Legends 1.03 Review: “Lords of War”

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Before we start the review of Legends, I’d like to personally apologize for the tardiness of the review. Totally my fault; had something come up last night and then spent all day today busy. I wasn’t able to get to the episode until now. So, my bad.

With that aside, lets get started.

If you’ve been reading my reviews at all, you know how critical I’ve been of the show. Very critical, in fact. Justifiably so. It’s been a clichéd mess of a clichéd mess. Not much about this show had been original. This episode is a little bit different. That’s not to say its actually original; there is a lot of the show that is derivative and boring and stupid. But it also has its moments. It’s three episodes in and it’s on the move. They don’t let plot hang. The Tony Rice storyline is progressing forward nicely, painting a more complex picture of Agent Rice than before. It’s allowed the best parts (the character beats with Odum and Gates, Bean’s incredibly engaging performance) to take over the episode.

And the plot this week wasn’t terrible! Last week, dealing with the same storyline, it was terribly boring. I couldn’t have given less of a shit about what was going on. And to be honest I’m not even sure what they did different this episode, to change my feelings on this. But it was so, so much better. The opening scene, in which the good Russian-American doctor Alexander Nevelsky bashes in the head of his guards, frees his family, and nearly escapes the compound, was 100x more dynamic and exciting and real than the whole episode preceding it. Odum’s legend is better too. As Dante Auerbach, Bean gets to swagger around, but also shown a vulnerable side. Yes, I know his previous characters showed “vulnerability” but for whatever reason it just worked better this time.

Oh, and man, his chemistry with Necar Zadegan (who plays arms broker Ana Paulanos) is just off the charts. There’s a really great scene in which Zadegan and Bean are having a drink, trying to close a deal. Bean is telling fake Auerbach stories, playing his cover well. Zadegan is smiling, laughing, enjoying herself, but there’s something more there: if you look really closely, her smile and her laughter is not so much about enjoyment, but about satisfaction. She’s pulled something over on him. She’s played him. She’s got guys searching his apartment to verify his identity. It’s a really good bit of acting. The whole episode was worth watching just for that scene.

There’s also much more character fleshing than ever before. The mad colonel Yuri whose forcing Alexander Nevelsky to make VX gas it filled in. Ana Paulanos is filled in. Auerbach is filled in. Even Bean’s Odum is filled in! All of them have various little quirks and histories that reveal new and interesting sides.

But that’s also what’s so frustrating, too. The writing of the show remains, at best, a C-. Every interesting thing they bring forth is layered with mounds of shitty writing. Stop selling Odum’s brilliance! Stop saying the persons name in dialogue, in every piece of dialogue! Stop having Larter’s McGuire be the negative nancy because Odum is “unorthodox!” Do SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Let these characters play! LET MY PEOPLE FREE!

No. But for real; this show should be better. The cast is working hard. Bean is dropping actor-bombs like it’s the end of the world. Legends is actually showing signs of potential. I just hope it doesn’t get tv troped to death before it gets there. This is the second episode of this particular story arc, and it feels like its going to be here for a while. Which makes the pilot episode even more strange in hindsight, because it feels so disconnected with the rest of the show. I don’t know. Let’s hope next week improves to the degree that this one did.

See you next week.

[Photo via TNT]

Hunter Bishop is an aspiring television writer and novelist who spends too much time on the internet. Come visit him on Twitter @Hunter_Bishop!
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