Friday, May 20, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Review (SPOILERS)

It's season finale time! The second show on my list of regularly scheduled TV shows to end is the new freshman series in the DC TV Universe, Legends of Tomorrow. Okay, technically this is the third show to end for me this season, but since I don't write regular season ending reviews for Criminal Minds, this is the second review I will be writing this finale season. The first was for Supergirl, which ended three episodes before I thought it would. For some reason I was locked in on the idea of it being 23 episodes long, and thus when it ended at 20 episodes, I was a bit caught off guard. Thus it came first. Since then I was very happy to learn that Supergirl will be coming home to the CW, which is where it belonged in the first place. Meanwhile the CW might as well rename themselves the SN, standing for Superhero Network, because they'll have four superhero shows next season. No need to worry if Legends of Tomorrow wil be getting a second season or not, because it got renewed right along with pretty much every other CW show. You see, they're a really nice network. I'm glad Legends will be returning because I really liked this show. As always with these TV show reviews, I will be directing this to those who have completed the season. Thus here's your official spoiler warning. If you haven't seen this show, go watch it and then come back and read my thoughts!

Not everyone was on board for Legends when it was announced. It had plenty of skeptics and when it premiered, not everyone who was on board with The Flash and Arrow gave it shot. I was never one of these skeptics. They were bringing all my favorite side characters from The Flash and Arrow onto one show where they could all have their time to shine instead of showing up occasionally on their parent shows. It was like a mini-Justice League! Or should we say Justice Society of America? No, not really. But we'll get to that idea later. Anyways, bringing this team together is the somewhat mysterious Rip Hunter, played by Arthur Darvill from Doctor Who. He goes to 2016 and rounds up a bunch of misfits that include Dr. Martin Stein, Jefferson Jackson, Ray Palmer, Sara Lance, Kendra Saunders, Carter Hall, Mick Rory, and Leonard Snart. He tells them that in 150 years from that time, the group of them not only are a group of heroes, they are legends who help save the world. That's a lot to take in for them. Dr. Stein and Jax just became Firestorm. Sara just got raised from the dead. Ray is just figuring out how to use his suit. Hawkman and Hawkgirl have a history of getting killed by this Vandal Savage dude. And Rory and Snart are villains. But Rip promises them that it'll work so they all buy into it.

Psych! They're not a group of legends. They're just a group of losers whose absence wouldn't effect the timeline at all. Ouch. That hurts. Turns out Rip Hunter is a bit of a selfish jerk who lied to everyone to get them to join. I didn't blame the team for not trusting him when they all figured this out. Quite frankly, it took me some time to warm up to Rip myself. I didn't really like his character at first and I thought he was very hypocritical. He kept whining about how they can't disrupt the timeline, yet his whole goal was to have them all go save the lives of his wife and child who got killed by Vandal Savage. Oh yeah, they can save the world, too, but saving his family seemed more important to him. But I did warm up to him by the end of the season as I started to really like the his character's story arc throughout the season. And I did like from day one that this group weren't actually known as legends. All of them took it pretty hard, but then they decided that they were going to write their own destinies. Sure, this is a theme taken right from Back to the Future, possibly the most popular time travel story, but it works. As Doc says at the end of Back to the Future Part III, "You're future is whatever you make of it! So make it a good one!" Regardless of what the computer of the time masters said, this group was determined to write their own destiny and become legends. That was pretty boss.

Starting off, though, this show was a bit rocky. I'm not going to lie. Naturally they had to make these people work well as a team and it would be super lame having them be perfect right from the beginning. So our team experienced a lot of growing pains, which coincidentally caused this show to also experience a lot of growing pains. It's tricky building a superhero team like this and not everyone can do it as masterfully as Marvel did it with The Avengers. Just like the DC movie universe has stumbled quite a bit into their formation of the Justice League, this mini-Justice League show stumbled a bit as they tried to orient their characters. But it wasn't a complete failure. Never once did I think of dropping the show because I thought it was dumb. I loved the concept of this show and when I started watching, I saw the potential was great. So I was determined to stick with them. But yeah it was a bit hard at first. There were some episodes where everyone failed at the same time. I wasn't a huge fan of that. The chemistry seemed a bit off and the relationships between everyone on the team were at times a bit forced. I was ready for this team to begin to gel and fight through time like the super boss characters that they were.

While we're talking about this rocky beginning, we might as well discuss the failed time travel element in the first half of the show. Time travel is awesome. I love time travel. But it's also easy to screw up on. One recent example of this is the movie Project Almanac. This group of kids have figured out time travel and thus they have the opportunity to go anywhere. Where do they decide to go? They go back a couple of years and attend an Imagine Dragons concert. Seriously? I mean, I love Imagine Dragons. I freaking saw them in a local concert right before they got big. But that's what you decide on? Lamesauce. Legends of Tomorrow wasn't as bad as Project Almanac, but the same principles applied. The show could take us anywhere in time and they settled on the 50's, 60's, and 70's? Really? And it's not like Marty McFly going back to the 50's and accidentally messing up how his parents met. That worked very well. But this was just boring 50's, 60's, and 70's. What about Ancient Egypt? The Dark Ages? The American Revolution? The Old West? Not that the 50's through 70's were a horrible time in history. It's just that there are bigger and better things that a time-travelling group of superheroes could be doing. The writers of this show know that they can do fun, crazy things with here, but it's like they decided to test our patience and wait till later to go on our epic journeys.

If you dropped the show because the team chemistry was off and the places they were going were boring, I guess I can see where you are coming from. But I'm sorry you missed out on the rest of the awesomeness because things definitely got better. I would say the turning point of the show came in the 6th episode called "Star City 2046." This was the Arrow crossover where old Oliver Queen had given up on the world because of all the horrible things that started happening to him and there was a new Arrow that had taken up the mantle. This episode was amazing and was the beginning of several pretty awesome adventures throughout the season. Not every episode was perfect, but the second half of this season was especially a lot of fun. Most of our extravagant adventures included going to the future where Vandal Savage started taking over, so we weren't extremely adventurous, but I honestly loved all of out future scenes. They were great! I especially loved it when we went out to the Old West in the episode, "The Magnificent Eight." There they met up with Jonah Hex and had a super fun little adventure. When I heard the premise of the show, these are the types of things that I was hoping for. Time travel is a lot of fun! Let's have a good time with it!

The chemistry of the team also got better over time. Once the show finally let our characters blossom and kick trash, that's exactly when the show itself blossomed and kicked trash. Before I dive into our main storyline, our finale, and future outlook for the show, I want to spend some time talking about our characters. In doing so, let's not save the best for last. Let's talk about the best first. How about we start off with my personal favorite character, Sara Lance. When they introduced her in Arrow season 2, it didn't take long for her to become my favorite character on that show. Not only do I love Caity Lotz and think she is a fantastic and beautiful actress, but her character of Sara Lance was the deepest and most complex character on that show. She started off as the insignificant hot little sister of Oliver Queen's girlfriend. Oliver cheats on Laurel with Sara and goes off on a boat trip with her that has them both stuck on this island. Long story short, when they come back to reality, she has got caught up with Ra's al Ghul and the league of assassins. She wants to be the hero, but she has committed herself to the bad side. That has her stuck in quite the rough situation. That's not the only way she's complex. While she falls in love with Oliver and becomes his best girlfriend to date (don't get me started on how awful Olicity is), we also learn that she swings the other way as well and was in love with Nyssa al Ghul, Ra's al Ghul's daughter.

Then Arrow killed her. WHAT?!?!?!?!?! You freaking kill your best character who had so much more story to tell and so much more romance to dive into? WHY?!?!?!?!?! Honestly the moment in Arrow when they decided to kill Sara was the moment that show fell off a cliff for me. I've been patient with that show, but it still hasn't recovered from that wretchedly awful decision to kill Sara. In fact, they've now dug themselves into an even deeper hole that I don't think they're ever going to come out of. But more on that when I dive into Arrow season 4. Thankfully we got the amazing news that Caity Lotz had been cast in Legends of Tomorrow, which spoiled their season 4 storyline of bringing her back via the Lazarus Pit. But I didn't care. Sara was back and now she got to continue her progression on Legends of Tomorrow. Man has she blossomed into the perfect heroine. With all the League of Assassins and Lazerus Pit demon Sara behind her, she has become such a boss. And because of all that rough backstory, she is as strong as ever, physically and mentally. Too bad Arrow didn't take advantage of this because she could've saved their show. On Legends, she's the one character without superpowers, a super suit, or a super gun, which honestly makes her the coolest character on the show because she does things the old fashioned way. Ninja training via the league of assassins. Batman-style, baby!

Three full paragraphs dedicated to Sara? I told you I love this girl! She totally carried this show for me. And there is one more big issue I want to talk about with her. Her sexuality. If I'm being honest, there's a lot of LGBT storylines these days that have felt forced. But not Sara. Her being bisexual has totally worked for me. I loved her and Oliver as a couple, but I also loved her and Nyssa as a couple. Those two had great romantic chemistry. After being raised from the dead, it obviously takes a while for her to get back in the swing of things, but in the second half of the show she does and I enjoyed it. There's a brief storyline between her and a nurse in either the 50's and the 60's and that was probably the best romance story of the whole season. The nurse is stuck in a pretty bad time period to be a lesbian, but Sara's advice to her to be herself and that things will get better was a great moment. When those two started a romance and it was Sara, not the nurse, that got cold feet, that was also well done. This was the first time Sara had tested the romance waters in while and her reaction was natural and believable. Then they made up before Sara had to leave. Then on the flip-side of things, we finally got the moment at the end of the season we'd all been waiting for. Sara and Snart. They build up some great chemistry throughout the season. He finally went for it towards the end and got shot down. He took it like a man, though, and right before he sacrificed himself, Sara laid one on him and I cheered. So great!

Speaking of Snart, him and Rory are next up for me. Sara was still my favorite character, but amidst the turbulence of the show, it was the three of them that carried this whole thing. In terms of a character arc, Snart and Rory definitely win that crown. The two of them were a pretty boss duo of villains on The Flash. Then it was announced that they were going to be on the Legends team and that certainly made me curious. I assumed they were going to turn good, but I didn't know how and I wasn't sure how it was going to be handled. Man was this handled well. Yes, they do become heroes, but it is a very natural progression. The fact that they are really on their own team makes it best. They have the most real, down to Earth viewpoints on things and when someone does something they don't like, they'll be the first to call them out on it. The fact that Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller have to be good friends in real life due to them being co-stars on Prison Break makes their chemistry on this show perfect. When Snart is the first one to breakdown and go good, Rory doesn't buy it and their falling out is pretty tragic. Then Rory eventually comes around even if he doesn't want to admit it. By the end of the season, he is a caring, loving dude. And Snart is the one who sacrifices himself to save the team, which is super cool. And no, Legends didn't pull an Arrow with the Lance sisters by killing their best character. He's not dead. He just got zapped somewhere in time as Wentworth Miller is signed up to show up on both Legends and The Flash next season.

Yes, I've been a lot more thorough with this review than I initially intended. But oh well. I've now covered the big stuff. Let's move fast through the rest. Yes, Sara, Snart, and Rory were the best three characters on this show, but I did like the others. Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer is a rather charming, quirky character. It took me a while on Arrow to see him as the Atom instead of Superman, because he did play Superman in the movie Superman Returns and this is the DC universe. But once I got over that, I did love his character. Him and Dr. Stein as the super-geniuses on the show were great. And he's essentially the DC version of Ant-Man. Once he figured out his suit, it was fun to watch him as he could both shrink and go giant. I didn't like him and Kendra as a couple, though. Sorry. I felt the show just threw that at us. They didn't want to spend the time to develop that, so they just had them get stuck in the 50's and five minutes later they were madly in love because in their time it had been two years. Nope. Sorry. And of course, I have to talk about Dr. Stein and Jax as Firestorm. I'm not sure what happened to Robbie Amell as the original Firestorm. There must've been some issues with the actor behind the scenes as The Flash just dumped him with no warning. But Franz Drameh has made a great replacement. The banter between him and Dr. Stein in the first half of the show got old really fast, but once they got into the swing of things, I loved them.

As far as our storyline of the year, it had to do with Vandal Savage, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl. The creators of the show have stated that each season will be its own thing with a main cast that rotates a bit each season, which for this show makes sense. When I heard that I was really glad because I don't think I could've taken two seasons of this Vandal Savage story. In fact, one full season was almost too much. I liked how it started and I loved how it ended, but the middle of this got really rough. I actually really liked Falk Hentschel as Hawkman. I'm kinda sad that they dumped him early on and used him as a recurring character instead of a main character. Even when they used him at the end, they didn't do him justice. Sad day. But Ciara Renee as Hawkgirl was our season regular and I thought she was great. As far as her many romances, out of the many guys that fell in love with her (don't blame them), the guy she had best chemistry was Cisco from The Flash. Then Hawkman. The two of them worked. As I stated, her and Ray I didn't like and I'm glad they didn't dive into her and Jax, although I do feel bad for him. He was sad that he had zero shot with her and I felt for him. Casper Crump did great as Vandal Savage, but as a villain I don't think he worked that well. Although the final battle in the finale was so freaking boss. I loved that! The writers of the show say that once we learn about the season 2 villain, we'll totally forget about Vandal Savage. I'm holding them to that.

One final thing before I wrap this up. I have to dive into a bit of speculation for season two. As stated, the show creators have planned on this show including a rotating cast. So what's our team going to be next season? Based on the finale, we know that Dr. Stein and Jax as Firestorm are in. Ray Palmer is in. Sara Lance is in. Mick Rory is in. Rip Hunter is in. That's a good base cast. Leonard Snart is out. Hawkgirl and Hawkman are out. We know they said they will be adding a new male and female as series regulars. Who could it be? At the end of the finale, Rex Tyler, aka Hourman, from the Justice Society of America showed up. Is he going to be a regular? Speaking of the JSA, the original members included Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Sandman, Spectre, Doctor Fate, Hourman, and Atom. Obviously Flash won't be on the show and I doubt they will bring in Green Lantern. Could we see Sandman, Spectre, or Doctor Fate? As far as characters already established in this universe, could we see Constatine brought on? Vixen? How about Katie Cassidy's Earth-2 Black Siren? If The Flash team thinks three speedsters is too much, could they donate Jessie Quick? I certainly hope Jonah Hex was more than a one time thing. Could he a regular? Who am I missing? Who would you like to see? Let me know in the comments!

Overall, Legends of Tomorrow was an Arrow/Flash spin-off that I was looking forward to since they day they announced it. It conveniently debuted in my birthday this year, which was a nice present. No, the first several episodes weren't the best. As our team experienced growing pains, the show itself experienced growing pains. And I didn't like how the show spent so much time in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. When you can travel to whatever time you want, that seems a bit too conservative of a time period to choose. Be creative! Have fun! But I was patient with the show and it really payed off. The second half of the season really took off and started to become the show I was hoping it would become. Once all of our characters got used to their powers and learned how to work as a team, it was such a blast to watch them. No the show still wasn't perfect. I wasn't the biggest fan of Vandal Savage as a villain the save Rip Hunter's wife and child thing was kinda lame. A villain deciding he's going to destroy the world is also really cliche. But the adventures we went on were a lot of fun and the last three or four episodes were absolutely phenomenal. Even though we had a rocky start, we had a fantastic conclusion. I suppose the Vandal Savage stuff was a decent start, but now that that's behind us, I'm really excited to see where this show is going next!

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