With “Land of the Lost,” “Legends of Tomorrow” continues on its latest and greatest mission: to pick an entertaining idea and run like hell with whatever that may be. This particular installment sees not one, but three such ideas, and while none may go down as among the greatest plots ever conceived, they’re all successful in their way. Turns out that making things fun is a pretty solid way to make television.
Each of these storylines deserves its own moment in the sun, but not a one would come to pass without the surprisingly thrilling opening. Rip’s in the brig, where he gets a talking-to from Jax before settling in for a cozy chat with Gideon. After uttering a few ominous code words (no code words are so ominous as British code words) Rip’s got Gideon in full melt-down mode, taking control away from Captain Sara and steering the Waverider toward some unnamed certain doom. Mick, Amaya and Nate head off to stop Rip from taking all the weapons (they don’t) and destroying the medallion (he does).
Meanwhile Jax, Ray, Sara and company try to get Gideon and the ship back in line. They, at least, are successful, but the only way to turn off Rip’s handy self-destruct is to shut the ship down completely for a few seconds. All well and good, but that’s enough to crash land them in the Cretaceous period, just a short hike from Ray Palmer’s old T-rex omelette kitchenette. Ray, Amaya and Nate — those two seem to be getting paired up a lot, probably just a coincidence — head out to find a key piece of equipment that the ship lost while crashing. Without that bit, they can’t time jump, so it’s time to walk the dinosaur. That’s story one, complete with some predictable Amaya-Nate sexual tension and a steaming hot bowl of iguana soup.
Functional ship or not, the race is still on to find the final piece of the spear (and save Nate’s grandfather), so Sara tells Mick he’ll need to non-violently get Rip to talk. That’s when Rip decides to mention that, oh yeah, he was mentally invaded by the Time Masters for awhile, and maybe they could use that? As it turns out, the Waverider is equipped with this very piece of highly dangerous and morally dubious equipment, and with that, Sara “Rip is my responsibility” Lance and Jefferson “You need backup” Jackson go all Being John Malkovich on Captain Rip Hunter. That’s storyline number two, and it is a source of near endless delight.
Why? Well, because you know what would be fun? Sara Lance fighting Sara Lance, that’s what. Over the course of their adventure in Rip’s subconscious, Jax and Sara face down most (but not all) of the Legends. All of them are fun, but if “Legends” could find a way to make Caity Lotz fight herself every week this show would vault up the can’t-miss list. It’s such a simple but fun premise that if it has a flaw, it’s that not every Legend gets his or her moment in the sun — there’s not enough Bizarro Mick, it would have been great to see Stein use his brains to make their lives harder, etc. As things move from bad to worse, Sara takes on Bizarro Ray and company to buy Jax time to find Rip and winds up in the brig for her trouble.
Meanwhile, in Jurassic Park, Ray leads Amaya and Nate to his old camp, skirting the territory of Gertrude the T-Rex in the process. After he’s planted the once and former lovebirds in his male dinosaur urine-scented nest, he heads off to find food and Amaya lets Nate in on the fact that she’s thrown the fraternization rule out the window. Ray arrives just in time to shut down an impending hookup, and takes the next available moment to tell Nate that hey, if he changes Amaya’s future, a bunch of people might die. It’s not just his tendency to use old-timey phrases that makes Ray Palmer a mood-killer.
Back in the subconscious Waverider, Sara wakes up in the slammer and sees a man huddling and trembling in the corner. Turns out he’s none other than the old familiar Good Guy Rip, now terrified of the people he no longer remembers as teammates and friends. When Sara attempts to approach him, he blasts her away with the power of his mind — this is his reality after all — and while he’s still freaked out, Rip gears up to bust them out of his very own messed-up mind palace. Luckily for him, another friendly face shows up just in time.
That friend is the subject of the third story. Gideon the human being (Amy Pemberton, who also voices Gideon) would be just part of the Bizarro Waverider storyline, were it not for the fact that her existence adds depth and resonance to a voice we’ve been hearing since the pilot. That said, the most interesting (if not the most entertaining) of the three stories gets a little check in the negative column when you consider how similar it is to “The Doctor’s Wife,” a Neil Gaiman-penned award-winning episode of “Doctor Who.” Still, it’s a choice that works, from the suggestion that Thawne screwed up by assuming Gideon wasn’t important to Rip to that final moment when the real-world Gideon speaks to Rip with a knowledge of their shared experience.
Gideon’s timely arrival encourages Rip to channel his new mind-power and, perhaps more importantly, to trust that the new Sara and Jax are the real Sara and Jax. A few scrappy battles later and Rip’s false world begins to collapse. Jax shocks himself out of Rip’s mind to do the same to Sara (who lost her bracelet when Bizarro Ray squished it), and while both of them emerge, Rip is still stuck in his mind palace with Gideon. Romantic!
Speaking of romance, the Cretaceous threesome emerge from behind Ray’s urine perimeter to track their missing gear, which they find tucked in Gertrude the T-Rex’s nest. (Ray stole one of her eggs and made a bunch of omelettes with it, long story.) After retrieving it, they find themselves being chased down by Trudie, and she seems likely to get some very powerful snacks when Amaya goes full bad-ass. She uses her necklace to channel a Tyrannosaurus and has a little chat with the big dino, and it is the single coolest and most interesting thing the character has ever done, up to and including that time she used gorilla strength to pull the sword from the stone. Equipment in hand, they head back to the Waverider and jump out of dino-time (and in the case of Nate and Amaya, into bed, Ray’s warnings be damned.)
Rip has one more thing to do before he can get out of his head — say goodbye to Gideon. It’s a surprisingly affecting scene, given how little time we spend with this version of the character, but Pemberton and Arthur Darvill sell the hell out it, with lots of smoldering looks and a heck of a kiss. Once he’s awake, the now Good Rip has to say hello to his former team and contend with all the things he did while he was Bad Rip (he remembers everything). Sara’s still Captain and Rip’s got plenty of baggage, but Gideon remembers that kiss, so it’s not all bad.
With that ends the saga of Bad Rip, and it’s with no small amount of sadness that we see him go. Darvill’s a great actor who wasn’t given much to do in the first season, and watching him morph from nebbish film student to dyed-in-the-wool bad guy was a true pleasure. With all the great material that the “Legends” writers’ room has given him over the last few months, one hopes he’ll be every bit as fun now that he’s returned to the side of the sort-of angels.
Next week: Apollo 13!
Airing Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT on The CW, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” stars Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, Brandon Routh as the Atom, Victor Garber and Franz Drameh as Firestorm, Caity Lotz as White Canary, Maisie Richardson-Seller as Vixen, Dominic Purcell as Heatwave and Nick Zano as Citizen Steel.