By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
* Spoiler Alert
There are times DC’s Legends of Tommorrow is simply coasting on a riptide of fun bits for geeks to take interest in. Tried as I might, to see if there was anything great about the last two episodes “Land of the Lost” and “Moonshot,” there was not much to truly write about as special. All it did was show how the team still needs to figure themselves out, spotlight Victor Garber’s musical talent in more than one episode and retrieve parts of a mystical weapon. The latest had something which spoke to me since I am a King Arthur enthusiast and I wondered who would play J.R.R. Tolkien. Jack Turner (Stitchers) does a great job at bringing to life an interpretation of this author whom I’ve admired since reading Lord of the Rings in high school.
Like the seminal books, some series require a Deux et Machina to give a saga a particular focus. After a slow start, the season unveiled an item to focus on. In the aptly titled, “Fellowship of the Spear,” the team is still divided like the fragmentary weapon and there’s more development in seeing what Rory (Heat Wave) is going through. I love his backstory and the obvious parallels he has with Gollum/Sméagol is a huge easter egg I’m sure many have picked up on. The way it is being handled suggests he has it in control in one episode and others, there’s not enough to see he is still struggling with it. Is his hallucination real? Apparently so, and I’m wondering at which point in history did the Legion of Doom take Snart from? My guess is that it was sometime in the past, before he and Rory joined the Legends. He’s all snark, pardoning the pun.
Also, the pieces of how each episode ties in (aside from searching for the spear) as a whole looks better when seen in sequence than left to viewers to wait week after week. I’m looking forward to seeing how the final two episodes are going to play out in the next two weeks. “Doomworld” will obviously look at a remade world but is “Aruba” in reference to a particular island in the Caribbean or something else?
I appreciated the mention of how Gawain came to possess Christ’s blood. I’m guessing he found the phial at some point during his Grail quest than his solo adventure. Very little is offered about how J.R.R. Tolkien would later translate Gawain and the Green Knight, when Nate was talking about this author’s work. In the episode, he’s a soldier with a bright academic career to come. This episode offers a bit of biography for those not in the know.
The original literary work may hint at how this season comes to a close than historical. Tolkien translated the definitive version and most scholars consider his version the definitive one to consult. Although Nate does not go into great detail about how much of Tolkien’s works he studied, I am wondering if the writers are intentionally leaving some works out so folks like me can guess at what’s to come. I admire this author, and hope Pearl (another work he translated early in his scholarly career) may prove key to Rory’s redemption. He is still a troubled soul and I can see him feeling the touch of Christ in order for him to find his path. This particular poem is about a man experiencing a dream-vision (which is appropriate to Rory’s particular predicament) and is suffering from a loss of his daughter (in Heat Wave’s case, the loss of a partner in crime). There’s a potential for a parallel tale to be constructed.
While I do not see Rory as Gawain, this wannabe hero has plenty to deal with. That is, he never did fit in, and the big question if he will ever be able to return to the fold either as a criminal or good guy? With the story about the Green Knight, although Gawain returned to Camelot a better man, the party he returned to in Camelot was never the wiser.
One issue I have with this episode is the creative liberty used when Atom flew into a gun and made it haunted. The German soldier said, “Der Poltergeist,” which in its literal translation means noisy ghost. There’s no gremlin (as it was subtitled) involved!
A nagging question I have and hope will get explained is who made the Spear of Destiny? It repaired itself all its own, suggesting an alien origin — a detail I am not keen on — and with no surprise, it does have an intelligence of its own. It tempts anyone nearby to possess it, much like the Ring of Power in Tolkien’s works and to destroy it requires taking it to the middle of hell on earth, where it was forged. To have this author nearby and suggest his work was influenced by this adventure is silly, but I can go with the flow. The series charm is in showing how the Legends team influenced history than alter it. However off-key as this season has been by showing them involved in pivotal moments of pop culture history (George Lucas) or landing on the Moon (“Moonfall”), this latest only shows how the series loves to see-saw between serious moments to geek culture.
While I will continue to watch this series, I’m hoping it won’t jump the shark too soon because it’s becoming more “meta” for the geeks than not. I don’t mind the single silly effort with episodes like “Raiders of the Lost Art” (Magnum P.I.) but will it become like “The Last Crusade?” Most likely not, as I enjoy the archaeological bent with this series. However, there has to be a fine line I hope this series does not cross which will turn me off. The last few episodes were not spectacular by any means, but I’ll stay tuned in hopes DC’s roster of characters from their Vertigo comics line will enter the Arrowverse.