NOTE: This episode of “Legends of Tomorrow” aired two days early here in Canada, with CTV showing it on Tuesday, April 12th
NOTE 2: Full spoilers for this episode of “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
After struggling with its latest move to the future in last week’s episode, Legends of Tomorrow found its way to a far more effective backdrop this week, that being the Old West, circa 1871. Forced to hide out from the Time Masters’ pursuing thugs, the Hunters, Rip and co. descend into the American frontier town of Salvation, which presents an opportunity to introduce a certain beloved DC Comics Western hero!
Yes, Jonah Hex joins the canon of The CW’s DC Television Universe this week, and he’s not that surprised to see time travelers showing up in his town. After breaking up a bar fight started by the team after Martin does a little too well at a card game, Hex steps in to quiet everyone down, then asks where he can find Rip Hunter. Turns out that the good captain has met Hex before in his prior travels, and the episode gives them a great history, even revealing that Rip’s Old West-style overcoat was actually a gift from Hex, and that Rip’s son, Jonas was named after Hex to boot.
Johnathon Schaech plays a great Hex in this episode as well, more than making up for the character’s former and disastrous live-action appearance in the ill-fated 2010 movie, Jonah Hex. Schaech has great chemistry with the team, particularly Rip and Ray, after Ray accidentally snatches himself the sheriff’s position in Salvation, forcing him to try and defend the town against a band of outlaws called the Stillwater Gang, who were provoked by Leonard shooting one of their men when Martin’s card game became violent.
These kinds of episodes really seem to be when Legends of Tomorrow is frequently at its strongest; The episodes that make creative and clever use of a new historical setting, and just focus on having fun and creating entertaining scenarios for the leads. Many of the episode’s best moments were simple jokes and silly little messes that the team ends up in as they muck around the Old West, and forcing the team to stop and hide from pursuers, rather than continue to aggressively hunt Vandal Savage, allowed the series to take a nice breath this week, and refine itself to re-calibrate the entertainment value after a faultier episode to come before.
As fun as the episode was, some of the character conflicts were pretty inspired this week as well, especially when it comes out that Rip became so attached to the time period, that he very nearly stayed and abandoned the Time Masters, which is why he refuses to venture outside of the Waverider until towards the episode’s climax. Martin, meanwhile encounters a woman crying over her dying son, and smuggles medicine out of the Waverider to cure the boy, which Rip advises him against, reminding him of the implications left by a small bit of Ray’s suit being stuck in the past earlier in the season. When Rip recounts a story of how his leaving resulted in the destruction of an entire town by Jonah Hex’s DC Comics nemesis, Quentin Turnbull however (we unfortunately don’t see Turnbull in the flesh yet), Martin refuses to live with the regret on Rip’s face, especially since, being a former Time Master, Rip knew that his actions would lead to the town’s destruction. It’s alright though, because the sick boy turned out to be H.G. Wells, so all was well in the end! You’d think that Rip could figure that out with Gideon, which is perhaps why Martin wasn’t ultimately disciplined in any way.
Kendra meanwhile encounters a woman in the bar around the start of the episode, which causes her to have heavy flashbacks to her former life in the Old West. Believing the woman to be a friend of hers, she rides along with Sara to the woman’s remote hideaway, and discovers something even more shocking; The woman is not a friend, but is Kendra herself, or more specifically, an older version of her from that time period. The other Kendra tells her present-day self the sad story of how she lost Carter in that lifetime, and how every time Kendra falls for any man other than Carter in any time period, it always ends in curses and tragedy. This is a pretty interesting idea, especially since it helps give Kendra the resolve to press on with her relationship with Ray, coming to terms with the fact that she’s not bound by destiny if she doesn’t want to be. We’ll see if that’s true later, but at least this turn helped the Kendra/Ray romance continue to avoid being insufferable.
A climax eventually unfolds, where Jefferson is captured by the Stillwater Gang after an arrest attempt gone awry, leading to Rip having to come outside to engage the gang’s leader in a quick draw duel. Rip manages to save the day and get Jefferson back, though the Hunters arrive at that moment, forcing Rip to take the gloves off and deploy the future tech, ultimately having to reveal everything to the town. Rip believes that skepticism will prevent tampering with the timeline, especially when Hex humourously makes a sign of the cross upon glimpsing Firestorm in action, and I suppose that’s fair enough.
If I’m being honest though, the Hunters were ultimately wimps, and went down far too easily, considering how dangerous Mick claimed that they were. Even being in the Old West, every one of them was wiped out fairly quickly, without a single fatality to any bystanders or anyone on Rip’s team, and they basically served as dull filler villains who mainly served to set up another villain for later. As Rip bids adieu to Hex, and thankfully leaves the promise for Hex to return to the series later at some point, the final revelation of the Hunters’ leader has Mick and Rip putting together that a dangerous new villain called The Pilgrim is now targeting them… But not directly! Instead, The Pilgrim is hunting the team’s younger, helpless selves, and is trying to erase them from history that way. It makes for a pretty solid hook for next week, especially when the closing seconds of the episode appear to show a young boy in Central City (Ray, probably, since Leonard and Mick would likely be adolescents in 1990), about to be shot dead! How do you stop a threat like that?! I guess we find out next week.
It’s satisfying to see Legends of Tomorrow find its footing again in, “The Magnificent Eight”, even if this series is still noticeably trailing Arrow and especially The Flash in terms of a consistent quality standard. Still, the Old West setting was used very well, Jonah Hex’s introduction was fantastic, especially in how well the show linked him to Rip and his former history as a Time Master, and the little character moments with Ray, Kendra and Martin also worked pretty well. The Time Masters don’t seem to be done throwing time-twisting bad guys at our heroes yet though, and it’s doubtful that they’ll ever truly stop, especially with Mick now seeming to be fighting for Rip’s crew again. It begs the question though; At what point do the Time Masters start doing more damage to the timeline than Rip?
- Superb introduction of Jonah Hex
- Rip's tragic connection to the time period
- Fun, engaging Old West antics
- Hunters are ultimately pushovers