There are a lot of things that make DC’s Legends of Tomorrow stand out from the rest of the Arrowverse shows, but there is one major way that matters: things actually happen. Right now the other three shows have things happening but they are also sort of stuck as all are doing a really slow burn when it comes to their big bads and villain plots. Even though the big bad of the season was only revealed in last week’s “Return of the Mack,” the mysterious ancient Mallus, before that the pieces were being assembled for what the team would be facing this season. The show has truly found a wonderful balance between the silly, fun, meaningful and character that the other shows have had at times but seem to unable to balance this year.
As with previous adventures, the Legends are confronted by an anachronism that blends myth and history together as Helen of Troy begins to work her magic on 1930’s Hollywood and takes it to the brink of war. Once again the team is looking for an easy mission and win after weeks of their usual chainsaw style work, things don’t go as planned as the effect of Helen sends the men into chaos and it’s up to the women to go out and try and save the day. What really works lately with the time jumping episodes is that while the creators are having fun with the setting, adding in people from the era like Cecil B. DeMille & Hedy Lamarr this week, they don’t let that just become the main focus and maybe wear out its welcome. Just like last week’s trip to London and possible vampires, this week revels in the time period with the war between Hollywood studios but also adds in the threat of Damien Darhk, Eleanor Darhk, and Kuasa. The fact that Damien attempts to take a more civilized conversation route at first was a nice touch to show how the character has grown in many ways since Legends got their hands on him last season.
With the situation of allegations against the Arrowverse producer and showrunner Andrew Kreisberg, this episode came at the right time. While this is nothing new to the show, this week’s theme was focused on powerful women as most of the action came down to them as the men mostly filled supporting roles outside of the villainous Darhk. Sara, Amaya, Zari, Eleanor Darhk, Helen and Hedy Lamarr all played important roles and were the ones that kept things moving forward and outside of Firestorm coming in for the final save in one of the battles, they handled much of the action & breakthrough moments. Even Firestorm being able to come in an save the day was thanks to Lamarr as the series expertly used both her acting and inventing careers for the plot. Seeing Sara and Damien’s feud reunited was also very nice as they play off one another wonderfully. Creators even found a way to pay tribute to Wonder Woman by dropping Helen back into her time but on the island of Themyscira instead of back in Troy.
That Themyscira cameo was wonderful for another reason, it means it’s likely that Wonder Woman exists in this universe. While we’ll never see the Arrowverse version of Diana, since she is dominating on the big screen, it adds depth to the series to acknowledge in a way that these big DC Heroes do exist out there. This is the second reference that has come that helps seemingly complete the DC Trinity’s presence in the universe after Arrow has name-dropped Bruce Wayne recently and of course Superman exists and has appeared on the Earth of Supergirl. If Superman can appear some on Supergirl, maybe one day we might just get at least a brief glimpse at an Arrowverse Wonder Woman and Batman. A fan can dream.
Firestorm was the other very interesting part of this episode. Seeing Victor Garber & Franz Drameh having a great time switching up roles and doing their best impersonation of one another was a definite highlight. Even though we know that Garber’s time on the series is quickly winding down, the actor is headed back to Broadway in the new year, the series is doing its best to keep giving him a lot of material to really stretch out his acting chops. Last week he got to play an evil thespian ancestor and this week he not only got to pretend to be Jax but also got to take the lead and be the face of Firestorm once the two characters merged. The writers are doing a wonderful job at maximizing the most of the actor while they still have him. It’s also sadly a reminder of what the Arrowverse will be losing character and actor wise when the time comes for his departure. Unless Ray helps them find a way to split Firestorm and give all the power to Jax, the team could be losing one of it’s biggest hitters.
Once more Legends continues to prove why it’s easily the best out of all the Arrowverse shows. Too many shows begin to try and tweak their formula too far every season, but somehow the creative team has managed to maintain the formula from last season that was such a success and just make minor tweaks that do not harm the series overall. This is strange overall mostly because all four shows share a lot of the same producers and writers, but something about this series just seems to resonate with them and they have kept it going. Perhaps the other shows can take a lesson from the Legends, not only about how to have fun but on how to actually begin to move your season-long plots ahead and not let them just simmer seemingly forever. Even if the villains don’t appear in an episode, the Legends have a clear mission statement and path to be taken, dealing with anachronisms, while the other shows are trying to juggle way too much. Everything about this show has me excited each week for the next episode, and next week it seems we’re getting a Gorilla Grodd/Apocalypse Now style mashup. I’m so in.
Score: 9 out of 10