Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Last Refuge" Puts The Legends Of Tomorrow Up Against The Terminator!

The Good: Entertaining, Special effects, Fine performances, Decent character development
The Bad: Very straightforward and basic plot, character moments and acting.
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow plays The Terminator for "Last Refuge."

Almost every long-running time-travel adventure ends up paying homage to The Terminator at one point or another. If a conflict through time and space is significant enough, the cunning adversaries work to defeat the heroes before they can ever rise to heroic heights. The Terminator (reviewed here!) is the reference that the Legends Of Tomorrow episode "Last Refuge" is based upon and it makes no attempt to hide the comparisons. When Ray Palmer delivers the iconic "come with me if you want to live" line in the teaser, "Last Refuge" acknowledges the homage to The Terminator.

"Last Refuge" picks up after "The Magnificent Eight" (reviewed here!), which transitioned from a western episode to one that set up the new episode. The introduction of the Omega Protocol and The Pilgrim was a last-moment transition into a very different type of episode, which helps to maintain a strong, serialized, plotline through the first season of Legends Of Tomorrow.

Opening in Central City, 1990, on the night Mick Rory's parents were killed, the crew of the Waverider rescues the younger version of Rory. The Pilgrim next targets Sara Lance and Lance herself rescues her. The Pilgrim's very specific targets quickly stymie the Waverider crew, as they become unable to track her temporal wake. When Ray Palmer suddenly collapses as the result of injuries sustained during an attack from the Pilgrim, the crew has to rescue him when he is on the verge of completing his Atom suit prototype. To prevent the Pilgrim from attacking other versions of the rest of the team, the Waverider crew abducts the infant versions of themselves.

Rip Hunter deposits the children at the Refuge, the place he was raised and where the Time Masters take orphans to fill their ranks. Having to alter her plan, the Pilgrim targets the loved ones of the Waverider's crew. Rip agrees and he offers The Pilgrim a trade; his younger self for Jackson's father. Meeting at a neutral location with his younger self, the team must orchestrate the trade to save their loved ones and stop The Pilgrim.

"Last Refuge" progresses the characters from Legends Of Tomorrow by giving Rip Hunter and Jefferson Jackson backstories that are more fleshed out and by moving forward the Palmer/Saunders relationship. When Palmer is wounded, he does a half-baked proposal to Saunders. Saunders is then compelled to admit that her prior self told her not to get involved with Palmer . . . or anyone else. Rip Hunter's past is well-conceived for the episode's climax and seeing where and how he is raised in the Refuge is very cool.

There are very few times that I review something that I spend more time and space kvetching about what the episode should have been than what it actually was. "Last Refuge," though, is notable for its lack of cleverness. As the episode began, I found myself saying, "It would be really cool if they resolve this problem by just doing to The Pilgrim what she is trying to do to them." That, alas, does not happen. The idea of taking out The Pilgrim when she is temporally vulnerable would completely undo the threat she represents and would play well into the idea of the time travel adventurers dealing with threats in a smart, science fiction context. Sadly, "Last Refuge" opts for a painfully straightforward conflict with The Pilgrim that is largely unremarkable.

The performances in "Last Refuge" are average, the plot is derivative, and the character moments are not as developed as one might hope. But "Last Refuge" is fairly solidly entertaining. The episode is unsophisticated, so it is tough to make a review that delves deeper into it than that.

For other works with Paul Blackthorne, be sure to check out my reviews of:
"Who Is Harrison Wells?" - The Flash
A Christmas Carol

[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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