By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The 1950’s is a dangerous time for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Not only was it ripe for B-movies to play with mankind’s fears of now living in an atomic age with mutants and meta humans prancing about but also the era was distinguished with humanity’s social indignity towards one another. The surface was skimmed about how people of colour and sexual orientation were treated publicly. A lot is said to establish what was faced back then.
The episode, “Night of the Hawk,” nicely takes a moment to remind viewers of the times. It’s not like the series can evoke change (the issues somewhat still exists today), but to make viewers aware made this episode stand out more over The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Night of the Living Dead plot, as far as the mad scientist scenario is concerned.
Vandal Savage is back and he does not have the same bite as before. Unlike previous incarnations where he had a significant role as the series antagonist, this one sets him back. He’s merely a psychiatrist out to invent new therapies, at the expense of young innocents. He finds a meteorite that an unfortunate group of drag racing teens run into, and as he dangerously intones: being at this forest spot is a result of destiny instead of being drawn to its mysterious power. No real detail is offered if this rock is actually Nth Metal. At this stage of the series, everyone who knows the DC Comics‘ lore just assumes it is.
Savage is studying this substance’s radioactive properties. When treated with it, humans turn into a strange hawk-like zombie hybrid bent on attacking innocents. If Savage was using this mutagen to find the next Carter Hall, shouldn’t he have the instinctual ability to know when his mortal enemy is near? The same can be said for when he and his token wife pay a visit to Kendra Saunders and Ray Palmer in a fitting continuation of the romance developed from the last episode. These two set up a pretend marriage just so they can move into a house so they can find Savage, but little did they know he is their next door neighbour!
Vandal is in an odd place with this episode. He does not reveal himself as aware of who Kendra is until later, after he discovers items missing in his idyllic home away from home. His experiments do not create super soldiers. Instead, they behave like zombies from DC’s Blackest Night series. Could this saga be alluded to for next season? Savage will no doubt be needing more than Project Firestorm soldiers in his take over of Earth.
In the other front, Snart and Hunter pretend to be Feds to track Savage’s alleged involvement in the mysterious kidnappings and deaths that’s taking place in the sleepy town of Harmony Falls, Oregon. Stein and Sara get work at a local psychiatric hospital and in what’s revealed, the only tell all is from the man himself. He talks about destiny when the meteorite is found in the opening act, and the kids go missing.
The team deal with Savage but after he gets shot out the window, the end results feels too tidy. The episode has to wrap itself up. This team exists as quickly as they enter, and yet, the people they have affected will remember them for a long time — especially the happy teens Jackson helped bring back together. His involvement feels too heavily borrowed from Back to the Future, and to see what the two does in the future, if he sees them, again can be amusing.
Oddly, no one questions the zombie hawk apocalypse at the hospital. It’s like the Men in Black from the films arrived to wipe a lot of memories. Unless Snart and Hunter did something to sweep the events under the rug, this trip to the 50’s is not quite over.
Lingering questions from the previous episode is poked at and only Jackson questions what happened to Heat Wave. No context is offered as to where he was exiled to or if he is even dead. Captain Cold shows that he’s willing to be a team player, and everyone in the group appreciates it. As for whether Rory will come back, there is a potential plot twist to really mess with Rip’s team. Nothing is known about this bounty hunter Chronos. Could he have actually died and a new person took up the mantle, namely Heat Wave? This villain pops out from nowhere and he certainly looks far more angrier than ever to put down Hunter’s team.
The future is relatively unknown when considering when the series regulars were restored back to the time stream. The team can only move backwards to prevent the future iterations of Savage from knowing when to be defensive. Answers will not be known until part two airs March 31, 2016 and the remaining eight episodes airs.