Legends of Tomorrow recap: 'Raiders of the Lost Art'
You know, when EP Marc Guggenheim told my colleague Natalie Abrams that this episode was “the ’70s bar fight on steroids” and “that level of crazy,” I didn’t think it’d be possible. After all, Legends has shown plenty of levels of crazy across its two seasons; could it really top itself?
Well, it does. Not because the Legends are all suddenly bulked up and brawling in every scene, but because this hour achieved new heights of insanity with its plot — and I’m not just talking about the visions Mick’s been having of his old, dead partner-in-crime.
It all began with Rip’s Hail Mary in New York at the time of the explosion. After saving the rest of the crew, he grabs a piece of wood — hello there, Spear of Destiny! — and then electrocutes himself after powering Gideon down. Er, make that temporally electrocutes himself: He grasps onto the core of the ship’s time drive itself, zapping him away into the unknown…
Just kidding, we know where and when he is now: Los Angeles, 1967. It’s where the Legends head after being alerted of a (puny) time aberration involving two dead bikers who, as we saw, were just attacked by Legion of Doom members Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk, who have arrived in LA to track down the Spear of Destiny. They know where it is now that they have both amulets, which Nate finally realizes belong to a single object after Amaya helps piece his doodles together. In fact, it’s a medallion that can point the user to the Spear of Destiny.
Sure, but what is this loftily-named Spear of Destiny? As Nate puts it, it’s kind of the end-all be-all
MacGuffin prize in this world. It’s an object that can change reality permanently, and that’s more powerful than any time aberration or time quake the Legends can fix. So yeah, the Legends have to make sure the Legion doesn’t find it. It’s important: It’s the Elder Wand of Time and Space. It’s the one stick of wood to rule them all. It’s… the crystal skull of immense wooden power! Okay, okay, not the best George Lucas reference. I apologize.
Anyway, every Legend has a bad feeling about this. (There we go!) When they arrive, they find Rip right after Merlyn and Darhk find him too, and a fight breaks out between the teams over the former Waverider captain. Trouble is, Rip is caught in the middle right with his unfortunate wig, propmaster George Lucas, George Lucas’ enormous beard, and — uh oh — no clue who this “Rip” guy is. Yup, Rip isn’t Rip here: He’s a film director who’s written a screenplay about a fictional character named Rip, who had spent the earlier part of his day agitated about his script and how the villain — look, a knockoff Vandal Savage — needs to be real and good and impressive. In your face, critics; how’s that for meta? Just call this episode Legends Wars: The Last Time Master! (Too much?)
Neither side wins the battle, so the Legends retreat to the Waverider, where they wonder why Rip no longer remembers them, himself, or how to speak with a British accent. (Arthur Darvill, how could you!) They figure out that it can’t be a coincidence they ran into the hilariously named Legion of Doom (sorry, Sara), and realize that the Legion must have used the medallion to track the Spear, which means the Spear is here in LA in 1967 with Rip, of all people.
With that revelation, the team comes up with a plan to extract Rip. Sara recruits Stein, who stayed on board the ship with Mick to help him with his Ghost Snart problem. Mick’s been talking to someone who’s not there, and Stein patiently spent the morning listening to Mick talk through his feelings about the matter. So when Sara comes to ask Stein to pose as a shrink, Stein’s 100 percent ready to pose and knock his performance out of the park.
Sort of. In the police precinct where Rip’s been taken (after being the lone standing person in the brawl), Stein stumbles his way through an introduction and has to make up a slew of
alternative facts lies about Rip’s mental condition to get access to the poor guy, who thinks he’s not Rip, but Phil, an aspiring filmmaker who must have lost his comb. “I am not crazy,” Rip insists, glaring at his former teammates. Left with no other option, Sara has Mick knock Rip out, and the trio smuggle Rip toward the entrance.
Not so fast. As they head away from the interrogation room, Darhk and Merlyn arrive, take out the guard at the front desk, and search for their target. Sara has Ray pilot the Waverider to the precinct, and just as they make it outside, Rip wakes up and begins to run off. Stalled by a slow elevator — I’ll admit I laughed out loud at seeing John Barrowman and Neal McDonough twiddling their thumbs in that three-second scene — the Legion of Doom duo arrive a second too late, as the Waverider picks up the Legends and the limp Rip, who passed out at the sight of an actual timeship. Just think of it as movie-turned-TV magic, buddy.
Back aboard the ship, the team has Gideon take a look at Rip’s busted memory. It turns out that there’s a completely new identity in him, and that it’s not a time problem, it’s… a reprogramming that happened after the temporal electrocution. Rip walked straight into this predicament, and the only reason he’s okay has something to do with the Spear of Destiny fragment he had with him.
Hearing this, Mick wonders if perhaps he can have his brain scanned and fixed as well. Stein reluctantly agrees to help, and next thing they know, Stein’s poking around in Mick’s skull to remove an antenna the Time Masters had placed in his mind when they turned him into Chronos, the Boba Fett of Legends of Tomorrow season 1. If I’ve learned anything from this turn of events, it’s that Dr. Martin Stein really is a good, true friend.
NEXT: Flowers for AlgerNate and a Glitch in the Ray-trix
Aaand just when the Legends have achieved one of their goals (bring back Rip), they encounter a new problem: Nate and Ray are losing their memories, barely able to comprehend their reading material or explain the Legends’ plan. Amaya helps them go back one step at a time to see if anything changed, and something has: When they met Rip again, they also met his propmaster George Lucas, who Gideon reveals becomes a three-time insurance salesman of the year instead of becoming a celebrated filmmaker and CGI enthusiast and Star Wars history revisionist and — oh, never mind.
The real issue here for the team’s two head nerds is that if George never becomes a director, then Star Wars never happens, which means Ray never feels the urge to become an inventor, and Indiana Jones will never happen, which means Nate never decides to become a historian. And while we’re at it, instead of becoming the Ray and Nate we know, Gideon shows that they’ll become a heart surgeon and a yoga instructor, respectively. Those are definitely not the vocations they’re looking for. (I’ll stop soon, I swear.) Art matters for both of these men, and it all hinges on them convincing George to stay in film school.
Which is harder than it sounds. By the time they return to Los Angeles, George has already tossed away his props and moved out of his room at film school. Nate, Ray, and Amaya catch him just as he’s stuffing his final possessions into the trunk of his car, and while Nate and Ray come on wayyy too strong (“Stay in school!” Nate practically spits in George’s face), Amaya rebels against their moves and approaches George with kindness and understanding. She tells him that even though she’s not one for movies, the guys certainly are, and many millions more will be influenced by George’s work.
This freaks George out, understandably, but he finally agrees to return to school. At the same time, however, while Sara and Rip chat, Rip lets slip that Sara is similar to a character he wrote, Sandra. Jax, who’s been reading Rip’s script, realizes there are parallels between every character in it and the real team itself, which means Rip — I mean Phil — has repressed memories of his life as Rip. And if that’s true, then the script must hold some secret to the Spear. And it does: Rip reveals he used the piece of wood as a prop, so George still has it. But if George has it, then…
Yup, there’s the Legion of Doom, just waiting for George, Nate, Amaya, and Ray when they return to George’s room. Merlyn snatches Amaya’s totem off her neck, and with Darhk, corners the foursome. Discovering that none of them have their abilities — Nate can’t steel on, Ray no longer has his Atom suit, and Amaya is totem-less — they’re forced to join George on the quest to the city dump, where the piece of wood must have gone.
When they arrive, Merlyn and Darhk kick the four inside the dumpster, and to make them work a little faster, they start compacting the trash. The walls start closing in — I see what you’re doing, Legends of Tomorrow — Amaya, Nate, and Ray shout at George, trying to make him admit that he’ll commit to becoming a filmmaker.
This is where Legends hits a new level of ridiculousness: Three superheroes without their abilities must survive by, well, yelling encouragement at a young, terrified George Lucas. And they’re yelling things like “Say you’ll make movies!” and “Believe in yourself!” and “What do you really want!” Maybe it’s all a Jedi mind trick, but George finally does, and it’s a relief for the team — and for me, too. I wouldn’t want a young Harrison Ford’s lopsided smile wasted on carpentry either, you know what I mean?
The battle’s not over yet, though. Foiled by an impressionable (and shaken) future director with a penchant for daddy issues storytelling, Merlyn and Darhk attempt to shoot a member of the team, but the Waverider arrives just in time. Sara and Jax help fight the evil men — Mick and Stein are still fiddling with Mick’s head on board — with the now steel-ed Nate, Ray in his Atom suit, and Amaya, who quickly grabs her totem back from Merlyn.
Just when it looks like the Legends might make it out okay, Eobard Thawne — a.k.a Reverse-Flash a.k.a. the de facto leader of the Legion of Doom — shows up and wants to make a mess. Rip, now trying to help after asking Gideon what Captain Hunter would have done, steps outside and tries to scare Thawne off himself with a gun. Too bad his British accent works better than his weapon: When the gun won’t fire, the Legion of Doom once again gains the upper hand, and as the Legends make a run for it, Thawne runs as well — right out of sight with Rip himself.
Back on board, Sara thinks over her failure to save Rip, but Jax won’t let her wallow. The youngest Legend gives his captain a lovely pep talk, telling her that she’s never given up, and that they’ll find him again… just not now. Sara wonders if that’s a promise. “That’s a prophecy,” Jax says, landing his most epic one-liner yet.
Elsewhere on the Waverider, Mick and Stein had a similar heart-to-heart. Stein gives Mick the bad news: Though the antenna’s removed, it looks like the device hadn’t been working for a long time, and probably has nothing to do with Mick’s visions of Snart. Instead, Stein gently suggests, Mick’s hallucinations probably stem from his pain, from the trauma he’s grappled with since Snart’s death, and from missing his partner so much he’s hearing him inside his head. In other words, his brain’s pulling a trick on him because feelings are complicated and it’s hard to figure them out. When Mick bristles at the idea of even having feelings (aww, buddy), Stein turtles — as in, he retreats right into his turtleneck — and looks warily at his teammate, unsure of what to say.
At least the boys and Amaya are having fun. After accepting the fact that losing Rip sucked but that the real Rip would have wanted them to celebrate saving their memories — thanks, Gideon! — the trio grab some popcorn and settle in for a long night of watching George Lucas’ greatest hits. I’m guessing the prequels aren’t on Nate and Ray’s lists.
The Legends are ready for their next mission, but Rip is not ready for anything at the moment. Taken by Thawne into a windowless chamber, he tries to explain that he’s not the brooding Rip people think he is; he’s just Phil, an artist who has no idea what the Spear of Destiny is and who’s capable of cracking a smile in his scenes. (No, really, more Arthur Darvill being silly, please.) Thawne, being Thawne, doesn’t believe him and summons Merlyn and Darhk inside the room to begin torturing the poor, new Rip.
Fingers crossed he won’t have to endure too much; the Legends will probably find him soon enough. For now, “Raiders of the Lost Art” proved a fun episode, peppered with pop culture references and enough geekery to make me suspicious of DC’s potential ties to LucasFilm and Disney (is it a coincidence the new Star Wars title was announced this week? IS IT?!). Also, is this episode implying that Star Wars is based on George Lucas’ repressed memories?! Think about it.
Sure, there was still a ton of mumbo jumbo about the medallion and the Spear of Destiny and yada yada yada, but at least the show’s cognizant of the MacGuffin-ness of those objects, and the hour felt a little more grounded than usual, especially when the heroes had to rely on their wits. It was also nice to see Amaya take the charge and shine among the group, and it’s getting more and more entertaining every time we see three veteran actors mug for the camera as the Legion of Doom while having to banter about the props in their hands. And if you read my recaps, you know I’m a sucker for moments when the team reach out to each other and interact beyond superficial comedy. This hour sets up something promising for Mick, and I am, with some reservations, excited to see where it heads.
But boy, does that wig on Rip look terrible to anyone else? Now that’s a time aberration.
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