By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The Future is not so great in “Star City 2046” on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. That’s not only considering the immediate problems that took place in 2046 but also it may have paved way for how Vandal Savage took over the world in 2116.
In the last episode, Chronos found the Waverider and blasted the ship out of the time tunnel. He should have been able to trace where in time the vehicle crashed. Just where it landed is described as a possible future instead of a definitive one. However, viewers can never be so sure when CW’s The Flash established the fact that alternate time-lines (Earth-1 and Earth-2’s) exist.
Rip needs to repair his time machine — which has never been revealed to be able to hop between parallel worlds. He does discuss where they are, but when they leave the ship to survey the landing site, the team discover a razed Star City. A new Deathstroke rules this town, but little is known outside of it. Everyone has left for good reason; this despot prefers a city in total chaos.
For audiences wondering about what kind of world Rory (Heatwave) wants, we finally get to see it. He’s the yang to Snart’s (Captain Cold) yin. His darkness is in stark contrast to Leonard’s ability to see the light. Cold is calculating and as he tells his partner, to be the ultimate bad-ass means to take out the top banana. That is, by removing Savage, these partners-in-crime can get what they want and nobody can say otherwise. It’s unlikely Rip’s team would even want to challenge them. Despite having a different agenda, to pay attention to this subplot is keeping this series fresh. Yes, I’m rooting for the villains!
Along with seeing what the future is like, the Green Arrow with the goatee is not quite the same as the comics (depending on artistic representation), but to see Stephen Amell sport the beard is a step in nerdvana heaven. This actor was certainly relishing in the role of a dismayed warrior who lost his way (again).
In this future, the Slade Wilson version of Deathstroke somehow found the time to sire a child (Grant Wilson) and raise him to continue his vendetta against the Green Arrow (Ollie). These world building details only suggests one future possibility, as Rip explained, because Ray and Sarah was not there. It would be interesting to revisit this timeline even when these two characters are returned to the time-line. However, if this will happen, then shouldn’t the future have reflected the fact they are back? Since this series is looking at one time-line, anything that gets plucked and replaced, has repercussions and can be altered as long as the length of time they are away is not too long. What’s happened has not cemented yet, so the prevailing laws of time dictates.
At least as far as this series is concerned, it’s to show that no matter what the future, the outcome is not too bright. Perhaps the writers are showing the light has to come from within the least likeliest of Rip’s team to be the heroes that they are destined for. If Savage’s downfall happens because he’s been torched to near death because of Rory and Kendra delivers the death-blow, then that will be a worthy finale to close off the series with. Until that happens, the hope here for this viewer is for the series to last for at least four seasons. This episode focuses in on the passing of the torch that fans of Arrow can appreciate.
There’s only so much of Earth’s time-line this team can visit as they search for Savage. The Wild West is confirmed. Other unique eras worth visiting include the Middle Ages during the Black Plague (perhaps Savage was involved in wiping out civilization back then), the 17th century during the Golden Age of Piracy (it’s easy to see Savage responsible for creating the traps in Oak Island to protect his money) and World War II (as an advisor to Hitler). This television series does not have the budget to pull off antiquity in a massive scale, so that time period would have to get discounted. It’s possible to see the team visit Asia at some point or affect the course of history inadvertently during the Colonial time, but those points in time seem unimportant unless Savage was instrumental during the American Civil War. Any iteration of the future or to see them go to space (as the next episode, “Marooned” suggests) is easy to produce, and therein lies one problem in this latest episode. Most of it took place within one large set, with items moved around to make Star City seem larger than it was.
This episode shines by not dealing with Savage at all. With less time on him, better character development can take place, even though the subplot with Jackson and Palmer vying for the affections of Kendra felt stilted. To see Stein and Jackson finally get along is welcomed over their constant bickering. Best of all, just who Heatwave is gets finally examined. He lacks dimension, but at least I got to see him as a man with simple goals instead of high aspirations.
I hope that more episodes will be developed to look at the future as it branches off into different tributaries in a river ala Back to the Future II. By looking at the infinite possibilities that could happen from when the team left in January 2016 makes for better character development when the writers are dealing with creating the feelings for those who remain on Earth, wondering what happened to people Rip took away from the timeline. They are not absolutely forgotten. Someone will have to wonder what they have been up to. The timeline is mutable, and what results thereafter should get visited and examined. The past can not, since altering any bit can cause ripples to create unwanted consequences. Although it’s possible to visit a problem to correct it, wouldn’t any patchwork be just as awful, if the point where the branch happens just can not be altered any further at all?