The first season of Legends of Tomorrow was fine. The second was a total mess, but in a really good way. In its third season, if “Aruba-Con” is any indication, Legends has nailed the formula it spent two seasons working out: this is a show about talented people who, basically, are idiots.
The premiere sees the Legends figuring this out — and as they do, they realize their total lack of subtlety can be a hell of an asset. So does Rip, now the head of the Time Bureau, though it takes him the whole hour to get there. In a nutshell, that’s what happens here — the Legends get fired, get bored without their usual thrills (well, most of them do), and spend the rest of the episode trying to get their jobs back, screwing things up again and again in the process. By the end, Rip knows he needs them, because while this may be a gang of screw-ups, they’re his screw-ups. And they might not be much good as a scalpel, but they make a hell of a chainsaw.
For a series that spent so much time digging into convoluted plots, this one is refreshingly simple. As the Legends toil away in obscurity — Ray working for a company building what’s basically ‘new Tinder,’ Nate as the sidekick of Kid Flash, Jax as a student, the relatively content Martin as a grandpa-to-be, and poor, poor Sara as a grunt at Sinks, Showers & Stuff — Mick sits on a beach, sipping margaritas. A shadow falls over him, and after a few particularly solid bon mots, he opens his eyes and sees Julius freakin’ Caesar. Mick calls Sara, Sara gets the band back together, and together, they steal the Waverider back. Then they try to put Caesar back where he came from, but inadvertently change the world… again.
It’s not riveting stuff, but it doesn’t really matter, because “Aruba-Con” is content merely to re-introduce us t these people and the fun, peppery world in which they live. Sure, perhaps it could have benefitted from another twist or some slightly raised stakes, but the loss is worth it. More than perhaps any episode since last season’s stellar “Raiders of the Lost Art,” “Aruba-Con” makes plenty of time for fun banter, good quips, and dumb, dumb jokes (“Your salad sucks!” Mick spits at Caesar; “Now that I’ve seen your team in action… you are even worse than I expected” Time Bureau Agent Sharpe tells Sara bluntly.)
The lack of focus on the plot also makes room for some solid fight sequences. While Caity Lotz brings a great deal to the show through her performance alone, she’s also made Sara Lance nigh on unstoppable. Whether she’s fantasizing about slitting her boss’s throat or running her way around the perimeter of a circle by running across some raised shields, she’s incredibly engaging. Watch that first knife fight thing again, and tell me she’s not one of the most compelling characters in the Arrowverse.
While an hour of nothing but fine dialogue and entertaining characters would be plenty, “Aruba-Con” also introduces what will likely be major plot points along the way. Lily, Stein’s time aberration daughter, is pregnant. Rip mentions that the Legends will likely be useful when it comes time to face “what’s coming,” mentioning a villain likely to be this season’s big bad. And Amaya isn’t around at all, having gone back to 1942 to face her destiny. While there, somehow, she’s gained power (now controlling multiple animal shades at once) and lost any sense of restraint — you can hear a man being ripped apart in the background as she smiles at the chaos she’s wrought..
So this wasn’t perfect episode, but it was really, fun. Greg Berlanti and company seem to know now that the best way to appreciate this series is to sit back and have a good time, and “Aruba-Con” does not disappoint. It’s possible that further down the road, we’ll all be bemoaning the loss of character development in favor of silliness, but for now, it’s the return of what is, against all odds, easily the most entertaining of The CW’s DC shows. May it be so off-kilter, odd, and free of the stuffily-suited Time Turds for the rest of its days.
Airing Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT on The CW, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow stars Victor Garber as Martin Stein, Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary, Franz Drameh as Jefferson “Jax” Jackson/Firestorm, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom, Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Amaya Jiwe/Vixen, and Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel.
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