SPOILER WARNING: The following interview contains major spoilers for the April 28 episode of "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."
It's do or die time for "DC's Legends of Tomorrow." In a desperate attempt to end Vandal Savage's reign of terror, the team has set a course for 2166, the year Savage is at the height of his power. When they arrive, the Legends discover a weakness they can exploit: Savage's daughter, Cassandra. However, ending the life of the immortal menace could prove more difficult than anyone imagined -- especially for Kendra.
Ahead of tonight's future-based episode, Executive Producer Phil Klemmer spoke with CBR News about the significance of Savage's bloodline, why Kendra finds herself having second thoughts about slaying her immortal foe, an amnesic Hawkman and which DC characters should appear in Season 2.
CBR News: So far, Vandal Savage has proven unstoppable, so why are the Legends heading to a point in time where he's at peak power for their latest attempt at stopping him?
Phil Klemmer: In 2166, we're basically returning to the first frames of the pilot, when we saw Savage marching over this post-apocalyptic battlefield, literally forcing the world into submission under his boot. We've simply run out of easy options of where to attack him in the timeline. Now, we're calling in a "Hail Mary play." Our Legends have removed their former selves from the timeline in the previous episode. They are looking down the barrel of being erased from history and not being known by the people they love.
The Legends are at their best when they are doing the one thing they're told that they shouldn't do. This would be attacking Savage at the height of his powers, where we don't have a means to kill him. What makes this time different is, we discover a new kind of vulnerability. It's not about the Amon Dagger -- it's more about his emotional vulnerability. What we discover is, he's made the mistake of having a daughter and very much loving her. Just as he's ready to take over the world, he's made himself vulnerable to our team by allowing himself to love another human being. That's never a good idea when your goal is world domination. Basically, our team will set out to exploit his love for his daughter by trying to turn her against him.
In what ways is Cassandra daddy's little girl? Does the apple fall far from the tree?
That's the thing with immortality -- I don't think Vandal started out as a horrible person. I feel having to live through 4000 years and witnessing the horrors that mortal humans inflicted on themselves, it's made him a pretty jaded and ruthless character. His daughter doesn't have the benefit of immortality. In fact, all she knows of the world is what Savage has decided to share with her. Her father has carefully shielded her from the realities of his ruthlessness. Like any child, she sees her father as a good man. Gradually, our team will pull Cassandra out of her cloistered existence under her father's watchful eye and give her a different vantage on history and a new way of looking at her father. He's not the benign and necessary tyrant -- he's just an immortal son of a bitch, who did horrible things to their family.
Kendra, more than most, is personally invested in taking down Savage once and for all. Does that make her more resourceful, or reckless?
Throughout this season, Kendra went from being a barista, she had powers, and as we know, she's the only one who has the capability to kill Savage. She's seen how awful a person he is. She's died by his hand hundreds of times. In this episode, she's ready to do it. It's more about the mechanics of finding one of the magical items, like the Amon Dagger, which we know has to be wielded by her. Obviously, this is not the end of the season, but the sort of sleight of hand trick that we've played is, we've given the Legends everything they need to execute the murder of an immortal. We've given them the means. We've given them the opportunity. We give them the conviction. Obviously, the series doesn't end with 113. The twist of 113 is, why doesn't Kendra do it? Why on Earth, given the chance to kill this man, who has murdered her hundreds of times, who murdered Carter -- what is the one thing that could stay her hand? That's why it's worth watching this episode, for the answer to the question.
Would it be safe to say "Leviathan" sets things into motion for the remaining episodes this season?
Absolutely. In a way, this is like the fall finale. If you were to change five seconds of 113, it could effectively be the finale. The stakes, production value, the VFX of giant robots fighting, and it's taking place at the end of the world, on the eve of Vandal's rise to power -- it's really crazy. If not for those five seconds, it could have happened differently. This season could have ended with this episode. The fun is the corner we back ourselves up into for the next three episodes, which is, "Oh, if it didn't end there, how on Earth is it going to end?"
Looking ahead, what can you tease about Hawkman's return to the show?
He's not the Hawkman we know and love. The tragedy of reincarnation is, you don't always remember who you were. The version of Carter we encounter in 2166 isn't the man who died in 1975. It's effectively an amnesia story, and a question of whether he's been screwed by Savage so completely that he can't remember his former self or former love for Kendra. It's a nature versus nurture thing. It is not unlike Savage's daughter, where you realize part of his power is to corrupt the minds of the people around him.
Will the season finale either resolve or blow open the Time Masters storyline?
The finale is the equivalent of a wrecking ball. It pretty much lays waste to all of the dramatic structure of Season 1. As we head into Season 2, all the building blocks of Season 1 will be obliterated. Effectively, 201 will be a new pilot, with new stakes and characters. It will be from the ground up. It will be a redesign of the show with, hopefully, the parts people like best.
The writers must have a wish list of DC heroes and villains for next season. Who are some of your favorites?
I can't say the wish list without announcing who is going to appear. My wish list and DC's list of people they are willing to share -- there's a tremendous overlap. It's difficult to top a villain like Vandal Savage, but I promise we will find a way to do that. The other thing we are looking to do within our team is to destabilize them, to bring aboard the Waverider the kind of characters that make it hard for them to be a team. If it's easy to be a team, it's just no fun. The Mick Rorys and Leonard Snarts, to me, that's why the show worked this year. It wasn't all a bunch of square-jawed heroes. By the end of the season, everyone will have to work together in order to vanquish Savage. Therefore, in Season 2, we have to find a way to really destabilize the team, to send them back to their dysfunction. That's when they are at their best. Not when they are Legends, but when they are losers.