I’m surely not the first person to say this, but one of the big problems with time-travel stories is that they allow the writer to cheat. As long as they keep the rules fuzzy enough — which “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” certainly has — they can get away with any number of events that, in a non-genre tale, would come off as the worst kind of deus ex machina.
So when it was revealed on tonight’s episode of “Legends” that the Time Masters have been manipulating everything the team has done on the show — literally, everything — it didn’t exactly feel out of character. They’ve fudged their way through time-traveling logic plenty of times before. But it did suddenly make all of the adventures so far moot. It made all the episodes up to this feel kind of pointless.
I suppose we can take solace in the characters’ emotional connections being somewhat of their own volition. While they may have engineered the missions surrounding them, the Time Masters couldn’t have planned on The Atom and Hawkgirl falling in love or Captain Cold developing feelings for White Canary. Or maybe they could have? I don’t know; the whole conceit of their large-scale and fairly implausible manipulation (even for a superhero show on The CW) is vaguely defined at best, which only adds to how frustrating it is as a plot point.
At the very least, the Time Masters’ deceit becomes a catalyst for Rip and the team to take control of their futures by destroying the Oculus. If that means no more time travel and no more stakes-killing story beats like these, I’m all for it. The detonation of the device also provides what’s easily the most emotionally resonant moment of the evening — perhaps the only one — in the (supposed) death of Captain Cold.
As seen in an earlier vision by Rip, The Atom discovers the bomb has a failsafe that needs to be manually overrided for detonation. Ray, being Ray, tries to do it himself, but quickly gets knocked unconscious by Heat Wave. When Captain Cold hears about this, he rushes into the chamber and does the same to Heat, knocking him out so he can sacrifice himself for his teammates. The kiss he shares with White Canary beforehand is sweet, but the real sentimental wallop gets delivered by his bond with Heat. Of all the characters on “Legends,” the writers have spent the most time on their dynamic, and as a result, even all the convoluted Time Masters business can’t diminish what they have. To see these two rogues care so much for each other is genuinely touching.
But let’s face it, Cold’s apparent demise will likely be short-lived, just as Heat’s was back in “Marooned.” Wentworth Miller has already been in talks to have a recurring role in the Berlanti DC universe next year, and as “Destiny” proves, the writers have no problem drastically bending the rules whenever it suits them. But while the plots on “Legends” can be frustrating, at least the relationships aren’t.
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