The Legends take a detour to feudal Japan in the rather simply titled “Shogun.” They mingle an origin story, a new team member, and a few different elements of various classic styles of Japanese-themed movies. It doesn’t all make sense, but it’s fun to watch.
They seem to be playing musical chairs with the voice overs this season. This week, it’s Haywood’s turn, as the historian turned Legend narrates the opening. After that there’s a montage of Vixen stalking through the Waverider dropping the team one by one. This is the first of several things that don’t quite work- there’s a later mention that Vixen slipped aboard before they time jumped out of 1942. Why the team hung out there long enough to let her do that, and how she managed to not set off any sensors, they don’t explain. Vixen’s gradual elimination game comes to an end after an amusing scene with Mick Rory and Haywood getting his new powers as they showed in the trailer.
The team regroups to discuss Nazi super-serums, new powers, training for said powers, and Vixen’s belief that Rory killed Hourman. This, too, is weak writing. At first, she’s sure Mick is the killer because… umm…. yeah, no real reason that I can see for zeroing in on him. Then, this deep-seeded belief melts like snow in a blast furnace when Sara apparently manifests the Jedi mind trick and changes Vixen’s mind.
Haywood is very excited about having powers, and is babbling a lot. Ray theorizes about how to make them work, and they do some testing of Haywood’s limits. They apparently managed to pick a real bad place for the training, as they manage to blow open one of the ship’s hatches. Haywood gets sucked out and Ray flies off after him. This leads the rest of the team to eventually follow them to early Japan.
Haywood lurches around after his rough landing and then passes out, eventually rescued by a local woman who is, of course, gorgeous. She brings him home to her father, who is both a renown blacksmith and healer. Ray gets a much less friendly welcome, as he foolishly takes off his helmet, apparently to allow him to be knocked out from behind by the Shogun’s men, who act more like thugs then honorable warriors.
Ray gets his suit taken (why does this never happen to Iron Man?) and gets beaten badly by the Shogun’s men. The Shogun himself ends up wearing the ATOM suit, which isn’t going to be good news for anyone. Haywood, meanwhile, finds out that Masako, his rescuer, is fated to marry the Shogun the next day. Haywood has his own run-in with the Shogun’s men, which mostly highlights that Haywood doesn’t have control over his Steel powers.
Vixen and Mick bicker a lot, which Sara finally finds a smart way of ending. Jax and Stein attend to repairing the Waverider. This both leads them to discovering another one of Rip’s secrets, and once again takes Firestorm out of the action. Let’s face it, a bunch of men with swords and armor wouldn’t have been a problem for the Nuclear Man, so once again the most powerful Legend sits out the fight.
Sara and company track down the Atom suit with some scanners from the ship. In the background, Vixen and Rory argue about ninjas and Chuck Norris, which would be a lot more entertaining if she wasn’t from the 40’s and shouldn’t know about either one. They find the suit, and its new owner, and end up fleeing. At least they manage to find Ray on the way out, who has escaped under his own power without the suit.
The team regroups at Masako’s place and tries to plan how to defeat the Atom-Shogun. Sara and Vixen work out defenses for the villagers, Ray tries to help Haywood get his powers working, revealing a new wrinkle along the way, and Rory naps. Well, at least he’s not getting in the way. Vixen shares more about her background, which makes her claim to be a multiple black-belt and her sword skills even more unlikely.
Ray has a talk with Ichiro Yamashiro, Masako’s father. It’s a nice mix of encouragement and humor, and it may give Ray a way to help fight the Shogun. Haywood and Masako talk more, and he introduces her to the wisdom of Yoda. Finally, all the preparations better be done, because the Shogun arrives with the Atom suit ready for battle, and all his men in tow.
Vixen and Sara fight the Shogun’s men in a very stylized sword fight that looks like some classic martial arts scenes. After her initial use of powers, Vixen stops using them to focus on sword work because… it’s a better chance of her being killed? Rory gets separated and fights ninjas, which is amusing, but shows a level of hand to hand skill he’s never had before. That or these are really new ninjas who haven’t mastered fighting. The fight finally wraps up after Haywood gets his powers working and teams with Ray to stop the Shogun. Rory helps out Sara and Vixen, showing up dressed as one of the ninjas he beat. So the team returns to the ship and takes off for parts and times unknown, although one of them suffered a big loss. Vixen sort of makes up with Rory, but her lines make no sense given what we saw during the fight.
What I liked: Ray managed to escape without his suit or the team helping him. That was nice to see and might be very important in upcoming episodes. The fight choreography was well done. I liked the Yoda jokes. Jax and Stein’s secret was interesting, and probably will lead in to the big team up later.
What I didn’t: Vixen would work a lot better if the writers either remembered she was from the 1940’s or just made her a modern character (she was wearing modern clothes at the end of the show). The sword scene and the ninja fight were kind of weird. The way they stopped the Atom-Shogun didn’t make a lot of sense, and once again, would not have been necessary if they’d had Firestorm along. The power problems for Steel went on too long, and his love story seemed a bit sudden and forced. Atom really needs to have some kind of security on his suit, although that appears to be past tense now.
I keep wanting to love this show, and they keep doing weird things that don’t quite work. It almost seems like different scenes are written by different writers who don’t consult each other. I’m giving this episode a 2 out of 5. Sorry guys. I wonder if the writer being “Anonymous” had to do with the final product.