Though Rip Hunter’s group of disparate heroes and villains almost seem destined to fail their mission, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow boss Marc Guggenheim promises the series is not one big wash-and-repeat in trying (and failing) to kill Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).
In just three episodes — and the crossover with Arrow and The Flash — various members of the team have already faced off with Vandal and/or his cronies roughly half a dozen times and ultimately came up unsuccessful. How will the show prevent the repetition when Vandal is seemingly all powerful? “Very simply, by the fact that they do not try to go after Vandal Savage and fail each week,” Guggenheim says. “We recognize that it could very easily become this Sisyphean exercise and be really boring for the audience. In [Thursday’s episode], you’ll see that their primary objective is not to capture or kill Vandal Savage. Similarly, 105, 106, 107, in none of those episodes is their primary objective to capture or kill Vandal.”
“You’ll see that even in the episodes where they are trying to kill Vandal, the episodes themselves play out very differently,” Guggenheim continues. “Part of that is by virtue of the fact that Vandal is immortal, only specific items will kill Vandal, and they have to be wielded by very specific people, so the window of opportunity is very narrow. That itself is going to limit the number of instances where it’s a true try-and-fail.” Those “specific people” actually equates to one specific person, Kendra (Ciara Renée), who must use an artifact from the event that gave them their powers, or else Vandal can just be resurrected.
Guggenheim says the writers have ways in mind for how Vandal could eventually go. “Certainly, I don’t want to say how the season is going to end, but if we didn’t envision at least a couple different ways that that could happen, then we certainly wouldn’t have crafted a very clever shape for our first season,” he says, noting that Vandal’s story does have an end point. “Just like with the big bads on Arrow or Flash, they have their story with the beginning, middle, and end, and those stories are over at the end of the season, the same thing with Vandal. The Vandal Savage storyline will be resolved by the end of season 1.”
For now, the Legends are heading to the ’80s behind the Iron Curtain, where Ray (Brandon Routh) tries to charm Soviet scientist Valentina Vostock (Mr. Robot’s Stephanie Corneliussen) to disastrous results. “You really feel like this is a journey,” Guggenheim says. “Episode 4 has three separate movements in the 1980s and they’re all very, very different. You really start the episode in one place and end it in a completely different place. Episode 4 and 5 are basically a two-parter, but they’re very different kinds of episodes.”
That’s because the second hour, which will air next week, features Captain Cold and Heat Wave (Prison Break alums Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, respectively) attempting to spring Ray from a chilly Siberian gulag — where EW was on set in early November. “There is, in fact, a prison break in episode 5,” Guggenheim says. “And, as one would expect, a very terrific line regarding that. I said to the writers, ‘If we’re going to do a prison break episode, that’s perfectly fine, but we better come up with a goddamn funny line for either Dominic or Wentworth to say, or we’re all fired.’”
Meanwhile, the Firestorm matrix is threatened as tension rises between Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax (Franz Drameh). “We finally take a moment to explore the conflict between these two guys,” Guggenheim says. “Jax is discovering, ‘Wait a second, Stein gets to backseat-drive the whole time and boss me around, but every time we take a punch, I’m the one who feels it.’ From Jax’s perspective, he’s the only one with skin in the game, really, and is tired of being bossed around. The arc really is Stein’s, because it’s Stein who has to recognize what it’s like to be on the other side of this equation. Stein develops a different and more empathetic understanding of what Jax’s side of the partnership is.”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.