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Recap / Legends of Tomorrow S1E5 "Fail-Safe"

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As the team scrambles to save their captured comrades, Stein does his best to resist Soviet demands to help them build their own Firestorm


Tropes:

  • The '80s: The episode is still set in 1986 until the final two scenes.
  • Actor Allusion: Roy calls Ray "Boy Scout." One of the nicknames of Superman, whom Brandon Routh played in Superman Returns, is "The Big Blue Boy Scout".
  • Adaptational Villainy: While Mikhail didn't do much in the last episode, this one cements him as a sadistic monster. His comic book counterpart is a superhero.
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  • Bad Future: The outcome of a Soviet Firestorm is America being conquered by the turn of the millennium. The last holdout is Star City. After the team fixes the past, Star City's destruction is postponed, but as the end of the episode proves, it has still gone to hell by 2046.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Mick Rory takes back what he said about "going Rocky IV on [Arkadin's] ass"... because Ivan Drogo lived at the end of the movie.
  • Being Good Sucks: Ray standing up for a frail old man in the Gulag only got him a major pummeling from a tough alpha prisoner.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While it had been shown in the last episode, this one focuses on how the beautiful and cultured Valentina is just as much a twisted monster as Savage is, willing to kill hundreds of innocent people in her quest to create a Firestorm.
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  • Break Them by Talking: Stein gives this lecture to Vostok, telling her that the regime she is supporting is doomed to collapse on itself and that she is on the wrong side of history.
  • Call-Back:
    • Stein delivers the same speech he gave Eiling about not wanting his work used to perversion to Vostok.
    • Jax uses the "Looper-method" Ronnie used when Stein was kidnapped by Eilling. Unfortunately, Vostok sees the wound and had a Eureka Moment.
    • Ronnie's apparent death and Jax's Career-Ending Injury both become a plot points.
    • Rip reclaims his pocket watch from Savage.
    • Koshmar, the gulag is the same one that appeared in the season 2 episode of Arrow "Keep Your Enemies Closer."
  • Continuity Cameo: Sort of. Cisco appears in the beginning as a hallucination of Stein's, but "Cisco" is actually Vostok.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • After his struggle across the prison yard, Jax sarcastically says "Barry Allen who?"
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    • Mick continues to taunt Arkadin with Rocky IV.
    • The Palmer building has now 'Smoak' as its logo.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Vostok took the time to build a second core in case something ever happened to the other one.
  • Decomposite Character: The "Soviet Firestorm" in the comics was Mikhail Arkadin. Here Mikhail appears as a guard and Vostok becomes the Soviet Firestorm.
  • Defiant to the End: While he doesn't die, Mick keeps insulting Mikhail Arkadin while being tortured.
  • Doomed Hometown: Sara and Ray are horrified to see a Bad Future of Star City in 2046.
  • Double Entendre: Vostok asking Stein if he's fused with a woman before, and saying "We will make great firestorm together"
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Vostok clearly enjoys herself after becoming Firestorm.
  • Eagleland: Both Prof. Stein and Ray make few pro-American statements from time to time. Notably Stein recognizes the USA is by no means perfect, but he still considers that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
  • Electric Torture: Used on Mick Rory and Ray Palmer.
  • Eureka Moment: Vostok realizes that Stein is one half of Firestorm due to seeing the wound made by Jax.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Snart strongly disagrees with the thought of executing Stein. No matter what crimes he committed, he never betrayed any of his colleagues.
  • Exty Years from Now: The episode is set in 1986, exactly 30 years from the show's "present", and in the final scene they end up in 2046, exactly 30 years into the show's future.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The opening scene makes you believe that it's a flashback.
  • Fan Disservice: Ray and Mick simultaneously provide a Shirtless Scene... during a torture session.
  • Fanservice: Rip, Ray and Mick appear shirtless. Averted with Captain Cold who wears a bathrobe. For the guys, Vostok wears a tight leather outfit near the end.
  • Fish out of Water: Ray really doesn't grasp the severity of being in a gulag, much to Mick's annoyance.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Stein asserts a massive amount of willpower to stop Vostok from blasting Jax, enabling the latter to break the merge altogether.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Bratva Captain: If your friends are there, they must be insane, ruthless, animals.
    cuts to
    Ray: Hey. Howdy. How you doing?
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: It takes both Ray and Stein a while to realize that Valentina isn't being forced into this but is just as ruthless and sadistic as Savage is. Stein especially is amazed a woman of such intelligence could waste her talents on a madman but soon realizes it's because she wants the power.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Vostok's outfit when she fuses with Stein.
  • Ignored Expert: Stein tries to tell Vostok that a quantum splicer is necessary to stabilize the Firestorm matrix. She doesn't listen, and at the end, she goes critical.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Jax pleaded Stein to fight back against Vostok, and is successful in doing so when Stein restrained Vostok from blasting Jax away.
  • Implacable Man: Chronos once again tracks the heroes down at the end of the episode.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Leonard Snart makes his most blatant Actor Allusion in the Arrowverse to date.
    Snart: This isn't my first Prison Break.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The new Green Arrow is immediately suspicious of this strange group of people who just crashed into his city, not recognizing any of their names.
  • Male Gaze: For all the female Fanservice this episode, Vostok provides one for the males by showing her legs, decent cleavage shots and wearing a skin-tight leather outfit.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Vostok is talking about the Soviet Firestorm project, she calls it "my dream of creating a nuclear man." "The Nuclear Man" is Firestorm's Red Baron in the comics, and has been the subtitle for most of Firestorm's various solo series ("Men", in the case of the 2011 series).
    • While she seems destroyed, Word of God is that Vostok has been transformed into Negative Woman, a long-running character of the Doom Patrol (and her identity from the comics).
  • Modesty Towel: Mostly during the sauna scene.
  • Moment Killer: Chronos attacks The Waverider just when The Legends are having a drinking celebration.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    Rip: Savage knows that Stein created Firestorm, but if he finds out that he is Firestorm...
    Snart: Always Savage with you, isn't it? My partner's in prison, too.
    Sara: And Ray.
    Snart: Yeah, whatever.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Jax cutting a message into his arm let Vostok find out that Stein was the other half of Firestorm.
  • Noble Demon: Token Evil Teammates Snart and Mick both show honorable sides. For the former, it's the refusal to kill one of his own and giving a conflicted member a needed You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech. For the latter, it's his refusal to leave someone behind for a favor that person owe him.
  • No Body Left Behind: Vostok explodes after being defused with Stein without using the Quantum Splicer.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Poor Ray is on the receiving end of two of those.
    • Earlier Rip is on the receiving end from a Russian mobster
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Still mad about Ray's stupidity last episode, Snart is very tempted to leave him behind, but Mick insists upon rescuing Ray since he took a beating for him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
  • Oh, Crap!: All the cells open as Snart, Rory, and Ray make their escape, at which Rory has the aghast realization "We're dressed as guards!"
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Stein realizes that "Cisco" is not actually Cisco due to the way he dress and his mannerisms.
  • The Power of Friendship: Jax tells Stein to fight against Volstok while they've merged.
  • Prison Episode: Much of the episode is set in the Gulag.
  • Prison Riot: The main characters' main distraction for the villains is to set the inmates free.
  • Recycled Premise: The Rescue Arc in the Gulag was actually done in an early episode of Arrow Season 2. Bonus points for also including the involvement of the Bratva, a sniper (Deadshot/Sara), an "Anti-Hero" wanting to save their most trusted ally (Waller to Lyla/Snart to Mick) and a member of the main cast confronting the person who killed their loved ones (Diggle and Deadshot/Rip and Savage).
  • Rescue Arc: The episode is for Prof. Stein's, Ray's and Mick's rescue.
  • Shirtless Scene: Used for both Fanservice and Fan Disservice. For the Fanservice, it's Rip during the sauna. For the Fan Disservice, it's Ray and Mick during their torture scene.
  • Shout-Out: Rocky IV is brought up by Mick once again.
  • Shoot the Dog: Rip's contingency plan is for Sara to kill Prof. Stein if he breaks or/and comply to the Russians.
  • Take That!: The anti-LGBT laws of Putin's government (previously a big reason why the Arrowverse crews were none too happy to be preempted for the Winter Olympics when Russia was hosting) take a big hit when Stein gives his "Break Them by Talking" lecture about America winning the Cold War, and ends with the fact that in America people can "love whoever we want." It hits especially hard as Victor Garber is gay.
  • Terminology Title: "Fail-Safe" or fail-secure device is one that, in the event of a specific type of failure, responds in a way that will cause no harm, or at least a minimum of harm, to other devices or to personnel (In short, a contingency plan).
  • Trash the Set: Vostok takes most of the Gulag with her when she explodes.
  • Undying Loyalty: Vostok towards Savage. Combined with Horrible Judge of Character.
  • Villainous Crush: Vostok seems to have one towards Stein, constantly complimenting him on his mind and asking him if he's "fused with a woman".
  • Visual Pun: Vostok becoming Firestorm = She's hot.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Rip and Sara agree that killing Stein for the Greater Good may be a Necessary Evil. However, Snart talks Sara out of it and Rip changes his tune after a talk with Jax and Kendra.
  • Wham Shot: The Legends arrive in Star City, thirty years after they left...and encounter a Green Arrow who is not Oliver Queen.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The main plot has Wentworth Miller breaking Dominic Purcell out of prison. Yeah, we've seen that before.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Snart assures Sara that her hesitation to kill Stein is a good thing.
  • Your Mom: Ray uses this to insult his and Mick's torturer.
    Arkadin: What are you doing?
    Ray: Nothing compared to what I did to your mother last night.
    Arkadin: You have quite a mouth on you.
    Ray: So does she.

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