It’s “Prison Break” 2.0 for a couple of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” in the Thursday, Feb. 18 episode, 1×05, “Fail-Safe.” With Vandal and Valentina wanting Stein to create a Soviet Firestorm and Ray and Rory prisoners in a Russian gulag, it falls on the rest of the team to get them out – and to save the future.
Valentina’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Stein to cooperate, beginning with some sort of hallucinogenic drug that makes him think he’s in STAR Labs, working with Cisco, as this “Legends of Tomorrow” episode begins. However, Valentina’s Cisco is “almost Cisco-like” but calls him “sir,” his hair is different and his wardrobe is too neat. That jig is up, so Vandal comes in next, with the tale of his friend Joseph Stalin and how he taught him how to torture a man. Stein still doesn’t back down. Nor does he when Valentina then threatens him with a toxin to make him scream. After receiving a message that they’re coming for him from Jax (who remembered Stein telling him how he and Ronnie communicated once before), Stein tells her to do her worst.
Meanwhile, Ray and Rory are thrown into a cell in the gulag, and while Rory may have experience behind bars, Ray approaches it just like he would any other situation: with a smile on his face and a refusal to just stand by while others are being threatened. He steps in when the prison alpha knocks an old man’s tray of food out of his hands, getting a beatdown for his trouble, while Rory just stands by, staring at the flame of the lighter he manages to get his hands on. They’re supposed to be a team, Ray reminds him later in their cell, but for Rory, the only person on his team is Snart.
However, when the two are then brought down to be tortured in front of Stein in hopes of getting him to cooperate, to Rory’s surprise, Ray gets their tormentor to focus his anger on him. By the time Stein tells them to stop and agrees to help and Rory and Ray are thrown back into their cell, Ray’s a mess. Some things are more important than survival, he explains, like standing up for what you believe in – principles, the team. There must be something Rory is wiling to die for. The perfect score, Heat Wave says, but Ray thinks the difference between them is how they define a “score.” And so when Snart reaches their cell, dressed as a guard, to break out his partner, Rory refuses to leave Ray behind.
Those on the team not locked up in the gulag make a quick stop to the Bratva in hopes of finding out how to get in and out of the prison. Sara takes down six men in the time it takes Rip to hold off one in a sauna (while Snart sits back, watches and dreams of the nice cold Russian weather outside). Unsurprisingly – both because he’s Snart and because he’s played by Wentworth Miller – Captain Cold lets the others know, “this isn’t my first prison break.” Rip’s original plan consists of Sara and Snart going in, while Jax and Kendra – two of Vandal Savage’s most wanted at the moment – hang back on the ship. (Doesn’t he remember the last time he kept members of the team back on the ship? It was what arguably got them in this situation in the first place, though there is no telling what would have happened if Sara and Kendra hadn’t been relegated to training.)
Rip pulls Sara aside to alert her to the necessity of a contingency plan. If their mission fails, Star City 2016 belongs to Soviet Firestorms. If they can’t get Stein out, he wants her to kill him. But Snart’s not stupid and figures out what Rip wants her to do, and to him, Rip just sees them all as pawns. He’s the crook. She’s the assassin. But in all his heists, he’s never taken out one of his own, and they are talking about one of heir team. Don’t use her gun, he suggests. Look him in the eye when she does it. He doesn’t want her to forget who they’re talking about. When Sara fails to get Stein before Valentina brings him into her lab, she sets up to do what she feels she has to do.
Once in the lab, Stein tries to appeal to Valentina, tries to tell her how her country collapses, how his is free, how she’s on the wrong side of history, but to her, he’s going to help change history. When he shows her the completed equation, however, she notices the message from Jax on his arm and puts the pieces together to arrive at the right conclusion: he’s half of Firestorm. And no matter what he tries to tell her about compatibility, she becomes determined to merge with him.
Enter the rest of the team. Kendra and Jax make Rip see that he has to use all his pieces in this chess game, and it’s all hands on deck for this prison break. With Snart reminding her she’s not the killer she once was anymore, Sara doesn’t take out Stein when she has the shot, and he and Valentina do merge – but because they don’t have the splicer, they’re highly unstable. Vandal finds Kendra setting up charges inside, but Rip intervenes and gets his watch back, Vandal threatens his family again and Rip walks away and blows up Vandal. As for Stein, Jax manages to get through to Stein. He knows he was trying to protect him an didn’t want to lose him, and he knows how tough he is, which is why Soviet Firestorm can’t hurt him and ultimately what leads to Stein and Valentina separating. But with Valentina’s nuclear powers unstable, the team hurries to the jump ship and flies off just in time before she explodes.
Once back on the Waverider, the celebration that the projection of the future is back to normal is cut short when Chronos finds them and attacks the ship. They end up knocked out of the time stream and crash land in Star City – in 2046. And this is nowhere near the Star City Sara and Ray once knew. The city is destroyed. Palmer Tech is no more; a Smoak logo is now on the building. And the Green Arrow is there to welcome them with an arrow – but he’s not Oliver Queen.
“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 5 “Fail-Safe”?