NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
After last week’s especially Legion of Doom-focused episode that revolved mostly around Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk, Legends of Tomorrow completely moved away from the Legion in this week’s episode, “Turncoat”, which instead had a surprising new antagonist for our heroes; Rip Hunter! Now under some form of mind-scrambling by the Legion, Rip kills George Washington to provoke the Legends into traveling to the formation of the United States during the Delaware Crossing in 1776, specifically Christmas Eve of that year, the day before Washington is killed by Rip, which will erase the United States itself from history.
This made for a Legends of Tomorrow episode that went back to the show’s established traditional style, but did so to superb effect. “Turncoat” may have turned Rip against his crew pretty early after his recovery in the 1960’s, but considering that Legends of Tomorrow currently has shorter seasons that end earlier than The CW’s other three current DC Universe-inspired shows, maybe rushing Rip’s turn to villainy along more quickly was a necessary evil.
Either way, Arthur Darvill is given another chance to redefine Rip’s character in an excellent way in this episode, particularly as his vast knowledge of the Waverider and his former team’s workings quickly leave the Legends crippled and defenseless after they’re caught in an obvious trap. After Rip discharges a Particle Accelerator-esque wave while also arming the British soldiers with modern automatic weapons that can easily decimate the American rebels, things end with Sara gut-shot and dying, Mick captured alongside Washington, and Ray’s Atom suit disabled, leaving him stuck in a miniaturized state.
Making episodes that easily hobble the Legends and leave the team as a whole completely and believably on the ropes is hard to do, but this episode did it, and did it superbly. With Sara being mortally wounded, the team is without a leader, and with Jefferson and Martin unable to merge into Firestorm due to Rip’s EMP-esque strike, they’re left to operate separately, as Martin must try to stabilize Sara without Gideon’s aid, and Jefferson has to take over as acting leader, keeping Rip away from the Waverider’s part of the Spear of Destiny, with some help from Ray, who can get into the locked areas that Jefferson can’t.
Jefferson’s character hasn’t always been served well by this show’s storylines, though he’s gotten several considerably better plots in Season Two of Legends of Tomorrow. This was another standout example of making better use of Jefferson’s character, as he becomes the only line of defense against Rip and the British soldiers he’s recruited. Jefferson’s surprising ingenuity and courage however does manage to keep Rip at bay long enough for Ray to help restore power to the Waverider. Rip gets away with the Spear of Destiny, but Jefferson having to make the hard choice to save Sara’s life, only to have Rip kill her anyway, was a standout moment that showed Jefferson’s true character and resolve, after he chases down Rip with a gun, threatening to kill him. Granted, Sara’s ‘death’ is almost immediately reversed by Gideon, making the moment ultimately feel pretty pointless (especially since Sara has already died and come back to life on Arrow, so killing her again would be stupid and unsatisfying), but Jefferson ultimately stepping down from killing Rip at Sara’s behest shows that he’s matured at least a bit from when he first started venturing with the Legends at the start of the series last year. The same is true when Jefferson rejects Rip’s offer to resurrect his dead father with the Spear, something that he wouldn’t have shot down in Season One.
With several of the other Legends separated from their friends, we get to enjoy a couple of strong subplots in this episode as well, as Nate and Amaya develop a sudden romance, which is exacerbated by Nate briefly suffering hypothermia after falling into a frigid river (I guess his steel form can’t prevent that?), forcing Amaya to keep him warm with body heat. Nate explaining to Amaya about the, “Chill” nature of modern relationships in 2017 led to Amaya looking at the hook-up as just a fling though, somewhat to Nate’s dismay. Amaya being the one current hero on Legends of Tomorrow that doesn’t come from the modern era was finally put to some good use again here, even if the fling with Nate did somewhat come out of nowhere. It almost seemed like Amaya was actually closer with Mick, or even Ray than Nate, if I’m being honest.
Speaking of Mick, he provided a welcome dose of levity in an episode that was otherwise very dark and intense by the standards of this show. Mick’s entire subplot had him marching off to be processed by the British with Washington, with Mick’s cynical modern edge clashing exceptionally with Washington’s old-world honour. Mick eventually motivating Washington to fight dirty and save himself in the climax was pretty satisfying, and the result of history being altered to have a statue of Mick being erected in modern Washington was pretty hilarious. Even the vaguely political humour with Mick was very smartly executed, as Mick bluntly states that Washington’s vision for a tolerant, unified America more or less doesn’t exist in the modern world anymore.
As is usual for the current season, Legends of Tomorrow, despite being the lowest-rated of The CW’s current quartet of DC Universe-inspired shows, continues to leave its three sister shows (Supergirl may be more of a cousin show, actually), firmly in its dust. “Turncoat” is another brilliant, superb offering for the series this week, which made up for Rip’s hasty turn to the dark side by offering an excellent chance for the Legends to demonstrate all that they’ve learned as independent heroes. Every hero had great moments that were true to their character, and even with the Legion of Doom sitting out this week’s episode, the writing didn’t seem to suffer for that at all. Legends of Tomorrow is taking next week off, meaning that, like The Flash, it will unfortunately be skipping Valentine’s Day, but I suppose there’s no time for romance anyway, what with Rip and the Legion getting closer than ever to their cataclysmic end goal!
- The Legends facing their former leader with their operation crippled
- Amaya's time displacement being put to better use with Nate
- Amusing, smart levity with Mick's capture
- Sara's 'death' is hastily resolved and pointless