Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Legends of Tomorrow here.
After spending several episodes in the past, Legends of Tomorrow finally landed in the future. And what a future it is: Star City 2046, featuring an aging, one-armed Oliver Queen. “Star City 2046” was not a perfect episode by any means, but it nevertheless ended up being Legends of Tomorrow‘s best episode to date.
Of course, I don’t know if viewers who haven’t watched Arrow would share that sentiment. A lot of this episode relied heavily on preexisting knowledge of Arrow‘s characters and situations. That kind of dependence would normally cost an episode a few points, but this is a shared comic book universe. This stuff just comes with the territory. And Legends of Tomorrow really is the perfect show—the only show—where concepts like “Star City 2046” can be explored.
For those of us who do watch Arrow, though, “Star City 2046” was an excellent episode. The idea of a post-apocalyptic Star City and the death of so many of our favourite characters was a great way to use our familiarity with 4 seasons of Arrow to the episode’s advantage. 3 decades later, and a Green Arrow (Connor Hawke, aka John Diggle, Jr., in a welcome diversity-friendly change from the source material) was still fighting a Deathstroke (Grant Wilson). The contrast between present-day Oliver Queen and the broken shell of a hero he’d become was poignant. The image or Star City in ruins was also haunting. After all Ollie’s sacrificed, is Star City truly beyond saving?
As the person with most ties to Star City, this was Sara’s episode, which I’m very glad about. Legends of Tomorrow has allowed Sara to live up to her potential as a strong lead character in a way she never was on Arrow. “Star City 2046” was a great example of that, as she took the spotlight in her quest to save Star City and restore Oliver to the hero he used to be.
Meanwhile, Snart and Rory embarked on a strong, character-driven subplot. Ever the fan of watching the world burn, Rory found his groove right away to the point where he wanted to settle in this future permanently and live the life of crime he wanted. It’s a course of events that worked well with his characterization, and reminded us that he is, in the end, a violent criminal. On the other hand, we also saw just how much Snart had evolved thanks to these adventures, the small glimmer of honour in him growing into something that resembled heroism. His decision to go against Rory and prioritize stopping Savage was admittedly the more logical move, but though he claims it’s motivated by greed, there is a hint of noble intentions within him. He continues to be an excellent character.
The only part of the episode that didn’t work at all was the romantic triangle subplot between Jax, Ray, and Kendra. I’ve been begging for Kendra to get a meatier role for weeks, but this episode did worse than just sideline her—it reduced her to an object of affection. She wasn’t her own character so much as the thing Jax and Ray were competing for. And after weeks of not giving her anything to do, I’m now firmly convinced the show doesn’t know what to do with Hawkgirl outside the Savage conflict, which is a shame since she showed a lot of potential in the Flash and Arrow crossover. Plus, the subplot itself was weird. We’d never seen Jax show any affection towards her, and… well, Carter just died. What I did find funny, though, was Stein adorably trying to help Jax.
It’s all the more disappointing that this pointless love triangle took so much screen time, since if there’s anything Star City 2046 needed, it was just a little bit more fleshing out.
One thing I appreciated was the way the writers made sure to keep the stakes high. Rip Hunter’s argument that this was only a potential future is one I’m sure many fans, myself included, would have agreed with. Why invest in this version of Star City if it’ll probably never exist? Sara’s response was the perfect way to justify the urgency of this side-quest. If the Legends fail to defeat Savage and thus never return to the present, this future would be set. That gave serious and tangible meaning to the episode’s events.
Time travel questions of the week: if Rory had stayed in the future and the rest of the Legends had gone back and fixed the time stream, what would happen to him in the future? Would the world around him just change? Also, if what Rip said about the Legends being nobodies was true, then how come Sara and Ray’s absence allowed this to happen to Star City?
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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