This episode review of Legends of Tomorrow contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 15
The more I chewed on last week’s episode, the more frustrated and worried about it I got, and coming into this week, I was worried that it would affect my enjoyment of the season moving forward. I didn’t really need to worry: “Necromancing the Stone” wasn’t a spectacular episode, but it was a solid one, with good jokes and some welcome character work on Sara. And new series regular John Constantine.
We’re four episodes away from the end of the season, so at this point we’re diving headlong into the season endgame. It’s nice to see the show juggle character development and plot propulsion effectively – we kick off the episode with the newly captured Death Totem calling out to Sara, and use that as our point of entry to looking into how her past has shaped her (and how Nora Darhk’s past shaped her); and we close out the episode with Mick wielding the Fire Totem.
Sara is having nightmares about old hits from when she was an assassin (while, it should be noted, in bed with her “girlfriend” Ava – her words), but she’s also trying to deal with time fracturing around them, so she decides that they should split the team up, and sends groups to multiple anachronisms. While they’re out, the calll of the Death Totem grows stronger, eventually presenting as her old Black Canary self for a bit before it convinces her to pick it up, thus turning her into a Mallus-possessed dark version of herself.
This gives her a sweet new outfit that’s a cross between a late-period Scooby Doo ghost villain and someone who just finished watching The Craft for the first time, and also super powers that let her kick even more ass than she is accustomed to. This was a nice interlude. Not watching the heroes get their butts kicked, but seeing good action sequences. This show, when they really commit to it, has some wild fights, and I was so surprised when Sara flipped off the wall to kick Mick in the head that when I thought back on the last few episodes, I couldn’t remember a really good action scene.
Sara’s possession also gives us time inside her head – she’s trapped in Mallus’s realm with Nora Darhk, and they’re going through regrets in Sara’s past. We see her relive a misssion she had when she worked for Ra’s al Ghul, where she killed a man only to have his elementary school-aged daughter walk in on his knife-riddled corpse. Eventually, Nora tries to entice Sara to joining their side with the Death Totem with the promise of a life free of regret, which, along with Ava’s pleading, gets her to shake herself out of her totem reverie and return to the normal world.
Another area where this episode excelled was in its desire to place the camera on Matt Ryan’s louche scumbag John Constantine and then let it sit there for a while. They succeeded in that goal, and the results were terrific. As John is the one who left instructions with Ray to kill Sara if she ever gets possessed by Mallus, naturally Ava goes to him for help when Light Goth Sara locks down the Waverider’s comms. And since Sara spent some of their bedroom time with Ava talking about that time her and Constantine did it in the ’60s, Ava decides to go to him for help. She finds him chasing a cock someone else’s rooster around an apartment he won in a duel and complaining about the gig economy. This show speaks to me in a very real and tangible way.
Seriously, Constantine’s impending tenure as series regular, besides opening up a whole new arena for the Legends to play in, bodes really well for the chemistry of the team. For someone whose tie is so loose it seems a little tryhard, there is a relaxed humor about him that meshes wonderfully with the rest of the team. After he uses Gary’s D&D game to track down Sara and the Waverider floating somewhere in The Bleed, Ava jumps them onto the ship. DeathSara/Mallus tries to trick Constantine into giving up on Sara by using Astra’s voice (a kid he failed to save in his own show), and when that doesn’t work, he gets his butt handed to him for a bit by Sara.
She eventually walks off after sensing the activation of another totem: Amaya and Mick have got the newly working Fire Totem, and Mick uses it to blast Sara unconscious, where Ava talks her back to reality.
I only had two problems with the episode. The first is that it’s getting a little too on-the-nose. I like the opportunity for growth for Mick, but we went from Amaya saying “Screw it, we’ll get that totem and I’ll whup Sara’s ass” to “oh this is yours I shouldn’t have presumed,” and didn’t even try a swerve on Mick getting the Fire Totem. And they basically do Alien. Legends has never really tried to hide their references before (I mean, the Groundhog Day episode was great but they did use actual Groundhog Day as a plot point), but it’s never really felt as aggressive as it did here.
Also, the Nostromo sequence should be “setting the Waverider to self destruct before figuring out at the last second that you made a mistake.” Not “close all the bulkheads and trap everyone apart so the monster can keep picking you off one by one.” That’s like calling something where your team splits up and gets murdered one at a time “The Predator Gambit,” knowing full well that a TRUE Predator Gambit involves you covering yourself in mud so you won’t show up on thermal imaging.
The second problem is the setup for next week’s episode. Having been possessed by Mallus for the entire episode and seriously injuring Ray and Amaya, Sara decides to break up with Ava before the end of this week’s show. It makes sense, in a way. Sending a loved one away because a hero is afraid of them getting hurt is an EXTREMELY Arrow thing to do. In fact, it’s the reason why I stopped watching that show, when they had Oliver do it three times in one season last year. So yeah, let’s stop that. But, Legends being Legends, rather than dwell on this moment of character frustration, they are going to run headfirst through it: next week’s episode has a planet full of Avas. I can’t wait.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
-Even after John Constantine’s Doctor Who joke, it’s still REALLY hard to figure out the line of the night. Mick’s “Who…dressed…me” growl after Wally went and grabbed him from his room (and dressed him) for staff meeting at the beginning is up there. Zari’s “So the Mona Lisa was a self-potrait?” is up there too. But I think Constantine gets it.
-So apparently Gary runs the Time Bureau D&D game, and Constantine got in on it. Any guesses as to his class? I feel like depending on his mood, Constantine would go with rogue or bard.
-Good season for alternative hallucinogens. So far everyone who’s tripped on this show has avoided acid or mushrooms and has gone straight to the weird tribal remedies. This week, Constantine was using Ayahuasca.
-Totem update: So there are six tribes in Zambesi. Five of them imprisoned Mallus, while one of them sided with Mallus. The Death Totem carriers were Mallus’s people, while the elemental totems were opposed to him. This will be important.
-It’s already important because I’m no longer sure that Mallus is Mordru. I have no idea who he is now.
-Bailey Tippen played Astra on Constantine and she reprises her role here as the voice of Astra coming out of Sara’s body. That’s a neat touch, glad they got that right.
-Next week: I, Ava translates Asimov’s laws to the CW TV universe!