‘FAIL SAFE’ PLOT SUMMARY:
With Professor Stein (Victor Garber), Ray (Brandon Routh), and Mick (Dominic Purcell) held prisoner in a Russian gulag by Savage (Casper Crump), Snart (Wentworth Miller) comes up with a plan to save them. However, Rip’s (Arthur Darvill) covert side mission for Sara (Caity Lotz) puts the team in danger.
We’re back in the dumpster with this week’s garbage episode. Unfortunately, the small upward movement made in “White Knights” has tumbled back down the hill much like Sisyphus with the boulder. “Fail Safe” falls back to general storylines and fuzzy motivations. Sigh.
There are two reasons Ray (Routh) and Mick (Purcell) are there. One, because they got captured last episode. Two, because they are leverage for Professor Stein to give up Firestorm. But they could have been erased entirely from this episode and there would have been little difference. Ray and Mick’s storyline is so glaring because it truly seems like the writers forgot about them and had to quickly throw something together.
I feel like these are two of Legends‘ most underdeveloped characters. Recognizing this, we are force-fed who these characters are. After the Russian mob guy learns what gulag Ray, Mick, and Stein are in he says, “Your friends must be some insane, ruthless animals.” Cut to Ray saying hi to other prisoners. He’s naïve and nice! It’s funny! But he also stands up to a challenge and will defend a friend at his own expense, like taking the beating meant for Mick just ’cause. Mick has a hard exterior and only cares about himself as we see from him letting Ray get the shit kicked out of him in the jail yard. But on the inside he has a beating heart, as shown when he helps an unconscious Ray escape and again when Ray reminds us that Mick saved him.
Even with all that complaining they are not even the worst part of this week’s episode. That prestigious honor falls to Professor Stein. “Fail Safe” is Stein heavy and that is a horrible mistake. The opening scene with the fake Star Labs and Vostock (Stephanie Corneliussen) posing as Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is the epitome of the problems with Stein. He isn’t the charming, lost in the science of it all, professor type and he isn’t the hardened and steely old guy either. But in the beginning of “Fail Safe” he tries and fails for both. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or Garber’s acting that is creating such a shallow, nothing character.
Continuing with Stein’s awfulness, the showdown between him and Savage (Crump) is lukewarm at best. Savage is not a compelling villain. He doesn’t seem to have any motivation for his evilness. He wants to conquer the world, I think, or bring destruction, but on no one in particular. Specifically he wants to be with Kendra (Ciara Renée) but that doesn’t explain the first thing. So what we have is a bearded big bad who can live forever but has zero personality and a professor with a loud voice but no conviction. This turns the confrontation into a confused staring contest.
This week couldn’t even be saved by my number one favorite. Snart (Miller) is amazing as ever but doesn’t dominate the episode. I also blame his low impact on the fact that he’s paired with Sara (Lotz) who I have never liked mostly because Lotz acts with her mouth and it’s super distracting.
The biggest problem highlighted in this week is the lack of any clear goal, motivation, or driving force. None of these characters have a reason for doing what they are doing. Or if a reason is given it’s an obvious plot device, clumsily shoved into a scene. During what is supposed to be a heated argument between Snart and Sara, she throws it out there that she is trying to save the future. But I would like to remind everyone, the only reason they are in this predicament is because they went back in time and Savage saw Firestorm 40 years before its inception.
Legends is also having a really hard time with subtlety. The best writing is what isn’t said or shown. Most people don’t say what’s on their minds. What they do does not always reflect what they want. However, Legends writes its characters very one-dimensionally with superficial wants and needs so that every word and action becomes obvious and pointed.
The small light of hope that Legends of Tomorrow can still be a worthwhile show is dimmed and nearly extinguished with this week’s episode.
Rating: 2 out of 10