Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
With the unexpected twist of Carter’s (Hawkman) death, the “Legends” are reeling in their attempt to hunt down Savage and save the timeline. Blood Ties features a ton of fantastic character moments, solid action pieces and a ton of thematic resonance. Like the heroes comprising the team, the show hasn’t quite lived up to its title. But it’s pretty damn close.
Faced with the untimely death (can you ever have a timely death?) of Hawkman and the dying Hawkgirl, the rest of the Legends must scramble to try and save Kendra’s life while continuing their hunt for Vandal Savage. With so many loose threads dangling at once, it was the perfect opportunity to split the team up and play around with new character match ups. Rip Hunter and Sarah tackle the hunt for Savage, Ray and Stein team up to try and save Kendra, and Jax, Cold and Heatwave go on their own time jumping adventure.
Where I found a lot of the pairings in early episodes forced, the rapport built in Blood Ties feels completely genuine across the board. Ray and Stein seem like an obvious choice considering their both men of science but their connection grows far beyond that. Having been a former student of Stein’s, Ray is constantly looking for recognition. His past exploits on Arrow have hinted at the loss of his fiancé, suffering such a loss has left him weak willed when it comes to saving people. So when his chance at saving Kendra arrives, he hesitates. The back and forth between the two men never feels clichéd or overly complicated, it’s an emerging emotional relationship that touches on past tragedies both have endured.
Plus watching Brandon Routh shrink to the size of a blood cell and zap ancient dagger pieces to dust is pretty awesome.
While Ray and Stein play superhero doctor, Unwilling to sacrifice any more lives, Rip decides to continue his search for Vandal Savage on his own. Catching wind of this, Sarah chooses to aid him on his quest. It was cool to see Rip take a much more active approach to the mission this week. Having stuck to the sidelines for the last two episodes, this new, proactive Hunter was much more compelling. It was also really interesting to learn that their earlier attempt on Savage’s life wasn’t his first. Knowing that Rip had traveled to ancient Egypt in a failed attempt to try and cut Savage off at the source lends another layer of sympathy to the character. Losing his family must have been difficult; to have the opportunity to avenge them and waste it must hurt even more. This was obviously the case considering Rip “kills” Savage by episodes end.
This entire episode was the perfect showcase for how this series can work. The powers aren’t overblown (which was the case in the previous 2, despite how cool they were), the character drama was real and the stakes were high. The final scene with Hunter staring into Savage’s dying eyes while being reminded of the futility of his mission was brilliant. Not only did it establish Hunter as a leader willing to take this mission to its inevitable end, but also it cemented Vandal Savage as a bonafide badass, something that lacked in the previous two installments.
I also loved how Blood Ties brought in a number of threads left behind from parent series’ Arrow and The Flash. Sarah left without a comment on her bloodlust, here it comes back in full force. Having her come to terms with her “disease” with the help of Hunter helped foster a sense of camaraderie that wasn’t evident previously and made her part in this journey all the more complex.
The same can be said for Snart’s storyline this week. Taking one of the Waverider’s escape vehicles out for a spin, Captain Cold and Heatwave take Jax along on a little heist. What we thought was a bit of extracurricular thieving ended up being an attempt at granting him a better life. Snart’s past was explored early on in this season of The Flash, to return to those themes of child abuse and second chances was a great way to appease fans of the character while bringing a more human side to his cold demeanor.
I wasn’t a fan of how quickly Jax succumbed to the idea of becoming a thief, but hey, you can’t really say no to a couple of psychopaths with elemental cannons.
Aside from showcasing all of the lesser known heroes of the DC universe, Legends of Tomorrow’s strongest asset is it’s ability to do whatever it wants. Whenever and wherever that will provide the most interesting narrative potential is freely available. The show doesn’t need to be tied down to a select group of characters or a certain setting. There is a sense of freedom that comes with the show that something like The Flash or more so Arrow will never be able to emulate.
I’m not ready to call Legends of Tomorrow the best comicbook show on television. As evidenced by the pilot episodes, there is plenty of room for error, but if this is an example of how things will shape up moving forward, it may very well end up with that title.
Overall, Blood Ties gets a 9.5/10.
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