Thursday, April 7, 2016

So Many Cop Outs: "Progeny" Undermines Legends Of Tomorrow!

The Good: Moments of performance, Ethics, Moments of character
The Bad: Undermines all of the key plot and character aspects to keep the series going.
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow explores a mediocre "Progeny;" an average episode that starts with so much potential and then is executed in a particularly banal way.

Treated too often like the ugly stepsister of the DC television universe, Legends Of Tomorrow is not without its moments of real ambition. To date, the show has tried to find its footing and has been conservative in its leaps into the future. "Star City 2046" (reviewed here!) is the only whole episode to be spent in the future, albeit a tangent future that was theoretically erased when the crew of the Waverider eventually returns to its vanishing point at the end of the series. "Progeny" promised viewers a trip to 2147, which is loaded with potential.

"Progeny" continues the mission that began in the final moments of "Left Behind" (reviewed here!), with the Waverider crew headed to the future to try to stop Vandal Savage in an all-out assault. The episode comes on the heels of a character-intensive episode that has to be alluded to to properly review the new episode. After all, "Left Behind" ended with Palmer and Saunders exploring a relationship and Mick Rory being captured by the Waverider crew after he was revealed to be the villain Chronos.

Opening with Rip Hunter talking to Mick Rory, he admits that he is responsible for how Snart treated Rory. Arriving at 2147, Hunter guides the crew toward the Kasnia Conglamorate, a 22nd Century company that has taken over an entire country. Hunter goes to a Kasnia stockholder's meeting where he sees that Savage is directly involved in the Board of Directors. Afterward, he witnesses Savage mentoring Per Degaton, a boy who grows up to overthrow much of the remaining world order for Savage before Savage kills him and siezes power. Hunter wants to kill Per Degaton before he can unleash his Armageddon virus and wipe out most of the world's population.

While Lance, Hunter, and Snart work to abduct Per Degaton, Palmer, Stein, and Jackson visit a company that is utilizing Palmer's technology to create an autonomous police force that will be part of Per Degaton and Savage's rise to power. When it appears that the abduction of Per Degaton has no genuine affect on the timeline, the crew tries to regroup. Hunter takes Per Degaton in the jump ship

Throughout "Progeny," there is a "will they or won't they" aspect to killing Per Degaton. The episode almost instantly cheats the argument by revealing that the abduction has minimal effects on the timeline. The episode makes little sense on some of the key details. The first is that Hunter has mentioned that after each time mission, Time Masters have to return to the Vanishing Point to get computer updates. In other words, Gideon would not necessarily have conclusive proof over the effect of any action Hunter took (especially if he has not actually executed Per Degaton already). Similarly, the whole point of the Palmer subplot with the automated Atom suits is that the crew needs a way to disable the automated police in order to make the abduction possible. Palmer and his team do nothing disruptive, yet the automated police do not respond to gunfire and the child abduction that happens in broad daylight.

Victor Garber's Professor Stein has a strong moral core that comes out the moment Hunter weighs killing the child to save the world. Garber is convincing when he expresses outrage over killing Per Degaton. The episode is peppered with moments that Garber, predictably, shines.

The rest of the episode's character moments come from a brief exchange between Lance and Rory and the resolution to the Palmer/Saunders relationship. Palmer discovers he has a child - and is convinced it was conceived before he left the past. Saunders is having visions of her past life with Carter and their son, Aldus. Their relationship, which ended with potential for continuing and growing in "Left Behind" is all but destroyed in "Progeny." Palmer's character arc takes an interesting turn in the final moments of the episode and it is one of the better reversals in Legends Of Tomorrow up until now.

The special effects in "Progeny" are good, especially for the army of automated police officers.

Unfortunately, "Progeny" is a long series of cop outs. The episode starts with a pretty solid premise; the crew of the Waverider has the chance to kill a would-be Hitler. The only real benefit of the episode is that the result illustrates that Hunter's mission has the potential to end in abject failure. Rip Hunter has the potential to make the future much worse than it originally was. That is a marginally interesting twist, but whether or not it is satisfactorily played out in the subsequent episodes remains to be seen. If nothing else, "Progeny" makes a strong argument for the idea that killing Vandal Savage must occur before 2147 to ensure that the Waverider crew does not make the world worse before they succeed in making it better.

For other works with Jewel Staite, be sure to check out my reviews of:

[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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