It’s a Heywood family reunion this week! Just, you know, without all the barbeque and cake and awkward aunts and uncles...and…well, anyone but Nate and his grandpa. Do two people still constitute a family reunion? Is that the proper use of that phrase?
We’ve finally hit the end of our tour back through the roster of the JLA, landing on—you guessed it—Commander Steel himself, Hank Heywood. If you think all the way back to the start of this season, you might remember Hank was not the warmest of guys and that much is still pretty true. It turns out Hank is so fixated on accomplishing “the mission” (whatever that mission may be) that he was actually willing to leave his family, including Nate’s infant father, for good at Rip’s behest.
But what Hank lacks in overall warmth, he makes up in abject skill. If you recall, he was the only member of the JSA’s lineup who had no metahuman or extrasensory abilities at all, so it goes to follow that he’d have to make up for that with just an astronomical, near Batman-level of discipline.
So, Hank, time scattered to the ’60s, assumes a new identity and joins up with NASA to protect his piece of the spear—which, if you ask me, is probably the coolest undercover plan a person could come up with. I mean, putting the fragment in the flagpole on the moon as a hiding place? Come on, that’s brilliant.
Of course, there was more at stake here than just learning how cool and clever Commander Steel is. This was also the first mission with Rip well and truly back in the fold...and it went about as well as I had expected it too.
At risk of being a little controversial? I think Sara really is a better captain than Rip was. That’s not to say I don’t like Rip, but you have to admit he spent a huge part of season one being pretty duplicitous. Sara’s had her struggles at the helm, sure, but at the end of the day she’s honest. No secret motives, no backhanded half-truths, no “for the greater good” behind-the-scenes sacrifices. I appreciate that about her, and I think Rip does too.
But either way, it’s just like Sara said—he may not be the captain anymore, but he’s still a Legend at the end of the day. He’s just in need of a new niche for his skills. Which begs the question: what do you think Rip’s new role on Waverider ought to be?
Tell me your theories in the comments because I genuinely have no idea. It could go so many different ways for him.
Now, Rip isn’t the only person to come out of this episode in a new light. We have got to talk about Thawne here, because man alive, I didn’t see any of that coming. Those moments with Ray? Flat out admitting that “it’s easier to think of me as a monster”?
I write about Legends, but I’m a pretty big Flash fan as well, so I have no excuse for being surprised by how human Thawne really is. After all, he spent the whole first season of The Flash hanging out with the team as he pretended to be Harrison Wells. I guess I just never really took any time to consider how...normal a lot of Thawne’s motivation for, you know, not wanting to die, might be.
I mean, obviously he’s still evil and a murderer and all around terrible, but man… I don’t know, you guys. I never expected to feel this conflicted about him.
I guess the ability to confront terrible things with absolute selflessness is part of being a hero. It’s like Hank explained right before he sacrificed himself at the airlock: “It’s not fair, but if you can accept that, you’ll be a better person for it.”
Thawne’s a villain this time around because he doesn’t believe what’s happening to him is fair, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to correct that—even if it means destroying timelines and murdering innocent people.
What I’m saying is, humanized or not, I’m not sure there’s any redemption to be found for Thawne…but it’s certainly more difficult for me to think of him as a total monster now. And, if I’m being totally honest, I’d love to be proven wrong about him. He and Ray were pretty hilarious together this week. I totally wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of that.
And one more thing before I go: How about the “distraction” from Dr. Stein?