But what exactly sets it apart from the others? Are fans missing the point of this piece of the universe or is the show simply not delivering? Social media reviews tend to lean negative for this series but is it misplaced? We shall explore it.
So, let’s get this monkey smoking…
THE SYNOPSIS from TVGuide.com
Season 2, Episode 1
October 13, 2016
Out of Time
Season 2 begins with Dr. Nate Heywood, an unconventional historian, making a shocking discovery. Nate then seeks out Oliver Queen for help to find the scattered Legends. Once reunited, they try to protect Albert Einstein from being kidnapped before the Nazis destroy New York City with a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Ray notices that Sara has a mission of her own, which leads them both to face her nemesis, Damien Darhk.
Season 2, Episode 2
October 20, 2016
The Justice Society of America
The Legends travel to Nazi-occupied Paris and are surrounded by the Justice Society of America. They discover a time aberration that threatens the JSA, but the JSA doesn't want their help. Meanwhile, Nate tries to prove he should be part of the team.
If you walked through the other shows with me, you know that those shows follow what I have called the Arrow template (which is laid out in a column her on site called How to Build a Successful Superhero TV Drama) and rely heavily on thematic storytelling in parallel characters.
If there is any of those rules followed with LoT, then they are very subtle indeed. Instead, the Legends of Tomorrow creative and cast have chosen a much more linear style of storytelling relying heavily on DC expanded universe of lesser but fan favorite characters and the time travel itself to set and convey the narrative for this more action-packed show.
But what is stranger about the show still is how it feels distinctly out of joint with the other series on The CW but yet it facilitates (more than any other show) the interconnectivity of the universe. A perfect example is that we see Oliver Queen, Damien Dahrk and Eobard Thawne all play significant roles in the Legends season opener – crossing over Flash and Arrow with systematic precision while letting the main plot be the ride.
In fact, it is the approach to the narrative that alienates viewers to some degree because the other shows are so full of heart built by the thematic approach which demands viewers invest emotionally through empathy. While each character shares the theme in their own way, Flash and Arrow, Supergirl and even Gotham find a way to make you relate. Like with many shows that rely more heavily on action, some of the depth here of the other series are lost – and replaced with a straightforward complexity in the plot mechanisms. You see, when dealing with time travel especially, it becomes necessary to leave theme understated and emotionally suppressed to some degree because clarity is the most necessary of byproducts.
The absolute genius of Legends is that the payoff happens at the same time as the setup. The complex plot substitutes for the empathy so that the action and the “is that who I think it is?” Easter egg factor actually are characters of their own. Legends is far more in the vein of a Babylon 5 narrative than a Flash narrative.
The introduction of the worst villains from Arrow and Flash immediately sets the threat level to alpha and preserving history makes the stakes at an all-time high each and every episode. The removal of Captain Cold and Rip Hunter are glaring holes missing in the emotional makeup of the team but the addition of Nate Heywood (Commander Steel) will work well as a suitable replacement for Rip. But without Hawkgirl and Cold it still feels empty. But the promises of adventures to come and the full appearance of the JSA make up for those to some degree. The JSA were portrayed realistically and wonderfully except for Stargirl and Dr. Midnight getting virtually no real screen time.
But just because the themes are subtler, more simple doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In the openers, it is clear that the theme is what makes a leader? What makes a team? The thee is explored in a straightforward comparison between the Legends and the JSA. You do not really experience this with all the characters simultaneously but through two characters Jackson and Stein.
Legends of Tomorrow’s opening for season two has set the stage for a complex and exciting adventure, but risks convoluted and nonsensical history if done wrong. It seems to me that the cast and creative team at CW is using kids gloves and is relying on the intricate plots including time travel for the narrative rather than relying on theme.
But the truth is that Legends is still missing its voice It is still finding itself and I believe the journey will both satisfy critics and add to the depth that is the Arrowverse. Join me next week.
Tell the Monkey to Crush His Butt….