Even though Legends of Tomorrow is slated for three more episodes this season, you wouldn’t have guessed it with the epic extravaganza of this week’s episode. “Leviathan” may go down as this season’s most over the top story as the Legends face down Vandal Savage at the height of his power in 2166. As a result this episode was big and I mean that in both a dramatic and literal sense. It was sprawling, epic and at one point turned into an Ultraman fight. While there are a few bumps in the road, this is exactly what the show needed in order to build some positive momentum.
Let’s go ahead and get the rocky stuff out of the way first. The rules of time travel are a bit wonky. We spent all of last week’s episode wrestling with some fairly arbitrary rules of engagement with the Time Masters and as a result the Legends have kidnapped their younger selves in order to keep them safe. Unfortunately though the aforementioned wonky time travel rules dictate that the Legends are facing a literal ticking clock. If they can’t return their younger selves safely back to the timeline, history will change permanently. While the idea of hardening time is neat, it’s not clearly explained. One would assume that once a point in time has become “hardened” it cannot be changed by time travel because it’s already happened. While that seems an oxymoron, it does lend credence to the idea that the Legends only have one shot at stopping Vandal at a certain point in time before moving onto a different era. So, them’s the rules.
Anyway, since the team was unable to stop Savage in the 20th century, Rip has no choice but to take the Legends to 2166 and try to stop Savage at the height of his power. If you consider how badly they botched the job in the 20th, you’d imagine an extra two centuries of preparation would make the job even harder right? As it turns out, not so much. This is mainly thanks to the introduction of Cassandra Savage (Jessica Sipos) , daughter of the Tyrannical Vandal Savage. Her addition to the show makes for an intriguing wrinkle as it gives the fairly two dimensional Vandal some real depth as we see him have a real attachment with another character. Even so, Savage still suffered from the usual problems of Casper Crump’s decision to play the maniac with a quiet calm that comes off as boring. That said, when Cassandra was placed in harm’s way, the psychotic madman ignited the screen with some serious anger. This is the version of Vandal we’ve been waiting to see and it was a shame he was put back in the box so quickly.
Regardless, this felt like a huge step in the right direction for Vandal Savage. While his daughter was a little too well adjusted considering her father, it was refreshing to see the blind allegiance to the immortal being challenged on such a fundamental level. When it’s revealed that the death of her mother was a direct result of Savage’s cold machinations, it changed the game for Cassandra and finally gave Vandal some real conflict besides his stalker obsession with Kendra. The end result was a fight that struck directly at the heart of Savage and the Legends came very close to killing the immortal despot for good, which would have made for a pretty great season finale. Every subplot was driven by the sense that this was the end of the line and it created a fantastic dynamic between all of the Legends. Add to that a phenomenal battle that involved rebels, internal betrayals and the mother of all fights between Atom and a Mechanical Atom Smasher (the titular Leviathan) and you had an episode that simply went above and beyond.
Speaking of the Leviathan, I need to send out a huge kudos to the special effects department for this week. The Ultraman-esque fight between a “biggified” Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and what I’ve nick named the Atom Smasher was amazing. The CW could have easily skimped on this fight but they didn’t and it made all the difference. Sure, it’s not a photo realistic fight, but there was a sense of weight and power in every step, punch, and blast delivered on screen. It was a phenomenal visual effect and really showed us the potential for Ray’s ATOM suit in the future.
The real superstar of the week though is Kendra. Her backstory created the spine of the Legends first season and to witness Hawkgirl finally come into her own and become the badass she’s supposed to be was awesome. Gone was the woman who proclaimed she was only a barista, and in her stead we were treated with a heroine that absolutely destroyed the opposition. The only downside was when her beat down came to a halt when she discovered a reincarnated Carter Hall working for Vandal as a brainwashed henchmen. With the threat of losing Carter again, Savage offered a deal: his life in return for Carter’s memories. Unable to part with her soulmate Kendra agreed and the internet went nuts and I have to agree it’s hard to blame them. Instead of killing Savage and sparing billion’s of lives, including Rip’s family, Kendra chose to let this madman live and I get it, it’s easy to get mad at this choice.
On the flip side though, I suppose we can hardly blame her considering this is the love of her eternal life. That said, it’s unclear if killing Carter would have broken the cycle of reincarnation. The writer in the back of my head kept saying that if she killed him, he may be lost forever. I can’t say if that’s true but there is certainly an argument to be made for heroes acting like heroes. If she executes Savage in cold blood, doesn’t that make her as evil as the man they were trying to stop? To really defeat Savage, the Legends have to do what Stein has insisted is their purpose: to be a heroic example of what people can be. Crushing a man’s skull doesn’t seem to meet that criteria.
Plus, when you consider we have three more episodes in the bank, defeating Savage at this stage of the game might be a huge let down. My personal theory is that somehow the Time Masters are actually agents of Savage and their creation is in direct action of Rip’s crusade to kill the immortal. Could it be that the Time Masters are trying to preserve their idol’s timeline? Could it be that violations are acceptable if it helps Savage rise to power? I think so. I think we’re just starting to realize that the Time Masters are far more involved in this conflict than we could ever imagine. I have no idea if Rip is going to be able to save his family but I’m pretty certain that the outcome of this season will be the ruination of this time hopping organization.