Season One, Episode Seven — “Marooned”
By Jarrod Jones. Let’s take a moment to ruminate over what looks to be the ultimate fate of Mick Rory, seemingly whacked last night by his boyhood bestie-in-crime, Captain Cold. Had Mick run out his usefulness aboard The Waverider? I’m inclined to say ‘no’, and admonishing a hardened killer like Mick for doing what comes naturally to him — like, say, performing a heel turn away from his time-jumping comrades and towards a pack of space pirates — could be considered splitting hairs. Blame the short-sightedness of Rip Hunter, who reveals that Mick’s presence on his ship was contingent upon Cold’s insistence. “You were a package deal,” Rip admits to Mick, which would be enough to send the criminal off to greener pastures. (Of the $$$ variety.) But then Hunter had to go and insult him as well.
So who should shoulder the blame for Heat Wave’s untimely demise? Certainly not Leonard Snart, who was given the Steinbeckian duty of taking his closest ally out to pasture and shooting him point blank. No, it wasn’t Snart’s cold gun what done Mick in — it was Rip Hunter’s tunnel vision that made Rory Legends of Tomorrow‘s first bonafide traitor. Mutinies, after all, are not created in a vacuum — not even the vacuum of outer space, where this week’s episode of Legends finds our beleaguered crew. In what I’m calling “Legends’ most cinematic episode yet”, “Marooned” offered us the series’ finest hour while promising one of two things: either Legends just peaked big time by injecting an HBO-level tragedy in the middle of its time-traveling fracas, or there’s more stunners of equal dramatic heft right around the corner. In the meanwhile, let’s pour one out for Mick Rory. He may have deserved what came his way — but that doesn’t make it sting any less.
WHAT WORKED: Rip Hunter’s plight has, up until this week, been largely a superficial one. Amid all the space-faring and betrayals at play with “Marooned”, Legends wisely saw fit to include a series of flashbacks that informed Captain Hunter’s vengeance as well as his perpetual abuse of The Waverider’s crew. (Oh, so that’s why he’s such an asshole. Glad we cleared that up.) He’s been the hardest character to like (this side of Martin Stein, anyway), but watching this show take care to expound upon the biggest question mark in the CW DCU shows that Legends is still willing to grow.
Can… can this show take place exclusively in outer space? I got the Star Trek willies like crazy this week, and it appears that Ray and Kendra did as well: the pair participated in a pretty-damn cute argument over which captain was more attractive — Kirk, or Picard? — and the results were squee-inducing. (The answer, obviously, would be Picard.) But not only that, it gave Ray Palmer something to do with his awesome A.T.O.M. exo-suit — even if what he did was cribbed liberally from Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. With a dog-fight amid the stars between The Waverider (a ship that looks tailor-made for intergalactic travel) and a ship packed to the brim with nefarious space pirates, “Marooned” gave us a much-needed shot in the arm by taking us away from its poorly-realized period settings.
WHAT DIDN’T: The fact that Legends can truly flex some considerable dramatic muscles is a frustrating thing when you realize that more often it errs on the side of camp. I don’t understand the dilemma here — Legends has access to the best and brightest on all DC TV fronts: Arrow, The Flash, hell, even Supergirl if CBS is willing to play ball (and signs show that it is). It has every reason to be as exciting, emotional, and downright thrilling as any of those shows are on a given week. And yet Legends remains more farcical than it should ever, ever be. I’m hanging on tight to the nigh-perfection of “Marooned”, as I fear it may be the best episode this premiere season will have for us. I hope I’m wrong.
“To quote every Star Wars movie ever made… I have a bad feeling about this.” – Jax.
“For the record, Picard was way hotter than Kirk.” – Kendra, telling truths to Ray.
“Oof. Mick had it wrong; this ship isn’t a prison, it’s a torture chamber.” – Leonard.
Leonard: “Make sure Picard here doesn’t get us all killed.” Ray: “Actually I’m more like Sulu right now.”
“That’s why you recruited me, isn’t it? To hit, hurt, and burn?” – Mick.
“Take heart, dear Captain. This battle is far from over. Now. Who would care to join me in a daring escape?” – Marty.
BEST MOMENT: Lenny and Mick say goodbye. Is it a cliffhanger? Is it a finale? For one of the Rogues, the labyrinthine path cut by The Waverider comes to an end. That path has largely been a silly one, so we can all be excused for not seeing the emotional detonation of Mick’s betrayal coming sooner. The sequence — where Leonard drags his unconscious partner to the woods to kill him — was evocative of moments seen in decidedly heavier fare like The Sopranos or The Shield. And yet the moment never once falters into a derivative mess. Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell look each other dead in the eye and knock out one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen in any DC television show.
EPISODE’S MVP: Heat Wave. Dominic Purcell’s performance as Mick Rory was one of the few primary reasons I still recommend Legends to friends and colleagues. He was surly and prone to violence and he was surprisingly effective at both. But Rory also displayed a spectrum of emotions that was far more expansive than the generalized archetype he often found himself saddled with. This week’s episode was Purcell’s best yet — and while I hold out hope that this won’t be the last time I see him (this is a show about time travel, after all), I’m willing to put the character to rest, as he got the thundering close a criminal like Mick Rory demands. His world ended in ice, not fire. There’s poetry found in that. Adios, Mick.
BE BRAVE AND BEHOLD:
– Dominic Purcell was given an out just before his stint on Fox’s upcoming Prison Break revival. Now isn’t that a co-inki-dink. That should spell certain doom for Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, though I’m not sure I can handle two of my favorite Flash vets getting the axe in a single season.
– Bonnie Baxter first appeared on New Earth in Time Masters #1 in 1990, and on Earth-One in Showcase #20 back in 1959. Hey. Comics.
– Rick Starr, Space Ranger and favored comic book hero of Professor Stein, was an actual hero in the Pre-Crisis DCU. (He first appeared in Showcase #15 in 1958). Dunno if this means Legends is going meta or what, but it made for a pretty cute turn from Victor Garber this week.
– Jon Valor was definitely a pirate in the DCU, only he didn’t do cool things like go into space or anything. Jon Valor, The Black Pirate, first got silly in Action Comics #23 (1940), only to be revived Post-Crisis in Starman #31 (1997).
– “Imperiex onslaught.” That wouldn’t be in reference to the living embodiment of universal entropy, who first appeared in Superman #153, only to then instigate the Our Worlds At War storyline, would it?
– I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen Captain Cold’s cold gun freeze something on this show.
– Yet another shout to a DC would-be despot this week: Kanjar Ro, the Dhorian dictator, first appeared in Justice League of America #3 back in 1961.
– I think it’s funny that CGI cold breath appears in Sara & Leonard’s sequences this week, but the show didn’t add them when they were needed most — in the middle of winter in Russia just three episodes ago. That’s an improvement I can get behind.
– Ray Palmer got his “Iron Man fixes the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier” moment. And then he got his “Iron Man saves the day and passes out” moment. It’s an Avengers two-fer this week.
– Next week’s episode, titled “Night of the Hawk”, is directed by none other than Gremlins helmer Joe Dante. Set your expectations to “fun”.
9 out of 10
Next: “Night of the Hawk”, soon.
Before: “Star City 2046”, here.