Legends of Tomorrow starts off on the right foot this week, with a voiceover from Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) letting us know this isn’t an average episode. The show flashbacks to Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) dropping Commander Steel (guest star Matthew MacCaull) off in Manhattan 1965 to protect the Spear of Destiny, providing a heartbreaking glimpse at the sacrifice his entire family must make for the greater good. Now the Legends have to find him before the Legion of Doom does, which won’t be easy considering they figured out he was part of Apollo 13 once Thawne (Matt Lescher) already has them in his sights.
Nate (Nick Zano) and his grandfather’s easy camaraderie is on display as soon as they’re in the room together, and it’s easy to believe that their family bond allows for a silent communication that others lack. Unfortunately the ingenious move of hiding the last piece of the spear in Neil Armstrong’s flag is dampened by the knowledge that history is already changing. The mission to salvage history and stop Thawne also gives Jax (Franz Drameh) and Stein (Victor Garber) the opportunity to show off impeccable British accents.
Ray (Brandon Routh) has his own space adventure going toe to toe with Thawne in the Atom suit. Point of interest: Thawne has no super speed without gravity, but still puts up a heck of a fight. The rest of the Legends help with advice and distractions as necessary – Stein practically steals the show with his rendition of the Banana Boat song – but Ray piloting a spaceship on his own is truly a heroic feat worthy of note. Even if he dabbles in “puns, the lowest form of humor,” according to Thawne. The moment he obtains the last fragment of the spear is triumphant, and neither the score nor Ray’s face can contain their glee. Too bad it’s undercut by Sara (Caity Lotz) informing him that he’s stranded on the moon for the time being, but the show plays it with the lighthearted humor its second season is known for. Even the reluctant pact between Ray and Thawne feels believable, while their Martian homage is just icing on the cake.
The bittersweet scene at the start of Legends of Tomorrow sets the scene for a more emotional storyline this week, however, as Commander Steel reflects on the wife and son he left behind to fulfill Rip’s needs. Of course now he wants to rewrite his own history and go back to them when the mission is done, which brings up the circular time travel arguments that tend to consume shows like this one. Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) acts as a voice of reason here, and her argument against messing with the timeline and potentially stranding the Legends is much more powerful than Nate’s contention that his family’s happiness would be improved. It is sad for him that his father was cold to him because of his own childhood, but that pales in comparison to the fate of the universe. Thankfully Henry is a little more practical than his grandson, and even manages to make amends with Rip.
If there was anything missing from this episode of Legends of Tomorrow, it was Sara’s leadership upfront and center. However, it was still present in the team’s interactions as well as in the rescue of Ray. Henry noted that the group has learned to work together instead of bickering, and that’s due to Sara and her efforts rather than Rip. While I didn’t for a second believe that the Waverider wouldn’t make it back to Earth, watching the characters pull together was quite a treat. Rip acknowledging Sara as the leader, while she in turn trusted her team – and even Eobard – showed growth on all fronts.
Nate and Henry’s goodbye was slightly lessened by Nate’s antics earlier, but watching him break down in Amaya’s arms was touching. Regardless, it was more tragic that Henry didn’t get a chance to meet his son than that Nate didn’t get the chance to “fix” his family. And his earlier outburst now has Amaya on the path to pursuing and perhaps changing her future, which would spell trouble for another Vixen we know. As you can see, this week’s Legends of Tomorrow wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty package by the end, but it did set the groundwork for an interesting final arc for the season.