Monday, March 5, 2018

"No Country For Old Dads" Slowly Restores Ray Palmer's Intelligence!

The Good: Good direction, Fine performances, Good special effects, Moments of character
The Bad: No truly big performance moments, Some irksome character moments
The Basics: "No Country For Old Dads" puts the focus on Damien and Nora Darhk and slowly makes the point of the third season of Legends Of Tomorrow clear.

Legends Of Tomorrow has become a mess in its third season. While the show frequently remains high on charm - the current plotline involving Captain Lance and Ava Sharpe is just adorable! - the characters have become muddied for the sake of humor, the plots have become repetitive and the show is currently struggling to find a truly compelling mix of characters who could endure beyond the current crisis to define the Waverider crew in the wake of the death of Dr. Martin Stein. The sense that the show has become somewhat listless is hard to deny at the climax of "The Curse Of The Earth Totem" and how the consequences of that end affect "No Country For Old Dads."

"No Country For Old Dads" follows on "The Curse Of The Earth Totem" (reviewed here!) and where that episode ends is impossible to address in discussing the new episode. Dr. Ray Palmer has been a lawful good character throughout his tenure in the DC Television Universe. He's a pretty white bread character, but the two defining characteristics of the character have been that he is lawful good and he is one of the leading geniuses in the DC Television Universe (indeed, one of the most interesting series of scenes in the show was when Palmer and Eobard Thawne were forced to team up to survive in outer space. So, "The Curse Of The Earth Totem" contains a truly compelling moment, when Dr. Palmer steps over the line; to save one of his teammates, he infects Nora Darhk with nanobots, essentially using lethal force on the young woman. His sense of guilt immediately compels him to do what he can to save Nora Darhk's life and that is cool and within character. Unfortunately, in doing that, the characterization of Dr. Palmer as a smart person is utterly sacrificed. In one of the most predictable betrayals of all-time, the healed Nora Darhk turns on Palmer and he is captured by the mortal enemies of the Legends. Palmer

The Waverider is contacted by the Time Bureau, who inform them that Ray Palmer has been captured. Shortly thereafter, Rip Hunter and Kid Flash arrive on the Waverider. Damien and Nora want Palmer to fix the Fire Totem. After returning to 2018 to use the Upswipz lab, Palmer figures out that the way to fix the totem is to use cold fusion. Damien Darhk reveals that he killed the inventor of cold fusion in 1962. Nora and Ray Palmer return to 1962 to save Dr. Vogal from the younger version of Damien Darhk. Palmer and Darhk are barely able to convince Vogal to join them before Damien arrives to kill the scientist.

While Tomaz and Jiwe meditate to try to find the fire totem in history, Palmer and Darhk forge documents to cross the border from East to West Berlin. Their attempt to complete their mission is complicated by Damien Darhk returning to 1962. When the younger Darhk captures Nora, Damien and Palmer must work together to survive a prisoner exchange. In the ethereal plane, Tomaz and Jiwe find the setting altered and dark. There, they are met by a tribal elder who informs them about Mallus's plan and how the Darhks are corrupting the totems and influencing the destruction of time itself. With the help of Wally and his suit, Ray Palmer manages to engineer his escape.

"No Country For Old Dads" is all right, but the episode feels better while watching it than it ends up being under even the most casual of scrutiny. Ray Palmer's ability to use voice commands on his suit makes the viewer wonder why he didn't use that skill earlier in the episode when he was being tortured ad nauseum by the Darhks (for example). Similarly, as Damien Darhk fights himself, using magic to jerk Nora around is fun to watch, but not particularly clever. Damien has only to move Nora two feet forward at any point or allow her to fall and simply stop her inches from the ground, but he instead continues to put his daughter in mortal peril.

Ray Palmer is not tortured in any ways that are particularly graphic or seem to leave any real psychological effects, which makes his breaking so fast seem like unfortunately weak plot and character work.

"No Country For Old Dads" is well-directed, especially for the surreal sequences with Tomaz and Jiwe and the pivotal scene involving Wally West. But, the look and feel of the episode cannot balance out against the lack of big character or performance moments. The Legends meander through trying to find their best hope to solve most problems now that their other resident genius (Dr. Stein) is no longer around.

On the plus side, the plot of the third season of Legends Of Tomorrow becomes much clearer in "No Country For Old Dads." The villains' plots become explicit, but they do so through a strangely unremarkable series of scenes with Rip Hunter and a thoroughly gratuitous Grodd cameo.


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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