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Superheroes on TV: Time 

Superheroes on TV: Time
Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

There are few, if any, constants in the realm of superheroes. Costumes change, backstories are reconstructed, rebirths and new teams linger at the onset of each new decade, yet perhaps the most fickle of all is time itself. We’re winding down seasons, inching ever closer to inevitable cliffhangers, which makes now the perfect moment to examine the effect of time on our Superheroes on TV.

Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

Grinding through the first season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has often felt like a chore. Clunky characters, gaping plot holes, and lack of chemistry have all plagued the show at some point (and even all at once in a few episodes), but the one thing I have always been able to enjoy was Leonard Snart. Whether it was the way he and Mick shared their inexplicable connection, his never-ending cynicism, or the non-relationship between him and Sara, Snart was arguably the most compelling character on Legends.

Last week, I mentioned the show’s executive producers had lots of changes lined up for season two, including new faces, but I hadn’t imagined that meant they’d kill off Captain Cold. Granted, this is the shared Arrowverse, and it’s guaranteed we’ll see Snart again; but I was still shocked that he’ll no longer be a series regular on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Just as the “him and Sara” thing became cannon; just as he and Mick had mended their broken fences; just as everyone else realized that he was the glue that held the team together, he’s gone in an uncharacteristically heroic blaze of glory. Talk about bad timing!

“Destiny” takes us through an exploration of time manipulation and the concept of fate, and we learn that the Time Masters have been engineering the future, seemingly eliminating free will. (A concept not foreign to followers of Christianity; which is just to say people have been fighting against inevitability since the beginning of time.) Once Rip Hunter is shown the Oculus, he sees a future where Vandal Savage is the Earth’s only hope, and he sees how he and his team have been pawns to ensure Savage’s rise.

In short, everything that had transpired up to this point was all manufactured by the Time Masters. That’s either a brilliant twist or an infuriatingly lazy way to account for what has happened. I’m undecided as to which camp I’m fully in, though I do have leanings toward the latter.

The more recent episodes are where we started to see that nothing Rip and the team did was ever significant enough to change the fate of his family. In hindsight, this should have been an indication that something else was afoot, but I must be more of an optimist than I realized since I was always hoping that Rip’s wife and son would be kept alive.

Yet, perhaps that’s the greatest rub of all? So much time dedicated to changing the past (or is it the future), when the focus really should have been on accepting what happened and moving forward.

Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW
Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW

A lesson that Barry was finally able to learn after a face-to-face sit down with the Speed Force. On the much hyped Kevin Smith-directed episode of The Flash, “The Runaway Dinosaur” uses a non-issue Girder plot as background noise to Barry’s journey to acceptance — of both the power he was gifted and his mother’s death.

Time has been an ever present plot device with The Flash as we’ve seen Barry travel through time and even to other dimensions/earths. But how is it that someone who can save lives in the nick of time refuses to take the time to see what’s right in front of him? Yes, I mean Iris. It’s about time both Barry and Iris find themselves on the same page.

While the episode itself left much to be desired, Grant Gustin’s tears (yet again) managed to turn me into a sappy, soppy mess. The joy and grief of watching Barry read The Runaway Dinosaur book with his mother is the kind of emotion that makes The Flash unique among shows in the Arrowverse. It’s heartfelt and genuine in a way that makes every questionable event bearable.

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

Arrow, on the other hand, is the anchor that roots everything in the here and now. Even as the show itself moves from Oliver’s time on Lian Yu to present day Star City, Arrow is consistent in being the space where actions have immediate consequences. With no real time travel, Team Arrow never seems to have enough time to get things done. Every villain and doomsday device in Star City seems to have been set with a timer.

So it comes as no surprise that as we move closer to Darhk’s endgame, the team has to accomplish an impossible task in very little time. And they’re almost able to succeed.

Felicity and her father are able to hack the unhackable, stopping an all-out nuclear armageddon, but one warhead slips between their fingers. Instead of decimating Monument Point, Felicity redirects the nuke (by changing a city’s GPS coordinates, essentially fooling the missile) to the small town of Havenrock; both are fictional cities just outside of actual Washington D.C. (though in the comics, the small town is actually named Havencroft). This entire sequence, for better or worse, is not something we always get to see because the good guys are supposed to save the day. Instead, Felicity diverted a nuclear warhead which detonated, killing “tens of thousands” instead of a few million. If only she’d had a little more time…

A self-sacrificing Leonard Snart saves the team by upending fate, Barry Allen stops letting his past control him by making peace with his mother’s death, and tens of thousands die as Felicity Smoak runs out of time. Things take a serious turn and I’m left to wonder; are we living in a post-Terminator world where the phrase, “no fate but what we make,” still rings true? Only time will tell…

The season finale of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursday, May 19th at 8/7c on The CW.
Penultimate episodes of both The Flash and Arrow air Tuesday, May 17th and Wednesday May 18th, respectively, at 8/7c, also on The CW.

By the way, things are about to get even more hectic/awesome in the Arrowverse as CBS announces Supergirl has been renewed for a second season and is moving to The CW. Welcome home, Kara! We even know the show’s production is moving to Vancouver (unofficial HQ for all things CW), and I’m certainly looking forward to more expansive crossovers in the 2016-2017 seasons.

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