Written by Aaron Sarnecky

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‘THE MAGNIFICENT EIGHT’ PLOT SUMMARY:

With the Hunters hot on their trail, Rip (Arthur Darvill) decides that’s it’s best for the team to hide in a temporal blind spot in the Old West. During their stay, the crew meets a former associate of Rip’s. Meanwhile, Kendra (Ciara Renée) bumps into someone from one of her past lives.

Time travel is a plot device that allows for a large variety of stories. One week you can be in the future and then a much more primitive past the next. The big difference between the past and future, besides where they stand in time, is that the past has already happened, meaning there is less leeway for creating new scenarios, whereas the unknown future’s potential is virtually limitless. Almost nothing is actually new, but works of can borrow ideas from each other and repackage themes. The previous week Legends presented an intriguing take on the future, in which corporations and conglomerates had officially taken the place of governments and one of those corporations was considering handling a population problem outside its borders by unleashing a deadly virus.

Compare that to this episode, in which our heroes find themselves in the Wild West. What it presents is extremely familiar if you know the tropes tied to the time period; I’m sure Doctor Who, despite being a British show, has explored this part of American history multiple times. You know what I’m talking about: the foolish optimist who becomes sheriff after his predecessor skips town; a shootout at high noon; a brawl at a saloon; a gruff anti-hero who saves the day.

That gruff anti-hero, by the way, is Jonah Hex (Jonathan Schaech), a popular DC character who had a terrible movie starring Josh Brolin six years ago. I guess I shouldn’t be saying something positive about the film but at least in it Hex had more going on than just being a Western archetype, with his connection to spirits, even if that isn’t in the comics. That’s not to say Jonah Hex is a bad character or that Jonathan Schaech does a bad job; Schaech’s overacts a little but that’s normal in the Arrowverse, even with the great performances. He just doesn’t bring much that’s interesting to the table, other than his deformity. He serves primarily as a way to tie the episode to Rip.

Even though “The Magnificent Eight” hits the usual Western beats, it’s a largely fun episode. Seeing Ray (Brandon Routh) try and, to an extent, succeed as a rough and tumble sheriff amused me. His naiveté is overplayed like it has been for most of the series, compared to Arrow, but it’s too good a fit not to enjoy. But while “The Magnificent Eight” has Ray front and center, Rip and Professor Stein (Victor Garber) are just as important since the theme of the episode is whether they should help people with their problems. Ray wants to rescue a town from a lawless gang, whereas Stein wants to help a mother with a sick child. Rip is reluctant to aid anyone because last time he lent a hand in the Old West things went terribly wrong when he left. Rip changes his mind later, of course; it’s okay to help people as long as you finish the job.

The main issue with this theme is that the episode manages to botch the lesson by making the boy who Professor Stein saves H.G. Wells, the famous science fiction author. But if he was fated to do all these fantastic things, why was he going to die? Also, while the show gets his childhood nickname correct, he never lived in the American West or had tuberculosis (at least according to my research online). This is even worse than Kendra running into her past life, who implies she can’t be with Ray, making it the third week in a row that Kendra has questioned their relationship only to decide she will make it work.

Even though “The Magnificent Eight” copies a previous storyline and ruins half of a good one, it does end on a strong note. The Hunters threat doesn’t really go anywhere, but the thought of the Time Masters going after the team’s younger selves, Terminator-style, is frightening, especially since it looks like they might have already iced child Mick (Dominic Purcell).

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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