When time pirates — yes, time pirates! — threaten the Waverider, the crew must fight to survive

By Shirley Li
March 04, 2016 at 04:09 AM EST
Bettina Strauss/The CW
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The crew of the Waverider might have had to face time pirates this week, but the real conflict has always been about the “legends” themselves — about the tension between Jax and Stein, Stein and Ray, Rip and…everyone, and so on. After last week’s jaunt in 2046’s Star City, the rift grew between Leonard and Mick, leading up to the final moments in this episode when it appears that Leonard goes through with offing his literal partner-in-crime.

But we’ll get to that boiling point. When the hour begins, Rip is watching a message he had received from his wife and son before they were killed, a hologram greeting he plays on loop, like a Legends of Tomorrow version of Tom Cruise in Minority Report. Stein arrives in time to stop him from drowning in liquor and tears, but Rip’s family is on his mind for the rest of the episode, which offers his backstory in a series of flashbacks: First, we see that Rip had met his wife, Miranda, while training to become a Time Master. She’s far more capable than he is, succeeding in simulations like a pro, while he’s afraid to break the rules. Thrilled by their latest win, the pair make out in the hallway — in full view of a Time Master, who sends them to disciplinary hearing.

The couple worries about whether they’ll be able to stay in training, and though Rip insists they’ll get through it together, Miranda (and later the hearing) reminds Rip that they’re not allowed to love or make personal attachments or even use their real names — all to protect the timeline. Eventually, when the hearing re-convenes, Miranda has left, sacrificing her own potential to become a Time Master for Rip. She had argued that their intimacy was solely her fault, and because of it, she resigns the opportunity to be a Time Master, while Rip can continue. Thrown by her call, young Rip argues with Miranda, but she insists that he’s the one the Time Masters need — and besides, she realized that the love they have is what she would prefer to have, and that she can’t imagine working for people who refuse to let love thrive. It’s all sappy and heartfelt — and, despite the guilt of knowing his girlfriend’s not too into his job, Rip accepts her decision. 

Fast forward years and years ahead, and Rip no longer has Miranda or their son, Jonas, and he’s losing his fight against Vandal Savage. He explains to Stein that because they’ve already screwed up their last encounters with Savage, the only way to gain the upper hand is to travel even further back. The only trouble is, they can’t travel further back in time without “a software update” to Gideon, as Stein puts it. 

They’ll have to do something, though: The rest of the team is getting restless, especially Mick, who wants to set things on fire ASAP. Luckily (sort of?), the action begins as Gideon receives a distress call from a Time Master in deep space: It’s Capt. Eve Baxter on board the Acheron, asking for help. The “legends” argue about whether to go, but Rip ultimately decides to split the team up and go ahead to check out what’s happening. Is he being reckless about answering the call? He’s reckless enough to not be wearing his fabulous coat as he steers.

When they approach, Mick, Stein, Jax, and Rip head off to play Alien (or The Expanse) and search through the possibly abandoned/derelict ship. Instead, the Acheron is quite crowded — with time pirates who ambush them. The leader of those time pirates, it turns out, is none other than:

…who Battlestar Galactica fans will recognize as Leoben Conoy! Hello, Number Two/actor Callum Keith Rennie!

Or rather, Capt. Valler (as in… “valor”?). The pirate captain throws Mick, Jax, and Rip into the brig (Stein had stayed behind on the shuttle they took to get to the Acheron), where they meet Capt. Baxter, who dismisses Rip’s legitimacy immediately. Rip, in fact, is quite infamous — both Valler and Baxter had no trouble recognizing him. Maybe it’s the coat?

NEXT: Acting Capt. Picard — I mean, Palmer!

Meanwhile on board the Waverider, Ray is delighted to be named acting captain, imagining which Star Trek character he would be and casually flirting with Kendra — an interaction Leonard notices and scoffs at. The chilly “legend” is, well, chilling with Sara. But before they can truly relax, the time pirates on the Acheron make contact and alert the crew to the fact that the rest of the “legends” have been captured. 

Just in time, Rip manages to say a code word that Gideon recognizes, which activates the Waverider’s weapons. As they fire on the Acheron, Stein finally realizes his teammates have been attacked. “It’s up to you now, Martin,” giving himself a pep talk as the Acheron targets the Waverider’s life support systems and breaches the hull. There, Leonard and Sara head to patch the breach, while Stein, on board the Acheron, manages to shut down the weapons system (go Stein!), allowing things to quiet down for a moment. Unfortunately for Leonard and Sara, the Cold gun runs out of juice, which means they can’t fully patch the breach, and the doors close on them just before they’re able to leave — effectively trapping Captain Cold and the White Canary in a freezer. 

With most of the “legends” trapped — three are in the Acheron brig, two by the breached hull in the Waverider — Stein must save those on the Acheron while Kendra and Ray work out a way to fix the breach so Sara and Leonard can leave their freezing prison. The pair, trapped inside the cold, talk about what it’s like to die — hey, Sara really is a unique “legend” — before Leonard shares the touching story of meeting Mick for the first time. At 14, Leonard had been sent to juvie and was small and easily hurt until Mick stepped in to protect his younger fellow prisoner. He muses about how much Mick means to him but understands, as Sara tells him, that even if they make it out alive, Mick won’t be easy to handle.

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Speaking of Mick, the man is getting overheated — with anger. In the brig, a frustrated Rip blurts out how he thinks Mick has the IQ of meat and that he only recruited him because he was part of the “package deal” in order to get Captain Cold on board. Incensed, Mick decides to get out on his own, calling for the time pirates to let him out so he can make a deal: to get them the Waverider in exchange for sending him back to 2016, where he can start over and leave this mission against Vandal Savage. The time pirates accept but not before knocking him out to make his appearance convincing when he goes to dupe the Waverider. 

At the same time, Stein is embracing a new side of himself: that of the “space ranger” he used to pretend to be when he was little. On his own, he manages to knock out a guard and emerge with both the guard’s gun and uniform:

He even kept the hat!

Just as Rip opens up about his story to Capt. Baxter so she can understand him better, Stein arrives to remove the force field blocking the brig. It’s official: Space Ranger Stein is my favorite version of Stein so far — and Victor Garber looks delighted to be playing him.

On the Waverider, things are also looking up: Ray uses his Atom suit to head off into space and fix the breach himself — and he does, but just barely, thanks to Kendra asking him stimulating questions like “What’s your favorite color?” to combat oxygen deprivation. When Ray flies back inside, Kendra resuscitates him, and Sara and Leonard are saved. However…

NEXT: Mick has had enough of time-traveling

Fights break out as Leonard refuses to join Mick, leading the “legends” to fight one of their own and the dozen or so time pirates he brought with him to the Waverider. On the Acheron, the team and Baxter devise a plan, and Rip faces off with Valler alone. Just as Valler is about to choke the life out of Rip, he sends the signal to Stein, Jax, and Baxter to have Gilbert — the Acheron’s version of Gideon — open the airlock and hang on while the rest of the time pirates are whisked away into deep space. Success!

Even better: Captain Cold reaches Sara just in time to save her from being incinerated by Mick’s gun during their vicious fight, and Capt. Baxter offers Rip the software he needs to go ahead because she sympathizes (though she can’t empathize) with the story of his family. Rip learns that they have to head to March of 1958 to find Savage in Oregon.

With everyone back on the Waverider, things can finally move forward — like Kendra and Ray’s budding relationship. The two bonded over Ray’s near-death experience, and Kendra goes for the kiss while, somewhere far away, Carter rolls over in his grave. When the team meets to decide what to do about Mick, they realize they can’t just leave him incarcerated in the brig. Instead, Leonard offers to “handle it” — an ominous comment that leads straight into the final scene, during which he drags an unconscious Mick into the middle of a forest. Mick wakes and realizes what’s about to happen. He tells Leonard that even though he may think he’s now a hero, he’s still the weak kid from juvie without the guts to pull the trigger. Leonard hesitates — but then fires away.

But at what? It’s not clear if he hit Mick at all. (Hey, never believe a TV death unless you see a body, right?) And, given Stein’s gut reaction that Leonard would be killing Mick when they were meeting earlier, it seems too easy to lose Heat Wave this soon. Who else will deliver the one-liners?! 

Cheesiest Line of the Night: “It’s called love.” —Rip, after Baxter wonders whether there could be a “higher calling” than safeguarding time. Aw, Rip Hunter, you infamous romantic.

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: Again, I have to give it to Dominic Purcell. The guy just relishes every pun — bad or good — and has no trouble playing the hotheaded one of the team. 

Team MVP: Stein. I’m just so impressed by his space ranger attitude! And the fact that he was able to pull a mission off on his own!

As always, these are my timey-wimey notes…

  • Did I miss something, or were the time pirates just flung out of space without a separate airlock or area for them to be thrown into first? Because if that’s the case, then the vacuum of space should have also killed our “legends.” I get suspension of disbelief, but this is kind of like ignoring every science-fiction rule about space travel ever! At least Ray had a helmet on when he headed out. 
  • This shot was cute:
  • Yup, cute! That’s all I have to say.

    • When Mick says he’s the only one on the team who can light things on fire, he means light things on fire using his gun, right? ‘Cause, Mick, you know everyone there is capable of lighting a match.
    • Jax quotes Star Wars. Kendra and Ray argue about Star Trek. This show’s got pop-culture references at every turn, it seems.
    • …Which is why I kind of wish we got a longer, more suspenseful scene of Rip, Jax, and Mick exploring the Acheron before everything happened. I had totally thought this might move in the direction of Alien but without aliens. 
    • “I felt lonely, like everybody I loved was a million miles away.” Sara’s description of dying breaks my heart. As does Leonard’s memory of the first time he met Mick.
    • This was the coolest scene the show has pulled off so far, IMHO:
    • It reminds me of a shot from the “Objects in Space” episode of Firefly. Everything on this show reminds me of other shows, which is both a good and a bad thing.

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