The Legends travel to NASA's HQ in Houston in 1970, where Commander Steel - guardian of the last piece of The Spear of Destiny - served as part of Mission Control on the Apollo Space Program. Unfortunately, The Reverse Flash has beaten them to the punch and replaced one of the astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission.
The films Apollo 13 (setting and general aesthetic, particularly during the landing sequences), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the "proper credentials" gag at the press conference.), Beetlejuice (the Day-O sequence), The Martian (Ray being left stranded on The Moon, his video diary sequences, Ray directly refers to the movie when he says now he knows how Matt Damon felt) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (the sequence with Nate and Henry facing each other as Henry sacrifices himself.)
How is The Reverse Flash able to stay in one time period long enough to take part in a moon landing mission without The Black Flash catching up to him? (Presumably he can stay off the radar by not using his powers and the zero-gravity environment makes that easier.)
Honestly, the whole cast deserves a shout-out here. There's not a single bum performance in the episode.
Matt Letscher gets to show off the playful side of Eobard Thawne here. You get the sense he's sincere about missing working with other scientists and enjoying working with Ray but then you're reminded that as charming as he is, he's still a killer who will cross anyone so long as he can get away with it.
The chemistry between Letscher and Brandon Routh is good with Routh finding a good balance between his usual comic relief role and playing the serious science hero in the face of a scientist villain.
Arthur Darvill gets a nice subtle performance here, broadcasting Rip's confusion at not being in charge without so much as one angry shouting match.
The anti-gravity sequences are quite effective and the fight choreography between The Atom and The Reverse Flash is well-handled.
Trivia Of Tomorrow
The episode opens with Mick Rory reading the opening narration. Unlike in 211 this time the speech does not end with him asking "Who writes this crap, anyway?"
Elvis Presley did perform at the Houston Astrodome a little over one month before The Apollo 13 Mission. (February 27-March 1 1970 vs. April 11, 1970).
What little we hear about Eobard Thawne's background here matches up with his backstory in the comics. There, Eobard Thawne was a scientist in the 25th century who was fascinated with The Flash and The Speed Force. His studies enabled him to tap into The Speed Force, which he used to travel back in time so he could meet his hero. His first jump took him into a museum devoted to The Flash, where he discovered that he was destined to become The Flash's greatest enemy. The revelation drove him mad and led him to try to destroy The Flash in an effort to avert his destiny, ironically becoming the villain the museum said he was.
The show's closing credits show Professor Stein singing Day-O.
Ray plans to use the dwarf star power source for his ATOM Suit to power the fuel cells of the LEM. Thawne concedes this might work assuming Ray takes the gas spectrometer into account. Unless adjusted for the relative volatility the LEM might explode in mid-launch sequence.
The Waverider uses gravitational inertia to float back to Earth.
38 degrees is the angle at which a spacecraft needs to reenter the Earth's atmosphere
The depressurization caused by blowing the cargo bay doors of The Waverider will correct the angel of descent. Unfortunately, this has to be done manually and whoever opens the doors will be sucked out into space.
(Rip emerges from his study with a folder, just seconds after the rest of the team located Henry Heywood working at NASA in 1970.)
Rip: I think I may have found a way to track down Commander Heywood.
Stein: Don't worry, Mr. Hunter. We've already found him!
Rip: ... you did?
Jax: We're heading to Houston in 1970.
Rory: (raising his beer) Yeah! Elvis at the Astrodome!
Nate: And then we're going to rescue my grandfather.
Rory: Then Elvis.
(Rip moves past them to stand on the platform with the Captain's controls for The Waverrider.)
Rip: (flustered) We still need to figure out a way of contacting Commander Heywood without arousing suspicion. To that end that I suggest that we-
Sara: It's simple.
(Sara steps up on to the platform next to Rip.)
Sara: We infiltrate NASA.
(Sara slaps Rip on the back as he simmers silently, looking annoyed as only he can.)
(Rip approaches Henry Heywood at a NASA press conference.)
Rip: Henry. (extending a hand to shake) Great to see you.
(Henry suddenly lets loose with a haymaker that knocks Rip down to the ground. The reporters immediately begin taking pictures as Henry picks Rip up off the ground.)
Henry: (whispered in Rip's ear) You son of a bitch!
(Henry looks around as he pushes Rip toward two security guards and nods to the crowd.)
Henry: Sorry folks. He doesn't have the right credentials.
(All of the reporters wordlessly hold up their press badges as Rip is escorted out.)
Henry: We take press access very seriously around here.
(Henry looks over the crowd and then sees Ray Palmer, sticking out like a sore thumb and trying not to be seen. He glares at Ray.)
Ray: (weakly and quietly) Surprise. We're back.
Flight Coordinator: What's your area of expertise?
Jax: (British accent) I'm a booster systems engineer. They call me "The Rocket Man".
Ray: He doesn't have super-speed in zero gravity!
Thawne: Newsflash, Raymond - I don't need super-speed to kick your ass!
(Thawne pulls a knife from his sleeve and kicks against the wall to charge Ray.)
The whole of the Day-O sequence.
Rip: What about Mr. Thawne?
Ray: He's a little tied up at the moment.
(Ray walks past Thawne, who is indeed literally tied up.)
Thawne: (groaning) Puns. The lowest form of humor.
Ray: I'm Dr. Raymond Palmer. Time traveler, superhero and most recently - astronaut. It's April 13, 1970 at 2200 hours and I am stranded on the moon. Fuel on the LEM is close to zero. Food and water provisions were designed to last days - not months. So - yeah. I'm gonna have to science the crap out of this.
Thawne: What are you doing?!
(Ray turns the camera to where Thawne is tied up.)
Ray: I'm - uh - filming us for posterity. In case we don't... make it back?
Thawne: I am not dying on the moon!
Ray: Sign- Signing off.
(Ray switches the camera off.)
Henry: After five years I found myself blaming you for the choice I made. Turns out that abandoning my wife and son - even to save the world - was a mistake.
Rip: It's the great irony of time travel. That despite it we still find ourselves living with regret. One of mine was that I couldn't find a better way to protect The Spear. One that would have spared you such a personal sacrifice.
Henry: When you showed up, I thought maybe I could go back. Change history. But what's done is done. All I can do now is look forward.
(Henry offers Rip his hand. Rip shakes it.)
Thawne: I know it's easier for you to think of me as a monster but um - I've met some of history's monsters, Raymond, and believe me - I'm not one of them.
Ray: You killed Barry's mother. Twice! Rex Tyler?! Brainwashed Rip into killing Dr. Mid-Nite?!
Thawne: Time travel has a way of revealing the truth to you. And you and I have more in common than you think.
Ray: Pass me the pliers.
Thawne: We're both scientists. We're both obsessed with achieving the impossible. You dedicated your life to learning how to shrink yourself down to the size of an atom and - I spent mine learning the secrets of The Speed Force.
Ray: I became The Atom to help people!
Thawne: (pauses) You could use the dwarf star in your exo-suit to power an entire city but instead you chose to become The Atom because you weren't satisfied with your small, pathetic life. There is no shame in wanting to be greater! To reach higher! To... (smirking ) walk on the moon,
Ray: Is that why you want The Spear? Reach higher? Become greater? Run faster?
Thawne: No. I'm after something much more... elemental. I want to live. (pauses) Surely you can sympathize?
(Stein explains that the damage to The Waverider will make it reentering the atmosphere dangerous.)
Rory: What are you saying?
Stein: I'm saying that our crew has an infinitesimal chance of ever returning home. And by infinitesimal I mean -
Rory: A snowball's chance in hell?
Stein: That would look rosy in comparison.
(Sara walks into Rip's study. He's sitting there with a drink in his hand.)
Sara: Drinking alone?
Rip: Only as a metaphor.
(Sara walks past him to pour herself a drink.)
Sara: You're in here feeling sorry for yourself?
Rip: Oh, no. I've got more than one way of feeling sorry for myself, surely?
Sara: Thanks for backing my play earlier.
Rip: I wasn't... entirely supportive on this mission.
Sara; Indeed. But still... must be hard. Coming back to your ship and finding someone else in charge.
Rip: No. That was the easy part. The harder adjustment was seeing that you are a much better Captain than I ever was.
Sara: So that's why you're in here feeling sorry for yourself?
Rip: I'm in here trying to figure out what my place is if I'm not this team's Captain.
Sara: So you're saying you don't fit in? You're an outcast? A misfit?
Rip: Let's assume.
Sara: Sounds to me like you're a Legend.
(Rip snorts before looking at Sara. The two clink glasses.)
Commander Steel was last seen in 202.
Rip dropped Commander Steel off in New York City in 1965.
Commander Steel gave Rip Hunter his dog tags, to deliver to his wife and one-month-old son, in 1947.
Commander Steel was an nicknamed The Chameleon in the JSA. He spoke seven languages like a local and mastered the arts of camouflage and concealment.
Commander Steel was a fighter pilot before joining the JSA.
The team find a picture of Commander Steel, working Mission Control at NASA on April 13, 1970 as part of the team trying to save the Apollo 13 mission.
Mick Rory is a fan of Elvis Presley and knows enough about Elvis' most famous performances to know that he played at the Houston Astrodome in 1970. (February 27, 28 and March 1, to be exact.)
Commander Steel joined NASA so he could put his piece of The Spear of Destiny in the most remote place possible. It is hidden with the flagpole of the American flag that Neil Armstrong planted on The Moon during the Apollo 11 Mission in 1969.
Stein, Jax and Rory pose as Flight Controllers with the British Space Program.
Commander Steel knew that Rip Hunter had a wife and son but not that they had died. This indicates that Rip undertook his mission to hide The Spear of Destiny sometime before he went rogue and recruited The Legends.
The Reverse Flash can't use his powers in Zero-Gravity.
Stein knows all the lyrics to the Harry Belafonte song Day-O.
Nate tells Amaya what Ray told him about meeting her granddaughter in the early 21st century and how she has a destiny waiting for her in 1942.
We learn that this version of Eobard Thawne existed at some point after he worked with Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow while pretending to be Harrison Wells in the first season of The Flash. He speaks of missing the camaraderie of working with fellow scientists to Ray.
Command Steel rigged an essay contest so that he could get his son, Hank Heywood, to Houston to see NASA so that he could see his son at least once.
Astro-navigation is taught in grade schools in the 22nd century.
Commander Steel sacrifices himself to save The Waverider.
Thawne is able to phase through the cells of The Waverider brig once they are back in Earth's gravitational pull. Shortly after that, his warning alarm tells him that The Black Flash is approaching, leaving him with no time to search The Waverider for the two pieces of The Spear that The Legends have.
Nate delivers a message to his father as a teenager.
Rip officially offers up any claim on the position of Captain to Sara.
Amaya asks Gideon to show her the future of Zambesi starting with her return home. She sees pictures of her granddaughter, Mari, in her Vixen costume.
Manhattan, New York - 1965.
NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas - April 13, 1970.
The Lunar Surface- April 13, 1970
The Bottom Line
One of the best episodes of the series to date.