This season Legends of Tomorrow has made a pretty striking argument for taking the most fun show in the DCW. That said, “Shogun” kept up the enjoyment level even if it didn’t maintain the momentum of the last two weeks.
One last season’s most enjoyable episodes was the “Magnificent Eight”, a send up of the classic Western the Magnificent Seven. So it only makes sense that the Legends get a chance to take on the original source material of that movie: The Seven Samurai. “Shogun” like “The Magnificent Eight” focused on the Legends as they tried to weave their way around one of the most ruthless eras of Feudal Japan, the Edo period, where the isolationist policies of the country were at their most extreme.
As the story unfolded, one couldn’t help but notice a vibe of “we’ve been here already.” The defense of a village against a band of “bad guys” smacked of redundancy, but the performances were able to overcome any deficiencies in the originality department. While Nate certainly took center stage with his newly bestowed Steel powers, it was really the Ray and Amaya story that stole the show. Amaya had a wonderful stealth sequence at the top of the episode as she slowly incapacitated each Legend one by one. As far as pure skill goes, Vixen has more than proven her worth in the new Legends lineup, but her dynamics within the group is where the she really shines. Mick, eternally pissed off that Captain Cold is dead, has a perfect foil in Amaya as she plays a game of verbal tete a tete. That pairing alone is enough to justify her presence, but the Vixen power set also gives the Legends some much needed muscle.
With all due respect to our new Vixen though, this was really Ray’s moment to shine. Over the lifespan of Legends of Tomorrow, Ray has had to struggle with his lack of powers or raw physical skills. Ray’s A.T.O.M. suit certainly gives him an edge on the technology front, but he still doubts his own innate heroism. The end result is a very intriguing conundrum as Ray makes a plan to destroy his most prized possession. This selfless moment, really gave Brandon Routh some great dialog and brought home how important Ray is to the group.
Now that he’s completely without his armor, I’m curious to see what he comes up with next. I’m sure he’ll be without his cool technology for a few weeks, but I can’t wait to see what the A.T.O.M. Mark II looks like. If I get a vote, I want something more like the comic. Sure it will look less like Iron Man, but I can only see that as a positive.
Then there’s Nate. While it was cool to see Nate turn into Citizen Steel, I really wished we could have skipped over the – near obligatory – struggle to understand his newly acquired powers. Honestly, I think we’ve seen this so many times in so many movies and Tv shows, that the entire moment rings false. Sure, there might be a learning curve, but can’t we have that happen on screen? I promise we wont mind. That said, his journey was compelling as he shared more of his childhood and how he was so frail he never even imagined what his life could be like outside of a historian. It gives Nate a sense of optimism, that we frankly need. So many heroes are miserable and wallow in their own fugue states that it becomes completely unenjoyable. Seeing someone geek out over the ability to become a super strong metal man is a delight.
Finally we have the Firestorm Duo. I was so happy that the Mechanic and the Physicist were left behind on the ship to fix the erroneous damage caused by the plot. While I enjoy seeing the flaming Firestorm, I feel that he’s a bit too powerful and finding creative and organic ways to excuse them from the fight is a good thing. It just so happens though that as they were fixing the Waverider, Stein and Jax discover a hidden weapon depot left behind by Rip. Not only that, but they discovered a voice message from Barry Allen in 2056. While we don’t get to hear the message (annoying, much?) it does create a new level of intrigue as Stein and Jax have to decide what to do with this secret.
My biggest gripe of the week though is that beyond the slightly over worn plot, the episode hasn’t really given the Legends a direction. While they mentioned Rip’s passing, it was in an offhanded way that seemed a little cavalier for the group. Heck, they haven’t really made Hourman’s murder a priority either. Instead, the group seems content to ride the timestream and wait for the next anomaly to appear before tracking down the culprit. While this work’s great in theory, it does suppose there is only one time traveling villain at the moment. Somehow, I doubt it. Regardless, the episode was still a lot of fun and has me excited for next week’s installment where the Legends get to fight some Civil War Zombies.