Bringing up the rear of The CW’s four-pronged superhero series slate, Legends of Tomorrow this Thursday not only delivered one of its strongest episodes ever, it bested the most recent adventures of Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl.
Legends was not without its problems throughout its freshman run, and I myself noted that the Season 2 premiere was quite creaky, weighed down by so much hard-to-swallow exposition while also introducing a new lead character — Nick Zano’s Dr. Nate Heywood.
The season’s second outing had its issues, too, pitting the self-righteous Justice Society of America against the second-tier Legends, as it needed to do in the name of building dramatic tension. But this week’s episode, “Shogun,” took all of that set-up — coupled with the introduction of Nate’s own new power, decently rendered by TV-budget CGI — and let it feed into an hour that was highly entertaining and, most significantly for a show that tends to believe “more is more,” almost serene at times.
Channeling some sort of cross between 1980s Val Kilmer and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man), Zano this week particularly shined as Nate clicked with the local Shogun’s begrudging betrothed, while also struggling to master his ability to “steel up.” And though the storyline (Rex Tyler used his last breath’s to ID a “time traveler” as his killer) demanded that Amaya/Vixen stow away on the Waverider to stalk its crew, thankfully that case of mistaken identity has been resolved, because Maisie Richardson-Sellers is another nice addition to the cast, especially now that the character is finding some common ground with Mick, Sara et al.
Even Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer has been taken in some interesting new directions, spending much of the past two weeks coming to terms with the fact that his “power” lies in his suit, not within him — a reality that crystallized when this week’s adventure necessitated the Atom suit’s destruction. Though he surely will whip up a Version 2.0, the weight of the sacrifice was not lost on anyone. Dominic Purcell, meanwhile, got to express Mick’s excitement at the prospect of finally meeting some of the ninjas whose movies he is so fond of, while teaching Amaya some lessons about what he is and isn’t.
As for the aforementioned Sara, who has stepped into the “captain” role during Rip’s mysterious absence: We must never underappreciated that which Caity Lotz physically brings to the table, because whereas some superhero shows all but dare you to not notice the “seams” as physically mismatched stunt doubles do the heavy lifting, the accomplished dancer-turned-martial artist sells her fight scenes — and the acrobatics that often come with them — like nobody’s business, making for an especially visceral viewing experience.
Throw in a mysterious, unheard “voice message” from Future Barry Allen Circa 2056, and “Shogun” very much marked one of Legends‘ most super hours ever.
What did you think of “Shogun”?