Spoilers ahead for “The Justice Society of America,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!
The short version: The team hangs around in 1942 to help out the Justice Society of America (against the JSA’s better judgment) in taking on the Nazis to retrieve a mysterious amulet. Stein briefly becomes captain, is terrible, and hands over the reins to Sara. Reverse-Flash kills(?) Rex Tyler/Hourman.
The good: The Justice Society goes full-on First Avenger, and Sara officially takes charge
The season premiere was a pretty good indication that Legends of Tomorrow would finally just start reveling in the absurdity of its premise, and that trend continued here. The team hangs around 1942 and meets up with the Justice Society of America, a who’s who of interesting characters pulled from DC lore. The team was a super-secret superhero team back in the World War II era, and this episode had a whole lot of fun playing with that decade. Nazis? Check. A star-spangled hero? Check. A super soldier serum? Check. Some not-so-subtle sexism? Check. They certainly seemed to be riffing on all the best parts of Captain America: The First Avenger, and that’s fine in our book.
As for the Justice Society itself, they understandably thought the Legends were a group of lunatics, and it’s hard to blame the JSA for not really trusting this ragtag group with all the powers of time travel. Characters like Obsidian got to showcase their very cool power sets on a TV budget, and the episode was essentially one gigantic superhero team-up. We already know Maisie Richardson-Sellers’s Vixen will be joining the team for a stint down the line, and she looks to at least be a more interesting potential love interest for Ray Palmer than *yawn* Hawkgirl was last season.
This episode also dealt with the leadership vacuum among the team, with the continued absence of the missing Rip Hunter. After giving Dr. Stein a shot (mostly because he’s old and white, as Jefferson notes), he realizes the real team leader is Sara Lance. We’ve seen Sara step up a lot over the past season, and if she really does get a shot to run the team over the next few episodes, it could make for a truly compelling story. Having a woman in charge of a superhero team is a rare thing, and that could be fun to explore.
The bad: Stein’s brief leadership tenure, Nick Zano
Putting Dr. Stein in charge was an absolute train wreck, and though it’s obvious his methodical skill set isn’t really suited to the heat of battle, he flamed out a bit too spectacularly here. We’ve seen Stein grow a lot over this series, and though he can be a jerk at times, having his ego get that big so quickly was a bit over the top. Which, yeah, is par for the course with this show. But still. But man, it was almost worth it for Victor Garber’s silky-smooth musical number. Oh, and his subtle Back to the Future nod was laugh-out-loud funny. Of course he’d channel his inner Marty McFly.
In theory, the addition of historian Nathan Heywood to the Legends roster makes a lot of sense. He has a connection to the JSA (which was admittedly pretty convenient this week), and with Rip MIA, his skill set could be very valuable. But did they have to cast Nick Zano and his giant hair for the gig? It’s so hard to take him seriously in this role, and despite the best efforts, it hasn’t gotten much better over two episodes. Introducing the subplots about meeting his grandfather and dealing with his hemophilia were interesting twists for the character, but ugh, Zano is just a grating addition to the ensemble.
Ray managed to save Nate’s life just in the nick of time by injecting him with a modified version of the Nazi super serum (which he apparently made in just a few hours with nothing more than an old magnifying glass?). Could this not only cure his hemophilia, but also give him some super powers?
Vixen seemed to fit fairly well into the Hawkgirl-sized void on the team, but what will push her to leave the JSA and join up with the Legends? Could it be that closing scene with the Reverse-Flash seemingly taking out Rex Tyler/Hourman?
The Arrow-verse consortium of Big Bads seems to still be working in the shadows of Legends of Tomorrow, but how long will it be until the team realizes Damien Darhk and Thawne are up to … whatever they’re up to?
Line of the night:
“What's a computer?” - Hourman
Next week: The show continues to take full advantage of its time travel concept with a trip to feudal Japan. And yes, of course the Atom suit is mistaken for armor.