snart, Mick Rory had grown increasingly angry and resentful as this episode begins - to such an extent that, after Rip angrily dismissed his role on the team while they were prisoners, Rory was willing to make what had seemed, to him, the perfectly sensible decision of abandoning the team entirely.

While it would be fair to say that Mick Rory hasn't received much in the way of characterisation over the season, so far, an earlier episode did make it very clear how much he valued the concept of loyalty. So, with Rory believing that Snart had betrayed that loyalty in the previous episode, it was inevitable that those early moments of tension between them would escalate - though, I was not expecting that to happen so soon.

At the same time, we also have clear evidence of the way in which Leonard Snart has come to rely on Mick Rory, and his ultimate belief that Rory will come around once he has had time to calm down. It's obviously a deliberately set-up parallel between the two - something intended to make the moment when Rory does ultimately turn on the team even more dramatic. But, it works. The story of how Snart and Rory first met (told to Sara while the two are in danger of freezing to death), in which Rory came to Snart's aid when he was attacked by other boys in juvenile detention, was a very effective method of getting across just how important the men are to each other - and, also, of explaining why Snart is so willing to tolerate Rory's more violent tendencies. Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell were both great in this episode - both individually and, especially, in their scenes together. The episodes final scene, in fact, would have to go down as one of the best of the season, so far, thanks to the their ability to play off of each other.

Obviously, it was Leonard Snart and Mick Rory who were the true high-lights of this episode, for me - but, with the rest of the cast, though, the results were somewhat mixed. With Rip Hunter, we received some insight into his relationship with his wife, through flash-backs to their time together in training to become Time Masters. Within the context of this episode, these scenes didn't really serve much purpose (and, even bordered on seeming a bit out of place, at times) - but, given that Rip is the main driving force behind the team's efforts, it is always good to get some more insight into exactly what it is that he lost, and is trying to get back. Professor Stein and Ray Palmer were each given some great moments of heroism (I'm not entirely sure I buy Professor Stein's apparent ability to subdue a pirate off-camera, though it was an amusing moment). Jax was, unfortunately, not given a lot to do in this episode, though - finding himself pushed more into the background.

One thing that is becoming increasingly obvious, though, is that this series simply has no idea how to use Kendra Saunders - and, it is actually starting to get a little depressing to watch. It also makes the decision to kill off Hawkman, earlier in the season, seem especially nonsensical. Removing him from the picture was, I assume, intended to give her room to grow on her own - but, she hasn't. And, now, this new indication of a romantic relationship with Ray Palmer feels like little more than a desperate effort to give her some sort of focus. It was the weakest element of the previous episode, when the idea was suddenly introduced - and, it is also the weakest element of this episode, now that we are forced to watch it continue. Honestly, it's not even the fact that I dislike either character, or the idea of them being together, that bothers me about this development - it's that it just doesn't make any sense. Brandon Routh and Ciara Renee simply don't have the natural chemistry, in their scenes together, to convince me to buy in to this sudden mutual attraction.

Also, as a side-note, the entire scene in which Kendra finds Ray near-death, after his efforts to seal up the hull breach in the 'Waverider', was actually kind of embarrassing. It was an uncomfortable combination of poor performances, from both Ciara Renee and Brandon Routh, and some truly terrible dialogue, from the show's writers. I have no idea how a scene this poorly done actually managed to make it into the final cut of the episode.

Despite my issues, though, the positives still managed to outweigh negatives here, in the end. It was Leonard Snart and Mick Rory who were truly responsible for this episodes success, though - to such an extent that they were even able to counter-balance the episode's weaker elements somewhat, for me. That being said, though, the show's use of Kendra Saunders continues to be a source of frustration, for me. The character does have potential - but, so far, it seems as though it is being wasted. This is especially frustrating because, given her connection to Vandal Savage, it is clear that she will probably be portrayed as the most important member of the team by the end, out of simple necessity. Perhaps the best result of this episode, though, is that Rip had the new lead he was searching for, by the end - meaning that, next week, we will finally be able to get back to the team's efforts to stop Vandal Savage.

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