Rip Hunter tries to destroy America — and the Legends themselves
Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Guest Starring John Noble

Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with this recap. For one thing, I want to make as many Hamilton references — history has its eyeeesssss on Mick, the best intro deliverer ever — as possible for obvious reasons; for another, I want to just rant about how we saw yet another Canary death in the Arrowverse; and for another another, I want to praise how well the show handled Jax, the team’s persistently least-featured member, this week. And we haven’t even gotten to the whole Vixen-sleeps-with-Nate-and-ignores-the-mission-for-an-hour part yet!

But okay, we’ll start with where the last hour left off. It’s Christmas Day in New Jersey (my home state!! Whatever, you totally care) and the British are celebrating their victory against the Continental Army, their victory being brainwashing Rip killing General Washington and receiving automatic rifles so they can Make America British Again. Thawne pops up to inform Rip (and us) what’s going on: Rip decided killing Washington would create a large enough timequake to attract his former teammates, and once they take the bait, he’ll take them out and get the fragment of the Spear of Destiny on board the Waverider. It’ll be a piece of cake, Rip assures Thawne, because he no longer feels anything for his former teammates. He’s heartless now, and he’s ready to — and I apologize for this in advance — let it rip.

Did you laugh? No? What are you, Gideon? The ship’s computer has a similar sense of non-humor — she’s been taking a while to parse through the zetabytes of data off the medallion, and when Sara thinks Gideon’s a little sassy about the team’s impatience, Gideon says she’s completely serious. So with the overarching MacGuffin Spear stuff in limbo, the episode takes a tiny breather to show life aboard the Waverider. First there’s Ray and Mick and the rats Ray has found roaming around on board thanks to Mick’s tendency to leave his food (or bits of it) lying around. Nate and Amaya bond over breakfast chores and the fact that they both wish they could get some fresh air and time away from the timeship. Sparks fly when Nate gets powder on his face and Amaya wipes his nose — look away, Rex! — and next thing they know, they’re in each other’s arms.

Okay, things don’t move that fast. Instead, they fall into an embrace because the timequake from 1776 finally reaches the ship, and Sara immediately recognizes the trap. Still, there’s no way out of this one: If they don’t save Washington, America ceases to exist. After all, it’s Washington who led the Continental Army across the Delaware, helped win the Revolutionary War, and became the United States’ first Dictator. KIDDING. I was just making sure you were paying attention.

Anyway, the Legends embark on their mission, and wind up arriving at a Christmas Eve party where Sara downs eggnog like there’s no tomorrow because there really may be no tomorrow if they fail. Just as she introduces herself to Washington, the man casually offering her eggnog, the redcoats storm in with their rifles and ruin Christmas in a spray of bullets. Sara and Mick manage to get Washington out through the back, while Nate does a weird little “shall we dance” maneuver to fight enemies and flirt with Amaya at the same time, and Ray knocks soldiers out in his Atom suit, yelping Merry Christmas with every punch.

Too bad Evil Benedict Arnold-like Rip was prepared for this. Outside, he launches a device that knocks out the power aboard the Waverider, shuts down the tech on Ray’s suit (leaving him tiny), disarms Mick’s weapon, and prevents Jax and Stein from increasing the episode’s budget merging into Firestorm. With much of the team weakened, Rip knows all he needs to do is incapacitate the lone member of the team with non-futuristic skills — and so, when he steps in front of Sara, Mick, and Washington, he shoots Sara right in the chest, leaving her to die as his men take Mick and Washington away.

Stein and Jax move fast to bring Sara aboard the Waverider, but without their Firestorm abilities or Gideon, they can’t save her the easy way. Sara, realizing the new stakes, puts Jax in charge while trying to stave off death again. Jax doles out orders in her stead, telling Amaya and Nate to track Washington and Rory, and that they have to save Rip, no matter the cost.

Amaya and Nate finally get to breathe that fresh, non-rat-infested Waverider air, but tracking Rory’s pile of trash also means spending some quality time together. The two flirt like crazy, mostly driven by Amaya’s curiosity about modern dating habits and Nate’s inability to stop himself from mansplaining talking about history. The two are cute, if a little distracting — they talk about The Wizard of Oz, dating apps, the sexual revolution in the ’60s — and it’s almost nice to see a hatchet fly their way and cause the two of them to engage in a fight against a pair of enemies that results in Nate tumbling into the river beyond a cliff, and Amaya diving in after him.

Of course, that’s not the action they wanted when they set out on this trek. Amaya saves Nate, but after pulling him out of the freezing waters (heh, just call him “Blue Steel,” am I right?) she decides the best way to warm him up is by using skin-to-skin contact. (Okay, Amaya. Ooookay, The CW.) When Nate wakes up, he’s completely naked under the furs Amaya has wrapped around him — and when she checks on him, she can’t walk away. It’s all moving a little fast, she admits, but Nate’s got a point: It has to be warmer in the tent.

Fast-forward to about an hour later, and the lovebirds finally realize what they’ve done: had sex in 1776 very likely without protection neglected their mission. Nate’s not too concerned, but Amaya panics, and the pair dash away to hunt down their missing teammates. Speaking of which…

NEXT: It must be nice (it must be nice) to have Washington on your side

Mick is no fan of Washington — the guy only made it to the puny one-dollar bill! — but as they’re led to the redcoats’ camp, they start developing an entertaining, buddy cop comedy rapport. Washington has a strategy; he insists that there are rules to war. Mick, on the other hand, thinks it’s hilarious that they’re not doing anything in retaliation. When they arrive at the camp, Washington argues to (future surrenderer) General Cornwallis that Mick should live, as he was only following orders. Cornwallis agrees, and with that, Washington is able to hand Mick a note to pass along to his wife. As he does so, Mick delivers a pep talk to the founding father, advising him that the American way to go about the situation is not to give up, even if Cornwallis insists on hanging him the next morning.

Despite Mick’s aggressiveness (or maybe because of it), Washington decides to follow his lead. When Washington’s about to be hanged, he instead calls out a battle cry, and the two men fight their way past many redcoats before Nate and Amaya arrive just in time to take care of enough of the rest to allow them to escape.

Things don’t go as smoothly back aboard the Waverider. Stein and Jax are both uncomfortable in their new roles — Stein argues that he’s a physicist, not a doctor, while Jax points out that he’s not exactly a captain — but just as Stein goes back to trying to remove the bullet in Sara’s chest, Rip starts opening the door to get inside the ship.

Moving fast, Jax does his best Macaulay Culkin impression and booby traps as much of the ship as he can. When Rip and his two henchmen board, one trips over Jax’s wire and gets taken out, while the other… uhh, gets distracted by a wrapped present Jax leaves on the kitchen table. Rip really didn’t choose his men well.

At least Rip puts the “hunter” in “Hunter.” (Sorry.) He’s menacing as he stalks the halls for Jax, knowing that only Jax would be able to stand up against his men out of the surviving Legends. Jax drops the Home Alone act and moves on to Alien as he avoids the former Time Master, scrambling through the halls until Rip eventually catches up and tries to bribe him with the Spear, pointing out that Jax could use it to save his father. Still, Jax knows better, and after narrowly missing Rip’s bullet, he manages to turn on the auxiliary power.

Rip catches up to him all too quickly, though. Cornered, Jax plays his final card, saying he can show Rip where he stashed the spear. He takes him to exactly where Rip had kept it but at the last second, just as Rip gets distracted — Ray’s making a lot of noise running away from a Mick-loving rat in the vents as he tries to reach the switch for the breaker — the booby trap under the floorboard blows and Jax makes a run for it.

He would have succeeded in stopping Rip if Rip hadn’t walked into the med bay and found Stein just as he managed to save Sara. When Jax finds them, Rip has already taken out Stein and is in the process of snapping Sara’s neck. Jax tries everything he can to talk Rip out of it, but even after telling Rip where the Spear really is, Rip does the darkest thing Legends of Tomorrow has done so far: kill a member of the Legends with a horrifying crunch sound.

When Stein wakes up, he finds Jax devastated, sitting in a corner thinking through his failure to save Sara. But Stein finds a glimmer of hope, shouting at Ray to flip the switch soon to bring Gideon back online, as there may still be a chance to heal Sara. Ray finally makes it out of the vents and away from the rat and flips the switch. Once a captain of a varsity diving team, always a captain of the varsity diving team. Gideon comes back online, finds that Sara’s brain cells are still functioning, and gets to work. Hooray!

Or not. Jax, furious over how Rip turned on them and forced him to give over the Spear, chases him outside and points a gun in Rip’s face. Rip doesn’t even care: He says that after all this time, he’s come to realize that protecting history is ultimately pointless, because history always wants to burn everything down. It’s entropy, and it’s unstoppable, he says. Besides, Rip explains, Jax doesn’t have the guts to pull the trigger.

He’s right, but only after Sara arrives, healed enough to talk Jax down from killing Rip. Jax is still a whole person, she says, and she knows from experience the amount of damage that happens to someone after they take another life. Oh, and it’s Christmas. Seeing as neither of them are strong enough to even think about taking the Spear fragment away from Rip, they simply let him go.

That night, Washington and Mick have a drink together to celebrate their narrow escape. Just as Mick’s about to propose an alternate plan for the criminal justice system, Nate and Amaya walk in and prepare to say goodbye. Washington praises Mick for his dedication and persistence in the face of almost certain failure, and Mick almost seems touched by the sentiment. The men part ways with a hug — and if Mick ever wound up spending some time in our present time, he’d probably love to buy (or rather, steal) some tickets to Hamilton.

With everyone back on board the Waverider, the Legends sit for their first official Christmas dinner. Some minor things in history have changed as a result of their efforts — there’s now a statue dedicated to Mick — but the Revolutionary War has been restored to its original state, and as Christmas music plays, the gang enjoys popping open Christmas crackers and handing out gifts. (Ray gives Mick the rat, and Mick is delighted.) By the tree, Nate gives Amaya a sweet present — ruby slippers, just like the ones in The Wizard of Oz — but Amaya proposes remaining friends, because Nate had said the future version of courting is chill, so this is what he wants, too, right? Well… I’d say anyone who calls themselves the “ambassador of chill” is not chill at all. But for now, they’ll leave it at one night in a tent in the middle of the Revolutionary War.

After all, it’s important for the Legends to look ahead. Sara delivers a Fast and Furious-like speech to the team, calling them her “family” and insisting that no matter how bad things get (or how badly brainwashed Rip becomes), they’ll always have hope and a dynamic the Legion of Doom would literally kill to have. Nobody fights like family, right?

Not bad, Legends. It’s not easy to deliver an episode that could balance sappiness with high stakes — especially one without the scenery-chewing Legion of Doom trio — but this one delivered. Sure, the whole Nate and Amaya thing moved at light speed, and this was a Christmas episode airing in February, but this is a time-travel show, so everything’s kind of wonky, isn’t it? It’s the sentiment of the hour that matters — and to me, the desperate action behind it all to save the team against their former leader worked.

The Wizard of Oz was a good reference to toss in for tonight. Rip, it’s time to find you a heart.

Episode Recaps

Guest Starring John Noble
DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Led by White Canary, a band of superhero misfits defend the time stream with an assortment of wacky threats in the fourth Arrowverse series.

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