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TV Review: Legends of Tomorrow - Season 1 Episode 11 "The Magnificent Eight"

04.14.2016

EPISODE 11: "The Magnificent Eight"

SYNOPSIS: When the team needs a place to hide out, Rip (Arthur Darvill) sets a course for the Old West.  Upon arrival, they start a fight with a gang of outlaws, putting the small town in jeopardy.  Luckily, an old friend of Rip’s, Jonah Hex (guest star Johnathon Schaech), steps in to save them.  Thor Freudenthal directed the episode with story by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim and teleplay by Marc Guggenheim (#111).

REVIEW:

For me, DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, is begining to feel a bit like a rickety roller coaster. Each and every episode, like the Great American Scream Machine (Six Flags Great Adventure) or Big Bad Wolf (Busch Gardens) has had its share of ups and downs. And if the outstanding Joe Dante directed “Night of the Hawk” mid-season episode was to act as the anticipatory climb toward a most exhilarating post-break thrill ride, then “Left Behind” is where the bolts began to loosen and nothing is compelling me to throw my arms up in the air. As is the case with “The Magnificent Eight”, I'm now that guy who is no longer interested in waiting an extra 42 minutes to ride in the front car.

Okay, enough with the roller coaster metaphors already. Here's the score. DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is (currently) a bit of a mess. Now, before we go and get ourselves all worked up over just one man's opinion, let's break down the groups trip to the Wild West. First, I'm not entirely opposed the setting for this week's episode. I liked Tombstone, I'm a fan of True Grit, I think Back to the Future III is alright, and yeah, Deadwood proved to be pretty awesome. So it's not the cliches found in the town of Salvation that bother me, it's damn near everything else around it that does.

First, I dug Jonathan Schaech's portrayal of the scarred wanderer, Jonah Hex. He had the look, the vocal gruff, and his connection to Rip actually served to move his involvement with the group along in ways that I did not anticipate. Personally, I think it's understandable that he would play 9th fiddle to our orchestra of heroes, seeing as Jonah is merely a one-off character guest of the show. So I'm not going to hop aboard the old “Why didn't he get more screen time?” locomotive. Honestly, the episode would have worked perfectly well without him, so I consider his appearance an entertaining treat for fans of the character and I'm happy to have seen him firing guns beside our pantheon of adventurers.

Moving right along … what the hell are we doing with this show? Forget Ray's insufferable cowboy act, nevermind that Mick's back on the team after nary a word was expressed about his attempt to murder everyone on multiple occasions, or that Stein's entire thread in this episode was just a long road to an H.G. Wells name drop. I'm willing to let that all go for the sake of getting to the root of my problems with the LEGENDS OF TOMORROW since the its return just two weeks hence. Some of our readers have criticized my reviews for harping too much on Ray and Kendra's relationship. Well, guess what, it's still a problem. I'm of the opinion that the writers are force feeding an emotional conflict into the program that doesn't need to be there. Why does there always have to be a love story? Why did we take the most uninteresting and lifeless characters of the bunch and push them (forcefully) together? Your guess is as good as mine.

I keep bringing this up because DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW reminds us at the end of every episode that these two characters are trying to “work it out”. And to that I say, when? As soon as Ray discovers he's in the Old West – and presumably gets the feeling back in his junk after a nasty time jump – he grows a hard one for living out some childhood fantasy rather than wonder where his girlfriend has skipped off to for half the episode. Oh sure, they walk together, they charge into battle with one another, but where are the moments of connectivity between these two? Where's the reason we want to see them succeed as a couple? Where's the part when we're supposed to even care about what happens to them? Why, because of their mission to save the world? I'll be honest with you all, lately, that hardly seems like enough.

And while we're at it, let's talk about Kendra's jaunt into the horizon when looking for her mystery woman. I understand that something is compelling her to speak to this woman. I mean hey, if I bumped into someone, and dimply coming into contact with them caused me to have a flashback from one of my previous lives, you bet you ass I'd hunt them down to find out what was up. Honestly though, where did all of this lead Kendra and Sara by the end of the episode? Nowhere. No one but Ray even inquires about where the pair traipsed off to for most of the afternoon. To that, Kendra sheepishly tells Ray some vague-ass information about what she'd learned, and the whole thing ends in a half-hearted kiss. In essence, we're right back to where we were with these two since their “relationship” began. I keep hearing them say the words, “I love you”, but I don't see it. Without that pop, without that on-screen chemistry, these parts of the show are just wasting our time.

Okay … alright, deep breaths. Actually, you know what? No. Let's talk about Jax for a second. Where is this dude? On more than one occasion this season, Franz Drameh has given us moments to cheer for him, and has demonstrated that he's an actor who's more than capable of hanging with the likes of Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, and Caity Lotz. So I ask you, again, where is this dude? Since the show's mid-season return, Jax has been under-served at damn near every opportunity. He barely receives any screen-time, and when he does, it's usually so he can “get heated” and spout a corny one-liner or two. Where are the moments in which he challenges the actions of his teammates, or tells Stein where he can stick his holier-than-thou perspective on today's youth? Where are the moments of him showing his elders that he matters in the grand scheme of things. Him being the "Heckle" to Stein's "Jeckle" is inexcusable and not enough.

Right, let me see if I can end my tirade and find some other positive things to say about tonight's episode. Hmmmm … Oh, okay, so I appreciate that despite it feeling a bit ham-fisted, I like the fact that Mick Rory is back on our side. The changes to his character, while subtle, have made him a tad sharper in the brain pan – and bit more interesting to boot. I'm not sure that we'll get any of this, he seems to be a very private guy, but I would love to learn more about his time as Kronos. Where did he go? What was his training regimen? Was it really just his bro-love for Snart that brought him back over the fence? These are things I'd like to know but doubt we'll ever learn. That said, it's a pleasure to have him quipping along, once again, and being an asset to the mission rather than a hindrance.

Yikes! Reading over this review you'd guess that I'm about ready to walk away from this show. That's actually not the case, not even a little bit. I love this comic book stuff, for better or worse. I appreciate having this platform to air my grievances as well as celebrate aspects of the show that I enjoy. Not every week is going to be a banger, and I still am holding on to the hope that DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW can either return to its promising roots or press on to uncharted and exciting territory. There's a lot to like about this program, from its weekly shift in time, purpose, and location, to the characters like White Canary and the Brothers Hot and Cold and provide tender or memorable moments every episode. Now, if we could just remove some of the dead weight we'd be in business.

RECAP:

This week on DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, Rip Hunter and his Splendid Seven are off to the Old West circa 1871. Why would anyone want to go back to this time and place if it were not to build a time-traveling locomotive or abscond with Billy the Kid for their high school History final? Well, the tumbleweed-choked town of Salvation is apparently something a “time fragmentation” or “temporal blind spot” in the space/time continuum. Basically, it's a place that the time masters can't see. The plan is for our legends to hide among the prairie dogs and drunkards of the Wild West while avoiding a group of Time Hunters tasked with ending their lives.

Never content to simply remain inside the ship and not run the risk of altering history as we know it, everyone but Rip has asked Gideon to fashion them some cowpoke garb so that they can explore their new surroundings. Upon exiting the ship, Ray, Kendra, Sara, Mick, Leonard, Jax, and Stein make their way to the nearest saloon for a drink and a bit of people watching. As the group divides: Stein and Snart take up residence at a poker table, and Sara and Mick begin trading shots at the bar while the rest meander about.

Before long, Stein becomes engaged in an altercation with a local member of the Stillwater Gang after defeating him in an honest round of cards. As the bandit moves to fire a bullet into the good professor's gut, Snart shoots first, thus ending the life of the surly pony-tailed criminal. Of course, this leads to an old-fashioned bar brawl. Not very long after the kicking and punching begins, a mysterious figure fires his pistol into the air as a way of quelling the action. With a voice as dry as Salvation's desert sand, the stranger announces that his name is Jonah Hex, and that he's perfectly aware of who our legends of tomorrow are.

Next, the team returns to the Wave Rider with their new cowboy friend in tow. Upon gazing at the lone wanderer's scarred visage, it becomes quite obvious that Rip is not thrilled to see his old adventuring partner, Mr. Hex. With his sandpaper voice, Hex informs Hunter that his time-manipulating posse has pissed off Stillwater's gang of deadly thugs. Rip's solution is to find a new blind spot where they all can hide, but it appears as if Ray isn't willing to leave the Wild West just yet. Essentially, Palmer steps to Rip with a speech about being heroes and doing the right thing by the people of Salvation. Outnumbered, Hunter is left with no choice but to allow Ray to live out his little cowboy fantasy.

In another part of the ship, Sara finds Kendra as she's preparing to make a journey of her own. It seems that while visiting the local watering hole, Kendra encountered a woman who triggered a flashback from one of her past lives. Thinking that this stranger could provide a clue into her finding Carter, Kendra decides to seek her out. Sara, not wanting to see her friend venture off alone, chooses to tag along.

Shortly thereafter, we find Ray and Jonah engaged in a conversation with Salvation's local sheriff. After Ray expresses his concerns about the town, the sheriff basically says, “F*ck this sh*t, I'm out!”, and leaves Palmer in charge. Back at the bar, Stein is found greasing the palms of the locals when he meets a distraught looking woman sitting at a nearby table. Upon inquiring about her dilemma, the professor learns that the cause for the fair lady's distress stems from her being unable to care for her ailing son. Stein then follows the woman back to her place and finds that her boy is indeed dying from tuberculosis. Knowing that he has access to a wealth of advanced medications via the Wave Rider's medical bay, Martin decides that he's going to help cure the sickly child.

Next, we join Sheriff Palmer at the center of town as he tries to reason with the leader of the Stillwater Gang. The conversation goes poorly and the man pulls a gun on Ray. Though before the mangy dog can loose a shot, Snart sharp-shoots the pistol from the man's grip, leaving varmint dumb-founded. As a result, the Stillwater Gang retreat, leaving Ray to celebrate the afternoon's small victory with his friends. After telling Rip of the day's events, we learn that he's been keeping a secret from his teammates regarding events that took place in a town called Calvert.

Not looking to remain in the dark about what transpired in Calvert, Stein requests that Gideon pull the files and share that information with the group. According to the ship's computer, Calvert was an Oklahoma town that existed circa 1968. Wait a minute, was? Whatever could that mean? Anyway, we'll get to that in just a little bit. Shortly after a scene featuring Sara and Kendra locating the whereabouts of their mystery-woman, we find Stein exiting the time machine with a case of modern day medicines clutched in his hands. With words of warning, both Ray and Captain Hunter remind the professor of the consequences regarding the exposure and use of future pharmaceuticals. But just like the town's former sheriff, Stein has precisely zero f*cks to give seeing as a child's life is on the line.

Rip, in his infinite wisdom, decides to press the professor a bit harder about the danger of his actions. It's in this moment that Stein reveals to Rip that he knows about the events that happened in the town of Calvert, and doesn't see how the good Captain is in any position to decide what's right and what's wrong. Just then, Jonah walks in and informs the group that the intel they'd received pertaining to where the Stillwater Gang is hiding has panned out and that it's time to saddle up.

With Sheriff Palmer and the rest of the boys off to defend the town of Salvation, Sara and Kendra have been busy making friends with the woman from the saloon. As it turns out, the stranger is none other than one of Kendra's former selves, and she's chock-full of information about Carter and the ceaseless caperings of Vandal Savage. While tending to supper, the woman also gives Kendra a pep talk about chasing destiny, lost love, and knowing when to move on with your life. As Kendra listens to the defeated woman's words, it dawns on her that she's not willing to give up as easily.

With the moon high above their heads, Sheriff Palmer and his Furious Five have made their way into the Stillwater Gang's territory. Some fancy gunplay and a few punches to the face later and Ray apprehends the leader of the gang - but not before Jax goes ahead and gets himself captured. Wait, what happened to Stein? Why isn't he riding with the rest of his crew? Well, he's off administering medicine to the boy … who at the end of the day turns out to be none other than H.G. Wells! Oh LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, you just couldn't help yourself, could you?

As we press on, the time has come to make a stand and rescue Jax from his sarsaparilla sipping captors. Everyone aboard the Wave Rider is ready to ride in with their guns a' blazin' … everyone except for Captain Hunter, that is. As his hesitance is called into question, Rip reveals the truth about what really happened in Calvert all those years ago. It seems that Rip knew about the attack, and turned tail to re-join his family before lifting a finger to help with the ordeal. Understandably disturbed by the news, Jonah socks Rip in his angular face before demanding that he explain his cowardly actions. Hunter then cops to his turning tail, and, in the end, vows to make things right.

As a result, Rip decides that he'll be the one to face the gang's leader in a High Noon-style shootout at the center of town. After he's successful and Jax is set free, the Time Hunters show up to ruin any manner of victory celebration that the team had planned. Needless to say, things go from bad to worse very quickly. A fight breaks out and before the day is won, Mick kills the agent who's leading the Time Hunters. With yet another ruckus added to the history books, the team decides that it would be best if they relocated to another place in time where they can hide. Only, there's a problem. With his dying breath, the hunter that Mick stabbed has informed him that the Time Masters are fed up, and have declared the team an Omega-Level threat. This means that they've dispatched one of their deadliest agents to take care of the matter. How, you might ask? By going back to each of the legends adolescent years, and killing them off one by one before any of them have the chance to become heroes.

STINGER: The team is targeted by The Pilgrim (guest star Faye Kingslee), a deadly assassin who wants to erase the Legends from the timeline by killing their younger, non-superhero selves.  As a protective countermeasure, Rip (Arthur Darvill) decides Sara (Caity Lotz), Snart (Wentworth Miller), Rory (Dominic Purcell), Professor Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax (Franz Drameh) need to kidnap their past selves first before The Pilgrim gets to them.  Coming face-to-face with the younger versions of themselves proves to be both a physical and emotional challenge for certain members of the team who would rather forget their past.  Rip tells them he has a refuge for their precious cargo – an orphanage that raises future Time Masters and where he himself grew up.

Extra Tidbit: The character Jonah Hex made his first appearance in DC Comic's All-Star Western #10 in the year 1972. He was created by both John Albano and Tony DeZuniga.

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5:26AM on 04/20/2016
Great review. This series has gone off the rails and is just pure cheese and hack writing now. I laughed so damn hard when Rip Hunter whipped his jacket back in preparation for the gunfight. It was SO. INCREDIBLY. BAD! I don't see it getting better anytime soon, either. Between the huge decline of Arrow and the mess that this show is, the producers have stretched themselves way too thin.
Great review. This series has gone off the rails and is just pure cheese and hack writing now. I laughed so damn hard when Rip Hunter whipped his jacket back in preparation for the gunfight. It was SO. INCREDIBLY. BAD! I don't see it getting better anytime soon, either. Between the huge decline of Arrow and the mess that this show is, the producers have stretched themselves way too thin.
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5:53PM on 04/15/2016
I gotta tell you when I heard about this show I was pumped. Then I heard Vandal Savage was going to be the villain, the trailer for the show when Arrow said his name, and lets just say my excitement level went through the roof. The quality of the Flash and the initial 2 seasons of Arrow as my basis I figured I this show would be amazing. But dear god was I wrong. Aside from Canary and Cold the show is almost unwatchable. Its a disjointed, focus-less mess. Sure the special effects are great but
I gotta tell you when I heard about this show I was pumped. Then I heard Vandal Savage was going to be the villain, the trailer for the show when Arrow said his name, and lets just say my excitement level went through the roof. The quality of the Flash and the initial 2 seasons of Arrow as my basis I figured I this show would be amazing. But dear god was I wrong. Aside from Canary and Cold the show is almost unwatchable. Its a disjointed, focus-less mess. Sure the special effects are great but the story is almost non existant and even forgotten about half the episodes in favor or cheesy dress up locales for no reason and even more pointless horrible romantic "drama". Rip is a moronic character in this, and its a shame because when Wells mentioned him at the end of S1 Flash I was I nerd popped. He is the worst leader on the planet. Hawkgirl actress is as bad an actress as Rip's character is written. This show is damn near unwatchable. I'll finish out the season but I'm not gonna be upset when this show gets cancelled, or if it does. Shame too because there was word they were going to try to add Constantine to this next season. I actually don't want that character I love anywhere near this abortion of a show.
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10:08AM on 04/15/2016

Wow,

I'm really trying to stick with this show. I'm not a DC guy, but I've really liked the Flash, and the Arrow has had some cool moments... plus I've kinda enjoyed being introduced to these ancillary DC characters. But, holy jumpin' hams, this show can be cheesier than a Domino's Wisconsin. The soapy interplay between HawkGirl and Atom is giving me the dry heaves. I've seen it said that some of the acting is bad on this show, but man, it's becoming an understatement. It's like a bunch of B actors
I'm really trying to stick with this show. I'm not a DC guy, but I've really liked the Flash, and the Arrow has had some cool moments... plus I've kinda enjoyed being introduced to these ancillary DC characters. But, holy jumpin' hams, this show can be cheesier than a Domino's Wisconsin. The soapy interplay between HawkGirl and Atom is giving me the dry heaves. I've seen it said that some of the acting is bad on this show, but man, it's becoming an understatement. It's like a bunch of B actors in a high school musical. I'm all for lighthearted, but this thing comes off like an Archie comic. I like how the review said, "Sara, not wanting to see her friend venture off alone, chooses to tag along." If that's what it had seemed like I'd let it slide, but the actress played it like it was her chance to play a cowgirl in a State fair parade. The smarmy-ass grin of this supposed "blood-thirsty assassin" suggested, "I'm gonna get to ride a pony." It was too sophomoric for even a youth-focused, CW show like this. I'm rooting for it, but it's getting hard. Maybe I'm just not the audience they want.
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1:24AM on 04/15/2016

I'll be a little kinder....

But only a little. It was at best a 6 out of 10, mostly because there was no point in them being there. Somewhere along the line this show decided it would become Fantasy Island where the time ship gimmick allowed them to do a show per week in a cool new setting. But they don't take any of it seriously, so it has no significance. Seriously, they acted like they had no fear of cowboys shooting real bullets at them, which is just insane. There was no real plot in this episode. Maybe if they
But only a little. It was at best a 6 out of 10, mostly because there was no point in them being there. Somewhere along the line this show decided it would become Fantasy Island where the time ship gimmick allowed them to do a show per week in a cool new setting. But they don't take any of it seriously, so it has no significance. Seriously, they acted like they had no fear of cowboys shooting real bullets at them, which is just insane. There was no real plot in this episode. Maybe if they had stumbled into something it would have been better, but since they created the problem, it just reiterated that they never should have gotten off the ship in the first place.

There have been some good episodes, and they've asked some important philosophical questions about what they should and should not tamper with. I even liked the future episode with the space pirates. But mostly the show is meandering and it's stunning that they wouldn't have had more of a plan considering the budget requirements of this show (they said before it ever started that it would be a one season show).

It should be so much better, but has gotten completely lost.
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10:58PM on 04/14/2016
Ohh, I think you assessed this episode exactly right. I realize it's a filler episode, but The Flash is able to do filler episodes well, so it's just no excuse at this point. And it's frustrating because while last episode was decent, it also didn't progress the plot very much (well, at least baby Hitler was amusing), and neither did the episode before it. This series involves time travel for pete's sake, it doesn't need to tread water like Agents of Shield in order to match up to the rest of
Ohh, I think you assessed this episode exactly right. I realize it's a filler episode, but The Flash is able to do filler episodes well, so it's just no excuse at this point. And it's frustrating because while last episode was decent, it also didn't progress the plot very much (well, at least baby Hitler was amusing), and neither did the episode before it. This series involves time travel for pete's sake, it doesn't need to tread water like Agents of Shield in order to match up to the rest of its shared universe! Do something!
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