Thursday, March 10, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Does Period Horror With "Night Of The Hawk!"

The Good: Engaging social commentary, Character development, Moments of performances/direction
The Bad: Simplistic plot
The Basics: "Night Of The Hawk" finds Legends Of Tomorrow making the trip to 1958 to try to end Vandal Savage, before things - predictably - go horribly wrong for the team.

With Legends Of Tomorrow, the challenge the show has is continuing the serialized narrative while having the plot still make sense. "Night Of The Hawk" follows on a bottle episode in the otherwise (generally) serialized show. Outside the character elements in "Marooned" - the budding relationship between Kendra and Ray, Mick Rory being kicked off the ship and team - the only true element that ties that episode to "Night Of The Hawk" is the information given to them as to where they might find Vandal Savage in time. That gives Legends Of Tomorrow a chance to refocus with "Night Of The Hawk."

"Night Of The Hawk" is set after "Marooned" (reviewed here!), with the Waverider crew following the lead the captain of the Acheron gave them as to Vandal Savage's whereabouts. The episode blends social commentary with the exact type of schlock horror that Jax mentions early on in the episode and it, surprisingly, works!

Opening with teenagers in 1958, having stolen cars, racing, Vandal Savage arrives having found a comet in an obscure town in Oregon. The Waverider arrives at Harmony Falls, where Hunter proposes they find Vandal Savage by investigating a series of knife murders there that seem to indicate Savage is there. Palmer and Saunders pose as a married couple interested in buying the house of one of the murder victims and Dr. Stein and Lance go undercover at an asylum where a doctor was recently murdered. As Snart and Hunter investigate the murders, the team discovers that Vandal Savage is posing as Dr. Knows, who runs the asylum and is the neighbors of Palmer and Saunders!

At the asylum, which has a restricted hallway for Savage's experiments, Savage is keeping a trio of hawkpeople. Jax learns about what happened to some of the local kids when he goes on a date with one of the teenagers and he encounters Savage's experiments. When Palmer manages to steal the dagger needed to kill Savage and Jackson is captured, the team has the chance to kill Savage.

Fans of genre works have reason to be concerned from the outset of "Night Of The Hawk" - the concept is immediately reminiscent of The X-Files's "Arcadia"(where Mulder and Scully went undercover as a married couple). "Night Of The Hawk" takes a strong initial push with social commentary. As Stein momentarily reminisces about "white picket fences," Jax and Lance observe that the time isn't great for those who aren't heterosexual white males. Palmer and Saunders discover the reality of 1950s racism as they pose as an interethnic couple and Lance meets a nurse who is terrified of being outed as a lesbian.

On the character front, "Night Of The Hawk" allows Sara Lance and Jefferson Jackson to deepen their characters. In the second part of the pilot episode (reviewed here!), it was implied that Sara Lance was sexually flexible at least; in "Night Of The Hawk" her sexuality is confirmed as, at least, bisexual. Lance pursues a meek nurse and the exchange is delightfully sexually charged. Caity Lotz plays the part exceptionally well. Lance is conflicted about feeling something for Nurse Carlisle, but not about being sexually open and making that balance clear long before it is made explicit takes Lotz's full range of talents.

Jackson attempts to investigate the missing teenagers and that puts him at the mercy of local racists and "Dr. Knox." Jackson is tormented by Savage and while the episode seems like it might relegate him to the role of captive early on, Franz Drameh (like Lotz) manages to find a great balance. Early in the episode, it is Jax who is most vocal about Rory's absence. Later in the episode, Snart manages to incapacitate Jax and the moment of delay Jax has is well-executed. The performance moment ties to the earlier moment beautifully.

Obviously, "Night Of The Hawk" does not end Savage (there are still several episodes in the season to go), but it once again has the team making significant moves. The plot does not significantly advance - the terms of killing Savage remain constant - and only in the episode's final moments does the show tie together to the season's serialized elements well. "Night Of The Hawk" does a good job of effectively refocusing Legends Of Tomorrow.

[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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