Wednesday, October 11, 2017

REVIEW: 'Legends of Tomorrow' - The Time Bureau Relieves the Legends of Their Duty in 'Aruba-Con'

The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.01 "Aruba-Con"

When the Legends realize that they broke the timeline, Rip Hunter arrives with his new organization - the Time Bureau - to relieve them of duty. The Legends are thrilled to get a chance to put the team back together but a new threat arises when Rory spots Julius Caesar in Aruba. Sara, Nate and Ray devise a plan to steal the Waverider back from the Time Bureau in order to try and stop Julius Caesar from conquering the modern world.

Legends of Tomorrow became such a silly show in its second season - in the best possible way. It's easily the most absurd show amongst the DC series on The CW. And yet, it's precisely that ridiculousness that allows it to stand out and be one of the most effective of the bunch at times. It's just nice and relaxing to see how over-the-top and crazy this show can be. It doesn't always need to make sense. It just needs to take the audience on a very entertaining ride through history. In "Aruba-Con," the Legends take on a new motto: messing up things for the better. That perfectly describes what this series is. It's honestly a little surprising that it's taken so long for the team to articulate things so clearly and concisely in that way. Most of the time it seems like they are very incompetent at their jobs as time masters. They are just one mistake away from destroying all of time. That was especially true in regards to the cliffhanger at the end of the second season. Sara made the choice to break the number one of time travel by interacting with past versions of the team. They were successful in their main mission of defeating the Legion of Doom. But in the process, they broke time. They brought so many anachronisms to the present-day. It was chaos. It was a very fitting conclusion for the season. The team is capable of bringing everything back together and saving the day. Along the way though, they will seemingly make things a whole lot worse. That's the fun and appeal of this show. It's silly. One can't take it too seriously. But it also knows that it's best to avoid the glum problems that invade the other three shows on The CW. This is a welcome change of pace.

That ending was pretty chaotic as well. It didn't present itself as a situation that could be cleaned up quickly or easily. And yet, that's the exact solution that the show creates. That could seem like a cop out. All of the problems caused by the Legends are immediately fixed by a new organization. And yet, that new organization is the Time Bureau which is already a fascinating new addition to the series. Rip brought the Legends together for a mission. He recognized that they worked much better as a team without him as their captain. He chose to leave moments before everything went awry in the timeline. And now, he has reappeared as a changed person. He's actually aged five years. In that time span, he has formed the Time Bureau. And now, they are here to clean up the mess that the Legends created. It's a ridiculous solution to this problem. It shows that the series still only has a tenuous connection to actual rules in regards to its timeline. But it's thrilling nonetheless because it presents as a way to disband the Legends as well. They are no longer necessary to protect the timeline from individuals who wish it harm. They are obsolete. The Time Bureau can do their jobs much more effectively. Rip has appeared to relieve them of their duties. This was suppose to be a limited mission for all of them. And now, it's reached its natural conclusion.

As such, it's just a ton of fun to see the Legends try to return to normal lives in 2017. Of the various situations, Sara's is by far the funniest. It's just so completely random to see her working at a place called Sink, Shower and Stuff. She's fantasizing about killing her very demanding and opinionated boss. It's such an unlikely place to find someone of her abilities. But that's what makes it such a successful reveal. Ray working at an upstart in Silicon Valley is true to the character while still being ridiculous as well. It's just a little more expected. The same is true of Nate who is trying to be a hero in Central City but is basically just second fiddle to Kid Flash - which is amusing considering The Flash right now is about Kid Flash being second fiddle to The Flash. Meanwhile, things are actually going great for Stein. He's returned home to his family and learned that his daughter, Lily, is pregnant. That should be a fascinating story to see play out this season. The father's identity is bound to be a huge reveal at some point, right? Of course, Stein and Rory are the only two members of the team actually happy. Stein has his family while Rory is finally able to enjoy a beach on Aruba. This sequence is suppose to highlight how miserable the Legends are without their mission. Amaya has returned to 1942 to fulfill her destiny while Jax feels unfulfilled in his life as an engineer after getting to work on the Waverider. Of course, it's still ultimately a time anachronism that is able to pull them all together once more.

Julius Caesar just happens to be wandering around the beach Rory is enjoying at the moment. He's aware enough to know that this guy isn't suppose to be here. He calls in Sara who is able to reassemble the team to make a pitch to Rip and the Time Bureau. They believe it's their duty to help clean up the mess that they made. They want the opportunity to prove that they are still worthy of being time travelers who fix the various problems that occur throughout time. It's a mission they are all desperate to join because their normal lives haven't been great. Of course, Stein's stands out because he's actually happy. He's actually giving up happiness to be a part of the team. That plot doesn't really work. It only works if you think it's time Stein makes a sacrifice akin to when he drugged Jax to get him on this team in the first place. It's just a little too complicated in order to pad out the story for this episode. Meanwhile, Rory needs to be a part of the mission because he's the one who discovers the anachronism in the first place. The Time Bureau doesn't take the Legends seriously. They marvel at them as relics of the past whom destroyed everything in such a colossal way. In turn, the Waverider has been turned into a training simulator to prepare the agents for the missions they'll deal with in the field. It's mostly just a way to use the missions from the Legends' past as a way to mock how things were handled.

But it's still absolutely thrilling to watch as Sara is the one responsible for taking down Julius Caesar. The Time Bureau doesn't register it as a genuine anachronism. Their technology didn't notice this sizable change to history. That seems very convenient. It's probably just a way to bring the team together and not an indication that the Time Bureau is compromised in some way. Of course, both options are perfectly acceptable in this situation. It allows the show to continue to showcase Caity Lotz's physicality in a very entertaining and thrilling way. She defeats Caesar while he is surrounded by a bunch of college frat bros. That's just an amusing sight. It then places Sara in a dilemma where she needs to make a decision as captain of the ship. She needs to decide if the Legends or the Time Bureau will handle returning Julius Caesar to his appropriate time. She believes the mission should be handed over to the Time Bureau because they have the experience to make sure it goes according to plan. But in the end, she's inspired to do it herself in order to prove that the Legends still hold value in this world. They may be a mess but they are still capable of handling these types of missions. Of course, what happens next both highlights how massively they mess up and why they are needed to fix things in the end as well.

Returning Julius Caesar to his timeline doesn't save the world. In fact, it only completely changes it. Caesar is now armed with knowledge about the future and how he is destined to be stabbed by his allies in his conquest to build the Roman empire. The Legends mess up because Nate brings a book into this period that doesn't belong. Caesar steals it. And then, he manages to lay a trap that can fool the Time Bureau. It's important to see the skills both organizations bring to this mission. The Time Bureau is all about stealth. They have the technology to make people forget that these out-of-place things ever occurred. That will come in handy in the future for the Legends as well. Meanwhile, the Legends prove that sometimes the subtle approach isn't the best option. Caesar has a loyal army. And so, the Legends need to use their skills in order to defeat him and restore order to the timeline. It's thrilling to watch - again mostly for Lotz's physicality and being able to defeat three Roman soldiers while swinging from a chain. But it's important for Rip to realize that the Legends still have value. Of course, that mostly comes with a tease of bad things to come. This premiere doesn't really establish much of an ongoing storyline for the season. There's no big bad for the season yet. But Rip does drop the name Mallus and teases that the Legends created him when they broke the timeline. So, that should be interesting to see play out moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Aruba-Con" was written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim and directed by Rob Seidenglanz.
  • How soon until Sara and Agent Sharpe become a romantic pairing? The sexual tension is already present in their dynamic. They are adversaries at first. Sharpe is against the Legends being in the Time Bureau building. But then, they need to work together in the end to prevail against Julius Caesar and his army.
  • Ray's time at a startup that is essentially Tinder but where people swipe up or down instead of left or right isn't all that useless either. He's able to use his time there to fool the frat bros Caesar is appealing to. That thinking is useful in the apprehension of Caesar in the present while also ensuring that no one is any wiser as to what's actually going on.
  • Wouldn't Rip have found a better use for Gideon instead of just turning her off? The past has revealed how close the captain and supercomputer actually are. And yet, he has now built this new organization and has no purpose for Gideon. She's rebooted as soon as Sara, Nate and Ray steal the Waverider.
  • Does it sorta feel like things may be building to a tragic end for Stein? He starts the season perfectly happy and is only pulled back to the mission because of Jax wanting to be fulfilled in his life as Firestorm again. And yet, that has the pinnings of a story where he misses the birth of his grandchild or is killed before being able to enjoy his own family for a long period of time.
  • Amaya is only briefly seen at the start and end of the premiere. She left the team in order to fulfill her destiny protecting her village in the past. The final scene shows her doing so. Plus, she's picked up some new powers as well. She can now conjure up animals that can attack for her instead of just getting their powers herself. That's a very powerful new skill.