Previously on Legends of Tomorrow, the crew was captured by space pirates and Mick Rory attempted to turn it over to them in exchange for going home. This plan didn’t go as he expected, and so tensions between Rory and Snart left the more enraged of the two being given the cold shoulder by his own partner in crime. The specifics of Mick’s fate however, are left unknown.
In attempting to repair the Waverider with an unprepared Atom suit, Ray Palmer almost died in the cold void of space, and was rescued by the “warm heart” of Kendra, and so less than an episode’s worth of flirting was resolved in a single near death experience.
Apparently all kids in the 1950s have irresistible desires to wear leather coats and drag race in their parent’s town cruisers, as we’re given an American Graffiti opening to this week’s episode when the kids stumble upon a wrecked, glowing space rock, and quickly find they’ve met their doom when they meet Vandal Savage.
When the crew lands in the proper space-time, local reports respectively refer to a serial killer with proficiency in knives (note: not knife throwing), and presume that their pan-dimensional villain is the culprit. When they get out onto the field to investigate, they do so in a much more subdued, tongue biting where they attempt to blend in with the unassuming locals in costume instead of kicking and punching.
The tongue biting is addressed rather quickly when Professor Stein refers to the 1950s as a golden era out of context that he is the one between himself, Jax and Sara that would be able to see the decade as such. When they notice a girl crying over her milkshake at the diner, Stein recognizers her as the girlfriend of one of the dead boys from the articles they’d read. Jax approaches her in the diner to further their investigating and holds his own against a couple of Letter Jackets. The episode takes further steps to put our main characters into situations where they encounter the intense levels of bigotry and intolerance in this place and time, as Kendra has several moments with people judging her, and her apparent marriage with Ray, by nothing but her skin color, and Sara befriending a nurse who she can tell almost instantly is a lesbian, and gets her new friend to open up about the subject over cigarettes and whiskey. However, Sara is the one between the two that has an overreaction as this girl is the first she’s had romantic contact and feelings with since being brought back from the dead.
On the point of playing “nurse,” Stein somehow convinces Sara to accompany him in disguise to a psych ward to retrieve files that may lead to Savage. Little did Sara know that, in coming across a restricted wing, the lead Doctor Knox is actually the bearded villain they’re searching for. Meanwhile, Ray and Kendra pretend to be a new couple that had just moved to town, because of course they would, but are quick to find out that their new neighbor, the previously revealed Doctor Knox, is already onto their scheming. When the “couple” is invited to a house party during the weekend by the “Knox Family,” Kendra and Ray decide to split up to find more about what they’re facing, leaving Hawkgirl with a Vandal Savage that believes she is unaware of of who she is, but only until he finds that Ray has stolen the sacred knife the day afterwards. During the party, Savage is is quickly called away to work however, when there is a call for emergency in in the restricted ward.
Jax makes a reference to terrible horror movies set in quaint towns like the one they’re in for the duration of this episode, and instead of being a random point of conversation, it turns out this is a Scream-like reference to set up the second half of the episode, as we see a man is sneaking around a set of slashed tires, and is spontaneously attacked by a bird screaming bloody murder. This is soon revealed to be Savage’s special “patients” in the restricted wing of the psychiatric ward, and they’re the teenagers that were presumed dead before, but instead were turned into strange, vampiric hawk creatures that look worse than Dracula’s Wives did in the Van Helsing movie 12 years ago. These creatures attack Jax and the cheerleader on their date, the latter being gashed in the throat, leaving Jax to drive as fast as he can to get her to Gideon until he’s beaten and abducted by an officer.
When Hunter and Snart find the girl on their own, they bring her back the Waverider and the team gets up to speed on the fact that these teenagers were mutated by the same meteoric material that bestowed Savage, Kendra and Connor with it’s power. After being abducted by the cop, Jax is turned over to Savage, and injected with the aforementioned meteoric substance in a torture chair. This, unfortunately, mutates Jax into one of these butt ugly bird monsters, and is among those that he sets loose on the entire hospital after he turns the tables on Kendra’s attempt to deceive him. When Kendra’s left with her wings metaphorically clipped when fist fighting Savage, Ray arrives in the nick of time to save her with the gauntlet of the Atom suit.
The first mention of Rory in this episode was a very awkwardly made segue by Jax earlier on, who is abruptly suspicious of Snart’s ability to be trusted, as he believes he, “iced his best friend.” This is resolved towards the end however, when Snart and Stein are forced to defend themselves from the mutated Jax. Luckily, Sara is the one able to knock him unconscious so they can bring him aboard the Waverider. Stein assures Snart, despite the way he boasts that he could make snap decisions, his actions in the hospital were absolutely heroic, and Jax thanks him soon afterwards.
In setting up where the team will go next time around, the Waverider is ambushed single handedly by the bounty hunter Cronos, leaving Sara, Kendra and Ray behind in 1958 as he takes off to who knows when or where. Well, the writers know, but these three characters definitely don’t.