TV Review: Legends of Tomorrow - Season 1 Episode 4 "White Knights"

EPISODE 4: "White Knights"

SYNOPSIS: "When Vandal Savage retreats behind the Iron Curtain in the early 1980s, a string of nuclear scientists begins to mysteriously disappear. The team follows Vandal’s trail straight into the heart of the Soviet Union in an attempt to find his next target. Ray tries to bond with a beautiful Soviet scientist, Valentina Vostock, in the hopes of finding out Vandal's next move. When Valentina rejects him, it’s Snart to the rescue. Stein pushes Jax to be better, which frustrates Jax and ultimately threatens the Firestorm matrix. Rip asks Sara to train Kendra."


Wow! Okay, so we've got a big episode on our hands here tonight, folks! After last week's questionable follow-up to the show's strong two-part debut, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is right back in my good graces with “White Knights”. I like to think of this as a course-correction episode, as it served to alleviate a few of my character-based gripes and introduce a bit of complexity and heart into the series.

From what I can gather, the team is just about at their breaking point with regard to the total failure of their scheme against Savage. The mad time tyrant has managed to profit from their every mistake, and even cheated death in the face of their one small victory. That's a lot to swallow for a group of C-listers hoping to make a name for themselves, but I feel as if we're on the cusp of positive change for our league of legends.

For me, there were several stand-out moments throughout “White Knights”, and it all began during the “what did we all learn?” phase of the team's botched visit to the Pentagon. Back aboard the ship we're greeted by heroes at odds with one another, and in these moments, we share a maddening moment between Jax and Professor Stein. I use the term “maddening” because, holy hell, Stein sure uses this time to continue his journey toward becoming the biggest hypocrite in the group. His hang-up is that Jax continuously fails to heed his sage-like advice, yet the man displays an unfathomable amount of egotism at nearly every turn. For real, Stein's deal seems to doling out the advice but never once abiding by his own words.

Normally, I'd wave Stein off (for the time being) and look for someone else in the group to hang out with until he can come to his senses, and yet, I can't seem to tear myself away from his narcissistic displays. I'm just saying, for a man of science and vision, he certainly has taken some pretty ill-advised actions while moving throughout space and time – allowing his younger self to board the Wave Rider for instance. But I digress. Rather than continue to be frustrated by Stein, I find myself very interested in seeing how he'll mend things with Jax, and what lessons he'll take under advisement in the face of his incarceration by the end of the episode.

Oh, and just so I don't gloss over what have been Jefferson's best moments on the show so far, kudos to Franz Drameh for bringing the noise to his character during Jax's argument with Professor Stein. This was definitely the moment where Drameh got to show audiences that he's not just some kid along for the ride. In those moments when he talks about being drugged before boarding the ship, and how he has a widowed mother waiting for him back in 2016, I believed in his anger and resentment toward his current situation. I'm not saying Drameh will be winning any awards for his performance. I simply think it's nice to see that the kid's got chops and I hope to see his character grow as the series presses on.

Moving on, I know that I bagged on Ray a bit last week, so it's with pleasure that I say I think I rather enjoyed his antics this episode. In talking with my girlfriend about his character, we touched on a few insights to his role that I had not yet considered. The long and short of it is that Ray is the team's resident geek. Oh sure, he's accomplished, attractive and rich, but he's also still the science fair participant looking to gain the approval of his superiors. With that in mind, I feel as if Ray's journey to heroism could perhaps be a bit more cumbersome than the rest of his teammates. Think about it, even in taking a look at the way the group rolls when given any manner of downtime, Ray is almost always on the outside looking in. It's something to consider when judging his actions and eagerness to please rather than being the one to lead the charge … so far.

I'll also add that I'm totally on-board with Kendra taking steps to be more reliable and controled when participating in battle; constantly reminding the audience that just a few weeks ago she was a barista could stand as a rule for a LEGENDS OF TOMORROW drinking game. In short, I'll be glad to no longer have that be her fall-back for not stepping up. I think Sara is the perfect candidate to help Kendra learn how to manage her warrior side, especially seeing as Ms. Lance needs to exercise some restraint regarding her bloodlust-related outbursts.

In terms of pacing and quality, I think this episode does a better job of advancing the plot while simultaneously showcasing solid character-building moments for just about everyone on the team. In truth, I'm enjoying the way this show is pairing new combinations of team members as each opportunity to get closer to Savage presents itself. It's a smart way to allow the audience the chance to to feel out the on-screen chemistry between actors – and inevitably let the whole world know their opinions via social media. And you just know writers and execs pay attention to at least some of that rabble.

All-in-all, I think this could be the best episode of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW that we've had so far. In addition to the show's keen sense of humor and penchant for the ridiculous, we're now beginning to see the makings of how discord within the group can lead our team down a dangerous path. It stands to reason that if our heroes can't learn to control their inner warrior , or put their differences aside, someone else may be joining Carter in the after-life sooner than anticipated.


This week, the crew of the Wave Rider are off to Washington D.C. 1986 - arriving just in time to experience the height of the Cold War! Here's the score. The Wave Rider's A.I. interface, Gideon, has intercepted a digital record that details Savage's next move. Ah, but there's a problem. The information on said document has been almost entirely redacted. Therefore, Rip proposes that the team infiltrate one of the United States most secure facilities, The Pentagon, to steal the original text. Thankfully, Gideon is capable of fabricating any of the necessary documents needed to gain access to the building.

With their genuinely fake identification badges, Leonard (Wentworth Miller) and Ray (Brandon Routh) gain entry into the Pentagon while disguised as two masters of the custodial arts. After Snart manages to swipe a keycard from an unsuspecting officer, he then makes the hand-off to Kendra (Ciara Renée) and Sara (Caity Lotz), who will use it to gain access to the laughably un-guarded records room. With the document in -hand, it's up to team Firestorm to divert the buildings security power so that everyone can make a stealthy escape. It's during this extraction of energy that Professor Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax (Franz Drameh) have a heated debate about Jefferson being unwilling to take direction from his older, and of course, smarter counterpart. Cue Megadeth's "Sweating Bullets"!

Before Stein can jump out of Jefferson's body, throw him over his knee, and spank him for his insubordination, the fuse box overloads – triggering the alarm and alerting security to Kendra and Sara's presence as they try to leave the building. So now that the guards are like “Excuse me, ma'am, I need to scan your key card.”, Kenda and Sara are forced to kick and punch their way to freedom. As the ladies are trading blows with the Pentagon's finest, Kendra gets angry and goes all super saiyan on the guards. With her wings stretched wide and her eyes glowing red, she's exposed her un-tapped and un-hinged warrior side to Sara. Obvioulsy, this means that they're going to have to have a little chat. Smooth moves getting in-and-out of the Pentagon un-noticed, team!

Back aboard the Wave Rider, we're witness to the team being at odds with one other after having bungled yet another mission. There's good news, though. Thanks to their albeit disastrous afternoon at the Pentagon, Gideon has learned that Vandal Savage has defected to Mother Russia. Naturally, the team plot a course for the Soviet Union, but then find themselves in the cross-hairs of an old enemy – the bounty hunter, Cronos. Things get all “Top Gun” once Russian fighter jets join the pursuit, and Rip pulls what is arguably the time machine's riskiest maneuver yet – cutting the engines and crashing nose-first into Russia's craggy mountainside.

With everyone safe after one hell of a rough landing, Rip and the rest of the legends open their stolen file to discover details about a secret scheme called Project SVAROG. Believing Project SVAROG to be related to a weapons development program, Ray and Snart move to make contact with a gorgeous Russian scientist named Valentina Vostok (Stephanie Corneliussen) who they hope can shed some light on the matter. Thankfully, Ms. Vostok has plans to attend Le Roi Canduaule ballet, giving the boys an opportunity to get suited up in a more dapper fashion than usual.

Now that Snart and Palmer are busy getting their ballet on, it's time for Sara to have a little chat with Rip about Kendra's violent outburst back at the Pentagon. Taking her concerns seriously, the Captain requests that Sara begin training Kendra immediately, so as to avoid any further unpleasantness. Sara begrudgingly complies with Rip's request, not knowing that he has an ulterior motive for pushing two of his most unstable teammates together.

Meanwhile, Ray approaches Valentina outside of the ballet, and after a few embarrassing pick-up lines, blows his chance at making nice with the good doctor of science. Not to worry, though, friends! For Snart is no stranger to the game of love, and we should all tip our hats as he cooly ensnares Vostok with nary an eyelash batted. In the interim, Captain Hunter has asked that Rory join him on a mission to finish off Cronos once and for all. While on the hunt, the pair are greeted by one of Rip's old acquaintances, time master Druce (Martin Donovan). With a fiendish air about him, Druce explains to Hunter that the Captain and his team are making a mess of things, and that he's traveled back to offer them a deal that will bring their mission to an end without persecution for their crimes against time itself. By the end of their conversation, Rip slinks back to his ship, doubt haunting his mind like a restless and wailing specter.

As we re-join the crew of the Wave Rider, Sara and Kendra can be found in the halls, kicking the crap out of one another in an effort to quell Kendra's berserker rage. Several good punches and a massive kick to the chest later, Sara's blood-lust begins to boil, - and she nearly chokes her teammate, Kendra, to death right then and there. Understandably frightened by her actions, Sara runs away, disturbed by of her lack of self-control. Meanwhile, after lifting Vostok's key card, and proving to Ray that he's got more game than Parker Bros., Snart learns that Project SVAROG is being kept at Luskavic Labs.

We then return to Captain Hunter, who after a bit of tortured debate, has decided to take Druce up on his offer to end the mission and return everyone to their proper time-lines. Only, what the hell? Cronos is there too and he's working alongside Druce? Who would have ever seen that coming? Druce then confesses to Rip that he and the counsel can no longer abide by the actions of Captain Hunter and his team, and that they are to be executed immediately. I suppose it's a good thing Rory was onto Druce from the start, as he comes leaping out from behind a tree, his heat gun spitting fire! Joining him is a reckless Jax as Firestorm, who - in the throes of battle - makes a tactical mistake that places both his and Professor Stein's life in danger.

After the team makes their escape, it's time for Jax and Stein to have a go at one another. Needless to say, each of them make some valid points about their respective positions in this wild adventure they're caught up in, and eventually reach the conclusion that working together as a unit is impossible. Feeling like a total jackass for his idiotic tantrum, Professor Stein then decides that he's going to take matters into his own hands by investigating Project SVAROG himself. Along with Snart and Palmer, Stein makes his way into Luskavic Labs, where he then discovers that the Russians are attempting to make their own version of Firestorm! Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!

Hoping to absorb the radiation emanating from Project SVAROG's core, Stein gets all grabby inside the test chamber. Outside of the chamber, a fire fight has broken out, leaving Ray, Rory (who's shown up to help his friends) and Snart no choice but to fend for their lives. Some confusion, a few stern stern words, and a hail of bullets later, Ray, Rory, and Stein are captured by the Russians and thrown into the dank darkness of their most un-welcoming gulag. You do realize what this means, don't you? DC Comics meets Prison Break cross-over, y'all!


NEXT ON LEGENDS OF TOMORROW: "Fail-Safe" airs February 18th - After some of the Legends are captured and thrown into a Russian gulag during the height of the Cold War of 1986, Snart leads the ream in an elaborate escape plan to free their comrades. However, Rip gives Sara a secret side-mission that could prove not only to be a liablity, but fatal to the team.

Extra Tidbit: Valentina Vostock AKA Negative Woman made her first appearance in Showcase #94 published by DC Comics. While defecting to the United States and piloting a Russian fighter plane, the aircraft malfunctions, and Valentina crash-lands directly on the spot where the Doom Patrols' Negative Man had died. Rather than expire in the crash, Valentina absorbs Negative Man's residual energy and later joins the 2nd incarnation of the Doom Patrol as Negative Woman.
Source: joblo.com



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