TV Korner: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow 1.5 – “Fail-Safe”

By patricksmith - February 19, 2016

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“You and me Grey, we’re Firestorm!”

Legends of Tomorrow consistently defies my expectations.  All I wanted was a superhero version of Doctor Who, but instead there has been a constant delivery of characterization that rounds out an incredibly diverse cast of heroes and villains.  “Fail-Safe” is no exception as a simple rescue mission turns in to an enlightening character drama that explores the physical and mental journey that the Legends have undergone since they’ve signed on to Rip’s mission.

Despite this being a heist of sorts, “Fail-Safe” focuses mainly on the emotional side of these character’s decisions in the face of the extreme possibility of failure.  I found that Mick’s development was long overdue, and Dominic Purcell surprised me with how well he conveyed his character’s dilemma with very few words.  Caity Lotz plays the hell out of the emotion of Sara’s arc really projecting her moral conflict, which calls back to her past as an assassin.  Rip’s dedication creates a much more tense atmosphere involving the entire team though.  Despite all his posturing, Rip is not used to being part of a team and so he often fails to consider his team’s drive when he makes decisions.  The gamble Rip faces puts his mission at odds with his team’s well being though, and forces him to think strategically in the realm of cooperation.  This acts not only as a significant arc for the character of Rip himself, but it also gives the rest of the Legends a chance to express some character motivations in the face of a life and death dilemma.

Final Word: There’re a lot of quiet moments in “Fail-Safe” that successfully convey emotions of the characters, as well as some throwbacks, references, and allusions that round out a complex plotline (A personal favorite ended up being Victor Garber’s Martin Stein commenting on the anti-LGBTQ agenda in modern Russia).  A lot of characters move forward quite significantly in their arcs, and a lot of complex themes are given the limelight as the story deals with cooperation, the greater good, and the price of discovery.  As much as I’m looking forward to the next episode, I have to be admit that “Fail-Safe” is a surprisingly enlightening look at the motivations that drive the Legends.

“Fail-Safe” gets a 9/10.  The things these characters go through defy practically every superhero trope out there, and the sci-fi elements translate thematically as well as compositionally.  No acting really lets down the story, and the action works out well. 

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