Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How I Would Fix "Legends of Tomorrow"

I realize it's poor form to complain about a show without suggesting how to fix it, and since I've been a very vocal critic about Legends of Tomorrow, I figure I ought to do that. In fact, I can fix not just the show, but most of the dumbness of the season, with just two little words.

No, not "The End" or "We're Sorry." I could tell you those words, but that would spoil the surprise. Let me show you instead.

1st Arc Episode: Solivore
The Waverider receives a distress call from the Vanishing Point that echoes across all of space and time. The Council of Time Masters is under attack! All past, current and future Time Masters are called to help, and if Rip Hunter shows up, all is forgiven.

Heartened by the prospects of a pardon, the Waverider returns to the Vanishing Point to help the other ships fight off some cosmic-level Big Bad -- I'm thinking something very impressive like a Sun Eater (yes, the thing that Ferro Lad died defeating in Legion of Super Heroes, and if you get that reference you've already twigged to where I'm going with this) -- and after a suitably dramatic battle where many timeships are damaged or destroyed, and all of the Legends use their powers to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Hunter is granted amnesty and the Waverider docks in order to make repairs, take on provisions, and get updates from HQ's computer on Vandal Savage's next location.

2nd Arc Episode: Para Bellum
This episode is a bit of a downtime, now-we-can-relax show, with the characters getting to engage in character development without an urgent plot bearing down on them: Ray and Kendra work out how they feel about each other, Snart and Rory come to terms (I will bet money that Snart didn't have the guts to kill him last episode -- he's just frozen), and Jax and Canary get up to... something, I dunno what. And Dr. Stein, being the nerd, decides that he'd be a fool if he didn't take advantage of what is basically The Library At The End Of The Universe and starts reading.

We also get an idea about how the Time Masters work by seeing them interact with the characters, especially Hunter -- who, by the way, is acting very worried. He believes that the Sun Eater wasn't just a random attack, that someone set it upon the Time Masters, and that they should be preparing for war. The Council doesn't really buy it, saying that his private war against Vandal Savage has made him paranoid, but his valiant deeds have earned him the right to address the council and make his point.

Meanwhile, Stein makes a troubling discovery: if both Hunter and his wife were Time Masters -- who know how history is supposed to shake out -- why did he send her to live in 2166? Didn't he foresee the rise of Vandal Savage? It seems like he deliberately put her in danger. Either that, or the rise of Savage took everyone, including the Council, unaware... but that would have to mean that Savage's rise to power was engineered by someone outside the time stream!

As he makes this discovery -- the shots of Stein's realization are intercut with Hunter making his "We must prepare for war" speech -- something does indeed attack the Vanishing Point, and the Council of Time Masters is hit HARD. The only one left alive in the Council Room is Rip Hunter... who, just as the episode ends, smiles knowingly... perhaps even wickedly.

3rd Arc Episode: Oubliette
The Vanishing Point is in ruins, and the Council of Time Masters is destroyed. There's lots of screaming and crying and bleeding and dying, and those few timeships which can leave are fleeing with the survivors.

Rip Hunter blames this on Vandal Savage -- although he is unable to explain how Savage did it -- and as the Vanishing Point crumbles around them, Hunter orders his crew and the few surviving Time Master rank & file to load up the Waverider with supplies and weapons, as he intends to bring the war to Savage.

Meanwhile, as Professor Stein makes his way back from the library, he discovers... Rip Hunter? Only this Hunter is disheveled and emaciated, like he's been in a dark hole for years. As it turns out, that explanation is correct: this new Rip explains that after the Time Council turned down his request to go after Savage, he was attacked and imprisoned in an oubliette at the Vanishing Point. But who would do such a thing, and why? And who is the Rip Hunter commanding the Waverider? Clearly there is an imposter here, but who?

A good chunk of the episode is survival-themed, as Hunter & co. try to repair the Waverider so it can leave the Vanishing Point, and Stein and Other Rip try to make their way back to the docks.

Finally, everyone meets back up in the last few minutes of the show just as the base begins to fall apart. There is a dramatic reveal -- "You!!" -- as Prison Rip meets Captain Hunter, and the rest of the crew goes "Wait, what??"

Prison Rip attacks Captain Hunter and damages his disguise (since this is science fiction, it's likely some form of hologram) to reveal another actor. In proper villain monologue fashion, this Fake Rip -- the Captain we've known since episode one -- indicates that he (or she, I'm not picky) surprised the Legends figured it out now, since they were obviously too dim to have noticed any of the other clues. He brags about how he manipulated them all into helping him engineer Vandal Savage's rise to power, and that he couldn't have done it without their help.

But now that the legwork has been done, and the Time Council has been destroyed (along with most of the time ships), he doesn't need them anymore. He thanks them for their service, and just before disappearing -- apparently he can travel in time without needing a ship -- he says that for their pains, he won't kill them. He'll just leave them trapped there, in time, forever.

Yes, the arc words are in fact "Time Trapper". 

The Rest of the Season
The Real Rip Hunter and crew miraculously repair the Waverider using their special powers -- Heatwave welds stuff, Atom shrinks, and now would be a great time for Firestorm to learn he has transmutation powers -- get off the Vanishing Point, and have to figure out why the Time Trapper needed to engineer the rise of Vandal Savage.

They soon find that certain eras of history are blocked off by what is described as an "Iron Curtain of Time", which makes fighting the both Savage and the Trapper much harder.

I'm not really sure where the season ends, but the short version is that it's eventually discovered that the Time Trapper did all this because the actions of the Time Masters prevented his creation, and so he had to engineer the rise of Vandal Savage in order to safeguard his own creation. And that's why the death of Rip Hunter's wife and child was a surprise -- the year 2166 was SUPPOSED to be one of the safest in history, but due to the meddling of Time Trapper and the Legends, they're all actually responsible for genocide. Yay, darkness! CW loves dark edgy stuff, right?

Cue more cross-time vengeance and ass-kicking as things go really nuts -- dinosaurs in 1930s New York City! All of Congress replaced by cavemen! -- as the Legends try to clean up the timeline while still battling their foe the Time Trapper.

Bonus Fun
It's revealed that the Time Trapper is actually the child of one of Carter and Kendra Hall's incarnations. And given they've had LOTS of incarnations, and probably had lots of kids over those lifespans, that doesn't really narrow it down. But the fact that both their souls are "untethered in time" explains to some extent why the Time Trapper is immortal and  has time powers, and makes it far harder to defeat him.

There: the series is much less dumb now. You'd watch this, wouldn't you?

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