Thursday, October 20, 2016

Introducing "The Justice Society Of America" To The DC Television Universe Makes For Fun Legends Of Tomorrow!

The Good: Decent performances, Fun moments, Interesting concept, Primary characters' arcs
The Bad: Leaves a number of characters woefully unexplored, Some truly lousy special effects
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow meets "The Justice Society Of America" in an episode that illustrates well the ways Eobard Thawne is working to destroy the world!

Legends Of Tomorrow has been a forum that has always had the potential to turn into a "Best Of" team-up of characters from the other DC Television Universe shows, most notably Arrow and The Flash (as they occur in the same universe, separate from Supergirl). With "The Justice Society Of America," Legends Of Tomorrow goes into territory that puts it at the same type risk that Supergirl was placed in with "The Adventures Of Supergirl" (reviewed here!), namely that the protagonists of the series have the potential to be completely overwhelmed by a new guest character (or, in this case, characters). Legends Of Tomorrow manages to avoid the imbalance by having the familiar team save the new, unknown one!

"The Justice Society Of America" picks up right where "Out Of Time" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss the new episode without some referenced to where the season premiere left off. After all, "Out Of Time" climaxed with the Legends meeting The Justice Society Of America in 1942 outside Columbia University. As well, "Out Of Time" revealed that the DC Television Universe was not going to let the Temporal Remnant Reverse-Flash from "Flashpoint"(reviewed here!) go to waste as he rescued Damian Darhk! "The Justice Society Of America" finally shows the resolution to the scene that capped off the first season, even if a paradox is created within the episode!

Dr. Heywood is starstruck by meeting Commander Steel, the leader of the Justice Society Of America . . . moments before the JSA takes down the Legends team. The sextet is brought to the Justice Society Headquarters, where Heywood reveals himself to Steel as the heroes grandson. Elsewhere, Eobard Thawne provides the Nazis with the super soldier serum to help the Nazis win World War II. The Legends are thrilled to meet Rex Tyler, but he does not remember them from 2016. When the Justice Society sets the team free, the Legends decide to put Dr. Stein in charge of the team and his first act is to have Lance cut Dr. Heywood free. When she tries, Dr. Heywood's dog tags disappear and when he double-checks his files, he learns they have changed and the day after their meeting, the Justice Society Of America is defeated in Paris.

The Legends team heads to 1942 Paris to find the Nazi Baron Krieger, with Dr. Stein's plan being to impersonate Hitler's favorite singer to get access to Krieger. After rescuing the JSA, more or less, the teams return to the Waverider, where Lance realizes that Heywood is a hemophiliac. The teams head to the Fontainbleu Forest, where they take out a convoy that includes Krieger. But Krieger has the chance to take the formula provided to him by Eobard and in analyzing the situation, Dr. Stein freezes up, which leads Palmer and Vixen to be captured by him. When Dr. Stein turns command of the Waverider over to Sara Lance, she leads a rescue mission to save both teams!

Fans of the DC Universe are likely to be psyched for the proper on-screen introduction of Vixen to the DC Television Universe. Vixens powers are illustrated well through some pretty awesome special effects, though they are not explained within the episode as being supernaturally-derived. Amaya Jiwe is characterized in "The Justice Society Of Tomorrow" as angry and powerful, which seems to do justice to her character. I've read remarkably few DC Comics books that feature Vixen, but Maisie Richardson-Sellers seems to have a screen presence that has an appropriate level of gravitas for the role . . . and the ability to emote a proper amount of anger for the character.

Dr. Stein is focused on well in "The Justice Society Of America" and his arc is a decent one, as he comes to realize that the mantle of leadership is not one he can bear. "The Justice Society Of America" has Rip Hunter lost, so in trying to replace him, it is interesting to watch the group attempt to adapt to his absence. There is something very realistic about how poorly adapting to the power vacuum goes. Dr. Stein is delightfully devoid of ego when it comes to ceding leadership, which is refreshing and well-executed by Victor Garber.

Sara Lance is a logical choice for leading the Waverider crew and while it might seem like a spoiler to reveal her new role, the episode's director does that by putting Lance in the opening monologue as the focus of the episode. Lance taking Rip Hunter's place is a cool idea and it will be interesting to see if, in subsequent episodes, Mick Rory's former experience as Chronos is something she starts to rely upon.

Of the main characters, Mick Rory is most neglected in "The Justice Society Of America" and Palmer's role is mostly to play off Vixen. As one might expect from an episode with two super-hero teams, it is tough to service all of the characters well. From the Justice Society Of America, Vixen and Commander Steel are the two focused most upon, with Steel's role being to help make Dr. Heywood a more well-rounded addition to the Waverider crew. Sarah Grey looks great as Stargirl, though she is given little to do other than fight in the episode. Similarly, Obsidian is given cool powers, but virtually no characterization. Dr. Mid-Nite also receives remarkably little characterization.

"The Justice Society Of America" does a good job of recognizing that racism existed strong in the United States in 1942 - even in the Justice Society Of America - by having Rex Tyler treat Dr. Stein as the team leader. Why, then, the JSA would send Vixen into the Nazi club and why the Legends include Jax in their team is somewhat baffling. Spies tend to want to blend and sending the black members of the teams into a white supremacist's club is a tactically bad move.

Ray Palmer refusing to do the Nazi salute is wonderful, even if it leads to the inevitable Legends Of Tomorrow bar fight. The use of the bar fight trope in "The Justice Society Of America" is played well, especially with its abrupt end.

For a change, Legends Of Tomorrow is hampered by some bad special effects in "The Justice Society Of America." The episode features terrible special effects for the mutated Krieger.

Fortunately, "The Justice Society Of America" is not about big special effects and the story is well-enough executed to make most viewers overlook the bad effects.

For other works with Kwesi Ameyaw, please visit my reviews of:
Man Of Steel
The A-Team
Scary Movie 4
The L Word - Season 1
Blade Trinity

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Legends Of Tomorrow - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore 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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