Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bringing The Fun Back To The DC Television Universe: "Raiders Of The Lost Art" Is Fun!

The Good: Awesome plot seeding, Good character development, Decent plot development
The Bad: Some strange character moments, Opts for fun for some moments that could have had real emotional resonance
The Basics: "Raiders Of The Lost Art" returns Rip Hunter and finally explains what might be happening with Mick Rory on Legends Of Tomorrow!

One of the pleasant surprises of the DC Television Universe has been Legends Of Tomorrow. While the dramatic nature of the temporal changes being done by Eobard Thawne and the Waverider crew in the second season all-but guarantees that the season will end up with either a nonsensical paradox or a season that is completely undone in the end, Legends Of Tomorrow has been pretty solidly entertaining. Returning from its winter hiatus, Legends Of Tomorrow delivers another pretty solid episode with "Raiders Of The Lost Art."

"Raiders Of The Lost Art" picks up after "The Chicago Way" (reviewed here!), which saw Eobard Thawne recruiting Malcolm Merlyn to his team of super-villains. "The Chicago Way" also hinted as to the location of Rip Hunter in time, which prepared the viewers for his return. "Raiders Of The Lost Art" is that return.

Six months ago, as the Waverider was going down, Rip Hunter had to escape in time and he grabs an artifact before abandoning ship. In the present, Stein walks in on Mick Rory talking to his hallucination of Snart and Rory begs him to help "fix" him. Dr. Heywood is awake, desperately trying to figure out what the amulets were that Thawne stole and Vixen puts together that they are a single artifact, which Heywood recognizes. In 1967, Hollywood, Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk hunt for Rip Hunter, which causes an aberration that attracts the Waverider crew.

Tracking down Rip Hunter, who is working on a student thesis film, puts the Legends in direct conflict with Merlyn and Darhk. Hunter does not appear to recognize or remember the Legends and the conflict gets him arrested. Lance tasks Stein with impersonating a psychologist to spring Hunter from jail. Scanning Rip Hunter informs Lance that Hunter's brain has been temporally-altered. Shortly thereafter, the Waverider crew - notably Palmer and Heywood - start to lose their memories. Gideon realizes that when Darhk scared George Lucas, he left movie-making, which completely altered Palmer and Heywood's early influences! The Waverider crew works to inspire George Lucas, while unraveling the mysteries of Rip Hunter's altered memories and Mick Rory's hallucinations!

"Raiders Of The Lost Art" is a lot of fun both within the episode and outside it. References to the "Legion Of Doom" and the Super Friends do a convincing job of differentiating the DC Television Universe from any prior incarnation of it. That reference, however, opens an unfortunate can of worms; The Flash was in the Super Friends so how the Central City contingent of the DCTU never realized that is just terrible. That continuity problem is actually annoyingly significant when one steps outside the narrative.

At the other end of the spectrum, "Raiders Of The Lost Art" has a number of fun moments. Heywood's reference to Raiders Of The Lost Ark is fun, as is the fact that Rip Hunter is working with George Lucas in 1967! That completely sets up the plot and the idea of Lucas's films having such profound influences on two key members of the Legends team is pretty wonderful. Arthur Darvill's American accent is awesome and Doctor Who fans are likely to geek out at the mere sight of Darvill and Barrowman in the same scene!

Most fans of Legends Of Tomorrow will geek out at the preponderance of Star Wars references. It is only minimally disappointing that George Lucas (in the episode) actually uses the term "trash compactor," as opposed to allowing viewers to be thrilled by the influence the incident with the Legends had on his writing of A New Hope (reviewed here!). While the "Spear Of Destiny" macguffin is addressed within the narrative, it is tough to see how Legends Of Tomorrow will make the conceit work. That macguffin suddenly appeared to make Dr. Stein a believer in the supernatural and that undermines his character a little.

There are a few little character issues in "Raiders Of The Lost Art," the most notable of which is that Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn get the drop on the Legends . . . with Vixen being unable to channel an animal before her amulet is taken from her?! That does not "read" as right.

At the other end of the spectrum, "Raiders Of The Lost Art" does a decent job of recalling that Mick Rory was Chronos and giving him some consequences to that. Victor Garber does a great deadpan when he reveals that Stein is doing brain surgery on Rory and the idea that the Time Masters truly messed with Rory's head is well-executed in "Raiders Of The Lost Art." Fortunately, the episode makes good use of Rory and the idea that he is suffering from real psychological effects for the loss of his best friend is compelling.

The villainy in "Raiders Of The Lost Art" is a bit over-the-top and it will truly only be justified if Darhk and Merlyn stop killing people during their temporal misadventures to stop creating Aberrations. That is to say that the two enforcers for Eobard Thawne (why isn't he doing his own work?!) now have a pretty clear pattern of altering time and drawing the attention of the Waverider crew. If they keep making that mistake, it is hard not to see them as ridiculous caricatures of villains.

But that is not a problem for "Raiders Of The Lost Art." "Raiders Of The Lost Art" finds a generally good balance between humor and developing the plot, seeding well the new elements into Thawne's evil machinations! It is enough to make viewers excited about the return of Legends Of Tomorrow!

For other mid-season premieres, please visit my reviews of:
"Supergirl Lives" - Supergirl
"Broken Promises" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Borrowing Problems From The Future" - The Flash

[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!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment