Warning: Spoiler Alert
Legends has been billed as “Sean Bean’s epic return to television”. I don’t know how epic it will be, considering short of Game of Thrones, I am inclined to think of Sean Bean as a movie actor first. However, it feels like a show that has legs. The cast is formidable. Sean Bean, Ali Larter (Heroes), Tina Majorino (Napoleon Dynamite-can’t believe I’m referencing that), Steve Harris (Minority Report), Morris Chestnut (V, Boyz in tha Hood). There seems to be an apparent ‘episodic’ vs ‘series long’ arcs that will play tug of war along the way. The question is, “Is Legends more Blacklist or more Hawaii Five-O”? Come to think of it, Hawaii Five-O is not a bad comparison. I am hoping it is more like the Blacklist, but there are a series of parallels one could make from Hawaii Five-O and the pilot episode of Legends. Regardless of which is which, rest assured, NJATVS will cover anything we believe has potential. Until such a time as we are confident the potential will never be reached. Here’s to hoping Legends lives up.
Legends drops us right into a national tragedy. An explosion perpetrated by the “Citizens Army of Virginia”. Nine months later, we find Martin Odum (Sean Bean) taking in target practice outside of the base of operations for the Citizen Army of Virginia. Odum looks like a typical middle-aged, down on his luck, man. He is asked inside. There begins the interrogation of Odum’s (or in this case Lincoln’s) loyalties. It is also the first opportunity we have to see Odum master one of his ‘legends’ or deep cover identities.
As my experience with Sean Bean is somewhat limited to roles like The Island, National Treasure, Lord of the Rings, and Patriot Games (most of which he was type-casted or the roles required little range acting wise), I am pleasantly surprised with this first performance of Lincoln. Lincoln is a middle-aged, divorcee, with no job, some anger about the country, a stutter, and a general social awkwardness that is not easy to portray. So far so good.
This meeting inside involves Lincoln growing impatient about not actually taking action yet. His loyalty is questioned by Russell (played by Brad William Henke, who you may recognize as Coover Bennett from Justified). Lincoln in the middle of the room, forced to explain himself to the room with the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of his neck. As it turns out, nothing more than an initiation ritual. Just then the ATF busts in on a weapons warrant. Odum neutralizes the room, saves his CI (actively engaged in this undercover job), and informs the ATF agent of who he is and that they just screwed a 6 month op.
The second scene of this pilot episode is going to turn out to be the thing that tries my patience. Martin drives up to a suburban home. He sees a strange man in a green hooded jacket trudged by but Martin does nothing about it. There is a kid playing in the front yard (around 10 years old or so). We instantly figure out that Martin is the kid’s father. The kid is very excited to see him, especially since he wasn’t “expected”. Quickly the mother walks outside. She is much less excited to see Martin. When the kid goes inside we learn exactly what I probably don’t have to tell you. Martin and the woman are divorced, and have been for some time. He is not permitted to come and go as he pleases (probably based on a court’s ruling). And he hands her a check. Suffice it to say, the mother will never endear herself to me. My fear is that it becomes like The Unit. Love the action and the protecting the country part. Not so crazy about the home life story lines.
Martin is later seen debating the merits of a baseball trade to an employee in what looks like a typical Chinese restaurant. Mid conversation, Martin sees the same man in the green jacket off in the distance. He gives chase, but to no avail. After getting home, an empty and drab apartment, Martin gets a phone call from Russell. The Citizen Army thing is still on. In response to the ATF raid, they decide to hit back hard. Martin or ‘Lincoln’ is to meet the ‘Founding Father’ tomorrow.
At the field office, Martin meets with Yates (Steve Harris) Director of CIA Task Force. The relationship between Martin and Yates seems to be amicable. Martin’s relationship with Crystal (Ali Larter) is much less so. As the point person for CIA field ops, she’s naturally inclined to be hostile toward an agent who cuts her out. There is also a history between these two that delves into a sexual nature. Clearly, that is a situation as Crystal describes as “two consenting adults that made a mistake”.
The more open and willing to play team ball version of Martin (at least for now) sits down with Crystal and her team to brainstorm how this meeting with the Founding Father will go. They spit out standard operating procedures and Martin comes back with why they have to do it differently. While he is trying to explain his cover story, he actually slips into Lincoln’s character without noticing it. Crystal sends him home. The important take away from this scene is that we witnessed the first (I assume not the last) time Martin falls in and out of a certain character. Was it just a slip up or a pattern of a more serious problem?
On his way home he spots the man in the green jacket again. This time he does in fact catch up to the man. There is a physical altercation between Martin and the mystery man on a subway platform. They exchange blows as if they had similar training. When Martin goes down temporarily, the man asks if he is Martin Odum? Before Martin can respond the man says, “there is no Martin Odum”. Insert Jason Bourne reference here. This feels eerily like a detail from the Bourne series. Difference being, there is no amnesia here.
Martin knocks on Bobby’s door. Bobby is a techie on Crystal’s team. Martin gives him a flash drive with subway surveillance footage on it. Martin is hoping Bobby can clean up the image enough to identify the man in the green jacket.
Martin transforms into Lincoln in a public rest room. Crystal positions herself with the TACT team on location. Maggie and the rest of the team are in a control room monitoring the situation. Maggie says we have a problem. Russell has not checked in. That’s because Russell is being interrogated and tortured by the Founding Father, who still has reservations about Russell and Martin. Anticipating that Russell may roll on Martin Crystal gets an idea.
We find Martin, The Founding Father’s lieutenant and a couple of goons in a strip club. Martin is in full Lincoln character mode while the rest of the men look like they are being forced to sit through a seminar. Then a woman in lingerie shows up talking sweet and flirty. The woman is Crystal. Using the cover of a stripper to get Martin alone in a private dance room so that she can update him on the potential threat to his cover. He assures her that Russell would never roll over on him.
Outside the strip club, the goons put Lincoln on his knees. While on the phone with the Founding Father, trying to run deep background on Lincoln. This is a scene everyone’s seen time and time again. The operative is in a compromising situation (i.e. gun to his head). While presumably the head bad guy, along with some techie, search the internet to see if his story checks out. While they are searching the under cover team is frantically trying to fill in the gaps with fake information as the operative is changing the story in real-time. In this case, Crystal (still as the stripper) comes running out to find a gun to the back of Lincoln’s head. Together they are able to buy enough time for the TACT team to get into position.
In a rundown motel that the Citizens Army people put Lincoln in, Crystal shows up unannounced. She came to tell Martin directly that the Chicago PD found Russell’s body.
Normally I wouldn’t spend too much time on a detail like this. However, this scene lets us in further to who Martin is. Not Lincoln, but Martin. After hearing this news, his immediate thought is to do something for Russell’s family. Crystal resists as Russell was not an agent. He was a CI that was also undercover. Not exactly sanctioned. But it seems, at least as far as Martin is concerned, right is right.
Lincoln gets picked up in what looks like a typical downtown street in Chicago. He is taken to a less downtown looking auto-body garage. They have lined a police cruiser with C4 explosive. In short order the plan starts to make sense. They want Lincoln to be the driver of this mobile bomb in order to drive it into this major financial building and thus taking out 10,000 people and significant financial records. Destroying financial records being the go to step #1 for any anarchy attempt.
Lincoln is immediately informed that he will be accompanied by the Founding Father (played by Zeliko Ivanek-Heroes) himself. The Founding Father, as you might image he would, fires into this high and might concept that Lincoln will fire the first shot of the revolution. Meanwhile there is activity outside with the TACT team. One of the Citizen Army guys picks up radio interference. Crystal’s voice is clear as day saying, “We have a man on the inside”. Naturally, everyone looks to Lincoln. He swiftly grabs a gun from one of them and starts picking guys off, just as the TACT team comes busting through every entry point possible.
The Founding Father emerges holding the detonator. Thinking he’s in control, he threatens to blow the car and kill everyone. Then just as seamless as the meeting in the field office, Lincoln becomes Martin. With his natural accent Martin advances towards the Father slowly. He is able to get close enough to secure the Father’s thumb over the trigger until the FBI team is able to disarm the bomb mechanism.
Father: You! Get behind the wheel, we’re getting outta here…
Martin: No you won’t.
Father (pointing at Martin): You stand down or I’ll take us all out, right here right now.
Martin: I don’t think so. If you were going to do it, you would have done it already.
Streeter: What are you waiting for? Do it!
Martin: Go ahead, do it.
Streeter: Do it!
Martin: That’s right. Because you wanted me to do it. So you could watch.
(Martin, slides his thumb over the trigger, snatches it and slams the Father onto the hood of a car)
As soon as it’s safe, Martin grabs his coat and storms out. Immediately we hear the voice of the man in the green jacket in his head. “You don’t know where your life ends and your legend begins”.
Back at Bobby’s apartment, he is closing in on who the mystery man is. The cracks the security on the file. Then masculine hands wearing a green jacket put a cloth over his face.
Martin back in the field office talking to Maggie, he discovers that Bobby is not present even though he should be. He goes to Bobby’s apartment to find him dead. Later, Martin’s cell phone rings. It’s the man in the green jacket telling Martin to meet him at the subway station. The entire trip to the subway station, Martin keeps the man on the phone. The man has something to give him. Clearly there is a whole piece of this story yet to be told. The man is getting anxious. At that moment he says, “they could be watching”, a pleasant brunette walks by and stabs him. The man lives long enough to give Martin a small book that should have “the answer”.
No doubt we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the series arc. If we’re lucky, the episodic nature of the show will follow that of the Blacklist. A new bad guy/group to stop each week, while continuing to feed the larger series arc along the way.
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