The Legends of Tomorrow have never been known for their good decisions. When we left them last week they had decided to simply leave Rip in the brig on his own ship with his trusty AI in ear shot. Thankfully “Land of the Lost” had very little to do with that arc. Instead, it was The Matrix with more laughs and some dinosaurs. In short: it was directly up my alley.
Rip taking over the Waverider forces the Legends to reboot Giddeon. This throws the ship into the Cretaceous period and leaves it in disrepair. Queue the story arc split and the rare episode where it actually worked. It’s usually inevitable that one arc manages to be infinitely more interesting than the other, which suffers in comparison. In the case of tonight’s episode, both halves of the whole remain interesting enough to hold your interest.
The away team (comprised of Nate, Amaya, and Ray) head out into Ray’s old stomping grounds to find the Delineator lost in the crash. Unfortunately, Ray managed to piss in Gertrude’s cheerios last time he was in this time period. Even more unfortunate for our intrepid adventurers: Gertrude is a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
On the flip side, the rest of the team has to sort out how to get to Commander Steel before the Legion of Doom, hopefully saving Rip in the process. This is where The Matrix comes into play. Sara and Jax literally plug in to go brain hopping, Giddeon’s the helpful Oracle, and Rip is the Chosen One, throwin’ his mental baddies all over the place.
Though the story had little to do with him, Mick Rory completely steals the show. From remaining the trigger happy, snark throwing, murderer that he’s always been, to offering surprising levels of insight, Mick’s been on his game all season. It’s unfortunate that his screen time had to be limited in the earlier episodes due to Dominic Purcell’s involvement in the Prison Break mini event coming to Fox, because every moment he’s been on screen has been a gift. They weren’t quite sure what to do with him in season one, but the character’s really had a chance to shine in Captain Cold’s absence. Said absence may not be one I want to be permanent, but I’m delighted by what it’s resulted in to be sure.
In addition to a fun story, “Land of the Lost” delivered a lot of fun effects. Gertrude was obviously a delight, because dinosaur. Amaya’s animal spirit connection isn’t new to this episode, but was still fun to see on the scale of the T-Rex. A special nod has to go to Dark Firestorm as well. We’ve seen the character evil on Earth Two, but this version’s black and red flames were pretty to look at inside Rip’s mind.
Usually when there’s an episode with so much fun involved it turns out to be filler. It can be difficult to find time amongst the humor and oddities to add in important story moments. But Legends of Tomorrow isn’t a typical show. After finding its voice in season two, and realizing how much it can benefit by laughing at itself, the time travel epic has managed to deliver episode after episode of fun entertainment along with important story progression. Even with that in mind, I wouldn’t expect an episode with both a dinosaur and a Matrix mini-arc to find the time for plot progression.
Amaya and Nate’s on-again-of-again was on again for a hot second, but Ray had to rain on the parade with his logic. Unlike the rest of the Legends, Amaya has a destiny to fulfill (and our badass future Vixen to mother), so her time with the team isn’t permanent. This is unfortunate, since she has been such a solid addition to the Legends. It also isn’t too much of a surprise.
Aside from the romance sub-plot is their primary issue: they have to get to Commander Steel before the angry three amigos do. Thankfully for the team, the real Rip is back to help them out with that. Unfortunately for us, the real Rip is back to help them out with that.
Dark Rip was a great spin on what has thus far been a sub-par character. The previous Rip Hunter was a whiny, walking contradiction that couldn’t lead a team if he tried. The whole of season one is him telling the Legends not to do the thing, and then the Legends doing the thing anyway. That's why so many were excited to see this little Dark Rip story, but nothing gold can stay.
Hopefully his trip to the dark side will help develop Rip into a more functional character. We haven’t seen a ton of him in season two, and so many other aspects of the show have progressed past the wildest of expectations. It’s not entirely impossible that he will follow that trend. Sure, kissing the ship may not have been a great first step for that trajectory, but hey—not every moment of an episode can be great! When all is said and done, I don’t much care either way about Rip’s allegiance so long as Sara remains Captain of the ship. Clearly he’s not in the mental shape to do so, and Sara is infinitely better at it.