Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Essential Enemies, One Key Conflict Make "The Legion Of Doom" Pretty Impressive!

The Good: Some good performances, Moments of character, Special effects
The Bad: Incredibly basic plot
The Basics: The Legends Of Tomorrow confront "The Legion Of Doom" and the result is that the show manages to bring back the menace of the villains and the creativity and intellect of the heroes.

When it comes to time travel adventures and works based upon comic book source material, there is a balance to be found between fun and compelling. Legends Of Tomorrow has frequently been fun, especially with references to temporal misadventures and some of the flirtatious sidebars that get thrown in as a result. But Legends Of Tomorrow is now about a team that is self-tasked with stopping temporal manipulation that results in time aberrations and they are confronting one of the most compelling a-list villains in the form of Eobard Thawne's improbable temporal remnant (it is not yet clear how that is working!). As "The Legion Of Doom" begins, Legends Of Tomorrow is put in a position where "fun" is becoming less interesting than an exploration of the true menace the Reverse-Flash represents. "The Legion Of Doom" is put in a place where it must buck the momentum of the season and restore the true menace and villainy of Eobard Thawne and his associates.

And it succeeds on that front.

"The Legion Of Doom" continues the jokes begun in "Raiders Of The Lost Art" (reviewed here!) where Eobard Thawne's new assembly of villains was nicknamed by Dr. Heywood. Despite the origins of that nickname being referenced explicitly and opening up an unfortunate conceptual can of worms within the Berlanti-based DC Comics Television Universe, "The Legion Of Doom" is fairly good at exploring the villains of the second season of Legends Of Tomorrow.

Eight months ago, Damien Darhk was killed by the Green Arrow and Malcolm Merlyn watched footage of it on television - right before Darhk and Thawne appear to offer Merlyn a chance to join their enterprise. The trio comes together to hunt for the Spear Of Destiny, but in the present, they find that Rip Hunter is not apparently in possession of the knowledge they need in order to find the rest of the Spear fragments. Aboard the Waverider, the team tries to figure out what the amulet actually is and they start a scientific explanation of the artifact. As Rip is tortured by the villains, Damien discovers that Rip has a tooth with a map to a safe deposit box.

Dr. Stein turns to his daughter for help with discovering the nature of the artifact, while Merlyn and Darhk begin to turn on one another. The pair takes Rip to 2025 Zurich to access the safe deposit box, where they run into complications when Rip does not know the password he needs to access the vault. In the temporal zone, Lily and Dr. Palmer attempt to access the artifact. In the process, Lily learns her nature. At their lair, Darhk and Merlyn fight it out, while Hunter tries to save his own life. With the Waverider crew finally figuring out who the Speedster is, Thawne has to strike a new deal with Darhk and Merlyn when they make a power move against him.

"The Legion Of Doom" is a proper exploration of the triumvirate of villains for Legends Of Tomorrow. Opening with the recruiting of Malcolm Merlyn, those who are not fans of Arrow get the primer on the adversaries from Arrow who have now carried over into Legends Of Tomorrow. Those who are looking for a much broader Legion Of Doom are likely to be a little disappointed by "The Legion Of Doom." Thawne runs off at one moment for assistance and viewers might hope he is returning with Grodd in order to read Rip's thoughts, but that is not the case. Instead, "The Legion Of Doom" is limited to the three villains already established.

While Legends Of Tomorrow has generally done a good job of establishing and using villains, "The Legion Of Doom" falls into the exceptionally familiar pattern of not allowing villains to actually work effectively with one another. Thawne begins to speed off at regular intervals, hinting that Thawne is being hunted by the Time Wraiths from The Flash and he needs to avoid them. Legends Of Tomorrow continues to show a lack of creativity among the heroes in "The Legion Of Doom;" the villains struggle to understand Thawne's motivations, but none of the Legends seem to think to ask Barry Allen about the identity of the future Speedster.

"The Legion Of Doom" has a lot in it to flesh out Darhk and Merlyn for those who are not fans of Arrow. Essential details like Merlyn missing a hand and Darhk not having any specific knowledge of his relationship with Merlyn are played out well in "The Legion Of Doom." On the main character front, Mick Rory is wonderfully fleshed out in his brief scenes as he stupidly let slips that Lily is a temporal aberration. That leads to one of the few essential character scenes for the heroes of Legends Of Tomorrow and Victor Garber and Christina Brucato truly blow that scene out of the water!

Arthur Darvill continues to dominate his return to Legends Of Tomorrow with a pretty impressive American accent. Director Eric Laneuville opts for a surprisingly PG interpretation of torture when Rip Hunter has a tooth extracted, but no blood left on his mouth or clothes. Darvill still manage to dominate his scenes and his return to Legends Of Tomorrow continues to be welcome.

Matt Letscher does a decent job of getting through all of the exposition needed to explain exactly what Eobard Thawne is running from. In the process, a new villain is introduced and it is pretty cool that it comes into play in Legends Of Tomorrow and not The Flash.

Ultimately, "The Legion Of Doom" is a good episode for finally galvanizing the villains for the second season of Legends Of Tomorrow and the process makes for a solid episode. There are a few funny lines and the tension between the adversaries is somewhat bland, but for the most part, "The Legion Of Doom" manages to cleverly tie the disparate villains together while giving Dr. Stein a chance to explore the nature of his abrupt family. That makes for a solid episode of the show that brings the seriousness back to the time travel adventure well.

For other works with Dominic Purcell, please visit my reviews of:
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 1
"Rogue Time" - The Flash
"Revenge Of The Rogues" - The Flash
"Going Rogue" - The Flash
Prison Break - Season 1
Blade: Trinity
Mission: Impossible II

[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.
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