Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tread Again Toward The Snappy: "The Fellowship Of The Spear" Repeats An Earlier Episode!


The Good: Performances, The return of Leonard Snart, Direction
The Bad: Entirely derivative plot, Painfully obvious references,
The Basics: "The Fellowship Of The Spear" reworks a more successful Legends Of Tomorrow episode poorly and undermines a developed character in the process.


One of the reasonable concerns genre fans had with the creation of Legends Of Tomorrow was that it might end up as a half-rate rip off of Doctor Who. In the second season of Legends Of Tomorrow, those fears have begun to come into very clear focus. Usually, at least once per season, there is an episode of Doctor Who where The Doctor and his Companion end up on Earth interacting with an important, recognizable, historic figure like Vincent Van Gogh in "Vincent And The Doctor" (reviewed here!). Legends Of Tomorrow has started to seem derivative of that style Doctor Who episode with figures like George Lucas popping up in "Raiders Of The Lost Art" (reviewed here!) and now J.R.R. Tolkien in "The Fellowship Of The Spear."

"The Fellowship Of The Spear" picks up after "Moonshot" (reviewed here!) and has the Waverider crew, restored, successfully holding on to the final fragment of the Spear Of Destiny. "The Fellowship Of The Spear" puts the Waverider crew back in World War I and the Vanishing Point in a cheap reworking of The Lord Of The Rings.

Opening in 1916 , Heywood, Jiwe and Lance are contemplating using the fragment of the Spear Of Destiny to track down blood. 72 hours earlier, the Waverider crew convenes to figure out how to keep the Spear Of Destiny away from the Legion Of Doom. Rip informs the crew that Thawne's team has been operating out of the Vanishing Point and the crew travels there to try to recover the other fragments of the Spear. The Waverider crew is actually able to get the last fragments of the Spear through Firestrom transmuting Thawne's vault into jellybeans! Putting the Spear fragments in proximity unifies the entire Spear and Mick Rory attempting to destroy it reveals a message on the Spear. Heywood believes that only the blood of Christ can destroy the Spear and the greatest expert on where that blood can be found is . . . J.R.R. Tolkien!

The Waverider crew journeys to 1916 France to find Tolkien to get information from him, while Thawne freaks out at the Vanishing Point. Damien Darhk suggests that Thawne change tactics and when Rory is in the past, he sees Leonard Snart. Snart encourages Rory to steal the Spear of Destiny for himself and remake time, including resurrecting Snart. Rory begins to become unhinged, especially after Dr. Stein confronts him. The Legends visit the church where the knight who might have Christ's blood is buried. Amaya and Rory become tempted to use the Spear to rewrite reality, but Lance argues for getting the blood of Christ to destroy the Spear.

"The Fellowship Of The Spear" is an unfortunate repeat of "Raiders Of The Lost Art." As such, there are in-jokes to the Lord Of The Rings and various Legends make comments that Tolkien might use in order to create his famed trilogy. Characters mirror those found in The Lord Of The Rings and putting much of the episode in a famous battle allows for even more parallels.

When it is not being derivative, "The Fellowship Of The Spear" is one of the best episodes for Dominic Purcell's Mick Rory. Rory thinks he is hallucinating when he tells Leonard Snart the full plan to destroy the Spear Of Destiny. Rory turns to Stein and Victor Garber delivers one of the most sensibly-written lines of all time in reaction to the menace his character faces. But when it becomes clear that Snart is real and resurrected by the Legion Of Doom, most of the crew turns on Rory, fearing that he will choose Snart over their mission.

Once the team turns on Rory, Dominic Purcell has the chance to shine. Purcell plays Rory as unsettled and intriguingly contemplative. Purcell has surprising range for his facial expressions and especially his eye motions to convey an incredible emotional range. Purcell makes Rory appear delightfully conflicted with very subtle expression changes.

"The Fellowship Of The Spear" is also a big episode for Amaya. Jiwe is shaken by the fact that her descendants will suffer, a fact she learned at the climax of the prior episode. Outside of acting as an archetype for the parallel story of The Lord Of The Rings, Jiwe is compelling in her sense of conflict and her objections to Lance's course of action. Maisie Richardson-Sellers does a decent job of playing that internal conflict.

"The Fellowship Of The Spear" has moments that are both over-complicated and disturbingly naive. While the episode goes for an obvious confrontation between Snart and Darhk and the Legends, by this point in the series, Ray Palmer knows that Eobard Thawne has some technological ability to change his appearance. It is hard for seasoned viewers to not watch "The Fellowship Of The Spear" with a sense of anticipatory dread for Tolkien to be revealed as an appearance-altered Thawne. On the over-complicated front, a cease-fire is engineered which allows things to go entirely south. It is unclear why Lance does not simply send the invulnerable Steel (Heywood) and the Spear into No Man's Land to recover the vial.

Unfortunately, "The Fellowship Of The Spear" lacks the charm factor of "Raiders Of The Lost Art." Instead of pushing in a new direction, the episode treads toward the familiar in a particularly obvious way. And the episode's resolution is troubling in and of itself. Mick Rory has grown over the course of Legends Of Tomorrow and "The Fellowship Of The Spear" tears all of that down. Rory has developed bonds with Ray Palmer and Dr. Stein and his late-episode return-to-form feels cheap when one considers the implied amount of time that Rory has been a Legend (at the beginning of the second season, there was a several month gap where the Legends actually worked as a team to stop time anomalies before the Waverider was almost destroyed).

As such, fans of Legends Of Tomorrow might well be thrilled that Leonard Snart is returned to action and existence in "The Fellowship Of The Spear," but it is a shame that it comes at the cost of all that Mick Rory has become in his absence.

For other works Ben Hernandez Bray has been involved with, please visit my reviews of:
American Hustle
Argo
Casa De Mi Padre

4.5/10

For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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