‘NIGHT OF THE HAWK’ PLOT SUMMARY:
Gideon (Amy Pemberton) tracks down Savage (Casper Crump) to a little Oregon town in 1959, where he has murdered several residents. Everyone takes up a fake identity in order to investigate the killings. Fitting in, however, proves more of a challenge than expected.
If you said you thought Legends of Tomorrow would kill off two main characters halfway through the first season, I would call you a liar. Carter’s (Falk Hentschel) death was surprising but understandable, because he can always come back via reincarnation, but Rory’s (Dominic Purcell) was a shocker. I don’t believe he’s actually dead though, for two reasons. The first is that I’ve learned from watching enough TV to be skeptical of any off-screen death. The second is that the crew mentions that Snart (Wentworth Miller) supposedly killed Rory a lot in this episode, like the show has to convince the audience that it really happened. It was a good character moment for Snart either way, but I’m not buying it.
While the slew of character deaths has kept things relatively interesting, the show has the daunting challenge of making each scuffle with Savage across time worthwhile. It’s pretty clear that the team won’t be offing him anytime soon, so there’s little point in continually teasing us that they might actually get him this time. The show’s attempt to make our heroes’ latest excursion exciting is two-pronged: provide commentary on the time period the characters find themselves in and reveal how depraved Savage is by focusing on his strange experiments. The success of the social commentary largely depends on what you want out of Legends of Tomorrow. It’s mostly meant to be visual effects-driven escapism, but superhero entertainment can effectively weigh in on real life issues. It’s be done before. Personally, I found it all a bit ham-fisted, but that’s just me.
Preferences aside, you have to question how everyone overlooks the fact that an interracial couple was abnormal in the 1950s. To be fair though, I did too, at first. Still, Ray and Sara (Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz) are the better choice for husband and wife, but Ray and Kendra (Ciara Renée) have a romance going on, so it’s obviously them instead. And, otherwise, Sara can’t have her storyline with the other nurse, Lindsay (Ali Liebert). Also, using Kendra as a distraction and letting Jax (Franz Drameh) go on an unsupervised date with a white girl to investigate are both terrible ideas. Was that the only way the writers could come up with Vandal getting Jax in his clutches?
While Savage’s hawk-people experiments are similar to his Firestorm research from a few episodes ago, they’re more entertaining, largely because the effects are quite good. It’s crazy to see Jax running around as some deformed monstrosity. I would have liked to have seen it as a contagious disease though. (Can you imagine?) And, unfortunately, it doesn’t last long enough. The show could’ve really played around with Jax the werehawk, but instead we get just another minor tussle with Savage before he escapes, again. But to the show’s credit, the overall storyline has some fun moments. Seeing Rip (Arthur Darvill) and Leonard pretend to be FBI agents is blast, plus it’s hard not to get swept up in the setting, at least a little. While 1950s America obviously had a good share of problems underneath the surface, it was still one of the most prosperous time periods in the nation’s history. To top it off, Drameh, who’s by far one of the series’ weakest actors, manages to give a good performance.
While this episode has its share of problems, mostly stemming from poor decision-making and some lack of tension, it’s nonetheless enjoyable. It might be on a basic level, but that’s something.
RATING: 6.5 OUT OF 10 (AVERAGE)
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky