Who knew the “legends” could accomplish something for once? After a series of failures, they finally managed to prevent the worst from happening. With only one mission — to save Stein and the prisoners from near-certain death in a 1986 Soviet gulag that’s housing a lab for making Firestorm — the team’s movements felt more streamlined than ever.
But before we get to all the ass-kicking and insane-Soviet-doctor stopping, poor Stein is being held captive by Vostok, who uses hallucinogens to make him almost give away his Firestorm-stabilizing formula to a fake Cisco from The Flash. It’s always nice to see Carlos Valdes pop up across the small-screen DC universe as Cisco, but the ponytail and the oddly sinister expression made Stein (and those of us who watch The Flash) realize Cisco wasn’t there at all: Instead, Vostok is doing her best to make Stein slip up, and when this fails, she calls in Vandal Savage himself. He threatens Stein with torture (via a device he received from his friend Stalin), and it only gets worse from there for the professor. Vostok presents another thermocore they had produced, allowing them to move forward with the Firestorm-creating as if Captain Cold had never gotten away with the other one in the first place.
Just outside the laboratory prison Stein’s stuck working in, Ray and Mick have been thrown into a cell together. Ray tries to be “friendly,” but the seasoned Mick stays out of trouble. Thus, Ray gets easily pummeled after provoking the prison bully, and Mick does little else but stare at a lighter, almost willing it to become a head gun. His aloof manner incenses Ray — shouldn’t the two of them have each other’s backs? — but Mick says the only man he supports is Leonard. (Aww, best buds.)
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Speaking of Leonard, the man known as Captain Cold is eager to get on with this week’s lone mission of saving his partner — or in simpler terms, prison break. (Sounds familiar…) Sara, thankfully, has an idea for how they can get inside: Ask the criminals from the Russian mob who have been jailed enough times in the gulag to know their way in and out as well as they know their intricate tattoos. Rip, Sara, and Captain Cold find one such inked member inside a steam room (hey, criminals need R&R, too!), and after some knuckle persuasion, they get him to talk.
And so begins the plan: Rip wants Sara and Captain Cold to take care of the infiltration. If anything goes wrong, Rip tells Sara alone, Sara has to kill Professor Stein. If Stein ends up revealing the Firestorm formula to Vostok and her comrades, Star City will burn in 2016 and the Lance family and everyone she loves will be gone. As for Kendra and Jax? Rip benches them, keeping them away from Savage, who would love to go near Kendra again and take the other half of Firestorm for himself.
With that, the team goes into action. As Sara stocks up on weapons, Leonard observes just how capable she is at stuffing weapons everywhere inside her outfit and then guesses that Rip has asked her to take out Stein if necessary. Surprisingly, the chilly “legend” considers the plan “heartless” and tries to convince Sara they’re just being played as pawns by Rip. But Sara stands firm, and they quickly roll up to the gulag themselves and make it inside.
Jax and Kendra can’t help feeling FOMO, of course — or rather, Fear of Doing Nothing, or FOD0 (that last one’s a zero, forgive me). As Jax can sense what Stein is feeling, Kendra suggests he send a message through to Stein. And by cutting himself on the arm — a trick once shown on The Flash, as well — Jax is able to make the message “We’re Coming” appear on Stein’s arm, too. Painful, but effective!
NEXT: Ray transforms into “a great piñata” (Mick’s words, not mine)
Inside the prison, Ray and Mick have been taken away to hang shirtless in front of Stein’s cell, where the two are to be tortured until Stein talks. (It’s the Red Hallway of Pain, am I right, guys? …Guys?) When the torturer comes close to hammering Mick with a vicious-looking device, Ray decides to try out his standup act (one of the zingers: “At least in America, you get a last meal. Communism really sucks.”) just to attract the torturer’s attention so he can sacrifice his back to the hammer instead.
When Stein finally gives in, Ray and Mick are thrown back in their cell, where Mick expresses surprise at how Ray worked to protect him. They’re a team, Ray says, settling the matter.
Too bad that type of bonding isn’t happening with Captain Cold and Sara. The pair get inside easily enough — Sara played corpse under a sheet while Leonard, dressed like a Soviet guard, wheeled her down the halls — but as soon as Leonard spots a bloody Ray and indignant Mick being removed from the Red Hallway of Pain, he abandons her to go save his hotheaded teammate. (And Ray, too, though he won’t admit it — just remember, the man with the cold gun doth protest too much.)
Without any help, Sara tries to reach Stein before Vostok brings him inside the lab, but even with two accurately thrown ninja stars and a well-aimed shot, she can’t stop Vostok from dragging Stein away. Given Gideon’s projection of a 99 percent likelihood that the USSR will now be the ones winning the Cold War, there’s little left for Sara to do but follow Rip’s orders and kill Stein.
After all, Stein’s not doing so well with his bluff. He gives enough of the stabilizing formula to make it look convincing, but Vostok doesn’t buy it and then notices the “We’re Coming” message still etched into Stein’s arm. She understands that Stein must be linked to someone else, and that in order to be linked, he must be one half of Firestorm. Vostok is thrilled at the revelation, believing she can merge with Stein to become Firestorm herself.
And as she preps, the “legends” are finally getting some good news: Captain Cold tracks down Mick, gives the Atom suit back to an unconscious Ray, and busts them all out after Mick insists on paying Ray back by taking him with them. Then, the benched Jax and Kendra manage to convince Rip to let them fight, too. It’s risky, but they’re confident they can help and make it onto the scene easily as Jax runs his fastest to reach the power and shut everything down in the prison. Even Sara, who had her gun trained on Stein as he was being moved to meet Vostok by the activated thermocore, decided against taking out her teammate.
When the locks go off in the cells, the prisoners riot, and amid the frenzy, Savage tracks Kendra down. But before he can take one more step, Rip has also joined the party, threatening him — and mentioning that he’s “Captain Hunter” — until he asks for the watch showing his wife and son. He takes it back and then leaves Savage in the room, which explodes and kills the man one more time in his never-ending, immortal cycle.
But then comes the bad news: Vostok merges with a protesting Stein, and decides to exercise her newfound ability to control nuclear energy by burning up random prisoners running around outside. Unable to watch any longer, Jax stumbles across the lot — he has a bum knee, poor guy — and appeals to the Stein he knows is locked within Vostok’s mind. Because Stein is stronger than Vostok, he manages to overtake her insanity and regain control, eventually breaking free of the merge. As soon as the Soviet Firestorm is split in two, however, Vostok becomes unstable and morphs into a human nuclear meltdown. The “legends” escape aboard the Waverider just as a nuclear explosion happens below.
NEXT: Not again, Chronos
Chronos is one persistent bounty hunter. Inside the temporal zone, he’s tracked the team at the worst possible moment: They’re finally taking a break and celebrating their win, toasting themselves with the booze Leonard and Mick somehow stole during their tryst in 1986. Jax, who’s not yet 21, even gets a pass because, you know, history.
Rip also gets a quick word with Sara and tells her she was right not to take Stein out because that showed her humanity. Sara isn’t so sure she did the right thing — back in the League of Assassins, failing to follow through meant something a thousand times worse than death. But Rip, despite being the one who came up with the contingency plan in the first place, assures her she made the right choice.
Just then, the un-killable Chronos returns and fires upon the Waverider, forcing everyone to hang onto their butts. Their weapons drive Chronos away, but a stray missile winds up hitting them at just the right angle, forcing them out of the temporal zone and into a random time and place, Rip warns.
As they step off the ship after crash landing, they discover they’ve landed in what looks like hell. There’s rubble everywhere, and no one out in the streets — until a man dressed like the Green Arrow shows up. They’re in future Star City — 2046 Star City, to be exact — and the Palmer Tech building is now emblazoned with the name “Smoak” (that’s quite a power play, Felicity!), and though Ray and Sara eagerly approach the Green Arrow thinking it’s Oliver Queen, they quickly realize it’s not him at all. Instead, it’s this guy…
…who we’ll get to know much better next week! (Yes, yes, we already know it’s Connor Hawke.)
Cheesiest Line of the Night: “There are infinite ways to break a man, and I have an infinite amount of time.” —Vandal Savage. I’m willing to bet he’s said — or maybe even practiced — this one before. How many zingers can you come up with after 4,000 years of living?
This Week’s Winner of the Unofficial EW Legends of Tomorrow Scenery Chewing but in a Good Way Award, a.k.a. The Legend-ary Ham of the Week: Stephanie Corneliussen as Valentina Vostok. I know, I know, this is the second time I’ve given this to the villain, but you have to admit, she played mad scientist very well and got to get even more insane once she became Soviet Firestorm. It’s good practice for when she’s back on Mr. Robot. (Besides, it was nice to have her be the show’s first villain-of-the-week type baddie. It’s a bit of a breather from the overwhelming Savage.)
Team MVP: Ray. He literally took one for the team. Also, he earns it for this line when he wakes up being carried around by Mick: “Hey, Mick? This is a strange kind of hug.” (Aww, best buds.)
As always, I leave you with some timey-wimey notes:
- I know I’m nit-picking, but that “We’re Coming” message looked like it cut pretty deep. Will the makeup department even consider leaving the scar on Victor Garber’s arm for at least a few more episodes, or will the team avoid traveling to tropical places so Stein never has to wear anything other than long-sleeved shirts and jackets? This is a BURNING QUESTION, everyone.
- It’s pretty cool that Carlos Valdes is getting some screen time impersonating villains. He just — spoiler alert! — got to play Cisco’s evil Earth-2 doppelganger on The Flash. Also, I find it funny that Stein would hallucinate Cisco with a ponytail just because Vostok happened to be sporting one:
- “Barry Allen, who?” Hahaha, Jax. I’m liking you more with every ep.
- “What are you doing?” “Nothing compared to what I did to your mother last night.” “You have a mouth on you.” “So does she.” RAY!
- Number of legends who went “shirtless” for their missions: 3. Rip in the steam room, and these poor goons here:
- Have we ever seen Rip Hunter smile fully? WILL ARTHUR DARVILL EVER SHOW HIS TEETH?!
- You’d think 4,000 years would have helped Vandal Savage learn how to treat women. She’s just not that into you, Mr. Immortal! Alas.
- And finally — though I already tweeted about it — “This isn’t my first prison break” is a spectacular meta line that I’m surprised Wentworth Miller managed to deliver without laughing. (I know I missed when the show referenced Titanic and Victor Garber looked aghast — hey, you try taking notes while it’s airing live — so I’m glad I caught this one while it happened!) I mean…
Slow clap for Wentworth Miller, please.