Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Misadventure On The Moon When The Legends Of Tomorrow Are "Moonshot"

The Good: Good character moments, Engaging plot development, Victor Garber, Performances
The Bad: Predictable plot and character arcs, Special effect of the Atom on the moon
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow features the return of Commander Steel when the Waverider crew gets "Moonshot."

Legends Of Tomorrow has focused its second season on a hunt for pieces of the mystical object, the Spear Of Destiny. With "Moonshot," Legends Of Tomorrow has that search landing in 1970 and focuses on the Apollo 13 mission. "Moonshot" settles the quest for the final fragment of the Spear Of Destiny on Henry Heywood (Commander Steel), the grandfather of Dr. Nate Heywood, who is now a member of the Waverider crew.

"Moonshot" follows directly upon the events of "Land Of The Lost" (reviewed here!), which restored Rip Hunter to sanity, personality, and the Waverider crew. "Moonshot" opens with a natural sense of built-in character conflict as both Rip Hunter and Sara Lance are captains of the Waverider. On the plot front, "Moonshot" follows a very brief final scene from "Land Of The Lost" that showed Eobard Thawne working at NASA.

Opening in Manhattan 1965 with Rip Hunter delivering Commander Heywood to that time to disappear with the last fragment of the Spear Of Destiny, the Waverider crew arrives moments after they separate, but Heywood effectively disappears into the crowd. The Waverider crew tracks Heywood down to NASA, 1970 and Sara pitches infiltrating NASA in advance of Apollo 13th's launch. But when Hunter approaches Heywood at mission control in 1970, Commander Steel punches Rip. Heywood reveals that he hid his Spear fragment on the moon. When Apollo 13's flight goes off without any negative consequences, the Waverider crew realizes history is being changed.

Eobard Thawne hijacks Apollo 13, while the Waverider, with Henry Heywood aboard, moves to intercept him. But when Palmer attacks Thawne aboard the lunar landing module, the vessel crashes and Stein - in mission control, Stein must improvise. Palmer manages to incapacitate Thawne, but a meteor storm endangers the Waverider. With the Waverider severely incapacitated, Palmer and Thawne must combine forces to get off the moon and save the Waverider.

"Moonshot" suffers because the Legends Of Tomorrow do not actually treat Eobard Thawne as the true Big Bad that he is. Eobard Thawne is trapped aboard the L.E.M. and Ray Palmer actually has him truly incapacitated. While there is no clear reason why the Time Wraith that is hunting Eobard through time and space would be unable to get him while he is stuck on the moon. Beyond that, well before Palmer returns to the module and realizes he needs to ally with Thawne, he has Thawne entirely incapacitated. Ray Palmer is given the best possible opportunity to save existence and it never seems to occur to him or anyone else on the Waverider that simply opening the airlock on the L.E.M. and letting the air escape will kill Eobard. It is utterly ridiculous that no one even suggests killing Eobard Thawne while they have the chance.

"Moonshot" is interesting in the character dynamics. First and foremost, Henry Heywood is reintroduced to the Legends Of Tomorrow narrative with a surprising amount of emotional force. Heywood misses his wife and child and he is reunited with Amaya in a surprisingly emotional way. Heywood wants to return to his time period so he can be with his son and he has an ally in Nate Heywood, who hopes his own father will become a better man as a result. Amaya's relationship with both Heywoods plays off both of them in a surprisingly compelling way.

Nate Heywood continues to be idiotic through most of "Moonshot." In "Land Of The Lost," Ray Palmer told Nate that Amaya's descendants have a destiny and that Heywood could not influence her destiny. Through the end of "Moonshot," it does not occur to Nate Heywood to ask who Amaya has a relationship with to create her daughter (and the subsequent, important, granddaughter). There is no reason to believe that Nate Heywood would not return to 1942 with Amaya and the two could have a child together . . . but Heywood never asks Palmer about the specifics of Amaya's destiny.

Similarly strange is that Ray Palmer honestly believes that Eobard Thawne has lost his Speedster abilities. Thawne's incapacitation is one of the more obvious elements of "Moonshot."

As one might instantly guess, there is a built-in tension in "Moonshot" between Lance and Rip Hunter. Hunter has trouble accepting Sara Lance as the functional captain of the Waverider. Throughout most of "Moonshot," Lance and Hunter both try giving directions to the team and arguably the most refreshing character aspect of the episode is that Lance does not simply give up the captaincy. Over the prior episodes of Legends Of Tomorrow Sara Lance has actually risen to the occasion of commanding the Waverider. That Rip Hunter returns should not diminish her character and fortunately, "Moonshot" does not alter her trajectory.

"Moonshot" has a lot going for it, but arguably the peak of the episode is Victor Garber belting out "Day O (The Banana Boat Song)." Garber is awesome and the comedic moment steals "Moonshot."

Ultimately, "Moonshot" might be predictable and have some serious technical issues, but it is entertaining and effectively advances the plot of Legends Of Tomorrow.

For other works with Kent Thomson, please visit my reviews of:
"Compromised" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Marooned" - Legends Of Tomorrow
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
G.I. Joe: Retaliation

[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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