This review contains spoilers.
Here’s the problem with Legends Of Tomorrow: when your premise is this packed with ridiculousness, your margin for error is pretty slim. The show has been incredibly strong for the better part of two seasons, but it’s still fundamentally a show about a group of goofball time travellers played as an action comedy, and that road is full of pitfalls. Time travel is fundamentally terrible. Comedy is really hard. And stuffing dialogue into both of those themes, even separately, has the potential to be wooden, stilted, too infodumpy or just lazy.
Legends has certainly had some of these problems from time to time, but the writing has been so smart and confident and balanced that they’ve never really had to deal with more than one at a time, and never for very long. This episode, unfortunately, had a bunch of them.
For a while in Zari, it looked like Mick Rory might be able to make it hang on. Dominic Purcell has been a justifiable fan favourite for the duration of the show because of how much he visibly enjoys portraying Heat Wave on screen. He’s an unabashed reprobate, and the first half of this episode plays him up. The team jumps to Seattle in 2042 after intercepting a call from Time Bureau Gary that Kuasa, the watery sister of 2017’s Vixen, is trying to kill someone.
The team meets that “someone” – it’s Zari Adrianna Tomaz, and I actually really like how little of her is explained. They find her in a warehouse, and the team is tailed by an Argus drone that can’t see her. They don’t get into that, but presumably they’re leaving that to be explained later.
She’s a criminal, so they lean hard on Mick to connect with her. The problems start right here. Not with Mick and Zari connecting – the show is clearly laying the groundwork for a romance between the two, and I’m here for that. No, the problems are with the plot.
This world apparently banned metas and religion in 2021, and Argus enforces that law. The Argus drone calls out to Ray, Nate, Sara and Mick that they’re in violation of the Metahuman Act, but… they’re not metahumans. Like, Nate is, and Ray could plausibly be described as such, but Sara’s just a run of the mill resurrected ninja lady, and Mick’s a guy with a handheld flamethrower.
The rest of the episode is plagued by the same laziness. The show spins its wheels for a couple of minutes having Professor Stein run tests on Amaya to figure out what’s wrong with her totem. Amaya tells him how pointless the tests are, and surprise! they turn out to be pointless when they don’t show anything and their non-answers lead to pretty much nothing plot-wise. And despite knowing that there’s something wrong with her totem, at no point does she try the miracle cure of “taking it off.” When she tells Nate that the totem is “the legacy of [her] ancestors,” Nate suggests that they use their GIANT TIME TRAVELLING SPACE SHIP to go back and talk to them. Her response is more or less “pfft what no, that’s stupid.”
So Nate replicates some hallucinogenic tea for her, and they get lit together to go on a “vision quest.” Amaya’s vision quest takes her to see her ancestors, who are living in what looks like a forest full of evergreen trees (makes sense that the mythology of Zambesi would place their heaven firmly in exurban British Columbia), and her ancestor tells her to just roll with her powers getting amped and making her bloodthirsty. Nate just gets real high.
At that point, Jax, Mick, Sara and Ray have gone with Zari to break into Argus and break out her brother. They get into trouble there, and call back to the Waverider, where Nick Zano acts as high as he can for a little while until Jax gets fed up and turns on Gideon’s autopilot to come get them. At no point while this is going on does anyone ask “Why don’t we just have good old not-high Martin Stein pilot the ship to us?” When the team gets back to the ship, Jax does mention it, but he is told Stein was helping Amaya to sick bay. That’s idiotic, but not nearly as idiotic as what comes next.
The Time Bureau has figured out that the Legends, colossal misfits that they are, are screwing up time even more. So they show up, and Agent Sharpe yells/flirts at Sara, who actually says out loud “How does the time bureau know where we are?” not realising that everyone watching the show remembers that weasel Gary has been going on trips with them. Then everybody fights, Amaya comes to terms with the bloodthirst in her amulet, Sharpe loses a game of nonlinear causality-free time ship chicken, and the gang fights off Kuasa to save Zari and bring her onto the team.
A normal episode of Legends Of Tomorrow MIGHT have made one of these mistakes and powered through, succeeding on chemistry and fun. But much more than that and you start to run into walls that the premise puts up, and those are sometimes insurmountable.
Read Jim’s review of the previous episode, Freakshow, here.