Back in October, the New York Times compelled the internet with a classic hypothetical: Would you kill a baby Hitler? Would you be willing to kill a child, knowing that it would grow up to become the 20th century’s worst person, a genocidal dictator who nearly tore the world apart?
On Thursday, Legends of Tomorrow more or less answered that question in “Progeny,” an episode in which Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) and the Waverider crew travel to the year 2147 to stop Per Degaton (Cory Gruter-Andrew), the teen protege of Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from unleashing a virus that allows Savage to dominate the world. Coming off the excellent “Left Behind”, “Progeny” is simply a fun romp that has Legends still exploring its rich sci-fi influences while tackling bleak scenarios with colorful superheroes.
Would you kill baby Hitler? The Legends of Tomorrow version of “baby Hitler” is an awkward teenager (until he suddenly isn’t), but the team still tackles all sides of the quagmire in one ensemble scene.
The scene, if nothing else, reminds viewers exactly who these characters are. The super-villain Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), would kill Per Degaton without pause. Stein (Victor Garber), the team’s grandfather figure, begs them to consider the ramifications of their actions. Jax (Franz Drameh), a teenager himself, protests: it’s not Per’s fault that he will become an evil dictator. Billionaire genius Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) questions the scientific inevitability of Per’s rise to power. Kendra (Ciara Renée), a mother in her past life, proposes a humane option, such as leaving him in another time (which I’m personally not sure is any better).
Sadly, Sara (Caity Lotz) is pretty silent, but she’s also a warrior monk, so it figures that she would be detached, anyway. But the most surprising response comes from Rory (Dominic Purcell), the criminal-turned-bounty hunter, who thinks the whole thing is messed up. And, well, he turns out to be right, and after a whole bunch of disastrous decisions and mistakes, Per lives and the team manages to make it all worse.
Legends of Tomorrow approaches the end of its stellar 16-episode run, it was nice to be reminded that not everyone aboard the Waverider is merely a righteous do-gooder. They’re characters, people full of nuance.