‘Aruba’ Proves Legends of Tomorrow Is The CW’s Best DC Show

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher, The CW

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season Two Finale Plot Summary:

Following Eobard Thawne’s (Matt Letscher) destruction of the Spear of Destiny, the Legends must return to 1916 to stop the Legion of Doom from altering reality. However, the team faces unforeseen complications when they’re forced to interact with their past selves.

I can’t help but feel amazed about how much DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has changed. In my opinion, the series has honestly gone from the weakest of The CW’s DC shows last season to the channel’s strongest comic-inspired show this season. As I mentioned in my review of the season premiere, cutting Vandal Savage and the Hawks out of the picture has lifted a huge burden from the series and given it room to revel in the camp and fun of time travel. The show has learned to take itself less seriously and become all the better for it, giving us the spectacularly campy Legion of Doom, the goofy bromance between Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), and an episode all about George Lucas dropping out of film school. On top of such entertaining elements, Legends of Tomorrow has also managed to delve into its characters much more successfully this season; old and new characters alike (including villains) have experienced strong arcs and exploration. “Aruba” may not reach the comedic heights of earlier episodes, but the action-packed finale proves to be a dramatic conclusion to the battle between the Legion and the Legends.

One of the greatest challenges faced by ensemble series like Legends of Tomorrow is devoting enough time to each member of the team. On top of that, as a season finale, this week’s episode had to provide resolution to each character’s individual arc, while also delivering an exhilarating conclusion to the overall narrative. Yet “Aruba” accomplishes these tasks through some rather efficient writing. We’ve already seen Stein (Victor Garber) and Ray complete their arcs for the season, so the writers essentially sideline them in this episode in a way that simultaneously raises the stakes for the rest of the Legends. Meanwhile, having the Legends from Doomworld (i.e. the alternate reality created by the Legion) meet their pre-Doomworld counterparts gives us a fresh take on the mid-episode pep talks perfected in Arrow and The Flash. We’ve already seen friends, father figures, enemies, doppelgängers, and confusing metaphysical entities give words of encouragement and advice, so why not have Nate literally counsel himself? The result is initially comedic but overall sincere. I was especially happy to see Sara (Caity Lotz) and Mick (Dominic Purcell) as the primary beneficiaries of this scenario, since they have experienced the largest shifts in status quo from last season.

As the new captain of the Waverider, Sara has had to truly hone her leadership skills and learn how to bring her band of misfits together. But even as she accepted more responsibilities, her sister’s death continued to haunt her. This episode gives Sara an appropriately cathartic method of addressing her regrets and results in probably the most emotional moment of the season. One could argue that Sara’s momentous decision regarding the Spear is overly contrived and sentimental, but I believe the power of the scene outweighs the contrivance. The Lance family has arguably been the heart of The CW’s DC universe, and having the family’s tragedies addressed so directly truly feels like the moment of closure Sara has earned.

Meanwhile, Mick Rory has also seen his role on the team significantly altered with the loss of his partner, Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), at the end of the first season. Mick had always been the black sheep of the Legends, more self-centered and antagonistic than his peers, and the second season forced him to question if he truly belonged alongside the others. Mick’s reunion with Snart two episodes ago externalized this previously internal debate and saw him betray his friends, but “Aruba” proves to be the real resolution of that conflict. While I wish Snart had appeared earlier in the season, every scene between Snart and Mick the last three weeks has brimmed with entertaining tension. Their final scene in the finale is quicker than I would have liked but is a true testament to how much Mick has grown as a character. Considering Mick was first introduced on The Flash as nothing more than a thieving pyromaniac with antisocial tendencies, the fact that Mick has grown at all may be Legends of Tomorrow’s greatest feat.

In addition to great character moments, the finale also includes a climactic battle between the Legends and the Legion. This fight may not be as exciting as the clashes in Camelot and the American Revolution, but the raised stakes and both teams’ willingness to disregard previously established rules of time travel made this battle especially epic. Honestly, my only significant complaints about the episode are related to this battle, and they are by no means isolated to this episode or series. Going forward, The Flash and Legends need to come up with more uniform rules for time travel and keep their speedsters consistently formidable.

After showing just how intimidating he can be earlier in the episode with a fearsome show of force, Thawne spends most of the final skirmish literally running circles around everyone. Granted, if Thawne used his powers to their full extent in every fight, no one besides another speedster would ever stand a chance, but he could have at least utilized his abilities in a more consistent fashion. Likewise, Legends has an unfortunate tendency of contradicting itself and The Flash in regards to the rules of time travel and seemingly makes up new rules out of the blue to fit the plot. If the Flash can interact with past or future versions of himself without creating time quakes or time storms, why can’t the Legends? Ultimately, the results of traveling through time are more important than the process itself, but a greater level of consistency would help cement the concept that these all these shows take place in a shared universe. Despite these issues, though, Thawne proves to be a tremendous upgrade from Vandal Savage in the villain department, and his fate is nothing short of satisfying.

With the first of The CW’s four DC Comics shows ending its 2016-2017 season, Legends of Tomorrow officially surpasses its peers as the channel’s best superhero series. While the show’s humor and camp aren’t on full display, “Aruba” captures much of the action, quirky sci-fi, and character exploration that make this season a resounding success. Anyone that gave up on Legends following its first season should be forgiven, but those viewers also owe it to themselves to give the second season a chance; I predict they’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.

RATING: 8.5 OUT OF 10

Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Designated Survivor, Volton: Legendary Defender, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, is the site’s TV Editor, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.