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TV Review: Legends of Tomorrow - Season 1 Episode 14 "River of Time"

05.06.2016

EPISODE 14: "River of Time"

SYNOPSIS: After numerous attempts in many different time periods, the team has successfully captured Vandal Savage (guest star Casper Crump).  However, Savage tells Kendra (Ciara Renée) that he can reunite her with Carter (Falk Hentschel) so she struggles with whether she should kill him.  Rip (Arthur Darvill) decides they will deliver Savage to the Time Masters which doesn’t sit well with Snart (Wentworth Miller) and Rory (Dominic Purcell).  The duo decides it may be time to jump ship and return to their old life.  Meanwhile, Savage taunts Ray (Brandon Routh) about his place in Kendra’s life.  Alice Troughton directed the episode written by Cortney Norris & Anderson Mackenzie.

REVIEW:

Mmm, I don't know, despite some choice moments of Casper Crump playfully acting the hell out of his Vandal Savage character, much of tonight's flackback-laden episode felt like it was looking to waste a bit of our time. Okay, so maybe “waste” is not the right word. How about “stretch”? Yeah, let's go with that.

Yeah, it's going to be another one of those “good stuff/bad stuff” reviews, as I'm feeling quite conflicted about the events of tonight's episode. Let's get one thing straight before we move on to my constructive moaning and complaining about of “River of Time” - Casper Crump was the clear highlight, for me. Whether you've been grooving on his character or not, you've got to give it up for Crump, who was gleefully gnawing on every piece of scenery offered to him. With a toothy grin and a serpent's tongue, he lied to and manipulated our heroes like a champ. Personally, I felt like this finally gave reason and weight to why Savage is such a threat. It's not his time manipulating abilities or his hand-to-hand combat skills that make him such a deadly adversary - it's his ability to get inside the heads of his enemies. I'm a sucker for a villain who values brains over brawn, and for me, Savage did a fine job in demonstrating that you shouldn’t mess with him.

Ahh, now how long has it been since I've ranted about the Ray, Kendra, and Carter love triangle? Probably not very long at all, seeing as it's been a disappointing plot line for damn near the entire season of this show. I'll try to keep this brief, but holy shit am I ever glad that Ray has finally come to his senses by ending his romantic involvement with Kendra. I'm certain that the drama isn't over yet, but good for him on recognizing that their union is nothing but a hellish and vomit-inducing merry-go-round. I pick and I poke fun at this aspect of the show, not because I'm looking to hate on it “just because”, but to clarify that I'm of the firm belief that it's crippled much of my enjoyment for the show, this season. I think many of you are with me on this, but all season long, where was the love, the spark, the necessity for Ray and Kendra to be a thing?

Anyway, I'd like to speak on another reason why tonight's episode didn't hit for me in ways the past two episodes had. Those flashback sequences, what the hell? I suppose they served to remind the audience of certain character's motivations for joining up with Captain Hunter, but if that's the case, why did we only spend time with a few of them and not the whole team? I mean, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have wanted to sit through that either, but fair's fair, right? My problem isn't going back and exploring these moments, again. My issue with them stems from feeling like they bore no significance to the plot of tonight's episode. Perhaps these visions were referenced again in an effort to show character growth, but if that's the case, why now? I don't have any solid evidence, though part of me can't help but feel like the writers included so many of these flashback sequences as a way of killing time.

I suppose that before we get out of here we should talk about tonight's “big reveal”. Yes, that point in which the time council revealed that they're in cahoots with Savage (although predictable) was a total “Oh snap!” moment for me. I mean, we all knew that Time Master Druce (Martin Donovan) was a bag of dicks from the time we caught him faffing about in the woods with Kronos, but in league with Vandal Savage, too? That's a cold bit of business there, right? You bet it is, especially since the entire council appear to be down to clown with Savage as well. When you think about it, it explains a lot in regard to the council's repeated attempts to hinder the team's progress in apprehending their oppressor. Now that Rip is incarcerated, and much of the team has been apprehended, I figure it's only a matter of time before Sara and Snart (along with Jax who will inevitably find his way back to his friends) swoop in to save the day.

Overall, I feel quite torn about tonight's episode, even after I've written my recap and review. As I'd stated earlier, I think the time we shared with an imprisoned Savage was well spent, but little else about this episode left me with a case of the warm and fuzzies. At this point, it's all about momentum, and for the past two episodes, things were looking pretty good. Then, the pacing had to get bogged down entirely with time-wasting flashback sequences and more nap-inspiring scenes courtesy of Ray, Kendra, and Carter. I think it's truly a shame that the bulk of this debut season's story has hinged on the love-sick antics of three men and one very boring female character. It's not like exciting things haven't happened throughout the course of the season, it's just that I can't help but feel as if they always get buried beneath this terribly distracting thread. Meh, there's only two more episodes to go until we reach the end of DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, let's all put the good vibes out there for an exciting ride toward the finish line!

RECAP:

Whoa, okay, hi! I hope you remembered to stretch, because tonight's flashback-heavy episode is going to have us running all over the place. Why did I agree to review a show that deals in time travel? Oh, I remember. It's because I love this crap. Alright, let's dig in.

This episode opens with us flash-backing our way to Egypt 1700 BC. In that temple we've all become very familiar with throughout the season, we see Savage wrestling around with a vengeful Rip Hunter. Vandal eventually gets the better of his opponent and tosses Captain Hunter's ass into a holding cell. Before slinking off to, I don't know, comb his beard, Savage warns assailant that he'll leave him rotting in that cell until his dying breath.

Next, we join the legendary crew in the main cabin, arguing about the status of their mission. With attitude to spare, Snart questions Rip as to why Savage is still alive and sitting comfortably in a holding cell aboard their ship? Just then, Ray and Jax enter the room, and explain to their teammates that they've been studying the tech left behind by Savage's Leviathan weapon - and it's far more advanced than they had originally anticipated. What this suggests is that Savage has been moving throughout time in ways that are forbidden by the Time Council. Figuring that he finally has what he needs to bring Savage to judgment for his crimes against history, Rip decides to plot a course for The Vanishing Point, the place where the Time Masters Council holds court.

After a few words from our sponsors – mostly just expensive car commercials and news personalities spitting soundbytes while trying their damnedest not to look dead on the inside – we're greeted to a scene of Rip and Vandal Savage talking to one another in the ship's prison quarters. After some salty words, the Captain insists that his psychotic nemesis reveal to him how he gained the ability to manipulate time. Savage smiles, and confesses that it was indeed Rip himself who had inspired him to learn the art of time travel. Basically, he'd figured out who and what Rip was, and then used all the time at his fingertips to figure out Rip's time-manipulating secrets. Like, ermahgerd, no way!

A transition later and we get a quick bit involving Ray, Kendra, and “I don't remember a damn thing” Carter, who's been restrained since the close of the last episode. After a bit of yakkity yak in reference to how Carter's memory has been tampered with , the man-hawk shares that he really doesn't give a frak about the details of his perdicament. Next, there's a scene of Sara speaking with Rip as he's trying to uncover an alternate route to their destination. Sara presses him about his plan, and that's when you can see that the good Captain is beginning to lose it.

Just then, the ship begins to wig out. It appears as if Rip has been pushing the Wave Rider too hard and the Time Drive is now damaged and in need of repair. Captain Hunter promptly asks for Jax to help him fix the ship, and for Sara to go and check that their evil guest is still in his cage. As Ms. Lance enters the prisoners quarters, Savage immediately starts weaving a web of harsh truths about the leader of their outfit, Captain Hunter. Sara tries not to listen, but senses that not all of Savage's words are born from lies.

Then, we're back with Jax as he's trying to fix the time drive. A pop and a spark later, and suddenly Jax is hit with a blast of time radiation. While knocked out from the eruption, Jackson experiences a flashback involving a conversation with his mother. When he comes to, the team learns that as an adverse effect of the radiation, their teammate's organs are now aging inside of his body at an alarmingly rapid rate. Time to visit the medical bay, little buddy.

With Jax off fighting a cruel strain of Would-Be-Hulk disease, we find Snart and Rory raiding the mess hall for sugarless snacks. After a brief bit of conversation, Leonard becomes uneasy, and says that he's got a very bad feeling that something awful is about to happen. Unfortunately after that, we're back to the Ray, Kendra, and Carter love triangle nonsense. As Kendra moves closer to Carter, pleading with him to remember who she is, Carter leaps forward and places her in a scissor-hold with his legs. YES! I mean, oh nooooo, not Kendra. Anything but that. Heh. Ray comes to her rescue by giving Carter a swift kick in the bread basket and we're back to square one in the negotiatiation proceedings.

Promptly after giving Hawkman a bit of business with his booted foot, Ray decides to get some air … which involves visiting Savage in the holding cell, because of course. Savage proceeds to tell Ray that he too was once involved in a relationship with Kendra, and that falling in love with her will only end in heartbreak so long as Carter is still breathing. It's then that Ray has a flashback to when he and Felicity Smoak said their goodbyes on the night Palmer agreed to join Rip's little crusade. After that, Ray returns to where he left the two love birds (get it, because they're Hawkman and Hawkgirl? Ahhhhh, c'mon!), and overhears Kendra begging Carter to remember the love they once shared. Understandably, he's pissed, and walks away in a huff.

Kendra chases after him, of course. “Oh Ray! You know I love you. That's why this is so hard for me. Blah blah blah.” Ray then lays everything out on the line, and when Kendra does not reciprocate with the same feelings, Ray FINALLY ends their union. Meanwhile, Jax is working his way up Shit's Creek without a paddle as his organs begin to fail him. Looking on at their aging partner, Snart and Rory decide that they're going to take control of the situation and talk to Rip about ending Savage's life before things get any worse. When they arrive, Rip pretty much tells them that if they can't follow his orders then they should get off the ship. The Weather Bros. (Yup, I'll use it to the bitter end, too!) decide, “You know what? #@%&, you, and #@%& the mission. We're out.”

Just after Snart and Rory go looking for the escape pod, we're treated to an entirely pointless flashback involving Sara and Nyssa (Katrina Law) – Sara's lover from when she was a member of The League of Shadows. It's a tender scene and all, but it lends very little to the events of this episode. Next, it's Stein's turn to talk to Vandal. After some intellectual chest puffery, Stein decides to usurp the escape pod, and use it to send Jax back to the year 2016. Ah yes, and he's tampered with the quantum retro causality matrix – because he suddenly knows how to manipulate the inner-workings of the Wave Rider? - in an effort reverse the effects plaguing his Team Firestorm partner. Stein then leads an unknowing Jax onto the pod, drugs him (again, just like in the first episode), and sends his ailing friend back in time. Oh, but you know who's not going to be happy about that? You've guessed it, Snart and Rory.

Next, we get a Stein-inspired flashback to the night he departs from his wife and embarks on his mission with the legends. Much like Sara and Nyssa's flashback, it's just there to suck precious moments of our life away and not add much weight to the events of tonight's show. As we rejoin the Professor, Snart and Rory have caught up with him and are nonplussed about Stein having used the escape pod. Although, when they find out that it was to save Jax their anger becomes extinguished rather quickly.

After that, it's back to the Ray and Vandal Chat Show! As their conversation about Kendra and Ray's worth as a human being begins to heat up, Ray stupidly opens Savage's cell and puts up his dukes. After landing a few good punches, the time tyrant places Ray in a sleeper hold, and it's nighty night for our idiot lover boy. Oh great, now Savage is out of his cell and roaming the ship. Way to go, Ray! Smooth move, Ex-Lax!

Back in the main cabin, Rip and Sara have restored order to the ship and it's full speed ahead to The Vanishing Point. It's then that Ray stumbles in, his ass obviously kicked, and delivers the news that he's allowed their prisoner to escape. Then, because things aren't bad enough, Vandal sabotages the ship and the legends lose access to Gideon. Without the ship's navigation software, the ship will need to be piloted manually while Mick and Ray search for Vandal - and presumably, Carter.

As the episode winds to a close, there's a big fight between Savage, Carter, Kendra, Rory, Snart, and Ray dressed in his Atom suit. Things look pretty grim for a moment, that is until Carter regains his memory. With the past restored to him, Carter lashes out against Savage. Some fancy moves later, and the man with the evil beard plants a dagger in Carter's side. Hawkman then drops like a sack of dirt, barely breathing. To this, Kendra bugs the #^@% out and duffs Savage to the ground.

Finally, the group arrives at the Time Council's chambers. Rip parades into the center of the room with an incarcerated Savage in hand. Expecting the council to reward him, Rip is stunned when his superiors un-cuff Savage and instead place Rip under arrest. That's right, the council have been canoodling with Savage this whole time! As the time masters raid the Wave Rider for the rest of the crew, everyone but Sara and Snart are taken into custody. Annnnnd scene!

STINGER: "Destiny" airs May 12th Being in the vicinity of the Time Masters leaves Rip (Arthur Darvill) and Rory (Dominic Purcell) incredibly disturbed for very different reasons.  Meanwhile, Sara (Caity Lotz) takes over the Waverider, Kendra (Ciara Renée) is reunited with Carter (guest star Falk Hentschel) and Snart (Wentworth Miller) decides he might be a hero after all.  Olatunde Osunsanmi directed the episode with story by Marc Guggenheim and teleplay by Phil Klemmer & Chris Fedak (#115).

Extra Tidbit: C'mon Ray, how is it that you don't know how to better utilize your suit when engaging in combat? I expect to see some Ant-Man-inspired moves coming from you if you manage to survive until Season 2! Use your tech, dude! You designed it for heaven's sake!

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