For most of its runtime, “Marooned” feels like a filler episode, an installment of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” more concerned with a villain of the week than anything contributing to the greater narrative. But oh, those final moments.
Do I think that Captain Cold actually killed Heat Wave? Of course not. So far, we haven’t seen a body, and even if we did, this is a time-traveling superhero series where resurrection is as much a genre staple as a laugh track on a sitcom.
But that doesn’t matter. The show’s writers have indiscreetly been building up the tension between the two partners for the past few weeks now, so when it finally exploded, when Cold finally promised his teammates he would off Heat rather than just strand him in 2016 (everyone still has family there), it was a moment of genuine emotional catharsis.
Actors Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell deserve much of the credit for continuing to find the vulnerability beneath their stony exteriors. Miller’s had more opportunities on the series to dig deep into his emotions, but Purcell matches him here, seemingly acting with his teeth as his best friend aims the Cold Gun in his face. Despite the events leading up to it, despite Heat Wave selling out the entire team to Captain John Valor (Callum Keith Rennie) and his Space Pirates then relentlessly attacking White Canary, his disbelief at Cold’s shifted allegiance is nothing but heartbreaking.
If only the events leading up to it weren’t so lackluster. The show doesn’t do anything to distinguish the Space Pirates from any other generic sci-fi baddies, and they just feel like small potatoes when compared to someone like Vandal Savage, 2046 Deathstroke, or even Kronos — nothing but dusters, laser rifles, and generic malice.
The other storyline of the evening — the flashbacks between Hunter and his deceased wife, Miranda (Alex Duncan) — suffers from a similar lack of development. We’re meant to gain more insight into their relationship whenever Hunter remembers their time together in the Time Masters, but all that happens is their relationship gets discovered and she takes the fall for it by resigning from the council. This tells us she has integrity and that she and Rip loved each other very much. But we already knew that. The memories may have been more interesting if there was a bigger conflict between the two lovers, or something else that unveils unknown aspects of their personalities. The budding romance between Atom and Hawkgirl (made physical tonight with a first kiss) feels more intriguing.
Thankfully, we end on the dissolution of Captain Cold and Heat Wave’s partnership, preceded by an action centerpiece that intercuts between Heat and Canary beating the hell out of each other and Hunter taking down Valor. In a departure from many of the battle scenes on the show, the characters all toss aside their weapons for some refreshingly blunt and often sloppy martial arts, once again cementing “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” as a go-to series for some of the finest fights on television. At least the lesser episodes have that to fall back on, even when the central plot goes off the rails and the villains aren’t quite up to snuff.