The Four Color Catch Up - Part 1 - Legends of Tomorrow (Week 16 - 19)
The Four Color Ark
THE FOUR COLOR CATCH UP
Between the mid-winter blahs and a case of the flu, The Four Color Ark is in need of a great deal of maintenance to get us up to date. To get caught up we’re going to do quicker recaps and review episodes in groupings of four. In Part One of our Catch Up Special we’re going to focus on Legends of Tomorrow which has been running straight through since it started airing again in February and is drawing closer and closer to its season finale in two weeks.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 12: “The Curse of the Earth Totem” WEEK 16
Sara goes on a date with Ava, and the two ladies just want to get away from the stresses of protecting the timeline for one night, but with the Legends on the case the likelihood of that happening is incredibly slim. When we left them last time, Rip Hunter had tracked down the missing speedster Wally West and was asking for his assistance with an urgent matter. A reluctant Wally West questions Rip about what he needs and isn’t entirely convinced by the Time Master’s motives, until the two get drunk together and dash off to sing some Karaoke. Meanwhile the Legends decide they need to get a hold of the Earth Totem before Damien and Nora Darhk can, so they head back to 1717 to steal it from Blackbeard himself. It turns out that Blackbeard is a huge coward, the Darhk’s are in 1717 as well and back in 2018 a mysterious speedster steals Time Agent Gary’s time travel device AND Rip Hunter’s coat. Amaya convinces all of Blackbeard’s followers that she’s a rough and tumble pirate so they can aid in the struggle against the Darhk’s, but it doesn’t pay off in the long run as Nora Darhk manages to steal Amaya’s totem. Cowardly Blackbeard gives Damien Darhk the location of the cursed Earth totem, and Damien digs it up – along with the zombified bearer of it who begins killing any Pirate she can find. With things going hilariously off the rails both Sara and Ava bail on their dates to deal with their respective emergencies that ultimately intersect as the two sort out their feelings for each other while Pirates board the Waverider. Ray uses his anti-magic weapon on Nora Darhk and it clearly works as the Legends escape while Nora begins to die. Feeling terrible about killing another human, and seeing an opportunity to retrieve Amaya’s stolen totem – Ray steals the time shuttle and goes back to 1717 to offer Damien Darhk a trade: Amaya’s totem in exchange for healing Nora. Damien gives Ray the totem, and Ray injects Nora with a cure – immediately she wakes up and chokes Ray until he passes out.
So we have a fairly serviceable homage to Pirates of the Caribbean, with cursed treasure providing eternal life to the damned person who wears it – and we get an extra helping of the Darhk family to make it extra fun. Though it is becoming glaringly obvious that Nora Darhk is not nearly as charismatic and enjoyable a character as her father, which is a shame because I believe Courtney Ford can play gonzo crazy just as well as Neal McDonough. The Amaya needs to find her inner strength story is an odd one to set up as happening before her totem is stolen from her, but it’s serviceable and doesn’t weigh the episode down too much. The highlights of the episode really do come from the introduction of Wally West in this episode, having drunken adventures with Rip Hunter while lamenting that he doesn’t really fit in with the gang at S.T.A.R. Labs. Wally and Rip drunkenly singing Careless Whisper is indeed an episode, and perhaps a series highlight.
Double winners this week as Keiynan Lonsdale and Arthur Darvill share the limelight. Drunk Wally and Rip really make for a dynamic duo, and it’s great to have two characters who feel like outsiders fighting to find their way back inside.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 13: “No Country for Old Dads” WEEK 17
It takes a while, but eventually the Legends notice that Ray is missing and discover a video message he sent them confirming that he’s been taken prisoner by the Darhk’s who want Ray to use his scientific knowledge to help them recreate the damaged Fire Totem. The Legends are deep into attempting to figure out how to track down Ray, when Rip and Wally use Gary’s time device to appear on the bridge of the Waverider seeking the assistance of the Legends in stopping Mallus. Back in Darhk imprisonment, Ray tries to earn his freedom by informing Damien that the only thing that could possibly reforge the fire totem would be cold fusion, which simply doesn’t exist. Except it almost did. Back in the day, a younger Damien Darhk was hired to assassinate an Eastern German scientist who had created cold fusion – so to reforge the totem all they have to do is go back in time and steal the formula from the scientist before Darhk can kill him. Nora volunteers for the mission as she apparently feels the need to prove her capabilities to Daddy Darhkest – and takes Ray back in time with her. It’s a race against time as past Damien Darhk is almost always one step away from killing the scientist no matter what Nora and Ray do to try to save him and get the formula, since in their first encounter past Darhk destroyed their time stone preventing them from going back to the present. Eventually present Damien begins to feel it’s taking too long and goes back in time to try to assist Nora, only to discover that she and Ray have run afoul of his younger self. The Legends have followed some false leads to try to track down Ray but with no luck. Ray, in an attempt to cross the Berlin Wall blasts a hole in the wall knowing it will create an anachronism and draw the attention of the Legends. The Legends see Ray’s timequake and rush to save the day, arriving just as the two Damien Darhk’s are going toe to toe over the fate of Nora. Nora finally manages to make Amaya’s totem work, and Wally races into the fray to save Ray and bring him back to the Waverider – as well as the fire totem which he pickpockets from Damien as a souvenir. Gorilla Grodd attacks the Time Bureau and kills the leadership – making Ava the senior agent and new interim director. Ava calls off the manhunt for Rip, Rip scrubs information about Ava from the Waverider computer banks, and Wally West decides that instead of returning to 2018 with Rip and Ava – he’d like to remain aboard the Waverider and become a Legend.
What’s better than Damien Darhk? TWO Damien Darhk’s who are diametrically opposed to each other. This was the episode I’ve kind of been waiting for in terms of both the Darhk’s and the Legends; in Darhk territory it was starting to feel like we needed an episode that defined the relationship of Nora and Damien – and this episode does that in spades. Damien as an overprotective father who has become this overt monster in the hopes of leaving a legacy for Nora; and Nora as the daughter desperate to show her father that she can take care of herself really elevates the material here and showcases that these two characters are worthy villains for our Legends. Over on the Legends side of the coin, we needed an outing that showcased how a character like Wally West could integrate with the disparate team that are the Legends of Tomorrow. The fake out adventure on the way to find Ray, to show Wally that the Legends are a lot looser than Team Flash was a great play on the idea of Kid Flash taking souvenirs from his adventures on the Young Justice cartoon – and it also showed Wally that he can loosen up a little bit on this new team. At this early point, it seems like joining the Legends is really going to help Wally open up a bit and grow into his own character (just like his comic counterpart who grew by leaps and bounds through his appearances in The Teen Titans.) It was also excellent to see real life couple Courtney Ford and Brandon Routh playing off of each other so effortlessly on their mission to East Germany; not only because their chemistry is so well played – but because we’re starting to see the results of Ray’s tinkering with Nora’s past in 2018. She remembers how the Legends treated her as a little girl, and it is softening her view of them.
This episode is the Courtney Ford show, left right and center. Even in an episode that has not one but two scenery chewing Neal McDonough’s.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 14: “Amazing Grace” WEEK 18
A young man buys a guitar with seemingly magical powers, a young man named Elvis Presley (Luke Bilyk.) In the present, something has changed things subtly on the Waverider: (Nate isn’t using hair product anymore, Mick’s pet rat is no longer named Axl but is suddenly named Josh Groban.) Gideon quickly scans the timeline and determines that the anachronism stems from the fact that Memphis Tennessee was abandoned in the 1950’s due to “mass hysteria.” Without Memphis, there would be no rock and roll music, and thus history would be irrevocably altered. The Legends hop back to Memphis in the 1950’s and quickly discover that Elvis Presley is in possession of a guitar with the mysterious fifth totem mounted in the neck. Wally steals Elvis’ guitar and replaces it with a fake so that the team can take the totem, which causes Elvis to have a disastrous performance and lose confidence. Nate and Amaya convince the team that without the guitar Elvis won’t be able to make his recording at Sun Records and rock and roll will never be born. Elvis shows up and records his first record, but his uncle has him arrested and thrown in jail, and takes the record to his church where he intends to destroy it. Wally and Zari convince Elvis’ uncle that Elvis rock and roll music isn’t “of the devil” and Wally races the recording to the radio station where Elvis track was first played so that history will be restored. Except that the totem attached to Elvis’ guitar is the “death totem” which gives Elvis complete control over the dead, even the recently deceased pet rat of Mick Rory aka Axl/Josh Groban. His music playing over the airwaves in Memphis raises ghosts from every grave in Memphis. Nate busts Elvis out of prison and reunites him with his guitar so that Elvis can dispel the ghosts, and Elvis does so. With his confidence full restored and rock history preserved, Elvis gives the death totem to the Legends and goes off to meet his destiny. The Legends lock the death totem up in a box, finally one totem ahead of Damien Darhk.
Another brilliant play on the concept that alteration to pop culture of the past can alter the present for our heroes in drastic ways, is done much more subtly this time around with the erasure of Elvis Presley than with the erasure of Star Wars, but the concept is indeed the same. Degrassi alum Luke Bilyk plays a rather impressive Elvis, and the episode is fairly straightforward for an episode of Legends. It is interesting to see Amaya without her totem slowly begin to question her place in the world and with the Legends. The interplay between Zari and Wally, where the previous newcomer tries to convince Wally to slow down and not always use his superspeed as a crutch is a brilliant moment – and it showcases just why Wally may have needed to be removed from The Flash. Wally’s first instinct is to use his speed to solve the problem directly, where Barry’s first instinct is to research first – remaining on the other show forced Wally to either fail constantly so that Barry’s method could win the day, or be written out of scenes intentionally so that Barry’s ultimate arrival at the speed based solution wouldn’t ring hollow. Splitting the two speedsters up allows both to be true to their own characters.
Dominic Purcell brings it home with his hilarious and somber portrayal of a man losing his pet rat, then being assaulted by the ghost of his pet rat, then burying his pet rat. Bonus points to Brandon Routh for Ray Palmer’s earnestness in throwing a funeral for said rat.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 15: “Necromancing the Stone” WEEK 19
Sara and Ava are finally a full-fledged couple and things couldn’t be going better, except that the Darhk’s and Mallus are creating multiple anachronisms at once to try to tax the Legends ability to fix time – which will weaken the bonds holding Mallus and allow him to enter our world. Sara breaks the team up and sends them off to deal with different anachronisms, while Ray and Rory go off to work on the Fire Totem. When the teams return they find Mick napping, Ray unconscious and possibly dying and an eerily pale and demonic Sara Lance wearing the Death Totem. A fight ensues and it is only thanks to Wally that the team makes it out. Sara puts the ship on lockdown, and the team realizes they need Constantine to try to exorcise Mallus from Sara. Ava and Agent Gary track down Constantine to illicit his help, and while the three of them prepare the exorcism, the Legends play a game of cat and mouse throughout the Waverider with Sara. Ava and Constantine deal with some sexual tension over the fact that they’ve both recently been with Sara, while Agent Gary likens the situation to a D&D campaign he played in. Mallus, in Sara’s body, manages to incapacitate everyone by manipulating their emotions and straight up kicking their ass. It comes down to Amaya and Mick, and the newly reformed Fire Totem. Amaya at first wants to claim the totem as her own, but realizes it is meant for Mick – convincing him to wear it and become a totem bearer. Mick uses the new found abilities from his totem to combat Mallus on the Waverider, Constantine and Ava portal to the Waverider to push Mallus back to his dimension and free Sara. Sara has a vision in Mallus’ realm where Nora Darhk tries to recruit her to Mallus’ side – but Sara is strong enough to resist the temptation and thanks to Constantine regains control of her own body. Sara, afraid of putting Ava in danger, breaks up with her; and back on Earth: Agent Gary has a special player at his latest D&D session: John Constantine.
The good guy? Possessed by the evil totem into being the bad guy? It’s a standard trope but it does play well. The tension between Ava and John Constantine was gloriously played, even though it was clear that the encounter with Constantine didn’t mean what Ava thought it meant. The other standard trope in this episode was each Legend confronting someone or something from their past was interestingly done, and it worked out well that Violett Bean was in town for her appearance in the Flash episode “Flashtime” to be available to appear as Jesse in Wally West’s nightmare vision. This wasn’t necessarily the strongest Legends episode, but it was pretty good. I think my biggest complaint is less with the episode and more with the portrayal of D&D. While Dungeons & Dragons is gaining a considerable amount of mainstream acceptance, it’s still being employed by Hollywood as an undertaking only made by uber nerds like Agent Gary (in full cloak) or the cast of The Big Bang Theory. Real people play this game, normal people play this game, it’s time to stop making fun of people who play this game. Though it was fun to twist that a little by having Constantine joining the fun, it didn’t subvert the punchline enough to make it not insulting.
Matt Ryan as Constantine should become a regular cast member on this show because he’s just so much fun… oh wait: HE DID! Starting next season John Constantine will be a full time member of the Waverider crew.
UP NEXT: In Part Two of our Four Color Catch Up we’re going to get up to date on Black Lightning!