Synopsis of 1×3: Still stuck in 1975, Rip and Sara try to steal Savage’s immense fortune while Captain Cold settles some old family debts.
Rating: ★★★1/2 out of Five
Where do you go when you kill the main villain of your show in the third episode?
Vandal Savage will be back. He spits as much into Rip Hunter’s face as he’s being stabbed in the neck. But after just three episodes and an almost fatally unsuccessful heist attempt, someone has planted a dagger right in Savage’s smug sense of satisfaction. They touched him. They got to him, if only for a moment.
This is not a flawless victory. Rip, overcome by vengeance and not having the forethought to not tell Savage the identity of the wife and child he would one day murder, tells Savage the identity of the wife and child he would one day murder. Rip and Sara barely escape their proposed heist with their lives.
Still trapped in 1975 so as to not let Kendra die, Sara convinced Rip to make the best of their situation. Savage, though immortal, has the incredible benefit of being rich. Living forever doesn’t mean much if you’re as broke as me. A quick scan from Gideon gives them the location of the bank, and off they go for a bit of reconnaissance. Rip and Sara get into the bank no problem. What they don’t anticipate is that this is no ordinary bank. It’s a FIGHT BANK.
Everyone from the secretaries to the middle managers are trained killers. Sara, being a trained assassin, accrues this information almost instantly. The audience, being untrained malcontents, gets this information as a glorious reveal, when the two of them turn around and find the bank’s employees waiting for them, armed to the teeth.
The heist has been a staple of genre fiction since there has been genre fiction. Audiences were even familiarized with the superhero heist last summer in Ant-Man. But never before have I seen a heist take place in a fight bank. A fight bank is frankly the perfect place to stage a heist.
More writers should utilize fight banks. Need to raise the stakes in your bank heist? Make it a fight bank. Wouldn’t Fun with Dick and Jane have been better if the bank they heisted was a fight bank? What about Point Break? One guy in The Dark Knight tried to turn his bank into a fight bank but what if he had succeeded and created a fight bank? Best movie ever, right?
Turns out the fight bank is a cult, slavishly devoted to Vandal Savage.* Using the blood of the Hawkman he so brutally stabbed last week, Savage can give some of his select followers another one hundred years of life in slavish devotion to him. Hooray? Rip and Sara, not particularly good at heists, are brought before this cultish ceremony so that the audience might understand Vandal Savage more. They’re only saved by some quick intervention from the rest of the Legends, who pound the mess out of some cult members.
*If you don’t want to write a fight bank, a cult bank is a worthy alternative.
The main plot has some nifty twists (again: fight bank) that keep the whole affair light and effective despite some clunky exposition of character conflict. This is standard for shows in their early going. It’s just going to take a while to fully introduce a cast as large as Legends of Tomorrow’s. We’re starting to get a handle on them, though. Sara is a broken assassin who could slip at any moment. Dr. Stein is full of hubris. Ray is unsure of himself. Snart will service himself above all others. Rip is… stern? Emotional? Jax is, uh…? We’re getting there.
Speaking of Ray (SEEMLESS TRANSITION ALERT), tonight he worked in tandem with Dr. Stein to Fantastic Voyage Kendra back from the brink. Using Ray’s combo Iron Man/Ant-Man personae to their advantage, they form a quick plan for Ray to shrink down and shoot apart the pieces of dagger than are slowly creeping toward her heart in yet another Iron Man connection.
It’s a serviceable storyline that mostly exists to try out a new pairing and give these three actors something to do this week. The Ray/Stein collective doesn’t yield as much fruit as Rip/Sara, or Snart/Heatwave, or Snart/Ray, or Snart/Jax, or Snart/Snart, but that’s what the early days of a show are all about. The only way to find fruit is to search for it. And they save Kendra, all while the DC TV pattern of conveying action sequences via computer screens with labeled dots is fully on display.
The stand-out plotline of the night belongs to Leonard Snart, a sentence you should get used to reading from me. But it doesn’t go unearned. After Snart and Rory recruit Jax to fly them out to Central City to steal an emerald, we’re treated to an emotional and notedly tragic story. Turns out Snart only stole the emerald (in a Reservoir Dogs-style heist we will never see) because it’s the gem his father would go to jail for stealing.
Snart pays a late night visit to his childhood home to deliver the emerald only to encounter a younger version of himself, which we knew he would. The question most often asked of public figures has always been, “If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?” and fictional characters being presented with this circumstance is always a meaty chance to get right to the heart of them, to see what really makes them tick.
Snart, given this once in a lifetime opportunity, tells himself to never let anybody hurt him. He must always stay two steps ahead. He must never let anyone get into his brain, or into his heart. Maybe it was a step too far to have Snart touch his childhood self over the heart to bring the point home, but emotional moments like this are rare for Snart. The conversation doesn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know about our Captain Cold, but it’s an emotionally-effective scene none the less.
Then Snart confronts his father, the same one he killed on The Flash but a few episodes ago. He gives his father the emerald and demands that he never lay a hand on anyone in his family. He’d kill his father right on the spot if it didn’t mean his sister would never be born.** He leaves his father with this chilling message from the future, then slips off into the night to go beat up some cult members.
**What does it take to get Golden Glider on the Waverider? Complete the set!
Ultimately, Cold’s actions don’t change a thing. The elder Snart still goes to jail, just this time for trying to sell the Emerald as opposed to stealing it. Legends of Tomorrow has set up that the timeline can be changed, but sometimes people can’t. Some folks will always be bad. And there’s nothing you can do to change that. But try telling that to Snart. This encounter certainly didn’t do much to encourage him to be any more trusting. Sometimes it’s hard to see life’s tragedy until it’s laid so plainly before us.