Last week‘s episode of Legends of Tomorrow ended with a cliffhanger: The Justice Society of America (or JSA) appeared to arrest our heroes! Leaderless without Rip Hunter, the team has to decide who will lead them — and White Canary is the natural choice.
This week, we pick up with the JSA telling the Legends of Tomorrow that they’re under arrest. The Legends take that just as you’d expect, and a knock-down, drag-out fight ensues. The JSA wins, and our team of rag tag sort-of-heroes winds up imprisoned by the squeakier, cleaner JSA.
Characters numbered among the JSA members include Commander Steel, Vixen, Stargirl, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Obsidian, as well as the previously-appearing Rex Tyler. Of these, Vixen and Steel play the biggest role in the plot. Steel is Nate Heywood’s grandfather, and is integral to Nate’s subplot this episode, which focuses on Nate’s dreams of becoming a soldier being dashed young by his hemophilia.
However, the A-plot of the episode focuses on the fact that the JSA need to stop a specific Nazi called Krieger from getting an amulet for Eobard Thawne. Thawne promised Krieger a super-soldier serum for the amulet. The Legends discover that the JSA will die in the attempt in Paris, so they try to team up with the JSA to save them and stop Krieger.
In order to do this, the Legends have to infiltrate a Nazi nightclub in Paris. Dr. Stein impersonates singer Max Lorenz, and winds up singing a rendition of ‘Edelweiss’ to ‘prove’ he’s who he says he is. Then, after Ray discovers Krieger’s exchange plans, a bar fight ensues. Because obviously, the Legends can’t enter a drinking establishment without breaking stuff.
The JSA believe that Stein leads the Legends, and by golly, he tries to. The problem, it turns out, is that he can’t keep it together enough to make decisions quickly. His faltering gets Ray and Vixen captured by Krieger and the Nazis. He realizes that he needs to give up the leadership role, and concludes that White Canary makes the best leader of all of them. He calls her the ‘beating heart and steady hands’ of the team.
Give me a second to freak out about this? Because this is huge, especially for me. An explicitly bisexual woman now leads a team of superheroes on a major network TV show. DC continues to make strides in the direction of progress, and while Legends of Tomorrow has posted losses in terms of representation, since Hawkgirl left the team at the end of last season, seeing White Canary get centered like this feels really good.
Anyway, back to the recap: Sara comes up with a plan to get Ray and Vixen back. Meanwhile, Ray tries to pacify Krieger by promising to make him more of the super-serum. Just before White Canary brings the cavalry to rescue them, Ray has started his escape plan. In the ensuing fight/rescue sequence, everyone gets out fine…except Commander Steel and Heywood, who get caught in an explosion from a bomb dropped near them.
Considering the Waverider’s tech, this shouldn’t be a big deal. However, Heywood’s hemophilia makes it difficult to treat his massive internal bleeding. Ray winds up using some super serum he made while captured by Krieger to save Heywood’s life. This also resolves Ray’s subplot for the episode.
Earlier in the episode, Vixen told Ray that he’s not a hero. This really got to Ray, and while in the Nazi’s grasp, Ray very nearly took the serum himself. However, an interruption prevented him. This meant that he still had the serum when Heywood needed it. In the aftermath, Vixen apologizes to him. She tells him, “You’re not a superhero. […] but that was heroic.”
The final subplot in the episode belongs to Heywood and his grandfather, Commander Steel. Heywood grew up with stories of his soldier-hero grandfather, and always wanted to be a soldier. His hemophilia made that impossible. When he finally got to meet Steel, Steel seemed to reject him. Heywood responds to this stress by becoming more reckless in his personal safety. White Canary calls him on it a couple of times. Steel actually tells him that he hates seeing people look at him as a hero, because they do reckless things to impress him. He also tells Heywood that he doesn’t need to be a soldier to be a hero.
This whole story could be really compelling. Unfortunately, it seems clear that the super-serum is going to make Heywood’s hemophilia a non-issue, if not actually cure it. By ending this plot with Heywood finding a way to get rid of his disability, you ignore the development that comes out of learning to live with a disability. All too often, disability appears in superhero media only to get cured, or at least made ineffective, by superpowers and/or alien technology.
As a disabled person myself, I have to say that this disappoints me. DC has done particularly badly with disability in the past few years on TV, and doesn’t really seem interested in changing. Hopefully, someone can get through to them about this kind of thing, and soon. Disabled people — in this case, hemophiliac people — deserve better representation than what little we get, especially in this genre.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this episode, and am looking forward to seeing the ramifications of the episode’s final scene. In this scene, Thawne murders Rex Tyler, possibly erasing him from the timeline. We see Vixen holding his dead body and sobbing, and the episode ends.
Next week, the Legends go to feudal Japan, and a shogun winds up with Ray’s armor. Ray really needs to keep better track of his armor, like, seriously. Anyway, see you then!