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Rip and the team must stop a Time Master assassin from hunting down their younger selves

Following up last week’s Jonah Hex-starring Western adventure was a tall order, but Legends of Tomorrow took things to a new level of suspense with their twelfth episode, “Last Refuge.”

The Time Masters have initiated the Omega Protocol and sent their most fearsome assassin, The Pilgrim (Faye Kingslee), to murder each member of Rip’s team in the past, thus also eliminating them in the present. Confused? It’s a lot of timey-wimey mumbo-jumbo, aptly directed by Doctor Who veteran Rachel Talalay, with some fantastic visual sequences.

Related: Photo Gallery for Legends of Tomorrow 1×13, “Leviathan”

The team begin rounding up their younger selves, starting with teenage Mick (Mitchell Kummen), who has just burned down his home with his parents inside. Next, they barely stop a rampaging Pilgrim as she attempts to take out young Sara (Katy Lotz) in 2007 as she visits her dad at the police station. Paul Blackthorne guest-stars as Detective Lance with an absolutely fabulous head of hair, by the way.

At this point, The Pilgrim begins employing some kind of stealth technology to cover her tracks throughout the timeline, making it impossible for Gideon to predict her movements. They find her soon enough, though, when Ray (Brandon Routh) suddenly starts receiving internal injuries out of thin air — just as he’s about to propose to Kendra (Ciara Renée). After stopping The Pilgrim’s attack on Ray at Palmer Tech in 2014, Rip (Arthur Darvill) proposes a new plan: abduct the remaining team members as newborns so they’re removed from the timeline.

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They start with baby Snart and baby Stein (whose parents give him up shockingly easily), and then move on to infant Jefferson. When Professor Stein (Victor Garber) spots Jefferson’s soon-to-be-deceased soldier father at the hospital, though, he gives the two a chance to have the meeting they were denied before.

They take their younger selves to a place called the Refuge, a Time Master orphanage whose location is hidden from time and space. Rip reveals that he himself was raised in the Refuge by its headmistress, Mother Xavier (the always fabulous Celia Imrie — yet another transplant from Doctor Who, this time from 2013’s “The Bells of Saint John”). Interestingly, it’s also revealed that Rip’s real first name is “Michael,” possibly in a nod to the comic books, where Rip Hunter is the son of superhero Booster Gold, AKA Michael Jon Carter.

The plan soon backfires, though, when The Pilgrim contacts the Waverider to reveal she has now collected the team’s loved ones and will kill them unless they surrender. Rip offers an alternative, though: his own younger self. If he is eliminated as a child, he will never become a Time Master and assemble the team in the first place.

Meeting at an abandoned Time Master outpost, the exchange goes according to plan until Atom, White Canary, and Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) launch a surprise attack. The Pilgrim uses her time-shifting abilities to freeze everyone in their tracks (with one of the coolest one-take shots seen in ages), but is soon attacked by a surprising foe — young Rip (Aiden Longworth). He stabs her twice in the leg, telling her, “you don’t know me at all, Miss.” With her hold on them relinquished, the team finishes their simultaneous attack, leaving The Pilgrim as a pile of ash.

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In the end, the team’s loved ones are given amnesia pills and Kendra accepts Ray’s proposal (which seems sudden until you remember they spent two years stranded together in the 1950s). There’s a problem, though: the Omega Protocol is still in effect and the longer they leave their younger selves at the Refuge, the greater the risk that they will be permanently removed from the timeline; already Professor Stein’s wife has forgotten him. Rip decides they have no other options left, they must attack Vandal Savage at the height of his power in 2166.

Related: Vandal Savages Divides the Team in Upcoming Legends of Tomorrow Episode, “River of Time”

“Last Refuge” continues Legends of Tomorrow‘s path of getting better and better each week, quickly becoming appointment television as welcoming as its siblings, Arrow and The Flash. Next week, the team teams up with Vandal Savage’s daughter (!) in a last-ditch effort to take him down once and for all.

We’ll have continuing coverage of the remaining episodes this season, so be certain to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates!