NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
Legends of Tomorrow soared to another spectacular high point in this week’s episode, “Compromised”, which takes the heroes to the White House, circa 1987. As the U.S. and the USSR prepare to sign a pivotal peace accord that will see the end of the Cold War, Damien Darhk’s presence seems to be linked to a time aberration, motivating the Legends to sort out whatever impending trouble is about to go down.
Every single storyline of this episode was executed nigh on flawlessly as well. Everything from Mick trying to train Ray to be the new Captain Cold, to Martin once again running into his younger self at the White House, to Sara once again having to struggle with her desire to murder Damien Darhk in an effort to avenge her fallen sister, among other developments, all came together with intrigue, excitement, emotion and fun. Even as some of these storylines revisited some ideas that have already been brought up on Legends of Tomorrow, the way that this episode put new and interesting spins on them, while still having some cheeky fun with the newest setting, made this hour a particular joy within a show that has already been crushing it for most of this season so far!
As the rest of the crew begin their mission to investigate Darhk’s involvement at the White House, Amaya and Nate undergo their own subplot, where they try to make contact with the Justice Society of America, as it exists in 1987. To their dismay however, the JSA appears to be disbanded, and all of its members appear to be either missing or dead. They are greeted however by an older incarnation of Obsidian, who fills them in on how the JSA fell. Hearing about the event second-hand worked to surprisingly good effect here, as it highlighted a great degree of helplessness with both Nate and Amaya, who have the largest affiliation with the JSA, while also nicely bringing up the fallout that came from Amaya disappearing from the team in 1942. The confirmation that Amaya left without saying goodbye to her other team members in her own era, and that she was romantically involved with the late Hourman, planning to leave the team with him to start a life together after WWII ended, was also nicely surprising and emotional, and effectively explains why Amaya stowed away with the Legends in the first place.
Meanwhile, a particularly interesting element to the Damien Darhk storyline this week is that, outwardly, Darhk appears to be helping the peace talks, rather than hindering them. The team naturally doesn’t trust Darhk, especially when the show drops smart reminders of Darhk’s nuclear endgame from the fourth season of Arrow, but for the first part of the episode, seeing the team become their own worst enemy was very clever. Whether it was Sara being unable to control her desire for revenge, Martin unexpectedly running into his younger self again, or Ray screwing up his use of the Cold Gun with Mick, pretty much everything went belly-up on this mission before long.
Martin was another character that especially stood out this week, actually. After his younger self is stabbed and almost killed by Darhk, Ray and Mick just barely rescue him and bring him onto the Waverider, where Martin must yet again confront his arrogance and neglect of the young Clarissa, whom he dragged to Washington on a trip during the time period. Bringing back the younger Martin proved to be a surprisingly smart choice, as it gave Martin a way to explore his own character deficiencies and insecurities without another spat with Jefferson. It was also a solid reminder that Martin has still left Clarissa in 2016 at this point, and the way that the present-day Martin used that sense of distance and struggle to set the more self-absored younger Martin straight was a great way to demonstrate how much Martin has grown as a character since joining the Legends at the start of the year.
Naturally, Darhk has an ulterior motive to helping the peace talks, being in covert business with the USSR to trade nuclear codes for a mysterious relic. This leads into an exciting climax where the team takes on both H.I.V.E. agents and USSR goons, while Ray and Mick have to try and disarm a bomb above. Mick finally insisting that Ray just be himself and, “Science his way out” fit very organically into a consistently fun set of scenes with these two characters, and sure enough, Ray does manage to save the day, just as Sara also overcomes her desire to kill Darhk. The way that Sara resolved her issues with Darhk proved especially satisfying too, as she recounts for him his ultimate, lonely defeat in the future, as it occurred during the events of Arrow last season. Sara tells Darhk that letting him live is the best way to prolong his suffering, since he now knows that he will be defeated in the end, and there’s nothing he can do to stop it.
Of course, Sara inadvertently sets a terrible chain of events into motion by telling Darhk his future though. This also cleverly tied in with Jefferson insisting that the Legends alter history where it could lead to good, even if Sara mostly feels that they were appointed to preserve history by Rip, not meddle with it. Sara’s revelations to Darhk however make him insist that Reverse Flash help him change his destiny, with Thawne ultimately agreeing to take Darhk with him through time, snapping into place the first piece of the villain alliance that will eventually become the DC Television Universe incarnation of DC villain team, the Legion of Doom later this season. Wherever these two go to next, trouble is bound to follow!
“Compromised” once again had Legends of Tomorrow firing on all cylinders this week, representing the best of these characters, and their latest stop through time. Not only did every lead personality get a very satisfying story arc this week, which is no small achievement on an ensemble series like this, but the way that the show started properly setting up the Legion of Doom proved equally clever and satisfying. The Legion still only consists of Damien Darhk and Reverse Flash for now, but it would be very neat to see the Legends’ own desires to exploit history ultimately become the catalyst for creating the greatest evil force that the DC Television Universe has yet known. Sara may have meant to cripple Darhk’s psychology, but in an unexpected way, she may have inadvertently made him more dangerous than ever!
- Fun, clever setting that makes standout use of all characters
- Obsidian effectively illustrating the fall of the JSA
- Sara's clever premonition to Darhk