Thursday, February 25, 2016

Juvenille Soap Operas And Alternate Futures Characterize "Star City 2046."

The Good: Adequate performances, Fun cameos
The Bad: Pointless plot, Some ridiculous character arcs
The Basics: "Star City 2034" is a novelty episode of Legends Of Tomorrow that has little appeal to those who are not fans of Arrow!

I have not (yet) gotten into Arrow, so when Legends Of Tomorrow has focused on the character of Sara Lance, I have - admittedly - been a little lost. Lance is a holdover from Arrow and as the show has gone on, Legends Of Tomorrow has wrestled with her resurrection, feelings of alienation, and given her a tether in the form of Star City. That tether is pulled at in "Star City 2046" and the show finally illustrates some of the potential consequences of failure for the time-traveling heroes of Legends Of Tomorrow. Given my lack of investment in Arrow, I came to "Star City 2046" with a greater sense of ambivalence than any prior episode of Legends Of Tomorrow.

"Star City 2046" picks up at the climax of "Fail-Safe" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss the new episode without revealing how that episode ended. With the Waverider knocked out of time and space, Rip Hunters crew finds itself in the fiery ruins of Star City, in the year 2046. "Star City 2046" replays the final moments of the prior episode with the crew of the Waverider realizing where they are and a very different Green Arrow confronting them.

Green Arrow Connor Hawke gets into a shooting match with the crew of the Waverider and Rip Hunter and his team retreat to the ship for safety. There, Hunter prioritizes fixing the ship and trying to get them out of the tangent future as quickly as possible. Hunter tasks Jax with fixing the ship, which leads Jax, Palmer, Saunders and Stein to work on getting the Waveriders engines up and running. The ship also needs an artificial intelligence component and Lance, Snart and Rory head to Smoak Technologies to steal the prototype that might work as well.

As Jax and Palmer flirt with Saunders, with Stein meddling in the potential relationships, Rory takes over one of the Star City street gangs. But soon, the son of Slade Wilson shows up and demands the head of Green Arrow, which leads Snart and Rory into conflict. When Green Arrow is captured, Hunter argues with Lance about rescuing him, as this future would be undone when Lance and Palmer return to 2016. But Lance rebels and Hunter must decide whether or not to abandon her or support her rescue effort.

It's easy to see why fans of Arrow would like "Star City 2046." The episode presents an alternate future and is well-developed enough to captivate those who are invested in Star City, Oliver Queen, and John Diggle. The Oliver Queen scenes make the episode feel like an episode of Arrow that could not be stretched out into a full-length episode and even as an episode of Legends Of Tomorrow, it is somewhat lacking.

As a result, "Star City 2046" is fleshed out with a somewhat ridiculous and mundane romantic subplot. The Palmer/Saunders/Jax subplot with Stein acting more like a middle school guidance counselor (or the archetypal fishwife) is particularly lame and leaves viewers feeling cheated. While The Flash has approached storylines that could have soap operatic elements, "Star City 2046" feels and sounds like a ridiculous soap opera with the most surface relationships being put into play as potential romantic hook-ups. Fortunately, Kendra Saunders is smart enough to not play into the relationship games. Her emotional maturity is unfortunately balanced by a puritanical streak that is particularly disappointing; Kendra Saunders doesn't want a romantic relationship, but there's no convincing reason she wouldn't express an honest willingness to hook up sexually with Jax and/or Palmer.

"Star City 2046" has very average performances on top of character development that is mostly surface-deep. Mick Rory is given the greatest depth in the episode when he falls in love with the shattered city in the alternate future. Dominic Purcell is good as Heatwave and the episode fleshes out well the idea that the character has desires, goals, and preferences and that Snart's new priorities might well collide with them. There is an interesting tension in the episode between Snart and Rory and it is the only significant aspect of "Star City 2046" that leaves the characters with something to build upon.

Sadly, it is not at all enough to recommend the episode.

For other shows featuring dark, alternate futures, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Fringe - Season 5
"All Good Things" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Out Of Time" - The Flash

[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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