Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Legends Of Tomorrow Work To Undo Their "Destiny!"

The Good: Good effects, Character moments, Performances, Good plot
The Bad: Predictable, No big performance moments
The Basics: "Destiny" reworks Legends Of Tomorrow to declare that everything so far has been preordained by the Time Masters . . . and then undoes that entire plot restructuring!

When it comes to Legends Of Tomorrow, it is hard to evaluate just where the season will go, qualitatively, episode by episode. "Destiny" is the penultimate episode of the first season of Legends Of Tomorrow and the show has, more or less, come full circle: all of the pieces are back on the board and it is tough to care in some ways. As much as I like the idea of Legends Of Tomorrow and the fight through time against Vandal Savage, the season has gone out of its way to be deliberately complicated for a surprisingly simple problem. "Destiny" puts the conflict against Vandal Savage front and center.

"Destiny" follows on the events of "River Of Time" (reviewed here!) and the new episode cannot be discussed without spoiling where the prior episode ended. After all, "River Of Time" put the Waverider crew back at the Vanishing Point with Vandal Savage and the crew discovered that Vandal Savage is actually in control of the Time Masters. "Destiny" wrestles with that revelation and elaborates upon it. The episode is somewhat frustrating in that it reworks the entire season of Legends Of Tomorrow only to, essentially, undo that whole new structure.

Opening with a flashback to the pilot where the candidates for Rip Hunter's mission were shown the potential future of the world if they failed, Dr. Stein tries to convince Jax to come with him before the episode flashes forward to the Vanishing Point where most of the crew of the Waverider is imprisoned by the Time Masters. Mick Rory is taken to be re-conditioned into Chronos and Kendra Saunders is taken away by Savage's goons. Rip Hunter squares off with Time Master Druce. Druce informs Hunter that Savage actually will save Earth from a Thanagarian invasion in 2175 so long as he has unified Earth. Snart and Lance retake the bridge of the Waverider, where Snart tries to convince Lance to leave with him and the ship.

Meanwhile, Savage takes Saunders and Carter Hall in a time ship, while Hunter is taken to the Oculus Chamber to see how the Time Masters have manipulated him and the Waverider's crew to help Savage consolidate power. With Chronos re-made, Palmer puts his faith in Lance and Snart to save them, much to the annoyance of Stein and Hunter. Lance and Gideon get the Waverider's time drive back online and their sabotage of the rest of the Time Master's fleet is successful. Palmer suggests they take control of their destinies by destroying the Oculus Chamber and the Waverider makes an attack run on the Vanishing Point.

"Destiny" puts two new twists on Legends Of Tomorrow by reconning the story at the beginning. Jax, the version who was sent back in time by Dr. Stein in "River Of Time," met with Stein on the day before the mission began. That is an intriguing way to force a causality loop and much of the episode is spent waiting for Dr. Stein to pay off what must have already occurred and what he is supposed to have known all along.

The other big "twist" is that the Time Masters have been working for Vandal Savage all along and that is surprisingly well-executed in "Destiny." Druce is convinced that his way is the right way to save humanity and that makes for a more understandable manipulation than the way it was presented in "River Of Time." Instead of just being a simple plot reversal, "Destiny" makes Vandal Savage's rise to power surprisingly reasonable.

The relationship between Snart and Lance is interesting in "Destiny." The two have interesting chemistry and when Snart tries to flirt with Lance, it is delightful to watch. Wentworth Miller and Caity Lotz have wonderful on-screen chemistry and it plays out well for one of the episode's few character moments.

"Destiny" is plot-heavy, but well-constructed. So, from almost the first frames of the episode, the viewer knows that Jax will return to the future at a plot-convenient moment, but when he does pop up, it is still pretty awesome. The episode has its own self-contained prophecy in the form of Ray Palmer's death, which is seen by Hunter in the Oculus at the beginning of the episode. The "will they or won't they" kill Palmer is answered within the episode and, despite some sense of redundancy to it, the result is surprisingly satisfying.

Kendra Saunders has no substantive role in "Destiny" and the conflict between destiny and free will in the episode is not played out well with her. In fact, Saunders seems only in the episode to set up the finale where she has knowledge that Savage is on his own.

The special effects in "Destiny" are good and director Olatunde Osunsanmi does not belabor the fight sequences that have been, largely, done before. Instead, "Destiny" moves the plot and characters forward without relying on big effect sequences to sell itself. The result is a rising action that leads into the first season finale with a strange sense of exactly where the season began . . . with the Waverider crew ready to alter time and space to stop Vandal Savage.

[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 reprintwithout permission.
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