Saturday, March 5, 2016

Character Redeems The Legends Of Tomorrow Bottle Episode "Marooned!"

The Good: Character development, Moments of performance
The Bad: Dull plot, Mostly predictable acting and character arcs
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow ventures into pure science fiction territory when pirates in space and time take control of another ship and try to take the Waverider.

Any television series that has a simple, focused plotline is bound to run into issues whenever it does a bottle episode. Limited series's, especially ones that might have a rotating cast if they are continued, have a hard time truly developing their characters if they get sidelined with too many bottle episodes. Legends Of Tomorrow is known to be a limited series - should it continue past its first season, it will have several cast members changed out. The show has struggled to find its footing because it is attempting to balance somewhat well-established characters (Dr. Stein, Leonard Snart, Ray Palmer) with newer characters who have not yet had the chance to develop (Jax, Rip Hunter, Kendra). Legends Of Tomorrow has an admittedly simplistic plot; the team was assembled to kill the villainous Vandal Savage before he can rise to power in the mid-22nd Century.

"Marooned" picks up a week after "Star City 2046" (reviewed here!), with the repaired Waverider leaving the alternate, ruined future. Immediately, it establishes itself as another bottle episode where the team is sidetracked by another divergent plotline and, as one might suspect, the best viewers can hope for from it is that it will allow the characters to grow and breathe. Coming out of "Star City 2046" there is some great potential for character conflict, especially as Mick Rory begins to truly resent being part of a team and working under Snart. So, with pretty low expectations, I sat down to "Marooned" hoping that I would see how it might fit into the larger narrative of the DC Television Universe and how it might enhance the characters from this generation of Legends Of Tomorrow.

Fortunately, the character aspect saves an otherwise straightforward and occasionally dull episode of Legends Of Tomorrow.

Opening with Rip Hunter watching a holographic message from his wife and son, Hunter is unsettled with Dr. Stein interrupts him. The timeship Acheron sends a distress call and, in an unlikely twist, Mick Rory stands up as eager to save them. Hunter wants to help in order to get Gideon a software update, while Dr. Stein is thrilled to explore space and learn more about the Time Masters. As the drop ship approaches the Acheron, Hunter recalls his training, when he was involved in a simulation involving time pirates and with his fellow Time Master lieutenant. Aboard the Acheron, Hunter, Rory, and Jax are abducted by time pirates, led by Captain John Valor.

When the pirates blow a hole in the Waverider, Snart and Lance try to seal the breach. In the process, they are trapped in the engine room that continues to bleed heat (and possibly air) out into space. While Palmer tries to save the Waverider, Mick Rory allies with the pirates to escape the Acheron and be done with Hunter's mission. When Mick returns to the Waverider, he comes with pirates and his teammates must take down him and the pirates to save both ships!

"Marooned" instantly begins with its heavies playing important moments. While Victor Garber is relegated to exposition and portraying empathy at the outset, his range quickly comes into play as Dr. Stein is excited at the possibility of space travel. Arthur Darvill opens with a deeply emotive performance as Hunter watches the holograms. Similarly, Dominic Purcell immediately pops in "Marooned" as Mick Rory. Purcell plays frustrated and angry almost the entire episode and "Marooned" is another decent episode that allows Mick Rory to illustrate the depth and the determination in his character. "Marooned" may be a bottle episode, but it finally - effectively - explains why Rip Hunter included Mick Rory on his team and how dangerous Rory is.

"Marooned" has some unfortunate, obvious, expositional lines. When Lance and Snart end up stuck in the room with the hull breach, Caity Lotz is forced to deliver one of the most stale lines of the series to date. That said, there is a lot of fun to be had in "Marooned." Ray Palmer geeking out and making Star Trek allusions is a lot of fun. The writers do not waste time with making Palmer simply sealing the breach; his conversation with Saunders deepens his character. Similarly, Dr. Stein is fleshed out well through his enthusiasm for classic science fiction and his excitement about space travel.

Legends Of Tomorrow is a bottle episode and on the plot front, it is straightforward. The character elements redeem the dullness, though, as Saunders and Palmer progress their relationship, Hunter's family situation is explored, and Mick Rory's character defects lead him to a showdown with Snart. But the performances are pretty much well within the known range of the actors involved (though Darvill's portrayal of Hunter is deeper than usual). Still, the episode averages out as pretty standard television instead of anything horrible or extraordinary.

For other works with Callum Keith Rennie, please visit my reviews of:
The X-Files: I Want To Believe
Tin Man
Blade: Trinity
Excess Baggage

[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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