Sunday, February 7, 2016

Legend -- Episode 3: Legend on his President's Secret Service

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
A woman saves Legend's life and then tells him that her father is planning to harm President Ulysses S. Grant.  Legend goes to Grant to warn him, and Grant asks him to gather intelligence on the plot.  

Memorable Quote:
Oh please, nobody wants to read a melodrama about an aristocratic Southern woman who barely survives the burning of Atlanta, c'mon.  ~Legend

Hilarious moment where Legend is walking down the hall of the hotel with Abigail just as Henrietta happens to open her door.  Legend had planned a "tension releasing" visit with Henrietta, but Abigail first comes to his room and tells him that his life is in danger.  So as Legend and Abigail leave to see the Sheriff and encounter Henrietta, they have this exchange:
  • "Found someone else to help you release all that tension, have you?"  ~Henrietta
  • "No, no, no!  I'm still quite tense!   Very tense."  ~Legend
  • "Release tension?"  ~Abigail
  • "Yes.  Henrietta is a master of the Yaku, an ancient form of Oriental massage used to relieve tension by manipulating nerve endings in the, uh, feet."  ~Legend

There are several parts of this episode that don't make any sense, but the ending is a disaster of epic proportions.  It starts out with Legend inexplicably pulling a gun on Grant and the First Lady and forcing them into his balloon.  Then the balloon follows the moving train which is then hijacked by Colonel Steele.  When Steele boards the train and goes to Grant's car, his daughter Abigail is sitting in a chair pretending to be Grant for no apparent reason.

Legend next boards the car and disarms Steele, and then he invites Steele to see Grant, despite the fact that Steele just hijacked the President's train.  And if Steele was to be allowed to meet Grant, why couldn't Grant have stayed on the train and then they could have met there?  And why did Abigail always believe that her father was going to assassinate Grant even though he continually told her and everyone else that he wasn't going to?  

And then we get to the last four minutes of the episode for which the the plot and dialogue are particularly excruciating.  Basically, Steele gets his wish (despite the fact that he hijacked the train!) which is to show Grant around the region to see the failed efforts of Reconstruction.  The First Lady takes it upon herself to authorize the tour, and Grant tells Potter, "Just do as she says." This is followed by Potter walking off into the desert as Legend says, "On your way, son."  Then they talk about how this tour will show the nation that people on different sides can work together, and Grant offers Legend a job in Washington.  You really have to see this scene to believe it.   

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The opening scene is great, and it's filmed cleverly as we start off seeing just RDA's face speaking and then we see that he's actually hanging by a rope with 20 guys around him.  I'm assuming that RDA was actually upside down this whole time (unless there's some trick with the camera that I can't understand), and it's very impressive how well he was able to carry on this long scene considering that it must have been pretty uncomfortable.
  • The director of this episode is Michael Vejar who directed 17 episodes of MacGyver and also The Lost Treasure of Atlantis
  • "If you believe her, Colonel Steele ate worm infested horsemeat for eight months in a prison camp while his wife enjoyed conjugal bliss with the Union Major."  ~Legend
  • Kind of a strange moment where Potter, Grant's chief Secret Serviceman, nastily threatens Legend with prosecution (and insinuating a hanging) if he doesn't try to get proof of Colonel Steele's assassination attempt.
  • Speaking of the Colonel, he doesn't seem to be all that upset with Abigail despite her numerous attempts to reveal his plan to Legend.
  • I feel like I'm watching MacGyver with some of this Ken Harrison music, especially during the scene where they're discovered outside the bunkhouse. 

Final Analysis:
It started out promising with a strong opening scene, the acting is mostly good, and I loved the dialogue with Henrietta.  But the rest of it was a bit slow, and the last ten minutes were a train wreck (which is fitting since it involves a train).  As for its ranking, I'm putting it behind Episode 2 but ahead of Episode 1 -- despite some flaws, at least there were some good moments, and Episode 1 was just so slow and long that I think it's going to be hard for a future episode to be underneath it. 


  1. If I remember right, there are several instances of literary reference - like your memorable quote that refers to 'Gone with the Wind'. Sort of like inside jokes.

    Now - the scene where Legend pulls a gun on Grant - even in the late 1800's, I'm pretty sure one isn't allowed to draw on the President w/o some serious repercussions. Add kidnapping of he and the FL and that's some serious potential treasonous action going on. How did Legend not get arrested?

    1. Not only that, but then Grant offers him a job in Washington!

    2. Grant: Hey, so you totally were gonna shoot me, you want a job? (paraphrased, obvs *g*)

      I dunno if this is commentary on the stupidity of presidents or someone doing writing that made no sense.

  2. I loved Episode 3. Sorry to disagree with you. Thought it was all delightful!

  3. I watched this one last night after the Super Bowl and had the same overall impressions. I don't think this was one of the original episodes I saw back in 1995 because it didn't look familiar at all. Like you I thought the opening scene was amusing and also marveled at how miserable RDA must have been filming those upside down scenes. I've always heard that nobody lasts long hanging upside down because of very serious blood flow issues materializing. I suppose it could have been a camera trick but it looked real to me. The promising start held some more promise in the first act and I looked forward to the idea of Pratt protecting President Grant.

    Unfortunately there was little in the second half that worked for me with the exception of the zipline from the hot air balloon to the train. I've always heard President Grant was a bumbling fool as President, a man trained as a general for the Army who was way beyond his depth as Commander in Chief. It would have been more compelling to play the role this way and have some of the lieutenants who he delegated power to be either incompetent or corrupt (as his real right-hand men were) leading up to the would-be assassination attempt. Instead, they played Grant straight and didn't seem to have any idea of how to wrap up the story in a satisfying way. I agree with your pecking order as this one didn't drag on quite as long as the pilot but it still deteriorated over the course of the hour. Episode 2 was definitely better though.

    1. Yeah, I agree that the portrayal of Grant in this episode didn't mesh with my interpretation of him based on what I've read. And that would be a good question for RDA, to ask him what it was like to hang upside down for that long.

  4. My sister and I watched this one together. We both liked when Bartok told Ramos to follow the train at a discreet distance. With a hot air balloon? Especially good since the next frame that showed the balloon practically looming over the train. How could Steele miss a hot air balloon? Our other favorite part was Abigail's feeble attempts to explain Legend's crash into her bedroom. I don't think the "dropped my bed" explanation would keep my Dad out of the room for very long, but--hey maybe I'll try it! Also hilarious to see Legend cowering behind the door waiting to see if the flimsy tale would work.
    Although the plot was a mess, fun to see RDA enjoying himself so much. Half of his acting makes me think I'm watching Macgyver, but there's enough of a selfish streak and almost-an-accent to make it unique. On youtube at the end of the episode is an old trailer for the next one. That was fun to see.

    1. Haha, yeah that excuse of "I dropped my bed" probably wouldn't hold much water!

  5. I'm totally with you on this one, Nick; at the beginning I thought this was going to be my favourite so far. Good opener with Legend upside down (poor RDA - he really threw himself into his roles) and amusing as Abigail witters on and on without actually helping him. Liked the mad-inventor ball lightning scene with Bartok and Ramos intent on their ground-breaking experiments while, this time, Pratt is talking incessantly. Loved the 'Gone with the Wind' joke. Once again Barok reminds Pratt of his moral duty. Apparently Nikola Tesla claimed he had successfully produced ball lightning (thanks Google!) but not quite on Bartok's scale. The Henrietta and Abigail scenes in the hotel were also amusing.

    Not knowing much about President Grant, it was interesting to find out the historical background, including the fact that he did, apparently, like a drink and obviously managed the reconstruction pretty poorly. But beyond that, my interest began to wane and like most here, I found the plot pretty ludicrous.

    The scene at the farm wasn't as exciting as it could have been and the last third of the episode was, basically,bonkers. I thought the same as Rebekah about the balloon and the discreet distance!

    I'm getting more used to RDA as Legend now and at least Pratt is now accepting the Legend role with only minor reluctance which fits better as the series progresses. In spite of a promising beginning, it ranks ahead of 1 and behind 2 for me as well.

    1. Kind of like MacGyver's "discreet" balloon escape from my favorite all-time episode!