Thursday, December 8, 2016

All The Favorites Return In "The Chicago Way!"


The Good: Decent performances, Good character moments
The Bad: Incredibly problematic plot, Neglects some key character traits for the sake of plot reversals
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow refocuses on its own main plot with "The Chicago Way" when Eobard Thawne's team makes an ally of Al Capone in 1927 to lay a trap for the Waverider crew!


Fans of Legends Of Tomorrow have a decent reason to be upset by the massive DC Television Universe crossover event that The CW produced. After all, because Legends Of Tomorrow is the final of the four shows in the CW's airing order each week, The CW chose to end the crossover event on the Legends Of Tomorrow episode "Invasion!" (reviewed here!), despite the Waverider crew having astonishingly little to do in their own episode. Indeed, the Legends Of Tomorrow episode "Invasion!" afforded Cisco Ramon and Felicity Smoak the chance to play around in the Waverider, but it's not like the Legends Of Tomorrow resolved the Dominator invasion or fixed Barry Allen's Flashpoint tangent.

Legends Of Tomorrow essentially picks up its own storyline after the events of "Outlaw Country" (reviewed here!) in "The Chicago Way." Despite "Outlaw Country" climaxing with the call back to Earth to deal with the Dominators, the main plot ended with Eobard Thawne taking Damian Darhk into the future. "The Chicago Way" returns the two antagonists to the narrative, along with other characters missing from the narrative and another key villain from the DC Television Universe!

In Chicago, 1927, Eobard Thawne and Damian Darhk approach Al Capone with an offer, with Malcolm Merlyn. Aboard the Waverider, Heywood and Palmer train, much to the chagrin of Lance and Jackson. Jackson visits Stein, who reveals that his memories are re-orienting to his new timeline (wherein he has a daughter, Lily). When Heywood's temporal seismograph goes off, the Waverider crew heads to October, 1927. When Palmer accidentally allows Elliot Ness to get picked up by the corrupt Chicago police officers, the team returns to the Waverider and learn that days later, Al Capone will become the mayor.

When the Waverider crew saves Ness from drowning, he suffers brain damage. While Gideon cures his brain damage, Heywood impersonates him and heads to the Chelsea Club, one of Capone's clubs. While Rory hallucinates Snart, the take-down of the Chelsea Club goes south when Damien Darhk and Thawne appear and abduct Stein and Lance. In the custody of Malcolm Merlyn, Lance is offered the nine years she lost when the Queen's Gambit was destroyed back, in exchange for the amulet Thawne is after. While Rory leads the Waverider team in a rescue attempt, Stein is tortured by Thawne. But Darhk's trap is revealed when Rory's rescue attempt appears successful and puts the Waverider crew at the mercy of their enemies.

"The Chicago Way" features a ridiculous narrative progression. Heywood has a temporal seismograph, which tells the crew where and when temporal anomalies occur. Why the Waverider crew doesn't research the nature of the anomaly before they arrive in 1927 is a mystery. Actually, it is just sloppy writing. Long before the crew actually sets foot in 1927, the crew should have found how and where time was altered. Far from being a surgical strike team, the Waverider crew has become a sloppy hammer and anvil.

In a similar fashion, there is something incredibly sloppy in the way Firestorm is handled in "The Chicago Way." Jackson and Stein have a psychic bond between them. When Stein is tortured, Jax shows no adverse effects. The whole reversal surrounding Stein and his torture is entirely weakened by the fact that Jackson and Stein's psychic bond is entirely neglected in "The Chicago Way."

Martin Stein is deepened in "The Chicago Way" as he is forced to confess his temporal transgression to Lance. Stein has memories of his daughter and one of the severe problems with the way "The Chicago Way" is structured is that it eliminates any credibility to any future plotlines that might force Stein to make a choice between his daughter and his wife. Right now, Stein has memories of both his wife and his daughter; if Lily exists because his wife died as a result of the temporal aberration he caused, he should know it now. Stein and Lance have some great scenes in "The Chicago Way" and they continue to be the viable heartbeat of Legends Of Tomorrow. Lance continues to step up credibly as the leader of the Waverider crew in "The Chicago Way" by recognizing how troubled Stein appears.

While it is hard to believe that an integral character like Malcolm Merlyn could ever be killed off in a non-Arrow episode (thus gutting Lance's key scene with Merlyn), "The Chicago Way" does a good job of balancing the heroes and villains, the humor and the action in the episode. Mick Rory's hallucinations of Snart come as Rory attempts to wrestle with how has moved on since Snart's death. Rory and Jiwe continue to credibly develop beyond their initial simplistic characterizations in "The Chicago Way."

Amid all of the action and revelatory character moments, Heywood and Palmer become an effective team. Palmer and Heywood act as comic relief for much of "The Chicago Way," but their interplay is well-delivered by Nick Zano and Brandon Routh. Their performances are par for the course in "The Chicago Way," where all of the performers manage to step up for their big moments well. Zano and Routh have great comic timing, while Caity Lotz and Victor Garber share some of the season's best dramatic scenes. Fans of the DC Television Universe are likely to geek out at the mere appearance of Wentworth Miller as (hallucination) Snart and getting more of Eobard Thawne (his mission finally becomes explicit), but the regulars carry the day in "The Chicago Way," despite how sloppy the episode's plot is.

For other works with John Barrowman, please visit my reviews of:
"Invasion" - Arrow
"Legends Of Today" - The Flash
Doctor Who - Season 4
Doctor Who - Season 3
Doctor Who - Season 1
The Untouchables

6.5/10

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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