When fans look back upon The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, they will likely point to this week’s offering as the most fun of any that the series made. “Raiders of the Lost Art” was an unmistakable love letter to George Lucas, whose films of the 70s and 80s inspired a generation of science fiction and fantasy artists. Allusions to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises peppered nearly every scene. However, the dialogue and setting weren’t the only featured cues. George Lucas, himself, was even depicted in his early years.
Set in the late 60s around the University of Southern Calfornia, the Legends initially arrived in pursuit of Malcolm Merlyn, Eobard Thawne and Damien Darkh. Along the way, however, they found their old captain, Rip Hunter, seemingly trapped in another life as Phillip Gasmer. An aspiring film maker, Mr. Gasmer had taken on a young prop master among his crew named George Lucas. In resolving this week’s story, the defenders of history would try to correct Phillip’s timeline, while simultaneously preserving George’s. They would not meet total success, though. Below are my reactions from this fantastic episode! (WARNING: Spoilers below!)
What Went Down
Almost every joke and movie reference landed in this edition of Legends, and even some that weren’t part of the George Lucas canon. Before discussing those callbacks, one of the very first delights in this episode dealt with the introduction of the “Legion of Doom” label to describe Merlyn, Thawne and Darkh. Nate Heywood (Citizen Steel) offered the title, inspired by the vague memory of a 1980s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. That animated series, of course, was the Justice League analog called “Superfriends,” and the name was used for the coalition of villains headed by Lex Luthor. As a running gag throughout the story, each team member began picking up the name, except for Sara Lance, who could not have been more visibly annoyed by the fandom terminology.
The action, though, would first pick up as the Legends tracked down the Legion. The evil triumvirate had been searching in time for Rip Hunter (now Gasmer), who they needed to help locate an ancient artifact of immense power. The Spear of Destiny, which pierced the side of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion, was said to be able to re-write history. The Legion, led by Thawne, hoped to seize its power. Once Darkh and Merlyn began committing crimes and impacting history in the 60s, the time travellers were clued to their location. The two teams eventually battled just outside Philip Gasmer’s film set.
During the exchange, poor George Lucas found himself caught in the laser crossfire. One blast grazed his arm, an injury that might have made Princess Leia (from Return of the Jedi) proud. The shock was enough for George to forswear any future in movies. The gun battle ended in stalemate, with the cowardly Gasmer – played with a nasal American accent by Arthur Darvill – as the only one to be arrested by local police. Though the Legends would later bust Darvill out of jail, they learned that Gasmer had revealed that the Spear was now in Lucas’ hands.
The heroes were now challenged on two fronts. Not only did they have to prevent the Legion from obtaining the weapon, but they had to deal with alterations to history by Lucas leaving film. It would turn out that Heywood and Ray Palmer only went into science and history as a result of the respective franchises of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Slowly, as their timelines began to re-shape, both men lost their respective expertises. Even worse, their technology (the Atom Suit) and superpowers (steel skin) vanished. The entire squad immediately moved to intercept Lucas, but once again ran into the Legion. In this final showdown, the program paid its best Lucasfilm homage by having Vixen (Amaya), Palmer and Heywood stuck in a trash compactor, repeating much of the dialogue from the famous Death Star scene in 1977. In the end, the Legends and the Legion would once again fight to a draw. The heroes would restore Lucas’ ambition to enter the film industry and recover the Spear of Destiny, while the villains captured Philip Gasmer.
What I Took Away
In the final scene aboard the Waverider, Nate and Ray dimmed the bridge lights and invited Amaya for a private screening of the Lucas classics that inspired them. Having the greatest popcorn episode conclude with the heroes enjoying the best popcorn movies was an excellent finishing touch. With Supergirl’s social conscience, Flash’s emphasis on grief and loss, and Arrow’s focus on perseverance through trauma, the potential always existed for Legends of Tomorrow to be the action-adventure series that struck a relieving lighter note. “Raiders of the Lost Art” was everything in that mold I could hope for. That tone, however, may be put to the test in next week’s installment. Entitled “The Legion of Doom,” there is sure to be a focus on the dark forces driving the season-long story arc.
Submitted by Jody Money