When the Legends trace an Abberation to The White House in the 1980s, they are shocked to discover their old enemy Damien Darhk is now a Senior Adviser to Ronald Reagan. As the team works to uncover what Darhk is up to, Sara struggles with the choice of getting revenge or the team's larger mission. Thinking that the JSA members could be of help, Amaya and Nate break into the JSA headquarters and are surprised at what they find. Meanwhile, Professor Stein must stop his younger self from creating an even greater time Aberration.
Miami Vice (the aesthetic of the opening scene, right down to Darhk's wardrobe), Back To The Future (Jax refers to it when Stein tries to tell him how they can't change the past even to try and help people, the subplot involving the older Stein trying not to interfere in the past), Ghostbusters (the 'don't cross the streams' joke), Top Gun (the Highway To The Danger Zone sequence) the JSA comics of Geoff Johns and the spy novels of both Ian Fleming and John le Carré.
While a minor point, it seems highly unlikely that Martin Stein would be a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation but not have seen Back To The Future. (Perhaps he just didn't recall the name of the time-traveling scientist from the movie when Jax asked if he was going "Doc Brown" on him.)
So Obsidian is in the habit of just hanging around the old JSA Academy? Or did Amaya and Nate pick the worst possible day to try and break in?
You'd think given the secrecy under which he usually operates that Darhk would be advising The President under an alias.
Shouldn't they blank the younger Martin Stein's memory of his encounter with his older self? We know they have the technology to do it.
Honestly, the whole ensemble is on fire here. It's hard to single out any one moment as being best, but the bits between Brandon Routh and Dominic Purcell as Ray and Mick continue to be the comedic highlight, with everything involving the younger Stein and the Firestorm duo running a close second. Caity Lotz's performance as Sara tells Darhk that his plans are doomed to failure is easily the best dramatic moment. The chemistry between Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Nick Zano is great and does a good job of fleshing out Nate and Amaya. It;s always a joy to see Matt Letscher and Neal McDonough seperately and they play off each other wonderfully. And Lance Henriksen does a masterful job playing the elder Obsidian.
The fight sequence in the fifth segment may be the best in the show's history, perfectly uniting editing, special-effects, direction and fight-choreography with a well-balanced script that plays its levels off perfectly.
The script for this episode is a solid one that features the perfect balance of drama and humor and gives all of the ensemble a chance to shine as well as some great dialogues between varying members of the cast.
The music for this episode is wonderful, with background music that perfectly emulates that of an 80's action TV series or movie (as in the opening Miami Vice sequence) and in the incidental music used to set up certain scenes.
Trivia Of Tomorrow
The episode opens with another new introductory voice-over, this time delivered by Jax. His introduction is word-for-word the same as Martin Stein's intro, save for the last two sentences.
The relic Darhk acquires is 1987 Miami is a fasces. According to Darhk, it is a ceremonial axe carried by the bodyguards of Emperor Nero, from which the term "fascism" was derived.
Though Darhk does not identify them by their proper rank, the fasces was the ceremonial weapon and staff of office for a lictor - the 24 personal bodyguards of the Dictator of Rome.
The word fasces comes from the Latin fascis, meaning "bundle" and refers to the "handle" of the axe which is a number of sticks tied together. Usually at last one axe blade protrudes from the top of the bundle but not always.
The concept of the fasces dates back even further than Ancient Rome to the Etruscans and is frequently used as a symbol of power. In the 20th Century onward, the fasces is used almost exclusively as a symbol by fascist groups, though the faces can be found in various Colonial-Era seals and statues in the United States, including the official seal of the US Senate.
December 8, 1987 was the day the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated all nuclear missiles and their launchers with a range of 500-5,500 km (310-3,420 miles). This paved the way for the end of The Cold War.
President Reagan, as Ray notes in this episode, had a legendary fondness for jellybeans.
Stein watches the news of their escape from The White House on Channel 52 news. This is another nod to the number 52, which has a special significance in the DC Comics Universe.
In the reality of the DCTVU, The Justice Society of America - save for Obsidian - never returned from a mission to Leipzig in 1956. In the original comics, all of the Justice Society - save for Power Girl, The Star-Spangled-Kid, Doctor Fate and The Spectre - became trapped in an ever-repeating Limbo, fighting alongside the Norse Gods to prevent the forces of evil from bringing about Ragnarok. This occurred in the 1986 series The Last Days Of The Justice Society. Later, in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, it was revealed that the Limbo dimension was created by Odin as a simulation, that he may better study and try to avert Ragnarok at its appointed time.
Obsidian says that he wasn't allowed to go on the Leipzig mission because 1956 was a charged time and the US Government was concerned he couldn't be trusted. This is likely a reference to how the House Select Committee on Un-American Activities (aka HUAC) was going after Communists, homosexuals and other subversives it was feared might be working against the American Government at the time.
Later in the episode, it is confirmed that Obsidian is in a homosexual relationship. Obsidian was also a homosexual man in the original comics.
Nate notes that in the new timeline Damien Darhk became an advisor to President Reagan after distnnguishing himself at The Reykjavik Summit - a peace-talk between the USA and Soviet Union that occurred on October 11 & 12, 1986. As in our reality, the talks collapsed at the last minute but the progress which had been made ultimately ended in the creation of the INF Treaty over a year later.
The song which inspires Mick to punch the radio and declare that he hates the 1980s is the 1987 hit by Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died In Your Arms. The song - written by lead singer Nick Van Eede - was inspired by a night of passion with a girlfriend he hadn't seen in over a year that he was questioning in the back of his head even as it was going on. The title is based on a French expression that refers to orgasms as "la petite mort" - The Little Death. In other words, it's the sort of touchy-feely inteellectual song that would piss off a tough-guy like Mick Rory even if he weren't trying to avoid thinking about his dead best friend.
Clarissa Stein's driver's license reveals her home address as being in Central City, Missouri. In the DC Comics Universe, Central City is said to be in Missouri in a position roughly equivalent to Kansas City, Missouri.
The vehicle in which Damien Darhk time-travels with Eobard Thawne resembles the Time Sphere from the Season One Finale of The Flash. In the original Rip Hunter - Time Master comics, The Time Sphere was the name of the vehicle Rip Hunter used to travel in time.
In the reality of the DCTVU, Rip Hunter was identified by Eobard Thawne as the inventor of The time Sphere.
Ray says he can improve the Cold Gun by iterating the power source.
Nate, Ray and Stein work together on a side-project which Nate - based on a suggestion from Amaya - dubs The Time Seismograph. Based on the idea that Temporal Aberrations cause Time Quakes, they theorize that they can locate Temporal Aberrations before they happen by locating their epicenters.
Komandirskie watches are typically only supplied to members of the Soviet Ministry of Defense.
When a time-traveler's past-self suffers an injury that didn't occur in the time traveler's original timeline, the time-traveler experiences the same injury. This is discovered after Damien Darhk attempts to stab the 1987 version of Martin Stein to death and the 2016 version of Stein suffers the same injuries.
The firing system on the bomb in The White House is obsolete by 2016 standards and Ray doesn't know the first thing about disarming something so primitive. He eventually figures out that he can send an electrical pulse from an outside power source, he might be able to overload the bomb's incendiary trigger. This requires his disassembling The Cold Gun.
Jax (voice-over): Time travel is real. And all of history is vulnerable to attack. Which is why we must travel through time to stop the spread of these so-called Time Aberrations and to erase their damage to history. We are a team of outcasts and misfits. So please don't call us heroes. We're something else. We're Legends.
(Thawne tears through the crowd of DEA agents and drug dealers surrounding Darhk.)
Darhk: You know, I had this under control.
Thawne: My way's faster.
Darhk: Speed isn't everything, Mr. Thawne. You should have learned that lesson by now. What's it been - 45 years since you hired me to nuke New York?
Thawne: Well, 45 years for you maybe. But for me?
(Thawne snaps his fingers.)
Thawne: Good seeing you again, old friend.
Darhk: Old? That's fair. Friend? Now, that's something that has to be earned.
Thawne: (picking up the axe) Lovely piece. What is this - 1st Century AD, if I'm not mistaken?
Darhk: (taking the axe away) What is it that you want?
Thawne: A partner.
Darhk: Pass. I prefer to work alone.
Thawne: Oh yeah - gathering your hive of followers? Building your empire? Designing your ark? Yeah. I know what you're planning. And how it works out.You want to reshape the world? Try reshaping history. Try rewriting destiny!
Darhk: Try putting our partnership into concrete terms. As in, what's in it for me?
Thawne: Well, perhaps you're content collecting symbols of power, but... I can give you actual power.
Stein: You're not thinking fourth-dimensionally!
Jax: Did you really just use Doc Brown on me?
Stein: Who the hell is that?!
Mick: Listen, Haircut. If you want to fit into Snart's shoes, you've got to find the pain, the darkness, the anger. You got it in you?
Ray: (talking deeper) Call me 'Haircut' again... and I'll ice you.
Mick: (nodding) Not bad.
Ray: Those are jellybeans
Mick: I can see that.
Ray: Those are President Reagan's jellybeans!
Mick: So what? Eat them!
Ray: What?! I'm pretty sure that's against the rules.
Mick: We don't follow the rules, remember?
Ray: Oh. Right.
Mick: What did I say about crossing the streams?
Ray: You said we don't follow the rules!
Mick: That's the one rule - ONE RULE WE FOLLOW!
Sara: Do you have something you'd like to say to me, Martin?
Stein: Yes. That killing Damien Darhk almost 30 years before his actual death will have countless unforseable effects on the history that we are chaged with protecting.
Sara: Well what about protecting my sister? She brought me back from the dead. She risked everything for me! How could I not do the same for her?
Stein: Because you answer to a higher calling, Sara. I'm sorry. But we cannot stray from our guiding principle.
Sara: Well, I'm sorry too. It sounds like you've never really cared about anyone.
(As the younger version of Stein rambles out-loud.)
Stein: Will one of you please shut me up?
(Ray enters the medical bay. Stein is lying on a table next to his younger self, who is unconcious.)
Ray: Hey. How you doing?
Stein: I'm alright. (looking at his younger self) You know, the truth is this young man is like a stranger to me. Every time I encounter him, I can't imagine I was ever that person.
Ray: I think anyone would feel that way about meeting their younger self. I don't recognize my current self. Mick told me I need to be more like me. And he's right. Which is rare.
Stein: Hmm - indeed.
Ray: The problem is I don't know what being me means right now. I don't know if that makes any sense?
Stein: Of course it does. I think everyone struggles - at least on occassion - with who they are and what their place is in the world.
Ray: So what's the answer?
Stein: (chuckling) I have no idea! But I ... I suppose it's just to live. That's all any of us can really do. And hopefully, through the act of living, we discover who we truly are and learn to grow from that.
(Sara enters the medical bay. She addresses Stein.)
Sara: Amaya got us invites to the state dinner. Are you feeling up to it?
Stein: Yes. I'm feeling much better. Are you feeling up to it?
Ray: I think what he means is are you going to create a diplomatic crisis and risk unknown damage to history by killing Damien Darhk.
Sara: I know what he means, Ray.
Stein: Earlier you accused me of not caring for anyone, but you know that's not true. I care very much about you. And I'm less concerned about history than I am about your conscience. You're no longer an assassin, Sara. You're our Captain.
Sara: Well, let's hope I remember that when the time comes. Now, let's do this.
Amaya: You allright? You seem tense.
Sara: When we find Rex's killer, what are you going to do to him?
Amaya: Arrest him. What else is there?
Sara: You could kill him.
Amaya: I'm a member of The Justice Society... or at least I was when it existed. Not some vigilante.
(After revealing that he has a bomb planted inside the state dinner.)
Darhk: I am sorry. Inconvenient, I know, but try being me!
(Nate is fighting one of Dark's men among the storage shelves under The White House. He is about to slam the man's head down into a wooden hope chest when he stops and throws the man back instead. He's so excited by what he sees, he changes back to his flesh form.)
Nate: That's cool, man! Mary Todd's hope chest.
(One of Darhk's men and the KGB agent he is fighting suddenly fall on top of the chest, smashing it.)
Nate: Oh! You've gone too far!
(Nate changes back into his steel-form and starts kicking ass.)
(Mick and Ray enter the White Houese ballroom.)
Mick: (raising his Heat Gun) Everyone! Get the hell out of here right now!
(The crowd just look at him in confusion. Ray steps forward.)
Ray: Now that we have your attention, would you all please leave the dining room immediately? We believe there's a bomb on the premises-
(The crowd panics and immediately begins running for the doors. Mick looks at his Heat Gun sadly, as if wondering "Why didn't that work for me?)
Darhk: You and I have met before. New York City, 1942. You haven't aged a bit. Lazarus Pit?
(Sara just glares at him.)
Darhk: Oh, woman of mystery. I know that look in your eye, though. That's the look of someone that I've taken everything from.
Sara: Not everything. You haven't taken my soul. Which I've already lost and I'm not eager to do it again. And that's why I'm sparing your life.
Darhk: How merciful of you.
Sara: I'm sparing you to prolong your suffering. Because I'm from the future, Damien. And I know how this all ends. Your Ark? Your grand vision? Just as you're about to accomplish everything you desire, your wife is murdered. The love of your life? And in total despair you even try to kill your own daughter. An entire city rises up against you. And then you die. Defeated. And alone.
Damien Darhk refers to his last meeting with Eobard Thawne, back in 201.
According to Ray, the trigger on The Cold Gun is very sensitive and Len Snart's goggles make everything look blue.
JSA regulations prohibited fraternization between members.
Stein acted as a technical advisor for the USA during the signing of the INF Treaty.
The JSA have a training academy in Washington DC.
Everything Nate knows about the JSA came from his father's story about his father, witness testimonies and government leaks. Everything involving the team mentioned in government documents was top-secret.
Martin Stein is a fan of both singer Whitney Houston and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
According to Stein, in the original timeline, he never entered The White House. He also never went looking for Damien Darhk to ask him about sponsorship for his Firestorm project - presumably because Darhk was not an advisor to President Reagan in the original time-line.
Stein refers to the last time he met his past self and how it nearly erased his marriage from existence in 102.
Reagan is not one of Ray's top-three Presidents.
When Vixen uses her powers to replicate the sight of an eagle, she can see through Obsidian's darkness.
Obsidian is confirmed in this episode to be named Todd Rice. It's also confirmed that his costume is generated by his powers and it is able to resist gunfire when he's focused.
As in F110, crossing the streams of The Cold Gun and The Heat Gun causes a small explosion that shorts out both guns for a time.
According to Obsidian, the rest of the JSA never came back from a mission to Leipzig in 1956.
In the new timeline, Damien Darhk distinguished himself as an advisor at The Reykjavik Summit.
December 7th is Clarissa Stein's birthday.
Clarissa Stein's driver's license reveals her home address as 5203 Laurel Drive in Central City, Missouri.
Amaya and Rex Tyler were romantically interested in each other but did not persue that romance due to the JSA policies against it. They planned to resign once World War II was over and try to buil a life together then.
It is revealed that Darkh has no interest in manipulating the INF Treaty and is instead using the peace meeting as a cover for a bargain he is making with the KGB to exchange some kind of secret codes for an unidentified item in a jewelry box that was intended for Eobard Thawne.
Sara identifies the time-traveler working against them as a Speedster who is even faster than The Flash. She is also able to palm the jewelry box off of Darhk, though we do not find out what is inside it.
The 1987 Martin Stein asks his future self if he ever won a sixth Carlin Award. In 102, a young Martin Stein bragged about having won five Carlin Awards.
Amaya tells Nate that his grandfather had a wonderful singing voice and loved to sing. He serenaded the rest of the JSA on long stake-outs or convoys and tried to get her to join in but never succeeded. She also said that no matter how bad things got, the team could always count on him to lift their spirits.
As the episode ends, Thawne takens Darhk time-traveling with him using a vehicle that resembles The Time Sphere that Eobard Thawne constructed to try and go back to his own time in F123.
Miami - 1987
Washington DC - December 7, 1987
The JSA went on a mission to Leipzig, Germany in 1956 and never returned. It is not explained if they just disappeared or were known to have died.
The Bottom Line
Flawless. Absolutely flawless.