Eobard Thawne (Matthew Letscher) is coming to next week's episode of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and after last night, fans now know what his role will be in the new season. In the episode, titled "The Fixed Point," the team travels back in time to save the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, stopping World War I. In actual fact, they didn't want to save Ferdinand, because it would do catastrophic damage to the timeline. Instead, they wanted to briefly save him, catching the attention of the corrupted Gideon and "evil Waverider" who have served as the season's big bad. The idea was, they could take over the alternate Waverider while the evil robot Legends were busy trying to clean up the timeline abberation and their Gideon was alone.
One little problem: time, in the DC Universe, has kind of an immune response to these huge moments being changed. As a result, Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) spends most of the episode trying and failing to save Ferdinand, then trying again and learning from her mistakes. While a never-ending line of time-travelers have attempted it before, and most have died, Sara's regenerative abilities allow her to, as she says, "live, die, repeat."
Of course, things are slightly more complicated than they appear, as Sara discovers the nature of time's "immune response," and it turns out to be a familiar face working against her interests. That's where Eobard Thawne comes in.
This is not the Thawne who recently appeared on The Flash, but a version who is picking up right where he left off when he was killed by the Black Flash in Legends of Tomorrow's second season finale. And, as noted above, he's played here by Matt Letscher, the "true face" of Thawne, rather than by Tom Cavanagh, who is the most commonly-seen version of Thawne, who uses the face of Harrison Wells.
Here, he has no access to the Negative Speed Force, but has been granted a device by the Time Wraiths that allows him to freeze time. He is stationed on the day of Ferdinand's assassination, and charged with protecting that fixed point in time by stopping any time traveler who might want to try.
Enter Sara, who figures out a way to be resistant to the device and beats Thawne in a fight. Rather than killing him, she has a drink with her old enemy and explains her plan, and that she has no desire to actually break time. He agrees to make it appear as though Ferdinand has been saved, giving the Legends 40 minutes in which they can square off with the Evil Robot Legends.
We assume there's more to Thawne here. After all, he's Thawne. What are the odds he doesn't have plans to hitchhike on the Waverider and get out of his time loop public service? But at face value at least, we now know exactly what his role is in next week's "Rage Against the Machines."
DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, before episodes of Batwoman.