History Notes: Legends of Tomorrow Episode 214, "Moonshot"
Rip Hunter (ARTHUR DARVILL) scattered the Justice Society of America across time to protect the fragments of the Spear of Destiny, which, if assembled, could rewrite reality. He leaves Henry Heywood (MATTHEW MACCAULL), aka Commander Steel, in 1965 Manhattan, with the realization that his family will think he died in the mission to Liepzig. Mere seconds after they part ways, Rip Hunter reappears with the Legends trying to intercept Henry. This was a nice bit of time travel, nearly running into yourself, which you could theoretically do decades and seconds apart simultaneously. But Henry is a master chameleon, and if he wants to get lost, he's going to be lost.
Aboard the Waverider the crew finds a way to figure out where Henry went, based off the kinds of jobs he would look for that would match his military background. They find him in a photo from April 13, 1970, where he was part of the Mission Control ground team on the Apollo 13 mission. Rip is about to lay out a plan, but Sara Lance (CAITY LOTZ) takes over, making it clear to the viewers that there is going to be some friction about which captain is in charge.
When Henry Heywood sees Rip, his first reaction is to lay him out with a haymaker. He has strong resentments about the sacrifice he made to protect the mission. Later, he talks with Ray (BRANDON ROUTH), Amay (MAISIE RICHARDSON-SELLERS) and his future grandson, Nate (NICK ZANO) about their need to obtain the fragment of the Spear of Destiny so they can protect it from the Legion of Doom. They tell him that there's no place on Earth that the Spear is safe -- something he knows. Which is why the Spear isn't hidden on Earth. Behind him, we see a photo of Neil Armstrong planting the United States flag. It's hidden in the flagpole.
That should be safe enough, and Ray tells Henry that he can go back to saving the Apollo 13 mission. The problem? The mission doesn't need saving. It's all going textbook. Which means history has changed. And as the Odyssey goes to the dark side of the moon, we see Astronaut John Swigert knock his companions unconscious, before reverting to his natural identity -- of Eobard Thawne (MATT LETSCHER), the Reverse-Flash from the future.
"Moonshot" is a mixed bag of emotions for a LEGENDS OF TOMORROW episode. On the one hand, it has the off-the-wall quality the series revels in, with Martin Stein (VICTOR GARBER) and Mick Rory (DOMINIC PURCELL) creating a distraction in Mission Control -- by breaking out into a version of "Day-o!" so that Jax (FRANZ DRAMEH) can secretly cut communications. On the other side, we have some intense emotional moments, as Nate sees a way to fix his tumultuous childhood by helping his grandfather return home so he can be a father to Nate's father, Hank. Amaya reminds him that he could alter his history right out of existence by doing so, and Nate responds by telling her about her own future learned from Ray -- about the destruction of Zambezi, and her future superhero granddaughter, Mari McCabe.
Ray's thrill at being on the moon is contagious. When he is forced to team up with Thawne later for them both to survive, you can see the hopeful Boy Scout in him. And when it's time to stop Thawne upon return to Earth, it's Ray who's the one who man's up, with full knowledge that Thawne is a time remnant trying to outrun whatever's trying to "fix" his mistake of existence.
And if you do not tear up at the scene with Henry, Nate and Amaya as the disabled Waverider tries to re-enter Earth's atmosphere, then you probably stepped out of the room for a snack at this moment, because it's heartbreaking.
We end the episode with Rip coming to terms about Sara's place as captain of the Waverider, while Amaya asks Gideon to show her everything that happens to Zambezi after her return, despite Gideon's cautions against this.
The real question remaining for me at the end of the episode is this: Doesn't anyone aboard the Command Module or on the ground wonder what happened to John Swigert?
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