With the second season finale of "Legends of Tomorrow" come many huge changes, as the team prepares to do the one thing they know they shouldn't: Revisit a past event they've already changed. That's clearly going to screw things up for whatever the third season of "Legends" is going to look like -- but as showrunner Phil Klemmer tells us, that's just par for the course with this show.
Klemmer spoke with Screener about what to expect from the Season 2 finale, the challenges of existing in the "Arrow"-verse, and how they plan to pull off a third season unlike anything we've seen before. And of course, he gives a little insight into whether the team will be able to save Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) after she was killed by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miler) in the penultimate episode...
It's no secret that the Legends revisiting an event they'd already changed is bad news -- and now in the Season 2 finale, that's exactly what's happening. What can you tell us about the episode?
I guess I'll say this: We have to follow through on our promise. I think people would hate us if the Legends were able to perform this feat without any consequence... If this were a typical "Legends" episode, and ended with, "Alright, we didn't get a lot of style points but we succeeded." This really has to be different than a random episode throughout the season.
As a show, it's always been designed to reinvent itself at the end of every season, whether that's with the mythology or the characters or the stakes. The blocks that we build with are not designed to last from one season to the next. We've loved Season 2 and could continue writing this forever, but I don't think that would be true to the spirit of the show, which is supposed to be wildly unpredictable and zany.
We had to have a seismic shift for our story, and one that will leave people scratching their heads for the next five months or whatever. I think the show is at its best when you watch an episode and honestly don't know how the hell you got there. We never could have predicted that we would do an episode about George Lucas, or "Land of the Lost" dinosaurs. You can get a little too comfortable and we got good at doing the Season 2 thing. That's precisely the moment where you have to blow the canon up again, you know? Crash this beautiful ship of ours and see where you land.
It's scary -- but it's a challenge that I know, when we all sit down in the writers' room for the first day of work, everybody's going to be on the edge of their seat and eager to start talking, because nobody knows where we're headed. And that's exciting and terrifying.
While 'Legends' is telling a unique story, it still exists in a shared universe -- your actions can be felt on other shows. Is that a line you have to walk -- debating how much to blow up so it doesn't impact 'Arrow' or 'The Flash'?
It is funny. Kevin Smith said at Paleyfest how Barry has suffered endlessly for making one mistake, and we've sort of made a habit out of it. Usually when we're in the Waverider and we're traveling through time, we're thinking the crossover is really the only time we have to make our worlds harmonious.
But you're right, we have maybe made a really difficult challenge for ourselves. You'll see in the last 45 seconds a different kind of mistake than we've ever made before -- and the challenge of Season 3 is going to be coming up with a new mission-of-the-week... Because it's not as easy as going back in time and keeping George Lucas in film school. That's going to seem like a very two-dimensional surgical strike, compared to the historical messes that we have to clean up as a result of what we do in this finale. It's exponentially more complicated.
That's exciting! At the end of Season 1 we got a taste of the Justice Society, which gave an idea of what Season 2 would entail. It sounds like by the end of this episode, we'll have no idea what next year looks like...
Exactly! We've certainly talked about it, and we have plans -- but until you start writing and until you start shooting, you never know. It takes a lot of faith, to take a show that's working and a show you love, and completely change the formula. We're like McDonald's throwing out the secret sauce recipe, and having to come up with a new better secret sauce every year.
This year you deconstructed the team and rebuilt them as something completely new. Many of the same members, but so much about the characters evolved. Are you happier with them now than at the end of Season 1?
We're enormously happy, which perhaps makes it seem insane that we're willing to do the same thing again ... in a way. At the start of every season, we look at the characters individually and start talking about what we want their arc to be. I think the danger is finding dynamics that feel too comfortable. As a writer, you never want the beats or the lines or the quips or the jokes to come too easy, because then you're doing something by rote.
Having Sara, the estranged assassin, becoming a leader is fascinating -- but you can't just leave her as leader. Having Jax tell his coming-of-age story aboard the ship, and becoming the engineer, and finding parity in his relationship with Stein is all great, and satisfying -- but you can't just leave it there. You can't have people plateau.
Unfortunately, that means you often times have to make things hard on characters you love... You don't get the sweet without a little sour.
Speaking of sour, I wanted to touch on Amaya's death in the last episode, which was just heartbreaking. Clearly we'll see her when the Legends encounter their past selves -- but will they be looking for a way to save her?
I think the essence of the show is that the Legends do the wrong thing for the right reasons. At its core, they are always trying to do something for the greater good. They're trying to wrestle the Spear of Destiny from these people that have it.
What's fun is to give them their own sort of side agendas. By having Nate (Nick Zano) fall in love with her, this guy who's a champion of history, to force people to wrestle between their personal impulses and superhero impulses -- the Legends always go with their personal impulses, which is why none of them are pure superheroes. None of them are Superman, none of them will unfailingly do the right thing. People like Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) mostly do the wrong thing.
But the trick is coming up with a character where you understand why he's doing it. When he betrays his team you can hate him, but you know where he's coming from: That's the beauty of our show. Cumulatively, they add up to a superhero -- but individually they're all so human and driven by their human failings.
At the end of the season, obviously they'll succeed in one sense and fail in another huge one. The longer they travel through time, the more they fix, but the more they screw up. It's great because it's like a broken vase that they keep trying to put back together by gluing it. It just keeps getting more and more mangled. They're trying their hardest, but they can't help dropping it again and again and again...
The Season 2 finale of "Legends of Tomorrow" airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. A third season has been ordered.