Now that we’re past the exposition-filled episodes that comprised the two-part pilot, this series is finally given the opportunity to breathe a little. While it’s a bit of a bummer that we spent a third episode in the 1970s, the character moments made up for it. Dr. Stein and Ray Palmer finally bond and find some common ground once the former decides to actually treat the latter like a person. Positioning Stein as a bit of a father figure to Ray is a smart move and Garber & Routh bounce well off of one another.
We also learn that Rip Hunter actually had one failed assassination attempt on Savage behind him before he scooped up this crew of wayward heroes. Watching him fail to kill the man who murdered his family was a bit more touching than I expected, especially when he confides in Sara about it. As she says, not everyone possesses the ability to kill another in cold blood and there’s nothing wrong with that. Will Rip finally be able to pull the trigger (or plunge the knife) when the time comes? I think so, although realistically it has to be Hawkgirl who does the deed.
Speaking of Hawkgirl, she remained incapacitated this episode, due to her injuries last week, and the show is all the better for it. I like the character and I appreciate what they are trying to accomplish with her, but either through poor writing or poor direction, Ciara Renee still comes off like a walking block of wood. She’s not as bad as Falk Hentschel was/is as Hawkman, but it’s pretty close. Having her out of commission kept the episode from grinding to a halt during any dramatic scenes with her, as it often does, and resulted in a far better pace this week.
Jackson wasn’t given a whole lot to do this week, but he held his own with the moments he had. Hopefully he’ll have a little more to chew on as time goes on, however. Also mostly sidelined was Heat Wave, but given the fact that Dominic Purcell’s sole purpose on the series is to occasionally chime in to masticate the scenery, that’s perfectly fine. He gets in, does his job, and gets out, as it should be.
The best part of the episode, aside from more Michael Ironside-esque villainy from Casper Crump as Vandal Savage, came from an unexpected dramatic sequence for Wentworth Miller. Captain Cold (aka Leonard Snart), amidst the team being stranded in the ’70s, takes an opportunity to right a past wrong. We he was a child, his father attempted to steal a precious item from the Central City museum. While Daddy was never worth much of a damn, being a thief and an alcoholic, he apparently gets caught doing this job and goes to prison. Coming back a changed man (and not for the better), he turns to beating his wife, little Leonard, and eventually little Lisa as well.
Leonard’s alteration to the timeline? He steals the precious emerald from the museum for his father, Lewis*, in advance and drops it off at his childhood home. With it comes a warning: stay out of prison and never lay a hand on Mama Snart and the kids…or else. As fun as that bit was, the kicker came when Leonard comes face to face with his childhood self.
I know I joke about and relish every scenery-chewing moment that Miller has on these shows. It’s part of why he’s one of my favorite characters on them. The snark and smarm were cast aside for this scene, however. Captain Cold is utterly gentle and kind when speaking to little Leonard, boosting the kid’s confidence and asking him to be strong for his mother and sister in the future. There’s a genuine sadness in Miller’s eyes that sold every minute of this sequence, however cheesy the set-up might be, and drove it home for me. It was just a wonderfully personal scene for the character and it completely worked.
Now, more than ever, I want to see a redeemed Captain Cold. Even if he doesn’t remain a regular on “Legends” and eventually returns to being a recurring player across these shows, I want that moment to happen. Both Miller and his character have earned it.
* – Funnily enough, present day Lewis was played by the aforementioned Michael Ironside on an episode of “The Flash” earlier this season. Leonard was a lot less merciful to “daddy” in that episode.
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