‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Season 2: Nazis, Samurais, Zombies and Cowboys- Oh My!

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When the season began, “Legends of Tomorrow” was clearly having a bit of an identity crisis and was seeking to shake things up. At first blush, it seemed like they were overcompensating, by adding a whole additional team in the Justice Society of America, but soon after, it became equally clearer there was a method to that overabundance of riches, thankfully.

Within a few episodes, it was obvious they were simply reshuffling the deck, to make up for lost members- so long Captain Rip Hunter, Snart (aka Captain Cold), Kendra (aka Hawkgirl) and Carter (aka Hawkman) and welcome aboard to newbie Nate Heywood (Nick Zano).

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In addition, after JSA member Rex (aka Hourman) was murdered by a “time traveler,” Amaya (aka Vixen) stowed away on the team’s ship to avenge him, only to discover she had the wrong time travelers, thus sticking her with the Legends for the time being.

So, goodbye to four and hello to two, which means the team simultaneously downgraded and added a few new faces to make up for it, making it both easier to keep up with everyone and adding a few new wrinkles to the show as it stands. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some of the old faces will be back- I’m pretty sure Snart has already been confirmed to be back later on in the season, for instance.

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Erstwhile Captain Cold Wentworth Miller was off shooting the “Prison Break” reboot, which also features Dominic Purcell- though his constant presence here as Mick Rory (Heat Wave) would seem to indicate his character won’t fare as well as Miller’s character on “Break.” You never know, though- they wouldn’t be the first stars to pull double duty in multiple shows.

Either way, the downsized crew has being doing pretty well for themselves, and it was a clever, interesting move to opt to make the troubled Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) captain and to take away Ray Palmer’s powers as The Atom- at least for the time being- as well as transform Nate into the super-powered Steel, after having been a sickly, hemophiliac child his whole life.

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That’s more than enough issues for those characters to deal with, and the others have their problems as well, including Rory having to continue to adjust to being a team player sans best pal Snart and Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) both dealing with having left his wife behind and the fact that he was not equipped in the right ways to be captain- hence Lance becoming such by default.

But despite all this drama, the show hasn’t forgotten to have fun as well, as the team has dealt with a horndog Einstein and Nazis in 1942, Shoguns, Samurais and Ninjas in Feudal Japan, Confederate zombies during the Civil War era, and perhaps most horrifying of all, the fashions and music of the 80s! (J/K- I love the 80s- well, some of the music, anyway…don’t know about that fashion though.)

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In addition, the team made a return visit to Westworld…um, make that the Old West, for another adventure with Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech), with a fun guest-starring role for cult movie vet Jeff Fahey (“The Lawnmower Man,” “Planet Terror”).

All of this serves as the lead-in to the ultimate superhero crossover event between a whopping four CW shows: “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Legends.” Although, given that maybe two minutes if I’m being REALLY generous was devoted to said crossover on last night’s “Supergirl,” it should be considered more of a three-episode event than a four-episode one.

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Nonetheless, it’s an ambitious move, and a superhero fan’s wet dream come true, to be sure. I said it in the last essay I did, and I’ll say it again: The CW is just plain beating the DC movie-verse at its own would-be game, and by a country mile.

Sure, “Justice League” looks like a step in the right direction, and hopefully, “Wonder Woman” will stick the landing as the first female superhero to make the theatrical cut since “Supergirl” (not counting the supervillain flick “Catwoman,” which I think we’d all like to forget happened anyway). If not, DC fans can always take comfort in the fact that the CW has got you.

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As for this show, I quite like the reconfigured “Legends of Tomorrow” and think the changes have, overall, been for the best. Sure, I miss the camaraderie between Cold and Heat Wave, but Miller will be back, and I suspect Rip Hunter and the Hawk-couple will be as well, eventually, so it’s not that big of a deal, really.

The remainder of the team and the new additions have been doing well for themselves thus far, and I think Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) was a smart add, as it not only adds a bit more estrogen to the mix of largely male faces, but a bit more diversity as well, which is always a good thing. I’ll give one thing to CW: they may always cast improbably good-looking people in their shows, but at the very least, they tend to be a diverse lot overall.

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There’s also a lightness to the show in Season 2 as well, which was by no means completely absent from the first season, but seems to have been much more prevalent this season, and I do think a lot of that has to do with the aforementioned reshuffling of the cast deck and new approach of taking away the heavy presence on an ongoing villain and focusing instead on more of the time-traveling escapades.

This is not to say they don’t have a villain in the background, if you take into consideration the presence of Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher) and Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). They just don’t have to get into it in every episode, like they did last season, which I think is a good thing. (“Timeless,” though fun in its own right, is discovering the downside of this sort of approach themselves in their own first season, for instance.)

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I think having the main villains drift in and out and instead having other villains to deal with in each respective time period they’re in was a smart move and has helped the show immeasurably, though maybe not as much as they would have liked, ratings-wise. The show started out with over three million viewers in Season 1, before settling in with just over two by about halfway through the season.

Then, it hovered between 1.8 and 1.9 million for the bulk of the rest of the season. In Season 2, it’s averaged between 1.7 and 1.8, a slight dip, but not that big of a deal overall. Still, though not terrible by CW standards, it also may not be enough to justify the show’s sizable budget, ethier. We shall see.

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Perhaps the crossover will boost the ratings, though whether it holds on to them remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it will have only one more episode to prove it before going on holiday hiatus until January. But hey, anything helps.

My hope is that people who already gave up on the show will see what it’s become since the change-up this season and maybe give it another shot. Once again, we shall see, but here’s hoping it does the trick, as I think the show is a lot of fun and worth the CW hanging onto.