While “Legends of Tomorrow” may be a somewhat problematic show even after Thursday night’s new episode “River of Time,” we at least are starting to feel as though the series is finding its way, and responding more to what viewers like, and what they are frustrated by.
The biggest success of the entire hour was fleshing out the Vandal Savage character, allowing him to have a further bit of backstory, and for there also to be a larger twist at the center of the character that, for at least a couple of centuries, he was aware of time-travel technology and was able to figure things out. It further explains his ability to hide through history, and also why he had the giant Leviathan robot he had during last week’s elongated / somewhat-silly fight.
Savage was not killed by Kendra leading into this episode, and as a result of that, he was trapped within the Waverider while some of the characters in turn used him to air out their grievances. What made these sequences fun primarily was that Vandal is an unreliable narrator. For example, how much of his stories about Kendra were really true? It almost didn’t matter since there was truth in what he told Ray about his relationship with Kendra, and how he has this nasty habit of falling for people who are in many ways harboring feelings for someone else. Also, seeing Savage torment Sara over Laurel was fairly heartbreaking in its own way.
Another nice structural move was giving us small flashbacks throughout the episode to when some of these characters first decided to take this trip; it was almost like deleted scenes from the pilot. It was an effective use of Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, for example, and it reminded us as to why we were a bigger fan of the Ray / Felicity chemistry than most. It’s certainly stronger than what he’s had with Kendra. Meanwhile, it was nice to get more information on Jax’s mother, and in turn to see a scene between Nyssa and Sara Lance, where the former told her to go on and live her life.
The entire episode was all about Rip Hunter getting the crew to the Vanishing Point to turn Savage in for his crimes, only for him to realize later that the Time Masters were in on it all along. Meanwhile, Jax was jettisoned back to the present in an effort to save his life, and as much as we enjoyed this hour, we’re back yet again to people being imprisoned. The show really has to come up with some more creative solutions to these problems! Next to Ray being dumb enough to go open Savage’s cell and fight him, this was the biggest problem with what was a pretty great hour of escapism. If every episode was this strong, many of our problems would go away. Grade: B+.
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