How is Legends of Tomorrow the best DC show on the CW? It’s a spin-off starring minor characters from Arrow and The Flash, not based on any actual comic, and somehow it’s better than everything that came before. It never takes itself too seriously, but can still pack an emotional punch when it needs to. It has more larger-than-life characters than any other superhero show, but takes the time to develop and focus on all of them. That’s why it’s such a big deal that Martin Stein died in the “Crisis on Earth X” crossover. He’s been on the show since the beginning, and in the Arrowverse since The Flash’s first season. He deserved a send-off like he got last night.
We knew before the season started that Victor Garber’s days as a Legend were numbered. He’s replacing David Hyde Pierce in Hello Dolly on Broadway. It’s time for him to explore other projects. It felt right that this whole first half of the season was an extended tribute to Garber and Stein. They made him sing multiple times, they dressed him up as a clown, made him a hero and gave him a Titanic joke that remains the best line of the season so far. Last week, the show gave Stein a dignified death scene. He chose to die to save Jax’s life. This week’s episode functioned as an exciting midseason finale, a tribute to Professor Stein and a farewell to Jax all in one. It was a ridiculous, hilarious, action-packed and surprisingly emotional hour of TV.
The episode opened on the team still very much dealing with the loss of Professor Stein. As you might expect, no one is taking it harder than Jax. The Earth X version of Captain Cold is trying his best to help everyone work though their feelings, but he’s terrible at it. I like this new version of the character, and I’m looking forward to seeing him stick around for a few more episodes after the break. Like Garber, Wentworth Miller is also leaving the Arrowverse behind after this season. His Leonard Snart deserves just as much of a loving sendoff as Garber’s Stien got. We all know it’s going to be sad, but this is a great way to spend a few episodes with some version of the character before he goes.
The crew decides to ignore their pain by dealing with an anachronism. A particularly bad one has popped up, where Leif Erikson never left the Americas and went on to conquer the whole continent. Ray explains that Leif converted to Christianity and went back home in the proper version of history. Something caused that to not happen. That something turns out to be Martin Stein. The young version from 1992. He was pulled out of time back to Viking days while trying to buy his daughter a massively popular Furby/Tickle Me Elmo-like toy called Beebo. (That’s slightly anachronistic in itself because those toys didn’t become popular until the late ’90s, but I’ll overlook that.) The Young Stein was captured by some Vikings and Leif’s sister Freydis convinced everyone to worship Beebo as a new god. She was more conquest-hungry than her brother, and told everyone Beebo’s inane lines were whatever she wanted them to be.
It’s a funny plot and Legends explores it to its full potential. Plus, it leads to some fantastic superheroes-vs.-vikings battles. Coming off of a big spectacular event, this episode could have easily been a letdown. It was never going to have the action or the effects of a full-scale battle with Nazis from a parallel Earth. So Legends did the smart thing and focused on what made us love the show in the first place: The characters and the comedy. It even redeemed Time Bureau agent Ava Sharpe, giving her a much more fun role this time around. Rather than simply show up to scold and hinder the Legends, she reveals the Time Bureau hasn’t been doing so hot. She joins them instead, and makes a surprisingly effective member of the team. Not bad for having no powers. The Christmas jokes in this are perfectly timed as well. I like when time travel shows extrapolate what would happen if history turned out differently, even if they don’t go all the way with it. Little things like the name of the December 25th holiday go a long way in this episode. First, it’s Beebo day. Then, after the Legends destroy Beebo, the first sign that things aren’t fixed yet is when Sharpe calls it “a Odin’s Day miracle.” That’s when Damien Darhk shows up claiming to be Odin.
As fun as the battle with the Darhks was, they didn’t have much to do this episode. Despite saving Grodd and having him cause trouble throughout history, the gorilla doesn’t show up at all. That’s a shame, but hey at least we know we have more Grodd to look forward to in 2018. What they’re doing here is never really explained. They want to make anachronisms worse because that’s good for them… somehow. Yeah, they need to flesh out these guys’ motives. As entertaining as it is to watch Damien Darkh come along and screw time up worse, it’d be even better if we got any sense of why. That may be coming though. There was one interesting scene where Sara got pulled into a space outside of time where she was addressed by Mallus, the John Noble-voiced villain of this season. It didn’t do much more than set up the conflict for the next episode in February. That’s a long time to wait to figure out what’s going on. After a fantastic fight scene featuring Heatwave and Captain Cold working together again (yay!), the Legends put history right in the funniest way possible. Atom shrinks down and holds Beebo in the air. He ensures Leif converts to Christianity and goes home, but not before throwing in some important caveats. “Jesus is the one true God, but that doesn’t mean science and evolution aren’t real!” This show is so good.
And with all that hilarity and madcap action, it still finds a way to deliver a personal and emotional goodbye. Jax tries to save Martin’s life Back to the Future-style, but young Martin realizes that he will have lived a full life. He’ll have had adventures and watched his daughter grow up. He accepts that he’ll die when his time comes. It’s a poignant sendoff that “Crisis on Earth X” didn’t have time to give him. Then the episode surprises us with a goodbye to Jax. It makes sense. With Stein gone and him powerless, there wouldn’t be much for him to do on this show. Legends of Tomorrow was always designed as a revolving door, with some characters leaving and others coming in. Franz Drameh has announced that he’s no longer a regular on the series, but the door is open for him to come back. He’d better. We’re all going to miss Jax, and I’d like to see him again, even if it is just a check-up at some point down the road. Another character will join the Legends of Tomorrow when the show comes back now. Sara finds that John Constantine has appeared on the Wave Rider. A possessed girl has been saying Sara’s name. That sounds like it has something to do with Mallus. I guess we’ll find out in… *sigh* February. His show may not have lasted, but it’s cool that he keeps showing up in the Arrowverse. Don’t expect him to stick around long, though. His arc on Legends will probably kick off his upcoming animated series on CW Seed.
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