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Legends of Tomorrow 2.08 Review – ‘The Chicago Way’

December 8, 2016 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
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Legends of Tomorrow 2.08 Review – ‘The Chicago Way’  

Welcome to Chicago, 1927! And, I daresay, one of the best Legends of Tomorrow episodes yet. Malcolm Merlyn has officially joined the League of Doom and perhaps it’s no coincidence that they’ve suddenly gotten a lot more effective now that someone who hasn’t been killed is working with him. The purpose of the mysterious amulet Eobard has been after is revealed, the Legends are working some solid group dynamics, with some good character moments not to mention some legitimately funny ones, and as an extra special treat, Snart’s back! Sort of.

Let’s start with the end: the two amulets are revealed to combine to project a 3D starscape map that, Eobard tells us, can lead to the Spear of Destiny. The item which, according to legend, was used to pierce the side of Christ on the cross, and more relevant to our story, it can apparently be used to rewrite reality. Well! Now it makes a whole lot more sense why Eobard would be after this thing, and why it would be a hot ticket item in general. With something like this, Eobard can prevent his erasure from existence (which, I’m still not sure how he got around that to be here NOW in the first place, but I suppose we’re long past that being questioned), Darhk can prevent his own death, Merlyn could bring his son back, the list goes on. And it’s got some obvious temptation for the Legends whenever they learn it exists: bringing back Laurel, bringing back Rip’s wife and son, bringing back Rex or Snart or…you get the idea. It’s an overpowered MacGuffin, but an immediate motivator for every character. Let’s start guessing now who’s going to be brought back at the end of the season, shall we? My money’s on Laurel.

Speaking of the Lance sisters, Sarah acquits herself well as the leader in this episode. The team may not get everything right off the bat, but she gives orders, they generally follow them, and she keeps her strength going even when tempted by Malcolm with, essentially, the perfect life she had a vision of last week. I wouldn’t have minded seeing her at least a little more shook up by Merlyn’s presence, but I like that she didn’t hesitate to turn down his offer. Yes, she’s the good guy, she’s not supposed to bargain with the bad guys, I know, but she’d had that life presented to her already and her mind rejected it. It wasn’t the life she was meant for, as she tells Merlyn, and “I’ll take a nightmare that’s real over a dream that’s a lie.” This answer and Merlyn’s reaction feel very telling: while he has sacrificed his loved ones and done awful things to them time and again on Arrow in pursuit of his own goals, and never really wavered in that conviction, I wonder here if that isn’t finally starting to crumble. He mentions that by undoing the Queen’s Gambit boat crash, he would also get his son Tommy back, and Stein asks a good question: if he’s in league with a speedster, why can’t he just go save his son already? What does he need them for? Sarah rightly points out that he’s the errand boy; he needs to actually contribute in order to get what he wants. His anger at Sarah’s ability to accept the life she has may be a hint that he knows he lacks that ability, that he’s joined Darhk and Eobard for a very specific reason. After all, Malcolm Merlyn never does anything without a plan that will benefit him, and a few safety nets up his sleeve–as he proves towards the end, when he bargains with Sarah for his life and Stein’s in exchange for the amulet.

Which is where Sarah’s determination to protect history wavers, when she faces the loss of her own teammate. She not only gives away the amulet to save Stein, she tells him she’s not going to try and undo his daughter. We all knew this would be the eventual result of him telling her/the team about Lily, but it’s still nice to see it happening and to hear her accept and welcome this new branch of history they’ve accidentally created. It’s also nice to see Stein becoming more and more of a proud papa as he gets flashes of memories and tells Jax and Sarah about yet others that he’s been getting. Lily sounds fun and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of her last week, so I hope we get to see her more either here or on The Flash.

Jax was in and out this episode, mostly to help with plot stuff for Stein, but what he did have there was good this week. He was on top of getting the group armed when Stein was kidnapped, he was the first to suspect and then find out Thawne was masquerading as Stein, and the first to attack the impostor on their ship. Good work out of you, Jax! Keep it up and maybe you’ll get another A-plot someday!

Meanwhile, the rest of the team was paired off: Nate and Ray, Amaya and Mick. Nate and Ray had a fun rivalry going on; Sarah called this out early on as being very sibling-esque. I don’t think we needed it spelled out for us ahead of time, but it was fun regardless to see them try to one-up each other. As the two bulletproof nerds on board, it makes sense that a friendly rivalry would crop up between them. Amaya and Mick, meanwhile, had some good chemistry as they partnered up more than once, and Mick’s hallucination of Snart made sure we knew that Mick has a little crush on the newest teammate! This is one of those opposites attract scenarios, of course, the criminal and the paragon. But when they were working together this episode, they managed to give it potential, especially when they partnered up to take on Thawne. The direction in these scenes was very much to showcase that, keeping them physically close, etc, but it worked. Her gift of stolen whiskey to him at the end was a nice gesture, though I liked her hugging him earlier more than the kiss on the cheek. The wonderful awkwardness of Mick getting hugged was perfectly hilarious!

The one thing here I could’ve done without was Snart’s snide commentary. It’s great to have Wentworth Miller on screen with his trademark Captain Cold drawl, but Mick having these vivid imaginary conversations with his dead partner in his head is a weird choice, especially to only start doing it now. Hearing Snart say his sacrifice for the team wasn’t worth it was jarring, too. I understand that it’s Mick literally projecting his own thoughts and fears out there, but again, that’s where having it spelled out for us feels unnecessary. It’s a bit of the old sin of Season 1 of this, more telling than showing. Not that the DC TV Universe shows aren’t all guilty of this to some degree, but Legends had been getting away from this season when compared to last and that’s a good thing.

Last but not least, we finally see what Rip Hunter is up to! And it’s…directing a movie about himself in LA in 1967? And he’s American? I have successfully been intrigued.

Other Thoughts:
– A lot of great quotes in this episode! The banter was on point. Some favorites of mine:
– “You can undo brain damage? ….why don’t you help Rory out?” “Who says I haven’t?”
– “Vinny, he uh, he’s having it out with your mother.”
– “Whatever you’re gonna do, do it now.” “In a rush to die?” “I wasn’t talking to you!” Classic.
– “Isn’t that just like a thug? Brings a tommy gun to an ion blaster fight.”
– “That speedster could’ve killed you, Mick. What then?” “I’ll be dead like you.”
– The fight scene between Sarah and Malcolm was pretty damn awesome, especially after the previous fights had been rather lacking.
– The Chicago/Al Capone setting was mostly backdrop and didn’t matter to the plot, but it made for some fun dropping of historical facts, movie quotes, and costumes. Maybe most important as that it offered Mick a chance to step up in a way that made sense and fit his character.
– There was an obvious cut scene between Mick talking to head-Snart in the tunnel and the next scene where Amaya and Sarah have somehow found Stein. It didn’t matter too much, and I can see why it was cut, but they didn’t cover the hole that well.
– Thanks for watching and reading for this half of the season!

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
The Chicago Way was one of the best episodes of this show yet. The first half of Season 2 has been an improvement in just about every way over Season 1, and this episode really nailed the tone that works best for this show. Humor, action, sentiment, sci-fi shenanigans, one liners, it really felt like the show hitting its stride. Good pairings in the cast that worked well, from Nate and Ray's friendly rivalry, to Sarah and Stein's emotional conflicts and connections, to Amaya and Mick's friendly rapport that may become something else. The Darhk-Eobard-Merlyn team-up is a solid one and the bad guys were finally more effective; I do hope we see someday the pitch talk that got Merlyn to join up and be full-on evil again (not that he's ever been a 'good guy', but I'm still curious what was said in that conversation). And at long last a glimpse at Rip Hunter! This was a great end to the first half of the season, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season next year.