May 24, 2020

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season Two Review: At the Top of Their Game

Season 2 was the first time the Legends participated in the annual crossover.
I find it fascinating which sequels can pull off the “bigger and better” goal, and which ones fall flat while trying. Aliens, The Dark Knight and The Empire Strikes Back are strong examples, with  Terminator: Genisys and Independence Day: Resurgence proving that sometimes it doesn’t always work.

Whether it’s different for television series is an interesting matter of discussion. TV has more time to flesh out its story and its characters, and there’s room for more buildup to the season’s big ideas and climax(es). However, the second season can be the most difficult, largely because once you’ve had a successful first season, it can be hard to maintain the momentum and you risk falling into a bit of a “sophomore slump.” Thank god this has never applied to Legends of Tomorrow, in any of its seasons so far. 
Every season has so far achieved the “bigger and better” goal, and none more than Season 2. The cast is on top of their game, the writing gets funnier and wittier with every passing episode, and the story is consistently inspired and clever.

It’s in this season that the show begins to find its niche, in a superhero show that isn’t afraid to have fun while being totally and completely wacky, finding new ground to cover with every passing episode. Granted, it’s still a season or two away from embracing its true weirdness, but Season 2 is Legends of Tomorrow’s first emergence into the realm of the absurd. As a dedicated fan since the show’s inception, it’s fascinating to chart it’s descent (or ascent?) into stranger and stranger topics.

The most compelling villains the Legends have ever faced.
The season begins with the Legends doing what they do best, and repairing time whenever it happens to be damaged by aberrations, whether they be time pirates attempting to assassinate Louis XIII, a futuristic virus ravaging scores of Civil War soldiers, or anything in between. Sometimes, the Legends themselves cause the aberrations, and those situations usually turn into the best episodes; one notable example is when Ray (Brandon Routh)’s A.T.O.M. suit falls into the hands of a Japanese Shogun after Ray accidentally tumbles out of the Waverider. Missions like those showcase the Legends’ integrity and strength, and prove what a great team they really are. They may mess up along the way, but they mess up with style.

Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), the man who made the Legends, is actually absent for the majority of the season. I remember seeing Darvill (along with Season 1 stars Casper Crump and Falk Hentschel) at Rhode Island Comic-Con in 2016, about halfway through the season, and being thrilled when Darvill confirmed that he would be back in subsequent episodes. Still, even though Rip isn’t one of the season’s primary characters, we begin to see how the Legends are adapting to life without him — and how they can stand as their own entity without the man who formed the team. Granted, when Rip returns, he adds his fair share of chaos back into the mix with a number of delicious twist, but one can tell that the show is acquainting audiences to Legends without Arthur Darvill.

Still no shortage of style in sight.
One of Season 2’s strongest elements is its villains. After the mediocrity of Vandal Savage in the series’ freshman season, Season 2 draws from the established world of the Arrowverse and creates a hodgepodge of villains that turn out to be enormously enjoyable. This is the Legion of Doom, comprising of Arrow’s Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) and Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), all brought back from the dead through the magic of time travel (except Merlyn, but since Arrow forgot about him he hasn’t had much to do. The banter between the four of them is ridiculously amusing, and I must say, they’re probably the strongest consistent villains that the series has ever seen. Plus, it’s refreshing to see Matt Letscher get his time to shine as Thawne after Tom Cavanagh had the role largely to himself in The Flash.

While the second season of Legends is clearly still finding its footing, it’s still managing to be a damn good time along the way. With twists aplenty and self-contained adventures as well as an overarching arc, plus stellar new heroes and motivated, if not entirely unsympathetic, villains, Season 2 is about as good as it gets. It still stands as my favorite season, even as we’re well into Season 5. Do yourself a favor, and give it a watch, or if you’ve already seen it, give it a rewatch. It’s worth it, I promise. [Grade: A+]

Showrunners: Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim, Phil Klemmer and Greg Berlanti
Starring: Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Dominic Purcell, Victor Garber, Franz Drameh, Nick Zano, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Amy Pemberton, Matt Letscher
Rated: TV-14 (violence, smoking, language)
Available: Netflix
Fun Fact: In the first season’s finale, Rex Tyler/Hourman of the Justice Society arrives to save the team from their impending deaths. The CW had originally planned to produce a spinoff TV series featuring Hourman, but the idea was scrapped, and the cliffhanger turned out to be largely unimportant in Legends Season 2.

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