Synopsis of 1×7: The Legends receive a distress call from a stranded time vessel. Space pirates and betrayal ensue.
A well-crafted plotline performs miracles. It’s emotionally resonant and exciting. It elevates its cohorts. It plays on the past but can stand on its own. They are based in character. They are why we watch television.
Leonard Snart and Mick Rory make “Marooned.” They single-handedly raised my grade a star and a half. The rest is serviceable. Rip is still a bore. Legends doesn’t really know what to do with Jax or Kendra. The ambush on a rival spaceship plot is so old it could be a Time Master. But Captain Cold and Heatwave coming head to head is palpable. It’s arresting. It’s great television.
You just have to sit through a lot of flashbacks to get to it.
“Marooned” is a bottle episode in the classic sense. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Community has a great episode called “Cooperative Calligraphy” that covers the concept expertly. Essentially, to save on money shows have to craft episodes using as many existing sets and main characters as possible.* Ever find yourself watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the power goes out or there’s a storm that traps the main cast in the house? That’s no accident.
*Notice how “Marooned” set this episode on three identical spaceships?
This forces the creative team into a position to base their stories on character. Your cast has no way out and has to confront each other emotionally. Old grudges boil up. Plotlines are brought to a head. And hopefully it’s not all caused by a storm or a blackout. Because that’s just lazy.
Legends of Tomorrow has faith in its characters. Or, rather, in about six of them. One-sixth of that faith is misplaced (lookin’ at you, Rip). It trusts that it can put two of its characters in a airlock of ever-decreasing temperature, leave them to talk for a few scenes, and know that good material will spawn from that.
It knows that Ray is a real charmer. It knows that giving Stein a nice little running joke is enough because Victor Garber can spin gold from pig slop. It knows not to give too much of the weight to Jax or Kendra. It doesn’t know that we don’t care about Rip or Savage. Maybe it will learn.
What works in “Marooned” truly works. Mick and Snart being torn apart is harsh and hard on the human heart. Despite the archness of Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell’s performances, the emotional dynamic to the Rogues really works. They’ve both made mistakes lately. They got onto the ship for different reasons. Whether Snart knew about the more altruistic part of himself when he got on the Waverider is suspect. But now we are faced with the reality. Mick makes some harsh decisions that he can’t come back from. He betrays the team. He nearly gets them killed. When Snart knocked out Rory, he began a spiral he couldn’t stop that built up to (maybe?) putting him down in the woods. Where no one will ever find the body.
Whether Mick is really dead will be revealed soon, but for now we are left with the emotional heft of that ending. Special props to the Legends editing team tonight. The match cuts in the fights scenes were remarkably clever and fun. Even if it all ends with an ice beam of betrayal…