The Legends of Tomorrow crew take a trip to the 1950’s in “Night of the Hawk.” There are tensions and unanswered questions among the team, and that’s before they end up in the sleepy little town of Harmony Falls, which is, as Jax says, just like all the towns where old horror movies start. Everything looks normal until things take a turn for the ugly.
The show opens with a drag race, dueling hot rods in a very 50’s scene. Things start off fine, but there’s the almost required accident where a blown tire sends a car off the road. Instead of anyone getting killed, like in a movie they’d make kids watch in school, they find a meteor. Unfortunately for the teens involved, so does Vandal Savage. Suffice to day he doesn’t make their lives better.
Aboard the Waverider, the team complains about after effects from the latest time-jump. Oddly, while Rip keeps warning them that side effects can get worse each trip, and the others complain about double vision and the like, Rip himself doesn’t seem to suffer any of these effects. I wonder if that’s some kind of training or technique he got from the Time Masters, or he just shrugs it of since he’s so focused on bringing down Savage. Since they’re in the 50’s, this is before Savage knows about the team, so they should have the advantage.
What they find out is that there are several missing teens, a few outright deaths, and, just what every small town needs, an insane asylum. They have various covers, helped along by Gideon’s clothes fabricating (and presumably fake ID’s, too). Jax is going to get to know some of the local kids. Stein and Sara pose as doctor and nurse at the asylum. Ray and Kendra are a married couple who get the house right next door to Savage (I’m not clear if that was deliberate or not, since both Ray and Kendra seemed shocked when Savage turned up in the neighborhood). Most amusingly, Rip and Snart are fake government agents– the thief and the man on the run from his own people.
While a lot of shows would gloss over this, I’ll give the writers points for not assuming modern values in the past. There is racism aplenty for Jax and Kendra, while Sara’s new “friend,” Nurse Carlyle, is so repressed she can’t even admit she likes women. I’ll take back a few of those points for language slips. I think “freak out” is more a 60’s than 50’s phrase, and I’m pretty sure the word “ninja” was unknown in small towns, if anywhere at all, in that era of America. There were a few other bits like that, but I think the social issues were more important, and they covered those.
There are a lot of set up scenes- Jax dealing with small town toughs, Ray and Kendra at a 50’s party, Stein and Sara prowling around the asylum. It turns out Dr. Knox, as Savage is known now, has an entire restricted wing of the place to himself. There’s also a scene of a random innocent getting attacked outside town in true horror movie fashion. It’s bad to get a flat at night in a horror movie.
In the few scenes where the team is together, Jax makes several comments about Mick Rory, Heat Wave, being missing. The presumption is that Snart iced him after Rory betrayed the team to pirates, following the chaos in the future Star City. Jax seems to be the one who has the most problem with it.
One of the things they do that makes a lot of sense is that, after Ray discovers a locked secure room in Knox/Savage’s place, he uses his Atom suit to just shrink down under the door. That’s the kind thing Atom is great at, and they seem have been avoiding it until now for whatever reason, possibly to make Snart and Rory more necessary as thieves. Ray does make a surprising discovery in the study, sneaking away just in time.
Savage has been using serum from the meteor, improbably drawn out of it with syringe, to mutate locals into what look like zombie bird men. We find out near the end that he’s trying to make an army of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Obviously, it doesn’t go quite right. Apparently, the meteor is the same type that changed Savage, Khufu, and Shayera back in ancient Egypt, but the effects weren’t replicated perfectly.
There are a few subplots that I could have lived without. Kendra and Ray are stumbling through the early stages of a relationship, and that’s hard enough normally, let alone when you’re time traveling superheroes going after an immortal villain. Also, Sara has a flirtation with the nurse I mentioned earlier which doesn’t go well on a few fronts.
Jax manages to not only tick off the local bullies, but get on the wrong side of the law. Of course, the law is also in Savage’s pocket, so Jax wasn’t dealing with a level playing field. He gets captured and zombie-fied as well. This leads to a scene that gives Snart a chance to show he’s not the cold-blooded killer many of them think.
They manage to stop Savage’s operations in the town, and make things right for the townsfolk, at least the ones that aren’t on the wrong side of things. Most of the tension among the team is resolved. But they can’t catch a break, and, before they’re all back together, Kronos shows up again and attacks the Waverider. For some odd reason, Stein and Jax don’t merge as Firestorm in the attack. Stein says that their merging could destroy the ship, although there’s never been any damage to anything near them before. The ship takes off during the attack, stranding some of the team in 50’s Harmony Falls.
What I liked: There were some ugly attitudes in the 50’s, and the writers handled them well. They finally used the Atom suit in a smart way that wasn’t interchangeable with Iron Man (aside from the surgery bit a few episodes ago). Sara’s trying to drag the nurse into the “modern” era was an understandable mistake. I’m interested to see where they go with the mystery of Rory’s disappearance. I have a theory about that, but I’ll save it for another time. I like that they moved earlier in time so Savage didn’t know who they were.
What I didn’t: Using a syringe to get stuff out of a meteor is just weird. It seems like they skipped a few steps there. The language issues I noted above bothered me a bit. I’m not sure how many times they can attack Savage and not beat him before this starts getting like an old 80’s cartoon, where the two sides always fight and nothing really happens (GI Joe, Thundercats, Transformers).
It was a decent episode with a few bumps. I’ll give them a 3.5 out of 5 for the episode. And I’m happy to hear that the show has been picked up for a second season, despite early rumors of a single season run.