There was a lot of excitement surrounding Legends of Tomorrow's first season, but for all the fun of its mish-mashed premise, things never really seemingly clicked until the end — by which point, most people had already checked out. Thankfully, last night's second season premiere was a strong new start, and fun as hell.
Basically, Legends has become this weird parallel to the early days of Doctor Who. Legends' first season was all about Rip Hunter moaning at his wacky teammates for mucking about with the timelines. Shove them in black-and-white robes and it wouldn't have been out of place in a Patrick Troughton adventure from the 1960s. Rip's bosses, the Time Masters, even ended up being arseholes, just like Doctor Who's Time Lords!
But with the Time
Lords Masters taken out last season, Team Legends is now free to do what it does best: Be goddamn heroes who can have fun. Their idea of fun is, thankfully, gallivanting about time and space seducing queens and punching Nazis.
Last night's premiere, "Out of Time", is told through the framing device of Oliver Queen and mysterious historian Nate Heywood discovering a destroyed version of the Wave Rider (and an in-statis Heatwave) in the Atlantic Ocean, and felt like a new mission statement for the show. The big threat of the episode — someone altering time so that the Nazis can blow up New York with an atom bomb (with the help of Albert Einstein) in 1942 — is largely solved by the end of it. The only real hook for the rest of the season came at the very end of the episode (more on that later) so the show could focus on one big, crazy time-travel problem, and then move on to the next.
The serialised nature Legends has seemingly taken on, and will hopefully maintain, gives so much more time for the the characters to just have wacky hijinks — like Dr Stein and Heatwave trying to protect Einstein from Nazi captors in a spectacularly goofy fashion in a skit that also would have felt right at home in the middle of a zany Doctor Who episode.
And that levity — seeing the team zipping about from a mission in 17th century France to 1940s New York in the premiere, with trips later in the season to places like feudal Japan or a return to the Wild West — has brought with it a sense of confidence Legends of Tomorrow lacked in its first season. With the story of Vandal Savage's pursuit of the Hawks, Legends' first season switched between time travel fun and grim examinations of its characters maligned backstories at a breakneck speed, ultimately faltering to effectively do either. With that story out of the way, it feels like the show has been unshackled to really focus on the fun stuff that worked — that the show arguably always should have focused on. (It may also help that team leader/grump Rip Hunter ends up MIA by the end of the episode.)
Unlike its sister show The Flash, Legends has finally embraced that time travel as a concept can be a ton of fun. I can't wait to see if it maintains that feeling throughout the rest of this season.
- Stein doing the "never meet your heroes" time travel schtick with Einstein was adorable. Victor Garber is a delight when he gets to have fun on this show, rather than just being the "science guy".
- We knew it was coming, but the Dahrk/Reverse Flash team-up at the end of the episode was still amazing to see unfold. TV's Legion of Doom has a very high capacity for some scenery-chewing villainy, and I can't wait to see it.
- This show could just as easily become Sara Lance Seduces Famous Female Figures of History and I'd almost love it if it did. The big benefit of removing Savage, Rip and the Hawks from the picture means way more time with the characters we really care about — that is, the characters that were brought over from Flash and Arrow — and it's already really working.