Saddle up, Legends fans! Everyone's favorite B-list superheroes went back to the Wild West again this week, because just one episode of the Legends getting drunk and wrecking a saloon wasn't enough. As we'd hoped, "Outlaw Country" was great fun, featuring the return of the grizzled Jonah Hex, whose rivalry with Sara (sorry) Captain Lance provided both characters with some nice development.
But actually, the most interesting part of the episode wasn't the time the Legends spend in the Old West — though we gotta say, that bar fight rivaled the one from Season 1. Sara should always fight with a whip, Indiana Jones style.
Most of the episode was a pretty straightforward oneshot, apart from Stein's little dilemma — and if you were waiting for a sign that the Legends' mission to protect the timeline had gone horribly awry, this is probably it.
A Life Rewritten
Throughout the episode, Stein spends most of the time in the Waverider suffering from headaches and flashes of a woman he doesn't know. But as he reveals to Jax later on, although he's never met her, Stein is in love with the mystery woman.
"What if when you interacted with your younger self in 1987, you—" "inadvertently changed my past, so that my memories from my new life are supplanting the memories from my old life, thus creating temporal dissonance."
The obvious implications of this are pretty bad — it seems as though this woman has replaced Clarissa in Stein's affections, and it could be that when the Legends travel back to (the future) 2016, Clarissa and Stein aren't even married. This makes for a poignant emotional thread about the perils of time travel, and we're left wondering how Stein can ever put things right with Clarissa.
It feels very natural too, as this even goes back to the first time Stein encountered his younger self in the 70s, when he gave the young man a stern talking to about his future. But Stein's good intentions may have just injected the younger Marty with a keen sense of ambition he didn't have before — we witnessed how, in 1987, Marty's desire to get ahead in his career jeopardized his relationship with Clarissa.
Time travel is a difficult concept to write well, and Legends of Tomorrow can be very heavy-handed in the ease with which things go wrong and are subsequently corrected. Even the smallest of changes can ripple out and have huge consequences, and it seems as though Stein's encounters with his younger self have done just that.
The Wider Implications
But this alteration might not just affect Stein. If the course of Stein's life is altered, then this threatens the reality of both the Legends of Tomorrow, and the timeline on The Flash. After all, Martin Stein first appeared in Legends of Tomorrow's parent-show, and he helped save the day on many occasions.
The fact is, we have no idea what impact this mystery woman will have on the younger Marty's life. She may guide him in a different direction, meaning he may never work on the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M project — which would have disastrous consequences for The Flash, rewriting a lot of Seasons 1 and 2.
That's a worst-case scenario though. But because of Stein's role in the events of The Flash, this change in his life could cause some pretty huge time aberrations, ones that could be too complicated for the Legends to fix. Forget Barry Allen saving his mother's life: Stein meeting his younger self may create a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum!
Look, if the Legends can quote Back to the Future all the time, then so can I.
(And don't think I didn't notice that Sara shooting Jonah down from his noose this episode was straight out of Back to the Future Part III, because I did.)
Of course, it's possible that this alteration to the timeline only affects Stein, but considering how vital his work on F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. has been to both the Legends and the Flash, suffice it to say that there's the potential here for some far-reaching consequences.
Which is quite refreshing really, as the turnaround from the Legends screwing up history every week, to effortlessly saving it, has been quite jarring thus far. As they say in the introduction to each episode, the Legends aren't heroes.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think Stein's mistake will rewrite history?