Legends of Tomorrow is ostensibly a time travel show, but it rarely deals with time travel on a conceptual basis. That’s because the impossibility of time travel makes it a logistical headache to plot for. In episode 710, though, the show took a moment to wonder what happens when you try to change a world-changing event. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 7, Episode 10, “The Fixed Point.”
“The Fixed Point”
The Legends are tired of being chased by an evil A.I. and her robo-soliders, so Sara (Caity Lotz) decides to create an aberration that will allow the team to take back the Evil Waverider. However, the Legends find themselves in a Bar for time-travelers, and quickly learn that this “fixed point” is popular with time-travelers, leaving Sara questioning her odds at winning. With Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) and Astra (Olivia Swann) growing closer, Zari (Tala Ashe) and Spooner (Lisseth Chavez) are forced to awkwardly interact with each other as the rest of the Legends are paired up on the mission. Meanwhile, Ava (Jes Macallan) hears Gwyn’s (Matt Ryan) plan to save his boyfriend, and Ava is forced to remind him of the consequences in he succeeds.
There are three big elements that stand out in this week’s episode: The Fixed Point, navigating the relationships of two characters, and the reappearance of one of the Legends’ archenemies in an entirely new context.
It’s Like Cheers, Kind Of
The team’s goal is to disrupt the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the single moment that kicked off World War I. Before they can even try, though, they’re interrupted by a man who takes them through a literal mirror and into a bar titled The Fixed Point. Here, time travelers gather to watch each other take on the task of stopping the war.
This, I think, is a pretty fun way to bring the complications of time travel into the show. Here, travelers are allowed to try once per traveler to get the job done, but no matter what, something always seems to stop them. As a large group, the Legends have a bunch of tickets, giving them a few chances to troubleshoot the problem–Behrad even references the movie Live Die Repeat at one point. Sara tries over and over to stop the assassination, and we get to watch the bar laugh at and eventually begin to side with the Legends. Some patrons openly mock them as they watch the news loop that re-assembles itself after every attempt.
Legends is primarily concerned with putting its characters into new situations to see what developments shake out, so this kind of direct engagement with the show’s high-level concept is refreshing. Are there other Fixed Point bars for other moments like that? What are those places like? It’s the seed of a concept that they could, if they wanted to, expand on.
This is normally a strong point for Legends, and most of it does work really well, but it pushes past visibility and representation and into feeling a bit preachy even for someone who has high patience for such things.
The first encounter is between Zari and Spooner. The group pairs off to accomplish various tasks, and Spooner and Zari end up together for what they quickly notice is the first time. Things are awkward until they realize they both like dunking on strangers. Eventually, the topic shifts and Zari brings up the F***-Marry-Kill game. She suggests three of the guys at first, but Spooner turns that idea down. Then she suggests three of the girls. Spooner rejects that, too, explaining that she doesn’t really get “those kinds of feelings.” In short, Spooner is asexual.
There’s a very sweet moment where Spooner jokes that maybe it’s another way that the alien life form that gave her her powers messed her up, and Zari stops her cold to tell her that not wanting something just because other people around her do doesn’t make her messed up. Asexuality doesn’t come up very often on TV shows because more standard romantic encounters are so popular with the majority of the audience. One of the other few times I can think of it is with Todd Chavez on Bojack Horseman.
The other comes when Gwyn, whose life goal is to rescue the man he loves from death during the war, suggests that being able to save him, but not be with him, is his divine punishment for his sexual orientation. It makes sense that a man who came of age at the turn of the century would feel that way, but the normally very strict Ava softens as Gwyn talks about this feeling, seeing some of herself and Sara in him. She ends up quoting Lin-Manuel Miranda to explain her perspective.
Both of these fit the story and characters well. While Gwyn was introduced as a gay man, Spooner’s asexuality doesn’t feel like it was retconned into place. It feels like the only natural evolution for the character based on everything we’ve learned about her.
At the same time, though, it begins to feel like the writers are speaking directly to the audience. Those kinds of moments fit more in with Batwoman and Supergirl, shows that built social justice into their very structure. Legends flirts with it, as with the racial equality aspect of their time at the warplane factory a few episodes back, but generally focuses on earnest silliness. It’s not a bad thing for the show to shift focus, but it sticks out a bit more here.
The Unkillable Eobard Thawne
And then there’s Thawne. If you would’ve told me that Reverse-Flash would be the Arrowverse’s most recurring villain as the first season of The Flash began, I would’ve laughed at you. But here we are. The Flash season 8 was in rare form as it brought its version of Thawne, played by Tom Cavanagh, back for a Flashpoint-style story earlier this season. Now it’s the Legends’ turn. They discover that the fixed point is monitored by someone who can stop time, and they build a device using the devices that power their temporary time machine. Sara discovers none other than Eobard Thawne as the culprit behind their failures.
This is the Matt Letscher version of the character, the one they encountered back in Season 2, when the show changed from being very bad to very awesome. This was meant to be the original form of Thawne, but you just can’t compare to Tom Cavanagh, so he became a time fragment split off of the original and went over to Legends to hassle the Waverider.
When we encounter him here, we learn that after the Time Wraiths destroyed him, they brought him back and assigned him as the guardian of this particular fixed point. He isn’t a speedster anymore, but the show actually toys with another version of his powers, though they’re admittedly provided by a gadget rather than being an ability.
Some versions of Reverse-Flash/Professor Zoom are, instead of speedsters, time manipulators. Thawne isn’t fast, but he can stop time at will. No matter how fast the Flash is, you can’t outrun time stoppage. This also reminds me of the time when Thawne and Ray Palmer ended up in space together and had to work together to survive.
Both Legends and The Flash have done a good job of making him both a dangerous, deadly villain, and also someone who is more than just a mustache-twirling villain who spends 100% of his time planning dastardly acts. This version seems to be actually committed to preserving the time stream. He’s not a villain, just an antagonist. It’s nice to see this character reappear, and in such an interesting way.
This episode also gets the team back on track with a more plot-oriented episode, and on the track for the end of the season. The reality TV episode last week was a nice vacation, but it’s good to be back to the main plot.