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Legends of Tomorrow Heats Up the Cold War in “White Knights”

By on February 12, 2016
Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart in the "White Knights" Episode of Legends of Tomorrow

Pictured: Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

By Justin Carter

After a trilogy of episodes set in the distant past of the late 1970s, it looks like Legends of Tomorrow is doing a trilogy set of episodes for each decade. This and next week’s episodes will be set in 1986 during the Cold War, and while the show doesn’t use this setting to its full comedic effect as it did with the 70s, it’s still pretty fun. True to the show’s promise last week, everyone’s got something to do as the team breaks into the Pentagon to grab a file on Vandal Savage. Of course, while it is fun, it doesn’t go off without a hitch due to Firestorm’s bickering personalities and Kendra’s inability to control her warrior priestess side.

The Firestorm dynamic is intended to be used for comedic effect, but can get old very quickly. It’s obvious that whoever ends up being the body won’t really want to take orders from their mental co-pilot, especially if the duo in question are an old man with several PhDs to his name and a 20-something auto mechanic who was in more ways than one forced into something he really wanted no part of.

As it turns out, the show takes time to acknowledge the issues that Jefferson and Stein have. While Stein is right in wanting to prevent another Ronnie situation, Jax is even more right in calling the scientist out for drugging and kidnapping him without giving any thought to his mother. After the pilot, some critics spoke about the problematic undertones that came with Stein drugging his young charge, and the shouting match between the two seems like a direct acknowledgment of that criticism. Stein’s reasoning doesn’t entirely ring true (he’s more or less overbearing here as he was when he was with Ronnie), but Victor Garber sells it and gives the genius something of redemption in the final minutes of the episode.

Kendra, meanwhile, suddenly finds herself working with Sara to control her awakened warrior priestess personality. I can understand the logic behind pairing them together, given that both of them have died and come back to life, and it’s good just as a general rule to have Caity Lotz bounce off at least one different member of the cast each episode. Sara’s whole thing is that she’s finally free as a bird, but her bloodlust still has her caged in darkness. Both women learn to remember who they are deep down, and the training sequence that comes from this is fun to watch. Now that Carter’s gone, it looks like Kendra’s going to be her own person, and that’s where the fun will hopefully begin.

The prize for best storyline this week goes yet again to the loveable duo of Ray and Snart, who have to figure out why Savage defected to the Soviet Union. As Rip puts it himself, Snart has to play wingman for Ray while he tries to get with the scientist in charge of Savage’s Russian Firestorm project, but that doesn’t go as planned. Those who thought Ray was more than a little creepy with his pursuit of Felicity in the last season of Arrow will probably not like how he’s portrayed in the early moments of this mission, but Wentworth Miller has some serious game and hams it up. He’s the show’s star MVP next to Lotz, and any situation where he charms two women, then steals both their key cards and their wallets are a win.

And then there’s also the matter of crash landing in the Soviet Union thanks to the Time Masters’ lackey Chronos and Rip’s old comrade Druce. The other Time Master says he’ll pardon Rip and the team, but it doesn’t take a genius (or Rory) to figure out that it’s a setup to kill everyone, and Druce bolts at the first sign of danger. It’s possible that this’ll pay off later on, but for now, it’s a waste of Martin Donovan and drives the comparisons between Chronos and Star Wars’ Boba Fett even further: a cool-looking character who’s ultimately useless. (By the way, show, calling him Boba Fett is not subtle.)

Still, that non-storyline aside, “White Knights” is a fun episode that shows that Legends hasn’t lost its groove from last week and gives some time for Snart to shine even more than he does already, so I can’t fault it for that.

Additional Notes

  • The meta humor that comes with Brandon Routh being on the show will never get old. He played a spy in Chuck, gleefully declares that he’s always wanted to be one!
  • “We’re trying to save the world, and you’re lifting wallets?” “It’s called multitasking.”
  • I’m not 100% sure Rory needed to be on the show, but Dominic Purcell is having fun just even challenging soldiers to arm wrestle, and I can’t blame him.
  • How do Kendra’s wings just pop out of her back? Do they form around her clothes, or just pop out of them?
  • “It’s a MiG-21! No one’s ever been this close to one before.” “Are you quoting Top Gun?” “….Maybe.”

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