‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Premiere Recap and Review: Pilot, Part One

Legends of Tomorrow Episode 1
Franz Drameh as Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, Victor Garber as Professor Martin Stein, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom, Falk Hentschel as Carter Hall/Hawkman and Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter in ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ (Photo: Jeff Weddell © 2015 The CW Network, LLC)

“In the future none of you are heroes…you’re legends,” says Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), a Time Master from the year 2166 who has traveled back to 2016 to recruit a handful of select individuals to stop an immortal warlord from conquering the world in CW’s new comic book-inspired fantasy television series Legends of Tomorrow.

After a failed plea to the Time Masters council to let him intervene and stop Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from becoming the unstoppable immortal killer who eventually conquers and destroys the world, Rip travels back to 2016 to recruit his team: Ray Palmer aka The Atom (Brandon Routh), Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson aka Firestorm (Victor Garber & Franz Drameh), Sara Lance aka White Canary (Caity Lotz), Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall aka Hawkgirl & Hawkman (Ciara Renee & Falk Hentschel) and Leonard Snart & Mick Rory aka Captain Cold and Heatwave (Wentworth Miller & Dominic Purcell). After capturing each of them and placing them up on a roof, Rip quickly explains to the dazed and annoyed future eight legends his hard-to-believe plan of using time travel to stop Savage from…you know. He appeals to their egos, informing them they will all become legends if they do this. Rip gives them a few hours to make up their minds, leaving his card with the time and meeting place with Stein should they want to be part of his team.

Atom tells The Arrow (Stephen Amell) about his new adventure and against Oliver’s strong advice not to go he, decides to not pass up saving the future. Sara is encouraged by her sister, The Black Canary, to go and help and is given a special white suit made just for her by The Flash’s good friend, Cisco. Dr. Stein is anxious to have the opportunity to travel in time. but his counterpart Jackson wants no part of it. So, Stein drugs him and kidnaps him so he they won’t be left out of the adventure. Hawkman and Hawkgirl argue like a married couple about going or not but in the end they join the team. Heatwave wants nothing to do with saving the world’s future, reminding Captain Cold they are criminals and enjoy stealing as opposed to working. Cold is able to change Heatwave’s mind by hinting at the major thefts they could pull in history before certain priceless items become well known. Heatwave finally says to Cold, “If you want me I’m in, but I’m nobody’s damn hero.”

So the rag-tag team of eight show up and board Rip’s flying time traveling machine called The Waverider. Once on board Rip introduces the gang to Gideon, the AI that runs the entire ship and only obeys the commands of Rip. (For anyone who watches The Flash, Gideon was first introduced in that show as the creation of a future older Barry Allen.) Rip informs the team that not even Gideon knows the whereabouts of Savage so they need to travel back in time and talk to Aldus Boardman (Peter Francis James), an expert on Vandal Savage who teaches in St. Roch, New Orleans in the year 1975.

The ship soars up and vanishes in the sky while two young bystanders watch in awe. They are quickly killed, however, by a scary-looking bounty hunter from the future who determined they were not “integral to the timeline.” On arriving at their destination and shaking off some of the side effects of time travel which include nausea, temporary blindness and vertigo, Rip, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Dr. Stein and Atom leave to go find Boardmen. That leaves Captain Cold, Heatwave, White Canary and Jackson – who’s not happy about being kidnapped and forced to join the adventure against his will – on board the Waverider with Gideon in charge.

When they find Boardman, he indeed knows much about Savage and reveals that Kendra and Carter have a connection with Savage dating back to ancient Egypt. Okay, for anyone who has seen The Flash and Arrow crossover episode this season you already know this part. For those just now joining the CW’s DC universe keep reading this paragraph. Kendra and Carter were lovers in Egypt and Savage consumed with jealousy killed both of them. He prayed to the Hawk god Horus to damn the objects involved for all eternity. Shiera aka Kendra aka Hawkgirl – jeez, so many alias – prayed to the same god to protect she and Carter. This ended up causing them all to be connected to each through time. Radiation from meteorites destroying the palace where they laid dying exposed them to radiation, also bonding them and giving them their powers in reincarnated states. Boardman also reveals that he’s Kendra’s and Carter’s son from the last time they were alive and together which was before World War I.

Back at the Waverider, Sara, Snart, and Rory decide to head out and go have some drinks and fun in 1975 leaving Jackson alone on board the machine with Gideon. At the bar, Sara ends up in a fight with a big hulking jerk. His comrades soon join in, with Snart and Rory joining in backing her up and enjoying a good old roadhouse brawl.

As Boardman is finishing up his story, he tells Rip and the gang how he keeps spotting Savage in famous historical photographs that show he has been involved in every major conflict and global war in history. It’s then that Dr. Stein gets a severe headache and realizes Jackson is in trouble back on board the Waverider. It seems the bounty hunter has found and is attacking the ship, even though it has the ability to camouflage itself with its environment.

Rip, Boardman, Dr. Stein and the rest of the gang head back quickly to the ship and begin fighting the big bounty hunter when Sara, Rory and Snart also pull up to join the fight. Snart says, “We go out for one lousy drink and you guys somehow manage to pick a fight with Boba Fett!” Finally, everyone hops on board after wounding the bounty hunter but not before he delivers a fatal wound to Boardman. Rip orders Gideon to fly the ship out of danger.

Taking the ship into a Time Limbo, Rip sets out to make repairs to the ship while everyone wants answers to who the bounty hunter is and why he’s after them. Turns out the bounty hunter is named Kronos and was sent after Rip who has gone rogue and does not, repeat, does not have the blessing from the Time Master council to change history and stop Vandal Savage from conquering the world. Rip goes onto explain that the real reason he chose them to be part of his team is because they are insignificant to the timeline – yet powerful in their own ways. He believes working together they can stop Savage. Atom picks up on Rip’s extreme determination to end Savage and asks him what Savage did to Rip. Rip finally reveals that Savage brutally murdered his wife and son in the year 2166 along with thousands of other families. With the harsh truth revealed to them, Dr. Stein suggests they take a little time and decide if they want to continue being a team. After getting over their disappointment, the gang decide to stick it out and stop Savage from conquering the world and as a result hopefully change their own unimportant, insignificant lives to being truly legendary. The episode ends with a scene of Savage in Norway in the year 1975 revealing a major warhead and saying, “I’m just trying to make the world a better place one war at a time.”

Legends of Tomorrow Episode One Review:

Action-packed and with decent but not overly impressive special effects, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is an entertaining spin-off of two stronger, better acted and written television shows. Arthur Darvill is solid as Rip Hunter, the time-traveling expert of the group who has a very personal score to settle with Savage and his family to save. He’s the Dr. Who of this rag-tag team of 2nd and 3rd rate superheroes.

Without a doubt the two best performances are delivered by Victor Garber reprising his role as Dr. Stein – originated on The Flash – and Wentworth Miller reprising his role of major villain Captain Cold, also originated on The Flash. Garber gives the show an emotional depth and a realistic anchor which is needed in a comic-book series about time travel, flying ships, and superheroes which has a lot in common with earlier groundbreaking TV shows including Dr. Who and Time Tunnel. Miller portrays the classic anti-hero who just happens to get all the best lines in the show with a rugged, cynical style that makes him by far the most interesting character of the group.

The series’ biggest problems are struggling to give all nine characters equal time in a 44 minute episode and having them all hunting the villain Vandal Savage who honestly wasn’t that interesting or dynamic a villain when he was introduced in The Flash and Arrow crossover episode in late 2015. In fact, both Captain Cold and Heatwave are far more intriguing and dangerous villains than Savage.

Here’s hoping that Legends of Tomorrow improves on its adventure with stronger writing and better action scenes and becomes an A grade comic-book television series in time.