NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
Legends of Tomorrow took its first hiatus over the past couple of weeks, but the time off was apparently well spent. Returning this week with, “Left Behind”, the show delivered arguably its best episode to date, thanks to the smartest and most dramatically gripping time travel consequences yet for the team, as well as a particularly inspired return for the League of Assassins, including Matt Nable’s Ra’s Al Ghul!
This episode wonderfully built off of the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode, which had the Waverider taking off without Ray, Kendra and Sara on board, stranding them in 1958. With weeks and months going by, the trio eventually gives up on the team’s return, and prepares to settle into a new life in the past. Ray at first tries to build a ‘Time Beacon’ in hopes of re-summoning the ship, though eventually settles into a new life himself, ultimately becoming a college professor, while Kendra becomes a librarian, and Sara disappears entirely.
This was the first step in a long line of great fallout from the Waverider not being able to just come back and scoop up the lost team members in 1958, as two whole years pass before Rip and co. manage to shake Chronos, who mysteriously only takes Leonard, and then has the Waverider plummeting through the time stream. After Rip manages to reverse Chronos’ sabotage, Gideon is able to take the ship to 1960, the closest that they could get to Chronos’ forced point of departure, allowing them to snag Kendra and Ray again, even if Sara is still missing.
It was very interesting to have a sort of role reversal ultimately take place with Kendra and Ray, as Ray was initially the one pushing hardest to re-summon the Waverider, though in the end, Ray is the one that becomes content with his new life in the past and considers staying, while Kendra is adamant about re-joining the team after initially giving up on them, never truly being satisfied with her life in 1958-1960. This causes some great romantic drama between the two, and frankly, it’s the best writing that the relationship between Kendra and Ray has had so far. For the first time, these two feel like a believable couple with believable problems, or at least, as believable as time travel-related problems can be.
The bigger issues however lie with Sara, whom Kendra eventually deduces has gone to Nanda Parbat, and has re-joined the League of Assassins. Naturally, Sara has become the right-hand enforcer of Ra’s Al Ghul by 1960, making it quite the tricky operation to get her back. Rip attempts to enact a plan, but the group is quickly captured and sentenced to death for their intrusion. Sara has not only abandoned her former identity, but barely seems to recall it. Despite recognizing Rip, she’s fully regressed into her League of Assassins persona, with Rip labeling it as a time traveling condition called, “Time Drift”, which occurs when certain people spend too long in the wrong timeline, and lose a sense of their own past in the process. It’s really great to see how much rich detail is starting to go into the science and lore behind the time travel elements of the DC Television Universe, between recent developments in both Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, and this provided a surprisingly effective reason for Sara to suddenly reject the return of the team.
Best of all though is that this device allowed for a strong return by Ra’s Al Ghul,, after this incarnation of the character originated during the previous season of Arrow. There’s even an apperance by a young child version of Talia Al Ghul, which was a very cool Easter egg for Batman fans in particular, given that Talia is a frequent frenemy and love interest of the Dark Knight in DC Comics lore. Rip having to bargain with Ra’s Al Ghul for the life of himself and his team was effectively tense, as was Rip having to put Kendra up to a trial by combat with Sara. This gives Kendra the opportunity to remind Sara of her identity as White Canary, and it comes just in time for Chronos to crash the party again, now that he’s locked on to Rip’s signature.
Oh, regarding Chronos, we finally get to learn who has been under that bounty hunter armour since the start of this series, and while it’s a huge deviation from Chronos’ history as The Atom’s arch-nemesis in DC Comics lore, the twist was still awesome for this show! Turns out, Chronos was actually a very-much-alive Mick Rory this entire time, who was rescued by the Time Masters, after Leonard didn’t follow through with killing him, and merely knocked him out and abandoned him. The Time Masters rescued Mick after he was nearly driven insane by hunger and fatigue, and took him to the Vanishing Point, a timeless pocket dimension that should be recognizable to DC Comics fans, especially as the most blatant parallel of the Time Masters basically being the DC Television Universe incarnation of the Linear Men from DC Comics lore in all but name. After multiple lifetimes of training and conditioning, Mick was set loose on Rip’s crew, as the bounty hunter, Chronos.
This was an excellent way to have big repercussions occur from Leonard ultimately refusing to kill Mick after his betrayal, even if it does create a couple of plot holes, since the writers clearly wrote themselves into a corner with having to re-introduce Mick to the team, and might not have planned this twist when they first wrote out the season’s progression. The biggest of these plot holes comes from the times that Chronos/Mick clearly shot to kill, especially in the time stream, but if he was Mick the whole time, why would he do this? He’s blatantly endangering himself in that instance, and if he kills himself in his past, wouldn’t that erase him from existence? Sure, Mick isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but surely, he can figure that out. The second big plot hole with Mick is, why exactly did the Time Masters bother to rescue and condition him? What makes Mick so special? Hell, even Rip pointed out that Mick is not special, and is basically a mandatory tag-along for recruiting Leonard. Surely, there are any number of thugs throughout history that the Time Masters could have built into Chronos, particularly since a fair count of them are no doubt better fighters and thinkers than Mick Rory!
Whatever the case, an intervention by Chronos/Mick in Nanda Parbat forces Ra’s to free Rip’s crew, and ultimately allows everyone to team up and subdue their friend-turned-enemy. After locking Mick up again, and securing a voluntary release for Sara by Ra’s Al Ghul, Rip savours the reunion of his team, despite everyone naturally distrusting Mick, and wondering why Rip would even bother to recruit him again. Mick however claims that there are plenty of miracles yet to be seen on the Waverider, and that there’s hope yet for Mick. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out, but it is nice to have Mick back in any case, even if it will no doubt be a while before the team trusts him in any serious capacity.
“Left Behind” is a standout example of Legends of Tomorrow performing at its best. This was a very weighty and clever episode, one that presented a lot of neat, inspired complications from a major time travel glitch, and illustrated more than ever just how dangerous Rip’s crew’s quest actually is, and how dangerous meddling with time can actually be. The return by Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins, however fleeting it was, was great, the Kendra/Ray relationship is finally genuinely appealing to watch unfold, and even the way that Mick ultimately found his way back to the team was pretty shocking and awesome, even if not every element of that made sense. The team will once again be taking the fight to Vandal Savage next week, as Rip takes them far into the future, but this episode made for a superb way to showcase that, as dangerous as Vandal Savage is, the real force perpetually working against Rip’s team is often time itself!
- Heavy time travel consequences for Ray, Kendra and Sara
- Fantastic twist with Chronos/Mick
- Ra's Al Ghul's great return
- A few plot holes with Mick being Chronos