WHITE KNIGHTS – 6/10.
We’re four episodes in to LOT and it’s safe to assume that the viewers are now familiar with the players, the mission, and the ground rules of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey nonsense. That’s not to say that the show isn’t still overloaded with expositional dialogue concerning the players, the mission and the ground rules of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey nonsense. The general structure for an episode of LOT seems to be as follows: a Savage-related artefact needs to be retrieved, the group splits up into several smaller units to retrieve it, there’s lots of cool fighting and somehow everything goes to hell. Queue much bickering and finger pointing which is followed by a motivational speech and a team building snuggle. But to the show’s credit, this formula seems to be working so far.
This week Rip takes the team to 1986, at the very height of the Cold War. They infiltrate the Pentagon, recovering valuable intel about Savage’s activities in the decade since their last encounter. As ever, the mission ends in total chaos, with Dr Stein and Jax still unable to function as a cohesive unit and Kendra going full ‘psycho demi-goddess’. The intel reveals that Savage is in the U.S.S.R. developing a new weapon with Valentine Vostock, a beautiful Russian scientist. The team travels to Russia to find Vostock, although not to kill her as Captain Cold suggests. Upon their arrival they are attacked by time travelling bounty hunter and Bobba Fett enthusiast, Kronos, who they only manage to escape with an assist from some Russian missiles.
As an ensemble show LOT can use endless combinations of characters to keep us engaged while exploring the unique dynamics of Rip’s crew. So while Ray and Cold head to the ballet to find Vostock, Kendra and Sara share some combat therapy, Rip and Heat Wave search for what’s left of Kronos, and Stein and Jax bicker an awful lot. Each of these pairings allows for some fun dialogue, although very little of that dialogue is used to teach us anything new about the characters. The pairing of Sara and Kendra makes sense as both are struggling to deal with the effects of their reincarnations, but very little comes of this other than some cool fight choreography, leaving them strangely absent from the rest of the episode. People do seem to vanish on that ship.
The combination of Ray and Cold has previously proven to be a lot of fun and their mission to intercept Vostock is no exception. Cold’s smooth criminal routine serves as a sharp contrast to Ray’s genuine boy scout mentality. Ray’s attempts to flirt with Vostock lead nowhere, however Cold manages to steal her heart… as well as her security pass and wallet. Ray’s character is still as confusing as it was in Arrow; he is presented as an insecure man child rather than the lovable genius that he is supposed to be. It is a credit to Brandon Routh’s performance that he manages to stay so very engaging. Of course Wentworth Miller’s Cold continues to be the best thing about the show; his character remains the most clearly defined whilst also having all the best lines.
Back at the ship, Rip and Heat Wave search for Kronos but find Time Master Druce, played by Martin Donovan who was last seen playing Time Master Douche in Ant Man. Druce claims that Kronos is dead and tries to convince Rip to surrender. Of course it’s a trap and Kronos soon attacks but is defeated by some reckless heroics from Jax as Firestorm. Stein scolds Jax, but later reveals that this is mostly due to the guilt he still carries for Ronnie’s death. Despite some strong dialogue during his exchange with Stein, Firestorm’s younger half remains frustratingly underdeveloped. With Jax recuperating from his encounter with Kronos, Stein heads into Vostock’s research facility alone. Here he makes the grisly discovery that Savage and Volstock have been working to create their own Firestorm using a highly reactive thermo core and human test subjects.
Obviously an evil Firestorm would throw a real spanner into the works of Operation Stop Savage, so while Cold and Ray man the reactor, Stein uses his immunity to radiation to remove the thermo core. Things are complicated by the arrival of Volstock, who as it turns out happens to be one of those evil Russian scientist stereotypes that were so popular in the 80s. Despite a last minute rescue attempt from Heat Wave our heroes are unable to fight of the Russian soldiers. Cold manages to escape with the thermo core but Heat Wave, Ray and Stein are all taken prisoner. Suffice to say things are looking decidedly sombre for Rip’s team and with one half of Firestorm in his possession Randal Savage is one step closer to achieving his goal.
Whilst not as strong as last week’s offering, this episode was enjoyable enough. LOT is still a young show trying to find its feet whilst escaping the shadows of its predecessors, but Flash had managed to do exactly that by its second episode. So where is LOT going wrong? While Cold and Sara benefit from our past knowledge of them, other characters like Kendra and Jax still feel very one dimensional. Also, Considering the LOT team is meant to be saving the planet as opposed to defending one city the stakes still feel very low, this could in part be due to Savage himself. He pales in comparison to antagonists like Wade Wilson, Damien Darhk, Reverse Flash and Zoom. Hopefully the events of this episode can help the show to switch it up a gear.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The ingestible translator is a glorious deus ex machina device and Ray’s reaction to being able to speak Russian was typically charming.
- You can’t keep a good villain down and even though the fate of the world rests in his hands, Snart still can’t help but steal people’s wallets.
- Line of the night goes to Heat Wave for threatening to go “Rocky 4” on the large Russian guard that was being overly physical with him.
- Still no Carter, but time travel plus his ability to reincarnate means it’s pretty much a given that he will be returning to our screens sooner rather than later.