The Legends must travel back in time to 1776 to prevent the assassination of General George Washington from starting a massive Time Aberration. Nate and Amaya will be forced to take a more direct hand in things as Jax is forced into the role of acting Captain, Ray is trapped in his miniaturized form and the team must contend with The Legion of Doom's latest recruit ... a brainwashed Rip Hunter!
Star Trek (Stein references McCoy's "Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor." grousing, the plot of being trapped on a space-ship without power.),the movies Home Alone and Die Hard (Jax's booby-traps invoke the spirit of both films, with one lone hero trying to evade the villains in an enclosed space at Christmas), countless Silver Age comics and science-fiction stories regarding time travelers stopping the foundation of The United States of America and The Atom comics of Gardner Fox and Gil Kane (the sequences of a shrunk Ray running around, dodging giant feet and rats).
The New Jersey of 1776 looks surprisingly free of snow for December.This is particularly noteworthy as Washington's famous crossing of The Delaware was hampered by icy waters.
Surely having Nate and Amaya posing as a mixed-race married couple among the upper class of 18th century New England is the worst possible way to remain inconspicuous?
That's not quite as bad a bit of planning, however, as Sara not having a cover-story planned for who she is supposed to be while she's in the middle of an infiltration mission or her not being on guard when Rip Hunter shows up out of the blue in a British soldier uniform.
Why does Rip leave Sara behind? Granted, dragging a wounded woman is going to slow him down a bit, he has plenty of soldiers to handle the job and it is less risky than leaving her behind to warn the rest of The Legends as to his presence.
For that matter, why not just shoot Rory if he has no intention of trying to recruit him to his team?
The Hessians attacking Amaya and Nate is horribly random.
Amaya's off-camera rescue of Nate when he is knocked into the river is the epitome of cheapness.
Amaya's discovery of an unattended camp with a tent and a roaring fire? Welcome to Plot Convenience Playhouse.
Granting that Professor Stein is the squeamish sort, you'd think removing a bullet from Sara wouldn't phase him much considering he was performing amateur brain surgery on Mick Rory two weeks ago.
So the possibility of shooting to wound and capturing Evil Rip doesn't occur to either Jax or Sara?
Arthur Darvill is clearly enjoying himself as an evil Rip Hunter and it's a neat twist on the character that gives him a chance to flex his acting muscles once again.
Franz Drameh gets to show a different side of Jax in this episode as Jax discovers his inner John McClane.
The special effects when Ray is stuck in his shrunken size and forced to run on the ground dodging the "giants" around him are well-executed.
The visual direction, lighting and cinematography of the shut-down Waverider are fantastic. The visual of a torch-wielding Rip Hunter wandering the halls of his ship is particularly striking.
Trivia Of Tomorrow
The episode opens with an entirely new narration - this time given by Mick Rory.
Gideon says The Longinus Medallion contains 1.2 zettabytes of data. 1 zettabyte is the equivalent of one billion terabytes.
Gideon can reroute power to her sub-neural processing unit by shutting off The Waverider's life support.
Rip makes use of an EMP generator disguised as a lantern. This shorts out the advanced electronics of The Waverider, The ATOM Suit and Heatwave's gun.
Jax says they can use Firestorm's nuclear energy to repair the time drive and reboot Gideon.
Jax and Stein are unable to merge due to the EMP frying their quantum splicer.
Rory: (voice-over) Seriously? You idiots haven't figured this out by now? It all started when we blew up the time pigs - The Time Masters. Now history is all screwed up. And it's up to us to unscrew-it-up. But half the time we screw things up even worse. So don't call us heroes. We're something else. We're Legends. (pauses) Who writes this crap, anyway?!
Rory: Washington's a punk.
Stein: He led America to independence and became it's first President.
Ray: Without Washington, America wouldn't have democracy. Or Hamilton.
Rory: If Washington's so cool, why is he on the $1 bill and Franklin's on the $100 bill? Now he's cool!
Stein: Our mission remains clear - we must save Washington!
Sara: And Rory!
Stein: That was implied.
Nate: Saving a President, a nation and Christmas.
Amaya: And Rory!
Nate: That was implied.
Gen. Washington: There are rules to war.
Rory: Yeah. Kill or be killed.
Gen. Washington: British High Command will treat us honorably just as I treat prisoners with honor.
Rory: Now I know why Franklin's on the $100 bill. I'll bet you 100 yous you're wrong!
Gen. Washington: Excuse me?
Rory: Eh, forget it! I hate Christmas!
Jax: I'll handle Rip. You operate on Sara.
Stein: Damn it, Jefferson, I'm a physicist, not a doctor!
Jax: And I'm a mechanic, not a Captain! So I guess we're both trying out new things today.
(Gen. Cornwallis has just declared his intention to hang both Washington and Rory at dawn.)
Gen. Washington: You mustn't punish him! This man is only guilty of following orders!
Rory: (cheerfully) I'm guilty of a lot more than that!
(Rip is trying to persuade Jax to join him.)
Rip: Now if you were to help me, your father no longer has to ship off to battle. He'd no longer have to die in that ambush. Your mother would no longer be a widow. And you-
Jax: The only way you're getting that spear is by prying it from my cold dead hands!
Rip: (nonchalantly) Oh, well, that works too.
Gen. Washington: We must prove to the world that you don't need a title to be a gentleman. The British may be dishonorable but I am not. By my death I shall prove to The Crown what it means to be an American.
Rory: You don't know the first thing about being an American! We're misfits, outcasts and we're proud of it. If they attack in formation, we pop them off from the trees. If they challenge you to a duel, you raid their camp at night. And if they're going to hang you, you fight dirty, but you never, ever give up. That's The American Way. What's it going to be, George?
Sara: Now, I know that it may seem like we don't have anything to celebrate. Rip's been brainwashed and took our piece of The Spear of Destiny. There's a monument in Washington D.C. to Rory. But we saved America. And we're going to save Rip. And get back the rest of The Spear. Because as powerful as The Legion may be, they don't have this. (gestures around to the team) Family. And we all know nobody fights like family!
Gen. Washington: Now tell me, from which of our 13 fair colonies do you hail?
Sara: ... the first one?
Nate: Hitler ruins everything!
Ray: I get that Rip is now somehow evil but does he really have to try to kill Washington on Christmas?
Rip Hunter triggers an aberration by assassinating George Washington before his famous crossing of The Delaware and by providing the British forces with 21st century rifles.
Ray develops a chore wheel for various duties for the crew of The Waverider.
Amaya says that she used to go camping every weekend right after she moved to Washington DC.
Nate is a self-described city-guy who hates camping.
Shockingly, Mick Rory is well versed enough in history to think Benjamin Franklin was a cool guy. He also considers George Washington a punk.
Sara refers to the events of 208 and the trap The Legion of Doom set for them in Chicago.
Sara is now referring to Merlyn, Darhk and Thawne as "The Legion".
Sara puts Jax in charge while she is incapacitated.
Nate was scared of the flying monkeys in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie and ran from the room when they appeared watching the movie as a kid.
Amaya saw the first part of The Wizard of Oz in the theater with a man named Bobby Padusky, who was a perfect gentleman. She didn't see the end of the movie, however, as Hitler invaded Poland and the JSA was shipped out on a mission in response.
Nate and Amaya kiss and make love for the first time. She later tells him that it was fun but she still doesn't believe teammates should fraternize. Nate says he agrees, but is clearly harboring romantic feelings for her.
Ray was Captain of the Varsity diving team at his high school.
Rip escapes with his piece of The Spear of Destiny.
Rory apparently gave General Washington the inspiration for his famous Christmas sneak attack.
The timeline is restored, though there is now a statue that bares a striking resemblance to Mick Rory in the garb of a Minute Man in Washington DC.
Ray gives Rory the captured rat as a pet.
Nate gives Amaya a pair of shoes decorated to look like The Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
New Jersey - December 25, 1776.
Bucks County, Pennsylvania - December 24, 1776
We don't get to see how Amaya saved Nate from drowning.
The Fridge Factor
Honestly, it's like they purposely wrote this entire episode to make Sara look incompetent as a leader and a fighter right before they fridge her to give Jax and Stein a bit of angst.
Amaya doesn't come off much better, the duty-driven heroine suddenly forgetting all about her mission in the face of some cuddling for warmth to stave off hypothermia with Nate.
The Bottom Line
A half-hearted episode with a half-assed script that leaves most of the cast acting out-of-character. The only reason the episode works as well as it does because the most poorly written characters are given the least to do and the ensemble cast of actors give the material far better performances than it deserves. Shame the direction and production values don't quite match up.