Vietnam during the war, it’s not a place that really fully lends itself to zany time travel adventures. Even when you throw in a giant out of time psychic gorilla. For most of the current season, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has been the show that is the most fun and has the most progress with its actual season plot compared to the other Arrowverse shows. As with the “Zari” episode a few weeks ago, this week decides to send the team on a more serious detour and it doesn’t entirely work out for the best. Leaning into crazy settings or ideas has proven to be the strength of this show since it refound itself in season two. Season one had some strengths but a lot of the series nature bogged the showdown. That rears its head here again as the show seems to all but stall for this detour into the touchy setting of Vietnam.
There is not a lot of room for humor because the show wants to touch on how much of a mess that the Vietnam War was on so many sides. Even throwing something as comic booky as Gorilla Grodd in doesn’t make for a lot of fun. That being said, the episode was not a wash overall. While the aforementioned “Zari” episode was just depressing and didn’t really do a lot other than introducing the new crewmember, this episode does allow for some character moments that propelled things forward. Despite getting some time to grow and have character moments at the end of season two, Mick has mostly been the comic relief and muscle in season three. This week there was actually time to dive into his past and issues as Mick and Nate end up running into Mick’s father in the jungle. Previously in the Arrowverse, his issues with his father and the way his father died were brought up. Mick facing his father and also facing the fact that his father was more complex than believed gave room for some real character moments.
After running into young Ray a few weeks ago and Stein’s ancestor in another issue, along with Amaya’s granddaughter coming after the team too, I’m glad Ray and Zari are putting together that this is a very odd and statistically impossible thing. Meaning that likely we’re soon to find out that either their breaking time led to this or that the mysterious Mallus evil plan goes deeper than they know. That’s about as close to the season plot, other than the whole chasing anachronisms bit, as the episode gets this time. Since the show has been pretty good about growing the plot, having an episode or two off isn’t as big of a deal as it has been for the other Arrowverse shows where the plots have been moving at a snail’s pace.
One disappointment of the episode is how little there actually is for much of the team to do. Sara does nothing at all since she is in a coma from the last episode until Grodd uses her and after a few episodes of getting some big things to do before Victor Garber leaves the show, Stein has very little to do this week other than a bit where he converses with various historical scientific minds to solve the Firestorm splitting issue. One of the biggest issues is that so much is shoved into this episode it can’t actually even really delve much into the things it is playing with. There was a great opportunity for some Amaya and Grodd moments that showed up but were not developed because by the time it came up the episode was already halfway over. Also, the show really needs to figure out what to do with Zari because she’s fitting in at times but at other times is not really meshing with the time travel things that have to be done.
Grodd’s whole thing of creating peace by causing World War III felt kind of contrived and also a bit of a disappointment after his last Arrowverse appearance. It didn’t feel fully like something the Gorilla would do and felt shoehorned in only because they wanted to do an Apocalypse Now-style episode. Clearly, the writers are not finished with Grodd based upon the final scenes of the episode. Grodd working alongside Damian Darhk and Mallus is sure to be something that will come back to haunt the team later in the season. Hopefully, it will be more fulfilling than Grodd’s appearance in this episode.
When it comes to the Arrowverse shows, they are either fully on or they are duds it seems. There is not a lot of middle ground. This week sort of falls into a space that is closer to the middle ground because while it’s a bit of a dud for plot reasons and other bits, it does offer up a few good character moments that help out. Clearly, this is one of those episodes where they had fun with the Hollywood Helen of Troy plot things previously but needed something to fill the gap till the huge Arrowverse crossover. Filler episodes are not always a bad idea, but if they are not executed well then it can cause a bit of a boredom factor. In the end, though it’s okay because there have been enough gems this season to make up for a few lumps of coal.
Score: 7.5 out of 10