Friday, 17 March 2017

Review - 'Legends of Tomorrow', S02E14 - 'Moonshot'

The hunt for the scattered pieces of the Spear of Destiny has been the main driving force of the second season of Legends of Tomorrow – with the race between the Legends and the Legion of Doom taking us from the distant future and into the distant past. Now, though, we find ourselves in slightly more familiar territory as, with Rip Hunter's original personality restored, he is able to lead them to the last piece – entrusted to former JSA member, Henry Heywood (Matthew MacCaull), in 1970.

Provided that they are able to reach Henry before the Legion do, it should be a simple matter of collecting Henry, and his piece of the spear, and vanishing before the villainous trio even have a chance. But, of course, things aren't going to be that simple. After working his way into NASA, Henry has managed to become an integral part of the United State's space program – to such an extent that he was even able to take the opportunity to smuggle his piece of the spear off-world, cleverly hiding it within the flag-pole holding up the American flag left on the moon.

It's the perfect hiding place – or, at least, it would be if not for the fact that Eobard Thawne has also already managed to learn of its location, and is currently on his way there to retrieve it. Infiltrating the Apollo 13 mission, Eobard is set on disrupting the entire operation in his efforts to make his way to the moon and recover the final piece of the Spear of Destiny. This, of course, leaves the Legends scrambling to catch up – forcing them to divide their forces as they attempt to both stop Eobard Thawne, while also preserving this very important historical event.

With Jax, Professor Stein, and Mick Rory staying behind, posing as British scientists observing the whole operation from NASA's control room, the rest of the team are forced to take the Waverider on a desperate chase to the moon, in order to get to the last piece of the spear before Thawne. While it was clearly the trip to the moon that took up the bulk of the episode, and was of the most importance to the overall plot, there was actually a lot to enjoy about both plot-lines.

On Earth, we had the simple joy of seeing a man like Mick Rory dressed up in a suit, and a pair of glasses, as he attempted to pass as a scientist – while Stein and Jax were required to put on British accents of varying quality (Franz Drameh's was convincing, of course, considering that the actor is actually British, while Victor Garber's was amusingly over-the-top). But, of course, the true high-light, here, would have to be the spectacularly absurd, and genuinely impressive, moment in which Stein found himself compelled to launch into an impromptu musical number when a distraction was required. Honestly, even if the episode, as a whole, had turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, this moment would have still been memorable. Everything from the bemused reactions of the scientists, and the rest of the team listening in, to the way in which Mick Rory awkwardly joins in made the moment genuinely hilarious (also, as a side-note, the fact that Victor Garber is once more able to prove his own musical abilities just makes me anticipate the wonderfully bizarre Supergirl/The Flash musical cross-over even more than I already do).

Meanwhile, in space, we also had the entertainment provided by seeing Ray Palmer and Eobard Thawne forced into a temporary alliance, as they found themselves stranded in the damaged shuttle – while Nate's scenes with his grandfather, Henry, provided the episode with a genuine emotional core. The episode made good use of Ray, in particular – as his usual goofy charm was mixed with some strong dramatic moments. Ray's little homage to The Martian, in which he recorded his own final message (much to Eobard's confusion), was a genuinely fun moment. At the same time, the strange sort of rapport that seemed to developed between hero and villain added a little bit of moral complexity to the whole conflict (which will, hopefully, lead to some more interesting developments toward the end of the season).

But, of course, none of that could really top the true high-light of the episode, as a whole – which would have to be those relatively quiet moments between Nate and his grandfather. The idea that Henry would be left feeling a mixture of anger and guilt by his decision to abandon his family for the greater good was played very well throughout the episode – form the violent outburst directed toward Rip, early on, and to the moment in which he learns of the difficult relationship between his son and grand-son. Given the circumstances, it actually makes perfect sense that he would want to return to his original life, when their mission was complete, so that he could try to change things – just as it makes sense that Nate would be supportive of this idea. But, of course, with the rules of time travel being what they are (even if they do seem to be somewhat poorly defined, here), that's just not something that can be allowed to happen.

Along with all of this, the episode also devotes a bit of time to some other interesting plot-elements. For one, it is definitely interesting to see Amaya finally learn something about her own future – as Nate practically attacks her with the information of future tragedies, in anger over her meddling in his own life. Nothing much is done with any of this in this episode, of course – but, I am looking forward to seeing how things develop throughout the rest of the season. Similarly, Rip finds himself struggling with his new place in the group, after being forced to come to terms with the fact that the Legends no longer see him as their leader – and, in fact, that Sara may actually be a more effective leader than he was, anyway. Even though it could easily be taken as a final piece of course-correction, on the part of the writers, the changing of roles between the two, as Rip ends the episode perfectly willing to simply become a part of the team, still provides some nice moments of character growth for the both of them.

With the last piece of the Spear of Destiny accounted for, now, it feels as though this episode serves as something of an end-point to the season's second act – and, as such, it proved to be very entertaining. Now, though, with the season moving into what is clearly intended to be it's third, and final, act (with the Legends and the Legion coming into direct conflict over the pieces of the spear), I can only hope that the final few episode's of the season can manage to end things on a high note.

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