Monday, 3 April 2017

Review - 'Legends of Tomorrow', S02E16 - 'Doomworld'

Personally, I've always appreciated stories that are willing to let the villains achieve a decisive victory. It's not necessarily that I actually want the villains to win outright, of course (although, that can be entertaining when it is done well) – but, instead, it really has more to do with actually allowing the villains of story to appear to be both formidable and effective. In a story where the villains never actually win, or never even seem to come close to achieving any sort of victory, the entire conflict can start to feel a little one-sided.

The Legion of Doom, for example, have been a very entertaining part of the second season of Legends of Tomorrow – but, as the season has progressed, the odd sense that they are actually the underdogs in the story has only seemed to grow stronger. This came to a head with the opening sequence of the previous episode, when we saw the Legends not only manage to locate Eobard Thawne's base of operations, but also successfully steal the last piece of the Spear of Destiny right out from under the nose of the villainous speedster.

But, then, the episode turned things around pretty drastically, at the very end – with Legion not only managing the steal back the completely restored spear, but also immediately putting it to use to reshape reality to their whim. And, now, with the season reaching its penultimate episode, we finally have our chance to see what the Legion of Doom have actually been working toward, throughout the season.

The opportunity to see the change that the Legion made, in this new world, was definitely the primary high-light of the season for me.

Damian Darhk, for example, chose to set himself up as the mayor of Star City – where he seems to have devoted much of his time to hunting down the costumed vigilantes who have caused him so much trouble. This, in turn, gave us the entertaining, though surprisingly dark, opening sequence in which Felicity Smoak is brought in for a quick cameo appearance as a new costumed crime-fighter, only to be immediately captured and killed.

Malcolm Merlyn, meanwhile, seems perfectly content with living out his life with his restored family. Or, at least, he would be if not for the fact that he had grown suspicious of Eobard Thawne. The fact that he had, apparently, also decided to force his old rival, Nyssa al Ghul, to endure a miserable life as a closeted gay woman, somewhere in rural America, did seem pointlessly cruel, sure – but, it was still interesting to learn that he did seem perfectly satisfied with such modest changes.

Eobard Thawne, for his part, also seemed perfectly satisfied taking over Star Labs – where, it seems, he has put his impressive intellect, and his knowledge of future science and technology, to use actually making the world a better place. Of course, he also secret plans to find some way to destroy the Spear of Destiny, for good – something which, naturally, seems set to put him at odds with his former allies.

Alongside the three original members of the Legion of Doom, Leonard Snart and Mick Rory seem to have returned to their old lives as partners-in-crime. Although, amusingly, Mick isn't too happy when he learns that the police of Star City are under strict orders to, essentially, let the pair do whatever they want. Without an actual challenge, it seems that Mick has quickly grown bored with the new world he had helped create.

As for the Legends, it seems that Eobard and Damian couldn't resist the opportunity to keep them around as odd trophies of their victory – giving each of them a new, and intentionally demeaning, life. Sara and Amaya have become Damian Darhk's loyal hench-women, Ray Palmer is a janitor, Jax and Professor Stein are abused employers of Star Labs, and Nate Heywood has become a basement-dwelling conspiracy theorist. Rip, meanwhile, seems to have been left abandoned, and trapped, in the Waverider – where he has, apparently, spent the past year drinking, and perfecting the fine art of cake-decorating.

Of course, as we soon learn, the changes brought about by the spear aren't quite perfect – as lingering traces of their former lives eventually lead Nate to question this new reality, while Ray finds himself compelled to secretly invent exactly what they need to restore their true identities. As plotting goes, it does feel a bit too convenient, sure – but, with the writers obviously needing to come up with some way to set things right, I suppose it could have been a lot worse.

With Mick eventually having a change of heart, and deciding to help set things right, it's also not long until the Legion's carefully crafted new world seems to collapse around them – especially when their suspicions drive them to work against each other.

Overall, this was just a fun episode. It was very entertaining to see the new lives that each of the Legends had been forced into, just as it was interesting to actually get to see the new lives that the various members of the Legion of Doom had created for themselves. Also, the fact that Mick's change of heart seems to have been brought about as much by pure boredom as anything else is definitely an amusing way to start things off. More than any other member of the cast, it seemed to fall on Dominic Purcell to carry much of this episode – and, he managed the task extremely well, as he continued to develop this initially somewhat one-dimensional villain into a genuinely complex character.

In the end, it actually feels like a bit of a shame that this aspect of the episode wasn't explored in more detail – as, personally, I think I would have liked to see more. I was definitely interested, for example, in the idea that Eobard Thawne seems to have had a very positive impact on this new world. It was only a single line of dialogue, sure – but, the list of things he had managed to achieve in his time in charge of Star Labs was still very impressive. Unfortunately, as the episode quickly moves back into the familiar territory of direct conflict between the Legends and the Legion, it seems as though this is an aspect of the episode that is going to be glossed over.

The conflict, itself, was a lot of fun, of course – and, it all culminated in a very entertaining action sequence which, essentially, pitted everyone (both Legends and Legion) against Eobard Thawne, as he attempted to destroy the spear for good. More importantly, though, it all managed to lead to yet another shock ending which manages to set things up for a very interesting season finale.

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