What more could you want in a show with time travel and a band of merry miscreants with very little idea how to work together? A race to the moon, obviously. Legends of Tomorrow has excelled at bringing the humor in season two, and “Moonshot” is no different. But it also brings some tangible human conflict into the fold. Obviously, this season hasn’t been completely devoid of that conflict, but “Moonshot” took everything a little bit deeper before they start to ramp things up for the finale.
Eobard Thawne has thrown himself back into the fold, giving us a week without the broody Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn. Thawne’s hijacked Apollo 13 and intends to head to the moon to get the final piece of the Spear of Destiny. Commander Steel and the Legends race to beat him to his target, while Mick, Stein, and Jax remain behind at mission control to keep everyone from seeing their misadventures.
Amidst those misadventures is a complicated moment for Ray. He’s spotted when he makes his way to the jump ship, because he’s Ray. A tussle breaks out between the two scientists, and they manage to break their ship enough to make their lives difficult. After Sara damages the Waverider protecting Apollo 13 from asteroids, there’s no way for Ray to get off the moon. So, he’s got a decision to make: Chill out on the moon with limited rations, or work with Eobard to get back to the ship, and then Earth. Ray doesn’t come to the decision to work with the super-villain easily. His first choice was to power the jump ship with his suit. For those who don’t remember, the last time Ray did experimental dwarf star science he blew himself and the entire top floor of Palmer Tech to pieces. After being course corrected by Thawne, the boy scout reluctantly agrees, and the two manage to fix the ship enough to get back safely.
This partnership doesn’t just rely on the goody-good working with one of the worst of the worst. There’s the obvious introspection that inevitably comes with too much interaction with a supervillain. Hopefully there won’t be too much of Ray wondering if he’s doing all of this for his ego in the future. In addition to that, we see Thawne acknowledge that he misses Cisco and Caitlin just a little bit. Villains that are given a human element can be so much more interesting than the ones that are just straight monsters, and it’s rare we see these moments from Eobard.
We have several interpersonal issues to hash through as the episode unfolds. Rip and Sara are butting heads; Nate and Commander Steel are trying to parse through their difficult family situation, and Amaya makes hard choices that put her and Nate at odds.
If you’ve watched more than one episode of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow, you know that Rip Hunter is a horrible captain. Like, the worst of the worst of the worst, sir. He’s also kind of an emotional disaster. It’s because of that that so many folks were digging dark Rip. His return also brought forward the concern of who would captain the Waverider, and whether we’d be able to avoid the existential angst that comes hand in hand with Rip’s old character. Said angst was illustrated in spades in “Moonshot”, but it was mostly justified angst. All that mattered at the end of the day was that they made the right choice as to who would captain the ship. Thankfully, they did just that. Rip’s still a little messy, and Sara still has a lot of room to grow, but that’s just the bag the Legends come in. Don’t worry, everyone -- Mommy and Daddy are done fighting for now.
Time travel is rough. It gets a lot harder when you’re working directly with your future or past, and Nate caught the brunt of that in tonight’s episode. Nate immediately jumps on board upon finding out that Commander Steel wants to return in time to be with his family. He knows it’s wrong, but hey, who can begrudge him trying to fix his family? Amaya points out that this is absurd, and that the trials he experienced made him who he is, but there’s no room for logic in feelings land. The on-again-off-again couple have it out, resulting in Nate telling her enough about her future to mess up her day, and she tells Steel just what will break if he returns. Unfortunately, none of that matters when the good Commander sacrifices himself to get the Legends (and Thawne) back to Earth safely. Men may share their feelings in 2017, but sometimes those feelings are damn hard.
The Nate and Amaya romance has been a bit of an aside over the past four episodes, and credit to the writers for not making it overly annoying at any point through its short life. Bonus points for not making the end of the fling some super dramatic mess, either. It was obviously wrong for Nate to tell Amaya the things he did, but I’ll take an angry fight over some angst-ridden despair-fest any day. That’s a feat for the CW Network, and it’s great to see them move in a different direction.
Don’t think all the emotions of the episode means they left out the humor in “Moonshot”. On the contrary, Stein and Mick’s rendition of “Day-O” is one of the funniest moments in Legends of Tomorrow history. Every scene with Mick Rory remains a comedic gift, but with Stein as his straight man they become an unstoppable comedy well. Sara gets a couple of one-liners in while they’re in space, but the humor trophy belongs to the NASA songbirds.
Seeing them start to ramp up the stakes as they get closer to finale territory has been a fun ride, but we need to talk about the elephant in the room: Speedsters don’t have their powers in space? I’ve read comics for a long time, and have watched a lot of Justice League cartoons. Since when do speedsters powers not work in space? Is this a new thing for the Arrowverse? Is it just what fit into their narrative for the time being? Am I completely crazy and there are fifty different references to Barry not being able to run in space that I’ve managed to miss?
You know what? Either way, the Black Flash is still after Thawne’s miserable self. His handy dandy watch goes off before he can search the Waverider for the final shard of the Spear of Destiny, so, no showdown with Ray for him! We’ll see that inevitable battle before the season’s end, surely, but before we get to that we get another familiar face: Leonard Snart. The beloved anti-hero returns to the fold in the next episode, and this time it appears to be outside of Mick’s mind. It’s been a fandom hope that we’d see Snart’s return once Wentworth Miller wrapped up Prison Break. Is it possible we’ll get our wish next week?