This review contains spoilers.
3.7. Welcome To The Jungle
A show like Legends is sometimes tough. With a cast like this, all the stories that need developing, and all the tones the show cycles through, sometimes you get an episode that feels confused. This week was one of those, and despite the tonal whiplash, it ended up beng pretty good. It helped that both halves focused on different strengths: Mick Rory, and being completely ridiculous.
Dominic Purcell has been arguably the best part of the show since episode one. With Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, he regularly had the best time doing his job out of the entire cast. Since Miller left, Purcell’s Mick Rory has proven to be the surprising heart behind the show, making a subtle shift away from the psychotic villainy of his appearances on The Flash towards heroism, a remarkable bit of character development on a show where they basically redo Predator and have a character actually say “It started out Predator but now it’s Apocalypse Now.” Subtlety is not their strength.
So of course there was cause for concern when we saw Mick meet his father in Nam. Mick, if you’ll remember from the first season, was horribly abused as a kid and burned his father’s house down with his father in it. It starts poorly – Mick wavers between thinking about killing his father and nearly self-harming. The character growth is predictable enough that Nate, his partner on this mission, talks about it through most of the episode, pushing him through his daddy issues with “Operation Tough Love.” But Purcell sells it, and what’s amazing about it is he does the job mostly with his eyes and his shoulders. His looks and his posture gradually shift as his opinion of his father does, and by the end of the episode, he’s not messing with time or accepting what his father did, but he seems to have come to a point where he understands it.
This story sucks up most of the oxygen in the first half of the episode. As we hit the midpoint, the rest of the story went nuts.
This week’s anachronism is Grodd showing up in 1967 Vietnam. He sets up a cult, stopping the fighting by brainwashing people from both sides. His plan is to create peace on Earth by instigating a nuclear war between Russia and the US, which would be ridiculous, but this is a show from the same genre where Sentinels started killing humans to eradicate the X-Gene up and down the line one time, so I’m conditioned to it. Zari, Amaya and Ray pretend to be journalists to get someone to take them to Grodd, and Anh Ly, their guide, turns out to be one of the leaders of Grodd’s cult. After they are inevitably outed and get into a fight with Grodd’s cult, she starts smacking people and shouting about “ONE NATION UNDER GRODD!”
Amaya tries to talk Grodd down, but he hears fighting nearby, decides humanity can’t be trusted, and figures out that Amaya is a time traveller. So he goes for the Waverider. Stein locks the ship down and takes off to protect him and a still-unconscious-from-last-week Sara, but he doesn’t get out before Grodd can get on the hull. Eventually, he gets away and the team is reunited for Thanksgiving dinner.
The episode did precisely one thing to move the season’s plot forward: we know now that the anachronisms aren’t random. They keep involving ancestors of the team – young Ray in Phone Home, Stein’s ancestor in Return Of The Mack, Mick’s dad here, Zari’s brother in her first mission (if you want to count it). Other than that, this episode succeeds on its characters and its zaniness.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
– I don’t need to explain Predator, do I? That first scene, Nate calling Mick “Officer Schwarzenegger”?
– I can’t be alone in this, but the Amaya freaking out about her future stuff just has not been interesting this season. Thankfully a big chunk of that is over, it looks like.
– TIME TRAVEL IS STUPID UPDATE: Stein, in his quest to figure out a way to un-fuse himself and Jax, has “borrowed” Galileo from before the discovery of gravity, Marie Curie from before the discovery of quarks, and Isaac Newton from before the discovery of relativity. Who did he NOT round up, you ask? Any super scientists from the future they were just in to rescue Zari?
– Speaking of Zari, she is delightful. Line of the night goes to her “I was talking to myself” with Ray.
– Anh Ly calls Grodd “the new god”. That’s not capitalized because Grodd is a new god, not one of The New Gods – Jack Kirby’s creations that were part of Justice League. Darkseid, Orion, Lightray, Mister Miracle, etc.
– Isaac Newton hits Grodd-controlled Sara over the head with a frying pan as Sara’s yelling “Kneel before Grodd!” at Stein, and that scene felt super Mallrats.
– Next week: there’s plenty of violence on many sides of Earth-X. ON MANY SIDES.