Thursday, December 8, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 8 - The Chicago Way

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



Plot


The Legends follow the trail of a Time Aberration to Chicago in 1927, not knowing they've been set-up by Eobard Thawne, Damien Darhk and the latest member of their team - Malcolm Merlyn! When Stein is placed in danger, Sara must choose between saving his life and completing the mission. At the same time, Mick Rory is confronted by an old friend who questions his recent life choices.


Influences

The 1987 film The Untouchables (inspiration for title, general aesthetic and numerous references)


Goofs

This episode is set in October of 1927. While Elliot Ness was a special agent for the Treasury based in Chicago at that time, he did not begin working for the Prohibition Bureau of The Justice Department until 1928.

While this can be blamed purely upon the desire to tell a good story and basing this episode off of an infamously inaccurate film adaptation of a historically inaccurate book, the truth is that Elliot Ness had nothing to do with busting Al Capone on tax evasion charges.  Ness and his Untouchables were assigned to hound Capone's businesses that violated Prohibition while other agents looked into Capone's taxes. It was an investigation headed by U.S. Attorney George E.Q. Johnson and IRS agent Frank Wilson which led to Capone's downfall.


Performances

The episode MVPs are Caity Lotz and Victor Garber, as their respective shoes from the first part of the season wind up on the other foot, with Stein now pleading that it can't hurt to change the past and Sara as the voice of reason for history being preserved. Garber also has a good, if brief, turn playing the disguised Thawne.

There's also a nice bit of non-verbal acting on Franz Drameh's part as Jax seems to realize something is off about Stein upon his return... like the absence of their usual connection.


Artistry

The writing of this episode is brilliant. Not only is there a lot of witty dialogue but the role-reversal between Stein and Sara is brilliantly played with.

Props to the costume designers for some truly elegant work on the period costumes.

The choreography of the Sara/Merlyn fight is great.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

Amaya reads the opening narration at the start of this episode.

The title of this episode was taken from a line from the 1987 film The Untouchables, which was about legendary lawman Elliot Ness and the hand-picked team he used to take on gangster Al Capone.

The quote is "You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's The Chicago Way!" This also seems to describe the cut-throat tactics employed by the villains in this episode.

There's several other references to The Untouchables, including Ray's comment that Elliot Ness looks nothing like Kevin Costner (who played Ellot Ness), Nate introducing Ray as his associate Bob DeNiro while impersonating Ness (actor Robert DeNiro was also in the movie) and Ray doing a Sean Connery impression while paraphrasing the famous line about bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Also referred to as The Holy Lance, Holy Spear, Lance Of Longinus and Spear of Longinus, The Spear of Destiny is - as Thawne says - the spear that was used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ during the crucifixion. Many holy sites claim to have the Spear of Destiny in the real world and a number of legends - comparable to those regarding The Holy Grail - have sprung up around the spear and it's mystic powers. One of the more popular legends is that Adolf Hitler was obsessed with the spear and started World War II in an effort to reclaim it.

In the DC Comics Universe, this was literally true and Hitler's possession of the spear prevented the Allies-aligned superheroes from being able to take action against him, due to the spear's power giving Hitler the ability to control the mind of anyone who stood against him.


Technobabble

Elliot Ness is underwater long enough to develop hypoxia - tissue damage caused by a lack of oxygen. Gideon is advanced enough to treat this, but it does take long enough that Nate has to impersonate Elliot Ness.

The slang term speakeasy referring to an illegal bar came about because one had to "speak easy" in order to learn the location of such an establishment and remain quiet inside of one so as not to attract attention.

Thawne uses some kind of futuristic technology to torture Stein and take on his appearance. This device apparently works on a molecular level, actually changing Thawne into Stein physically.

The Spear of Destiny is the spear that was used to pierce the side of Christ during The Crucifixion. According to Thawne, The Spear can be used to rewrite reality.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Al Capone and some of his men emerge from a warehouse on a Chicago dock.)
Darhk:
Mr. Capone?
(Capone and his men turn to see Damien Darhk and Eobard Thawne, in his Reverse Flash costume.)
Darhk: It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
Capone: I canceled tickets to the opera 'cause I heard there were new players in town. No one told me it was Halloween.
(Capone's men laugh. Thawne and Darhk chuckle a bit too, agreeably.)
Thawne:
Well, it's more like... Christmas.
Darhk: (To Thawne) That's - I like that. It's very good. (To Capone) See, my associate and I have come with a proposition. We've seen how you run your empire and we're impressed. But there's room for improvement.
Thawne: We'd like to offer our services.
Capone: I got a better idea. How about I show you how things are done in my town?
(Capone's men raise their guns. Both Darhk and Thawne sigh. Clearly they saw this coming but hoped to avoid what must come next.)
Darhk: You or me?
Thawne: Ohhhhhhh....  I've got-
(Red lighting rips between Capone's men as Thawne briefly disappears. Capone's men also disappear, one by one. Thawne reappears where he was standing a second later.)
Thawne: -this.
(Capone looks around, playing it cool but clearly surprised.)
Darhk: By now you've probably surmised that my friend and I aren't from around here.
Capone: What do you freaks want?
Darhk: To help! I thought I made - (To Thawne) Did I not make that perfectly clear?
Thawne: New enemies are coming to Chicago and they will endanger your enterprises.
Capone: And you're saying you two can help me out?
(A third man emerges stealthily from the shadows.)
Merlyn: Actually, there's three of us. Pleasure to meet you. My name is Malcolm Merlyn.

Stein: I've always wanted to visit The Roaring Twenties, right in the middle of Prohibition!
Rory: That means no drinking. That's not good.
Nate: Well, actually under Capone Chicago was a hotbed of vice. There was illegal drinking. Gambling. Prostitution.
Rory: Well then! Let's fire up a tub and get there.

Snart: Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
(Rory chokes on his beer as he looks up to see Snart standing in the doorway of the med-bay.)
Rory: Leonard! (shaking his head) I must be losing my mind
Snart: Of course you are. Why else would you still be here, taking orders like a well-trained puppy? You're not right in the head, Mick! That's why I'm here. To set you straight.
(Snart crosses the doorway and disappears. Rory begins chugging down the rest of his beer.)

(Nate and Ray are arguing over who should be taking the lead in planning in Sara's absence.)
Rory:
Enough! If you want to nail Capone and Rex's killer, we can't do it by playing a boy scout or a historian or a policeman. We do this my way! Like a criminal!

Merlyn: It's been a long time, Sara. You look good for someone who's come back from the dead.
Sara: Why am I not surprised that you and Damien Darhk would find each other?
Stein: What do you want with us?
Merlyn: You have something we need. And while my partners think I'm a fool for trying, I would like to broker a deal with you. You have in your possession an amulet. Give it to me and I will give you nine years of your life back.
Sara: What are you talking about?
Merlyn: Oh, maybe Oliver didn't tell you, but I was the one who arranged to blow up The Queen's Gambit. That was the day everything changed for you, Sara. Hundreds of dominoes tumbling... Dr. Ivo... Slade Wilson... The League of Assassins. Losing your sister?
Sara: And you losing your son.
Merlyn: We both get clean slates.
Stein: Why don't you just ask your speedster friend to take you back in time?
Sara: Because Malcolm's just his errand boy, sent to retrieve the amulet. Why is it so important?
Merlyn: What does it matter? I'm giving you and your sister a chance to live normal lives. To go back - maybe go to college? Meet a nice boy - or a girl - and settle down.
Sara: No thank you. I was never meant for those things. And I know that now. And besides, you can't just go back and change things like that.
Merlyn: (laughing) Why not?
Sara: Because Time is sacred. And it can't be changed to suit any one person's desire without harming the lives of countless others.
Merlyn: But you wouldn't remember any of this, would you? You would be blissfully unaware of time travel. Of loss. Of heartbreak. You'd be happy. And isn't that what matters most in the end?
(Merlyn starts to walk off.)
Sara:
Hey Malcolm?
(Merlyn freezes.)
Sara: I'll take a nightmare that's real over a dream that's a lie.

Stein: I have a daughter.
Sara: A what?!
Stein: A full-grown human progeny, who I never even knew I had. This beautiful, brilliant-
Sara: And not real!
Stein: At first, no. But then I remembered! I remembered the countless nights I spent pacing the neighborhood, trying to get her to sleep. The- the- way my heart melted the first time she smiled at me. (chuckling) The distress she caused her kindergarten teacher when she insisted on singing the periodic table instead of the alphabet! I remembered all of it!
Sara: But none of that happened to you.
Stein: But the memories are real. They are a part of me now. She is a part of me now. And I love her.

Thawne: I'm not going to lie to you. This - um - little toy usually leaves the subject... well, dead. But I've adjusted it so that you should only feel a little bit of pain. In theory.

(After Amaya calls Rory over the comms)
Snart:
 Awww. sounds like a sweet little angel, whispering in your ear. Problem is angels always want you to do the right thing and doing the right thing gets you killed. I should know. You wanna stay alive? Best listen to the devil.

Snart: What's next, Mick? Long walks on the beach - just the two of you?
Rory: For a figment of my imagination, you're really beginning to be a pain in my ass.
Snart: Look, I get it. She's easy on the eyes... tough in the fight.
Rory: She's just a friend. The only friend I have. Since my last friend blew himself up.
Snart: Care for a little advice?
Rory: From a dead guy? No.
Snart: Don't let the new girl rope you into her death wish. This whole 'sacrificing yourself for your friends' thing isn't as fun as it sounds. Trust me.

(Jax knocks Thawne off his feet with a blast of the speedster gun.)
Thawne: My speedster weapon! Impressive!
(In the blink of an eye, Thawne is back up, Jax is disarmed, and Thawne is strangling him with one hand.)
Thawne: Unfortunately, for you, the effects are only temporary.
Jax: What did you do with Stein?!
Thawne: Oh, I wouldn't waste my energy worrying about him right now.
Jax: Whatever you're gonna do, do it now!
Thawne: In a rush to die, are we?
Jax: (choking) I wasn't talking to you.
(A second too late, Thawne sees a shrunken Ray Palmer jumping off of Jax's shoulder and growing rapidly larger, hitting Thawne with the full force of his weight.)

Ray: (Sean Connery voice) Isn't that just like a thug? Brings a Tommy gun to an ion blaster fight?

(Merlyn is rifling through Rip's study. Sara drops down silently from a duct above him. Merlyn smirks, still somehow sensing her presence.)
Merlyn: The League taught you well. But unless you hand over the amulet, I'm going to have to teach you a few new lessons.
Sara: Those who cannot do, teach.

Amaya: You were right. The bad guys really do have more fun.
(Amaya kisses Mick on the cheek.)
Amaya: Not that you're a bad guy.
(Amaya leaves the room as Snart appears.)
Snart: I hope it was worth it. All this for a kiss on the cheek and a cheap bottle of booze. That speedster could have killed you, Mick. What then?
Rory: I'd be dead like you.


Dialogue Disasters

Ray: You know, if this is the week the Feds get Capone's ledger, why does it take four more years for them to take him down?
Nate: Because it's the federal government.


Continuity

Jax refers to 203 and how a training accident in the cargo bay damaged the ship.

Jax was an only child.

Amaya read her mother's old magazines as a girl and dreamed of Chicago during the 1920s.

Nate notes that The Chicago Police Department of the 1920s was probably the most corrupt in history.

According to Gideon, in the altered timeline where Elliot Ness died, Al Capone became Mayor of Chicago. He spent October 24, 1931 - the day he was supposed to go to jail for tax evasion - kicking off Oktoberfest.

According to Nate, Shipping Dock 39 was where Capone disposed of people he wanted to get rid of with "Cement Shoes". It became known as Cadaver's Cove.

Amaya wanted to be a cop as a young girl.

Mick begins to have hallucinations of Snart mocking his efforts to befriend Amaya and reform himself.

Jax tells the rest of the team about the secret armory he and Stein found in 203 and how it contains a special gun that can stop a speedster.

Merlyn refers to the events depicted in Season 2 of Arrow and how Sara Lance's life was changed by his blowing up The Queen's Gambit nine years earlier.

Sara learns about Lily Stein.

Thawne uses the device he used to become Harrison Wells in F117 to impersonate Stein.

Nate notes that Al Capone is very organized and has neat handwriting.

Ray does a decent Sean Connery impression.

Thawne refers to killing Rex Tyler in 202.

Thawne claims to have invented thea anti-speedster gun Jax and Amaya use against him.

Thawne abandons the fight with Amaya after an alarm on his watch goes off.

Sara agrees to trade the amulet for Martin Stein's life.

Amaya stole a bottle of booze from Al Capone's warehouse as a gift for Mick.

The two amulets Thawne was seeking are really part of one amulet. Together, they create a portable planetarium of sorts which Thawne calls a compass.

Thawne tells Merlyn and Darhk about the legend of The Spear of Destiny and how the first step to finding it is Captain Rip Hunter.

The final scene shows a film director in 1967 Los Angeles who looks a lot like Rip Hunter, only he has an American accent.


Location

Chicago - October 17, 1927
Los Angeles - 1967.


The Bottom Line

A worthy mid-season finale that answers just enough questions to satisfy yet creates enough new mysteries to keep us drooling for the next two months. January 24th can't come fast enough.

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