The Good: Moments of plot, Special effects, A few character moments
The Bad: Mediocre performances, character arcs and very basic plot structuring
The Basics: "Leviathan" puts the Legends Of Tomorrow in 2166 in a last-ditch attempt to thwart Vandal Savage.
Legends Of Tomorrow is having an erratic first season and, sadly, as it has progressed, it has become more and more preposterous from a scientific perspective. After drawing out a simple problem with a painfully simple solution for an entire season and several episodes where the main storyline and characters get sidetracked, the show delved into a dubious bit of science in "Last Refuge." Fans of The Flash were softened to the concept earlier in the second season with the episode "The Reverse-Flash Returns" (reviewed here!), but seeing it in action makes it seem somewhat ridiculous: the crew of the Waverider, following the events of "Last Refuge," are temporal remnants. By pulling their younger selves out of the timeline to avoid being erased from existence by The Pilgrim, the heroes of Legends Of Tomorrow now all exist in a weird tangent condition where they are fragments of people who disappeared in a timeline that is now solidifying without their presences.
That leads us to "Leviathan." "Leviathan" follows Rip Hunter's declaration at the climax of "Last Refuge" (reviewed here!) that - in their fight against Vandal Savage - the crew of the Waverider has, literally, run out of time. "Leviathan" puts the crew back in the future, this time in 2166, where they will attempt again to stop Savage. Despite his previous claims, Hunter is now taking the crew to fight Savage at the peak of his power.
The Waverider arrives in London, 2166, three days before Hunter's family will be killed, Hunter disembarks with Lance, Snart, and Rory to try to capture Savage. Studying footage of his speech, Saunders recognizes her bracelet on the arm of a woman at Savage's side. The team is overwhelmed, though and they have to flee. Hunter takes Palmer, Jackson, and Stein to meet with the last remnants of the Resistance. Unfortunately, the attempt they made on Savage's life leads the villain to go into hiding in his bunker, which makes stealing the bracelet virtually impossible. Still, Snart and Rory manage to confront the woman and, upon abducting her, they learn that she is Savage's daughter.
Cassandra tells Snart the story of Per Degaton and how he ruled over Earth before Savage stopped him, while Rory helps Saunders melt down the bracelet to coat the mace Carter Hall left her. The Waverider is attacked by Savage's ultimate weapon - a giant robot - moments after Stein figures out what the weapon is and brings the rebel refugees aboard the ship. In the attack, the Waverider is severely damaged. When Snart turns Cassandra, Palmer makes alterations to the Atom suit to make it super-large. With the Atom fighting to protect the refugees, Hunter, Snart, Rory, Lance, and Hawkgirl make an all-out assault on Vandal Savage!
"Leviathan" refers to the bracelet that Cassandra Savage is wearing. The bracelet is a simple snake and Saunders has a plan to use it to try to defeat Savage because she was wearing it at the time of the meteor incident in ancient Egypt. The title also refers to the massive robot weapon that Savage unleashes on the rebels.
Sadly, "Leviathan" takes a pretty long time to get around to revealing the obvious. The moment Cassandra tells Snart about Per Degaton, the viewer has to wonder why Snart does not reveal the truth about Per Degaton and Savage to her. In "Progeny" (reviewed here!), the Waverider crew is taken to earlier in the 2100s and Hunter explains the methods Savage came to power. Savage used Per Degaton to execute his will and eradicate much of the Earth's population. "Leviathan" pays off the events of "Progeny" and it is a remarkably satisfying development.
"Leviathan" is more than just a gimmick to introduce Vandal Savage's daughter and create a big comic book-y special effects-driven battle. The episode hinges on Snart's backstory with his abusive father, Stein's inherent humanity, and the conflicted relationship between Kendra and Ray Palmer. As a fan of The Flash, it is cool to see Snart develop and grow, but have his future be guided by his known backstory. Similarly, Stein's sense of ethics, like Palmer's, make him a character who has heroic potential and Dr. Stein's desire to save lives grounds the episode's more fantastic episodes.
Palmer and Saunders, though, have a somewhat tired "will they or won't they" vibe and "Leviathan" seems to be pretty much the end of that. Palmer is clearly in love with Saunders, as a result of their being stranded in the 1950s together for years. By the end of "Last Resort," Saunders and Palmer were engaged. In "Leviathan" Saunders is once again torn between Palmer and the now-dead Carter Hall. The internal conflict for Saunders has grown tired, but it plays out in the episode's final act in a way that sets up the final two episodes of the season. Despite how predictable the moment is, at least for the moments before the reveal, the way Saunders reacts to Savage's final act of treachery is impressive.
The performances in "Leviathan" are good, but none are truly exceptional. Casper Crump, for the first time, does not stand out with any specific quality as Vandal Savage. This is unfortunate as the episode introduced Savage's daughter; Crump exhibits no real emotion for his immortal character's daughter. At the other end of the spectrum is Ciara Renee. Renee actually dominates the final act of the episode with Saunders's sudden emotional revelation and her shock is well-performed. Renee has not had a lot of chances to shine in Legends Of Tomorrow, but she does for "Leviathan."
Ultimately, "Leviathan" is entertaining and a clear bridge episode, working hard to set up the first season finale, but it is much more plot-based than character-driven and it is subject to the absurdities that have preceded it.
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Legends Of Tomorrow - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the premiere season of the time traveling hero team here!
For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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