‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Review: ‘Star City 2046’ a Wasteland Even Oliver Can’t Save
I mentioned a few weeks ago intent to check in with Legends of Tomorrow around more significant episodes, still feeling like the concept lends better to an event series, than something that has to spin its wheels for weeks at a time. “Star City 2046” oddly feels like it exists under both those conditions, on the one hand a strong hook of following the grizzled future Oliver Queen through a nightmare future, yet one with little connection to the Vandal Savage arc. That more or less puts into perspective why Legends of Tomorrow hasn’t quite hit any significant marks just yet, that diversions are simultaneously enticing, and irrelevant.
Not only that, but Legends of Tomorrow set its rules with such fluidity at the jump, it most always slips in crafting real stakes. Rip specifically notes the “future” as more in flux than the past, but where exactly do those directions begin from his 2146 perspective, that we’re invested in the urgency of saving this particular time? It’s a point “Star City 2046” doesn’t get around to cementing until three-quarters of the way through, when Sara’s personal connection to a city she left behind should have led the charge from the beginning. There’s a richness to this world heavily entangled with Sara’s history that the hour simply didn’t have time for.
That’s really the thing, that the hour might best have served as a two-parter; likely impossible with Stephen Amell’s availability*, but enough time to spend on consequences of the team’s actions that actually register. Oliver in particular has only so much to contribute from his isolated vantage, and we’re only given brief hints of his loved ones’ absence, while characters like Connor Hawke or Grant Wilson barely register beyond their DC namesake. We’re meant to see “Star City 2046” as a nightmare, a fleeting glimpse of the horror, but how often are one-off nightmares worth remembering? The team rallies, and saves the day with ease. Next.
*I don’t think anyone would question the choice to age Stephen Amell over hiring an older actor, limited availability or otherwise, but it’s especially jarring that they’d keep 65-year old Oliver with the exact same hairstyle and build. The makeup varied in efficacy from shot to shot, as did the grey hair dye, but someone should have tossed a coin between Oliver’s close-crop and physical fitness, not keep both. Was he still rigorously training and grooming, down in that basement? For what?
It probably doesn’t help that of the two other threads woven through the hour, only one felt particularly connected with the Star City setting, or fit the overall tone. Snart and Mick’s relationship has garnered plenty of attention in recent weeks, probably needing the most shading of humanity (blank slates like Rip and Kendra can easily afford to wait), and fraying their bond over a changing ideal sets up some interesting conflict going forward. Snart has long been pegged for a more heroic bent, and a criminal’s paradise brought out that separation in a way we can actually explore over time.
The final side of the hour on the other hand, a comedy of romantic errors between Ray, Kendra, Stein and Jackson, felt egregiously out of sync with everything going on outside the ship, and reductive to boot. Whomsoever thought treating an already-underdeveloped figure like Kendra as an object to be won, let alone in this context, should significantly re-evaluate their aims for the character. At best, it might represent a card from the writers’ room that never truly found a home. Not to mention, Ray’s apparent disinterest* in Star City’s fate served only to undercut Sara’s in an arc that barely gained traction as is.
*Star City lies in flames, a city he still doesn’t appreciate being named for him, and his biggest concern is that Felicity took over his building sometime in the last 30 years. An event directly caused by his three-decade absence, along with the flaming nightmare dystopia. What is this guy’s DEAL with legacy?
Legends’ entire premise celebrates an ability to tell the kinds of out-there DC stories that Arrow and Flash cant, but it’s a tool they’ve get to get a handle on. Visiting future Star City could have added plenty of depth to the overall arc, given enough time to gestate, or any real impact on the central storyline. I can’t say when the next Legends episode worthy of a check-in will air, but if “Star City 2046” can’t outshine its own gimmick, we might as well just stick around a flaming wasteland.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- The man just said it was 2046, before Sara and Ray take turns incapable of considering that Green Arrow wouldn’t be Oliver Queen.
- Could have maybe done without the sexual overtones of Mick taking concubines left and right.
- Sara goes two-for-two, thinking Deathstroke could be Slade, despite sounding nothing like Manu Bennett.
- Sure, change Connor Hawke from Oliver’s biracial son to Diggle’s son with a fake name. That seemed necessary.
- Did Felicity die, or leave somewhere along the line? Was that made clear?
- Take a shot every time Kendra cycles through the journey from barista to hawk goddess.
Legends of Tomorrow will return March 3 with “Marooned”, airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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