Legends Season 1 Review “Chemistry”

Legends (TNT) Episode 2 Chemistry (14)

In the second episode of “Legends,” we got a taste of what the show was going to be like on a more week-to-week basis, in “Chemistry.” One of my fears was that we’d be dealing with a case-of-the-week type scenario, while main protagonist Martin Odum (Sean Bean) continued the search for his “real” identity. Thankfully, it was actually last week that proved to be the exception to the rule, as this episode showed that “Legends” had more of a long game than I’d previously suspected. Rather than quickly resolving the case at hand this week, as with the pilot episode, the show instead set up a more ongoing plotline that will, at the very least, spill into next week’s episode, which I like very much.

Obviously, when you adopt the case-of-the-week approach, the downside is that the writers often move too fast in putting all their ducks in a row and wrapping things up quickly, and the whole thing ends up seeming a bit contrived and prefabricated. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I certainly have watched and do watch shows that follow that exact same formula, from “CSI” to “Major Crimes.” I get why it works for some people, almost in a sort of “comfort food” sort of way- if murder and mayhem can be said to be “comfort food,” that is.

But after a certain point, I do think certain viewers want a little more in their entertainment, which is why more experimental shows like “Lost” and “American Horror Story” and the like have really caught on in the last decade or so. Some people demand a bit more in their entertainment, and the advent of binge-watching has ensured that many will indeed plop down on their couch and watch hours of a particular show, especially if it rewards long-term viewing and has an ongoing plotline, a la “Game of Thrones” or even “Orange is the New Black.”

“Legends” is starting to look like that kind of show, or at least I hope it proves to be. Not unlike “24,” this show has an ongoing plotline, only less compressed- and thus, slightly more believable in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I love “24” as much as the next fan, but after a certain point you have to wonder how many bad days poor Jack Bauer is going to have, you know what I mean? A premise like “Legends” ensures that things are spread out in a more buyable way, and things are not wrapped up neat as you please over the course of a mere episode. (Although, note the “72”-hour window of time they had to catch the Russians here, so there is still a clock involved, apparently!)

I like the idea of the DPO bringing in a new “legend”- or alias- to combat whoever they are dealing with in a given week. In this case, it was one Dante Auerbach, aka the “Lord of War,” aka one of Odum’s alter egos. As we know from the first episode, Odum can get a little too into characters, much like a method actor starts to “become” the part they are playing in a movie, TV show or play.

On this week’s episode, in fact, we saw that the remnants of his previous character, Lincoln Dittman, were still hanging around a little, as he signed his name as such upon signing into to work, along with other tale-tell signs, which did not go unnoticed by his required psychiatrist (Linda Park) and the observing Gates (Steve Harris) and Crystal (Ali Larter). Nonetheless, when a Russian chemist and his family were abducted by some Chechen mafia thugs, who then forced the man to work on making some chemical weapons in order to keep his family alive, quick action was needed. Enter “Dante,” despite the fact that Odum was still gathering his bearings from the previous undercover op.

Though only introduced at the end of the episode, Dante certainly looks like a fun character for actor Sean Bean to play, a charming arms dealer with a penchant for expensive things. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next for this latest “legend.” In the meantime, this was another fairly action-packed episode, with a particularly tense shoot-out at a club run by Nick, a CI asset who served as a contact for team member Troy (Rob Mayes), who was the second agent to have a really bad day in as many episodes, after Bobby’s untimely demise last week. Tina Majorino (aka Maggie) better stay put at office headquarters, if she knows what’s good for her!

Anyway, everyone in the room save Crystal, who was in the bathroom when the shooting began, ended up dead, including Troy and Nick, followed by Odum racing upstairs to save Crystal’s bacon before hightailing it out of there. Sadly, as the undercover op was obviously made by the Russian higher-ups, they didn’t get much in the way of needed info- hence the need for Dante’s particular set of skills.

Meanwhile, Rice (Morris Chestnut), who works in the same building as the DCO at the Department of Transportation, got wind of Odum’s involvement in the murder of the mysterious Robert McCombs (Billy Brown) when Odum himself asked him for info on the murder, unwittingly implicating himself in it in the process. Rice later obtained footage of Odum at the scene of the crime and proceeded to confront him about it, but Odum wasn’t very forthcoming, so he put in an order to put a surveillance team on him, which was rejected by his superior. Not that it stopped Rice from doing it anyway, only to lose Odum as he began his transition from himself to Dante. That mission is probably not going to end well- for Rice.

This was a solid enough episode, with some great moments: the opening bit with the cops who weren’t really cops- and the subsequent, and unfortunate appearance of real ones; Odum’s interesting take on Russian roulette; an amusing Syd Barrett reference; the shoot-out at the club; and, of course, the boffo introduction to Dante. All in all, this was as good if not better than the pilot, and more importantly, this one left me wanting more, which is kind of what you want in a show like this. Well played, “Legends.”

What did you think of “Legends” this week? Do you like the direction it’s headed in? Are you glad they didn’t go the case-of-the-week route this time around? Do you hope they continue to do multi-episode arcs like this throughout the season? What do you think the show’s strengths and weaknesses are? Do you have a favorite character yet? Let me know down below and see you next week!