Saturday, February 13, 2016

Return Of Chronos: "White Knights" Sets Up And Continues Remarkably Well!

The Good: Fast-paced, Performances, Moments of character
The Bad: Plot-heavy, Details
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow returns to form with "White Knights," as the team moves on to 1986 in its quest to stop Vandal Savage.

The fear an audience has when they start a new program, rightly so, is that the show might start incredible and then go downhill. Fans of Legends Of Tomorrow might have had that concern after the show's third episode and had trepidations about "White Knights," the fourth episode of the first season. Fortunately, "White Knights" does a lot to alleviate those concerns by making for an exciting, quip-filled, hour of action-adventure television.

"White Knights" picks up directly after the climax of "Blood Ties" (reviewed here!) with the Waverider zipping off to follow its next lead on Vandal Savage. Chasing the villain through time brings the crew to 1986 and the setting takes a backseat to the characters, the performances, and some pretty cool moments of reversals. The episode continues the group dynamic of the show, though it finally gives Jefferson Jackson a few moments to shine as a character.

Arriving in 1986, the crew of the Waverider goes in search of the original file of a heavily-redacted U.S. Defense Department document with information about Vandal Savage and his whereabouts. The mission into the Pentagon starts initially well, but during the exit, Firestorm is electrocuted, Saunders is taken over by Hawkgirl and Rory flips out on some enlisted men at the Pentagon. The recovered document indicates that Savage is in the U.S.S.R., having enlisted Valentina Vostok to work on a secret project. On the trip to the U.S.S.R., the Waverider is attacked by Chronos and Hunter uses the Soviet Air Force to (apparently) dispatch of the temporal bounty hunter.

While Sara and Kendra train and Palmer and Snart attempt to make contact with Vostok, Gideon detects a temporal anomaly. Hunter and Rory investigate the anomaly and find Time Master Druce, who claims Chronos is dead. Rory tells Hunter that Druce is trying to have them all killed and that causes Hunter to rethink the entire mission. After Snart lifts the keycard to the Soviet facility at which Vostok works, Hunter returns to decline Druce's offer. Chronos, as it turns out, is very much alive. In the resulting conflict, Jackson is wounded and the team of the Waverider finds itself torn apart. Learning that Vandal Savage is attempting to create his own Firestorm, Dr. Stein infiltrates Vostok's laboratory. In the lab, Stein discovers Vostok's prototype core and Snart has to make a difficult choice when the entire mission goes south.

First off, Wentworth Miller is undeniably cool in "White Knights." From the first pocket pick to the on-screen chemistry with Stephanie Corneliussen (Valentina Vostok), Miller is an awesome actor. While Dominic Purcell might have gotten the most fun quips for the episode in, Miller plays consistently and cool throughout "White Knights" in a way that is incredibly watchable. Victor Garber is predictably wonderful in delivering his emotional monologues in "White Knights" and Arthur Darvill continues to impress and make viewers forget about his iconic Doctor Who role.

Franz Drameh is given his first real chance to shine as Jefferson Jackson and Firestorm in "White Knights." Jackson is irked by how Dr. Stein orders him around and Drameh is given the difficult task of expressing Jackson's frustration without simply coming across as a whiny twenty-something. Drameh succeeds, though his key scene is overshadowed by Garber's response scene (between Garber and Routh). Regardless, Legends Of Tomorrow is a pleasant surprise for the caliber of its acting and "White Knights" reinforces the idea that Victor Garber can act the hell out of any material he is given!

Despite the impressive force of Drameh's performance, the key scene he is given is a bit tough to stomach on a character and plot front. Chronos's weapon was so powerful, it violently split Jackson and Stein. Jackson is wounded such that he is bleeding from his stomach pretty badly, but he stops to give a vocally forceful speech to Stein (which, no doubt, required the use of much of his diaphragm strength!). Director Antonio Negret gets some other details slightly wrong, like Dr. Stein immediately speaking Russian when he takes the vocal translator pill (in its introduction, it had to be turned on before the user would speak in the language it was programmed for).

"White Knights" is cool, even if it is a bit predictable and very much a set-up episode. The episode is fast-paced and engaging, but it is not especially deep. In fact, the episode's most significant character moments that are not specific to the Legends Of Tomorrow plot come in a c-plot involving White Canary and Hawkgirl training each other. The rest of the plot-intensive episode is a pretty typical science fiction action adventure episode. It is not bad, but it is not superlative.

For other works with Martin Donovan, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Inherent Vice
Boss - Season 1

[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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