Friday, October 28, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 3 - Shogun

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


After a training accident in the cargo bay of The Waverider, Ray and a newly empowered Nate crash in Feudal Japan, where Ray's armor is stolen by a local warlord.. Sara finds her leadership skills put to the test when she must convince a stowaway Vixen that Mick Rory - for all his faults - is not a killer. Or, at the very least, not Hourman's killer. And Professor Stein and Jax make a startling discovery in a secret compartment on-board The Waverider while repairing the ship in the rest of the teams' absence.


The JSA comics of Geoff Johns (character of Citizen Steel) the X-Men comics of Chris Claremont (Nate's powers and appearance mirror those of the mutant hero Colossus), Star Trek: The Original Series (the sequence of Sara trying to pilot The Waverider while Jax tries to fix the engines on the fly), the TV series Lost (mentioned by Jax when discussing why you never open secret hatches), Ninja III: The Domination (Mick refers to this film when examining the buildings of Edo Period Japan), the films of Chuck Norris (also referred to by Mick, and the main influence on his fight with a group of "real" ninjas), Star Wars (Nate refers to the teachings of Master Yoda) and the films of Akira Kurosawa (general tone, fight choreography and cinematography; The Legends protecting a village mirrors the plot of The Seven Samurai)


It's highly unlikely Vixen would be familiar with the term "ninja" since the term - in its modern usage - didn't come about until 1945. (Perhaps this is a slight difference in the timelines of our world and the DCTVU?)

Mick says the buildings of Edo Period Japan look just like they did in Ninja III: The Domination. In addition to being a poor source of historical ninja lore (the plot concerns a sexy aerobics instructor who is possessed by the spirit of a ninja warrior), the movie is set entirely in 1980s Los Angeles with no historical sequences. (Mick could be misremembering which ninja movie he's thinking of.)

Granting that ninjas in some form did exist (in that there were secretive mercenary assassins in Feudal Japan) they did not wear all black outfits in broad daylight.

Also, it makes no sense for the ninjas to be attacking Mick, given that ninjas tended to fight against corrupt nobles.. like the Shogun Mick and his friends were fighting.

Ray and Masako somehow survive an energy blast that totally disintegrates the Shogun and The ATOM suit.

Mick complains that he has no proof ninjas are real. What about the black robes he took off of one of their bodies?


Nick Zano continues to do a fine job of developing Nate into a sympathetic hero. This time, he manages a fine balancing act between Nate's desire to do good and his frustration over suddenly having power but being unable to wield it.

Maisie Richardson-Sellers has a similar trick to accomplish in establishing her version of Vixen as a completely different character from her granddaughter. This is accomplished through her being a much more traditional heroine (Mari was somewhat more reluctant in Vixen: Season One) and some wonderful scenes that play her off of both Sara and Mick.


Great combat sequences throughout, particularly Sara's fight with multiple samurai and Ray's fight with The Shogun.

A witty script with wonderful dialogue that does a great job of developing Nate and Amaya and building their relationships with Ray, Sara and Mick.

There are a lot of dramatic arty shots in the Kurosawa style but perhaps the best of these involves the rain of cherry blossoms as Nate goes for a walk with Masako.

Trivia Of Tomorrow

The episode opens with yet another new introduction - this time delivered by Nate Heywood.

In the comics, Nate Heywood gained powers after his wounds were exposed to the metallic blood of the neo-Nazi villain Reichsmar. Some unknown quantity in the villain's blood fused with Nate's body, causing him to become a being of living steel and to regrow his amputated leg. This made Nate super-strong and extra durable but also left him with his sense of touch drastically reduced. He had to be given a special suit that limited his movements and reduce his strength to a more manageable level as he couldn't even take a step on certain substances without the ground crumbling at his feet.

The DCTVU version of Nate Heywood differs from his comic-book-counterpart in that - despite developing a body made of living metal - Nate still looked completely human in the comics though he was unable to turn off his powers.. The TV version, on the other hand, has silver metallic skin, reminiscent of Colossus from X-Men and can turn his powers on and off.

Nate runs through several potential codenames after Mick suggests just plain Steel.  This was the codename used by Nate Heywood's cousin, Henry Heywood III, who followed in their grandfather's footsteps and joined the JLA. He also mentions Citizen Steel, which is the codename used by Nate Heywood in the comics.

There's some metatextual irony that Ray is the one teaching Nate how to become "a man of steel", given that Brandon Routh famously played The Man of Steel a.k.a. Superman in the movie Superman Returns.

The Edo Period of Japanese history corresponds to 1603-1868 AD.

Reference is made to how foreigners are not trusted and unusual in Japan at this time. This is consistent with Sakoku - the foreign relations policy of Japan at the time. Under Sakoku, severe restrictions were imposed regarding travel within Japan - both on foreign nationals entering the country and Japanese traders traveling outside of Japan without special permission. The first of the edicts making up Sakoku were laid out from 1633-1639 - just before the time of this episode (1641). While enforcement varied of the years, Sakoku was the law of the land until 1866.

Tokugawa Iemitsu was the third Tokugawa shogun, ruling from 1623-1651. As the episode notes, he is considered one of the most brutal warlords in Japanese history, though nothing is said about him routinely slaughtering his brides. It is a matter of record, however, that  he instituted the policy of Sakoku and ordered a ban on Christianity in Japan, ordering missionaries to be crucified.

The reality of ninjas is a subject of debate among historians to this day. While it is generally agreed that there may have been some assassins who operated in secret during the Edo Period, it is also agreed that they did not run around in black clothing all the time or use special weapons, stealth training or martial arts techniques. You can read a bit about the controversy in this Time Magazine article.

Imemitsu's lead henchman boasts that he was "trained in the art of war by Shimura himself." This is probably a nod to actor Takashi Shimura, who played the lead samurai in The Seven Samurai.

Amaya reveals that she was born in a remote African village in Zambesi before being recruited for the JSA  Zambesi is the fictional African nation that was the home of Vixen in the original DC Comics Universe.


Ray altered the Nazi super serum to quintuple his own strength and transform his skin into an alloy 100 times stronger than steel. These effects are passed on to Nate, who also has his hemophilia cured by the serum.

Ray says that Nate's powers manifested as a result of a heightened adrenal response.

Jax reroutes power from the secondary manifolds to try and stabilize The Waverider.

Ray takes an ingestible translator to understand/speak Japanese.

The ATOM suit is made of and powered by dwarf star alloy. It is strong enough to resist bullets, arrows and explosives. Underneath the left thruster is the alpha-stabilizer. If destroyed, the photons that stream from the suit's weapons systems will overheat. Theoretically, this will cause somatic overload and destroy the suit beyond repair.

The armature relay of The ATOM Suit enhances the limbs' reaction time.

Dialogue Triumphs

Nate (voice-over): Time travel is real. And all of history is vulnerable to the attack of rogue time travelers. But one group travels throughout time to stop the spread of these so-called Time Abberations and erase their damage to history. A group of outcasts and misfits, these individuals aren't heroes. They're something else. They're Legends!

(Mick is in the galley of the Wave Rider, overturning a container full of silverware) 
Mick: Where are all the knives?!
(Vicen comes up behind him and puts a knife to his throat.)
Mick: Oooh. There's one.

Vixen: Sorry for knocking you out.
Sara:  Sorry for locking you up. Call it even?
(The two shake hands.)

(Sara is trying to convince Vixen that The Legends can find Rex Tyler's killer.)
Sara: Don't worry. We're professionals. We know what we're doing.
(The sounds of weapons discharging is heard in the distance. The two run to the cargo bay to see Ray and Nate trading blows as Jax looks on laughing.)
Jax: Yeah!  Come on!
Nate: If Grandpa Heywood could see me now!
Vixen: Professional?
Sara: - Ish.

(Nate just fell to Earth and emerges from a crater looking around at the buildings in the distance.)
Nate: Edo Period. Mid-17th century Japan. That's cool.
(Nate falls backwards and passes out.)

Mick: You snuck up behind me and sliced my throat like a ninja.
Vixen: There's no such thing as a ninja, you idiot!
Mick: Tell that to Chuck Norris.
Vixen: Who's that?
Mick: And I'm the idiot?!
Vixen: And by the way, I'm not your "girlie"!
Sara: Alright. If you two don't quit your squabbling, I'm going to maroon you in a time period of my choosing. Together.

(Mick, Vixen and Sara approach the Shogun's castle.)
Vixen: It doesn't exactly look inviting, does it?
Mick: It's just like Ninja III: The Domination.
Sara: Never took you for a cinephile.
Mick: All I know is ninjas like to hide in trees. (glances up into the tree tops)
Vixen: I don't see anything.
Mick: Exactly! You don't find them. They find you.
Vixen: Just because you saw ninjas in a movie doesn't make them real.
Sara: I have to side with Mick on this one. They're real.
Vixen: You think there's a secret brotherhood of men trained in the art of assassination?
Sara: I hate to break it to you, Amaya, but I'm basically a ninja.
(Mick laughs.)
Vixen: (sigh) I miss the JSA.

Lead Henchman: I have been trained in the art of war by Shimura himself
Sara: League of Assassins. Class of '09.

(Nate explains his hemophilia to Masako.)
Masako: So every day, you were afraid to live?
Nate: Pretty much.
Masako: In the Samurai tradition, a warrior is always prepared for death. A woman celebrates when her husband dies with honor.
Nate: Wow. That's hardcore.
Masako: A Samurai who fights without armor... THAT is hardcore.

Sara: How does the Shogun even know how to operate your ATOM suit?
Ray: I designed it so an idiot could use it.
Mick: An idiot does.

Future Barry: Sorry to contact you like this, Captain Hunter, but I can't risk putting any more lives in danger.  And neither can this.Which is why you'll keep what I'm about to tell you a secret. Even from the rest of your team...

Nate: You don't think I don't want to save the girl, spare the village and be a hero for once in my damn life?! I spent half of my childhood in a hospital, where it didn't even occur to me to dream about having super powers. But guess what? I got them! I lost them!And now I really, really need them. And I can't get them back!
Ray: This isn't all about you! I spent billions of dollars to develop The ATOM Suit! I nearly died learning to shrink! And now I have to teach you to destroy the very thing - the only thing - that makes me a hero!
Nate: Wait... somatic overload means destroy the suit?
Ray: Yeah, Nate. We can't beat the shogun while he's wearing the suit. So we have to blow the suit up. Your powers ware within you. After today, I'll have nothing left.

Ichiro: You remind me of my son.
Ray: Why? Was he a terrible teacher too?
Ichiro: He was a great samurai. I built hm the strongest and most formidable armor in all of Japan. Forged him a sword fit for an emperor.
Ray: What happened to it?
Ichiro: My son was popular with the men who served under him. And the Shogun resented him for it. So he ordered Oda to commit seppuku.
Ray: We'll make sure the Shogun pays for what he's done to your family.
Ichiro: Maybe. Maybe not. But I ask you - would I rather hold my son again or his armor?
Ray: Your son, obviously.
Ichiro An armor is nothing but iron, leather and silk. It can be replaced. But a man who wears the armor is...
Ray: I get it. You're saying I don't need a suit of armor to defeat the Shogun.
Ichiro: Don't be ridiculous! He'll kill you in seconds!  Follow me.

Nate: I'm going to die.
Masako: Yes, probably.
Nate: That was actually your cue to cheer me up.
Masako: If you accept death, there is nothing to fear. 
Nate: I'm more afraid of what's going to happen to you if I die. I know I have these powers inside me. I just can't figure out how to use them.
Masako: Does a child learn to laugh? Does he sit and practice laughing? No. He just laughs.
Nate: "Do or do not. There is no try."
Masako: Exactly! Where did you learn that?
Nate: From... a great sensei from where I'm from. Yoda.
Masako: This Master Yoda is very wise.


Nate is competent enough a historian to identify the exact period and location of where he is based on the architecture.

As noted in 202, Nate speaks Japanese, which is why he doesn't need an ingestible translator.

Ray, based on his need for an ingestible translator, does not speak Japanese.

There are 36 compartments on the Waverider, including one hidden compartment Rip Hunter never told Jax about.

The secret compartment is an armory full of highly advanced futuristic weapons and a computer with a message from Barry Allen in the year 2056. We do not hear what the message is, but both Jax and Stein agree they have to keep it secret from the rest of the team as Rip Hunter did.

Nate destroys The ATOM Suit.

Nate apparently adopts Steel as his code-name.

It is revealed at the end of the episode that Masako is of the clan Yamashiro. This is a hint that she is the ancestor of Tatsu Yamashior and that the katana Nate gives to her will eventually become the ancestral weapon of the heroine Katana, who was seen throughout Season 3 of Arrow.

Edo Period Japan is Ray's favorite time period, apart from The Wild West.

Vixen gives Mick a ninja throwing star she took from the battlefield - proof of a real ninja.


Kansai Region of Japan on the Island of Honshu, Near Kyoto - 1641

Untelevised Adventures

We don't see just how Vixen was able to infiltrate The Waverider.

The Bottom Line

A solid episode that does a great job of developing Nate and Amaya while adding another mystery to the show. Between that and a funny script with some great fights and truly artful design across the board, this is easily one of the five best episodes in the series run to date.

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