Legends of Tomorrow — Compromised
After a first season full (FULL!) of major, foundational missteps, I think Legends of Tomorrow is finally starting to find its level. Which is an entirely different thing than saying Legends of Tomorrow has gotten good, it’s just hasn’t been so strikingly bad lately.
This week, the Legends make their way to the 1980s after their recently developed “time seismograph” warns them of a crisis during the 1987 INF Treaty signing while also explaining why they never travel to a point before the time crises they face in order to preemptively or proactively solve their time-based problems. I think by now most of us who’ve stuck by the show must be far past the point of questioning the internal mechanics of the time travel premise and its seemingly arbitrary rules, but still, it’s nice to see these types of things being addressed every once in a while.
The source of the team’s troubles this week turns out to be the immortal Damien Darhk (as it seems likely to be for the rest of the season), the villain having become a key U.S. treaty negotiator of the era while also making secret deals with the KGB, and once again, Sara flies off the handle the second she sees Darhk, throwing the team’s plans into jeopardy because Sara. The actual backbone of the episode — Damien Darhk, Sara Lance, nuclear arms, and the ‘80s — left me pretty cold, but luckily the rest of the episode’s events picked up the slack in one way or another. Ray’s short-lived term as the new Captain Cold came to an abrupt end as he used the cold gun to deactivate a bomb in the White House, and that gave us some decent time to spend with Ray and Heatwave and their unique relationship, Stein met his younger self once again, and it’s another reminder of how good a job that younger actor does of emulating his older counterpart without falling into parody, and most important of all, Vixen reunites with her former teammate, Obsidian, now much older, and sees what’s become of the Justice Society. With Legends of Tomorrow, It’s these sorts of “Secret History of the JSA” storylines that I most live for, and so far they’ve gotten it all pretty right, this episode enlisting Lance Henriksen, a real, genuine actor with a long and storied career, to play the elder JSA’er rather than just picking some local Vancouver actor for what’s probably not going to be a very big part in the overall show.
It’s pretty typical stuff once again this week for Legends of Tomorrow, and the good news is that things are moving along at a decent clip, some interesting things are happening, and the writers are mining at least some of the potential of what they’ve spent the early parts of this season setting up. It’s true that there are still a lot of problems with the mechanics and, really, just the basic happenings of this show (e.g., Is it really that easy to sneak into the White House with fore-arm-sized cold and heat guns? Where even do you hide those things in your formal wear?), but by this point in its second season, at least the showrunners have gotten Legends to the point where it’s not actively aggravating to watch. At least not as much as it used to be.
Legends of Tomorrow “Compromised” episode score
The Walking Dead — Service
So Spencer’s a goner, amirite? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime soon. He has to be.
Y’know, the debut episode of this season was what it was, uneven but absolutely filled to the brim with climax, I liked the fairly slow episode that followed it, catching us up with Carol and Morgan and introducing us to the Kingdom (I liked it quite a bit actually), and I didn’t mind last week’s relatively low-key episode with Daryl in Negan’s camp, but four episodes in, FOUR EPISODES IN and we’re still trying to get away with this slow, plodding sh*t? We got a ninety-minute episode for this? In the comics, this whole sequence of events was, like, 10-15 pages!
The nature of the threat this year is naturally going to lead to a different shape for the season, one that dictates a few steps of elevation before things really start going off since the severity of Rick and co.’s situation with Negan means that any minor transgression is going to be met with fairly major consequences, but still, it’s hard to look at these four opening episodes of The Walking Dead’s seventh season and not see (“Nazi”?) some pacing problems, particularly after the sheer amount of often-times unpredictable action that made up season six. We can’t just expect big blowout after big blowout, but this whole establishing a mood and letting things set in slowly as the weight of the situation is reflected through prolonged agony and suffering is getting old fast, man!
So anyway, Negan comes early for his offerings from the formerly safe-zone of Alexandria, and they take pretty much everything — the guns, the ammo, the furniture, even most of the beds! And they spend all episode doing it! And then they burn the beds just to show the Alexandrianites who’s in charge! And… and… it all turned out the way we thought it would. Sure, there were some strong moments and real tension, but for the most part everything proceeded apace with little to no surprise. Actually, I was surprised that Negan took all the guns but has no interest in Michonne’s sword. And now that I think of it, it was also surprising that they kept such an accurate inventory for Negan to pillage from. I know they’re too worried to hide their stuff, but they should have at least tried to obfuscate some of it rather than cough everything up on a complete inventory list.
The question in most of our minds at this point of the season is probably whether or not Rick is really as totally broken as he seems, and that’s a good thing, because it means the actor, Andrew Lincoln, and the writers are doing something right. Unfortunately, exploring that question is getting to be a real slog, and the main question I have is just how long it’s going to take before Rick and co. get back in the saddle, because right now I’m far more afraid of how long that’s going to be than I am of Negan.
The Walking Dead “Service” episode score
With all of our other shows off the air and a disappointing, over-long episode of The Walking Dead this week Legends of Tomorrow wins by default, the two sweetest words in the English language. De fault! De fault! De fault!