Mallus and the Darhks take a backseat this week as the Legends are pulled into a good old-fashioned science fiction time loop, giving some characters very much needed development.
Superhero Style Groundhog’s Day
There has been a lot of turnover on the Waverrider this season compared to the last two seasons, and a standard science fiction time loop trope episode helps to finally give one of those newer members some focus. With the loss of both halves of Firestorm and with the team sort of stuck on their quest to deal with Mallus, they have lost a bit of their heart and the dysfunctional functional aspect hasn’t been as firm. Amaya and Zari’s issues have been a lot of what drags it down at times, but this week definitely helped a lot with all of that.
The addition of Zari in the first half of the season, in an episode named after her, was not one of the higher points this season. Her dystopian future story and rage along with her desires to abuse history selfishly landed very flat. Since then she’s had some moments where she’s been able to shine, like alongside Ray in the E.T. homage, and others where she’s mostly supporting or background, like the big crossover. Centering this time loop episode on her rather than those characters we already know well was a great move because it let us get to know the character more and see how she deals with things. At this point the others we can pretty much guess what they would do and how they would handle this. For sure most of them would have believed one another quicker, but then the episode would have been over sooner of course.
The real beauty of this episode is that it maintains the fun of this season but also gives the team a bit of a down week from the whole Mallus thing. That’s the key to bottle episodes, you know besides usually being lighter budget episodes. It gives the characters room to breathe and develop. Like Sara and Agent Sharpe having a long conversation where they are flirting and speaking about recent events. Or Mari and Nate’s relationship rekindling that they want to end so that the team isn’t put in danger. Mick is one of the few that doesn’t get a ton of development (outside of the writing revelation) but that’s okay because he has sort of perfectly fit into this team as the tough guy and the one that is at the center of some of the funniest moments.
Waverider In A Bottle
Yes, we’ve seen the time loop/groundhog’s day type of storyline used all over the place. From films like Groundhog’s Day to episodes of most science fiction shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation or Stargate SG1. In fact, the episode wears it’s parody nature on its sleeve and even mentions two of the aforementioned time loop examples. The premise isn’t what is ever important in these types of things. It’s what is done with the characters and the tidbits we get about them and how they approach the issue. The bit of Mick putting traps that they had to keep finding every time loop reset just to find out he’s hiding his 50 Shadesesque fiction was totally worth it in the middle. One downside is that the limited hour of the time loop did rob the episode from being able to have a lot of fun with repeated moments as really Sara’s anger, Amaya and Nate’s talk and Ray’s falling were about the only really repeated things from the loop. Everything basically changed each time.
Unlike those aforementioned examples of a time loop, this episode doesn’t have a moment where the team does right to avert the loop or Zari learns to be a better person to end it. Nope they avoid that cliche by revealing Gary the Time Agent actually started the loop to save them and thanks to Rory’s stomping his device, the loop saving comes to an end and they actually have to race the clock to live. This pushes the fun to the side and gives the episode actual real stakes. Then the episode pulls out it’s second reveal, Zari’s been unconscious this entire time healing after the first moments of the episode living out this time loop inside the ship alongside Gideon. The team’s A.I. used Zari’s simulator to teach her that she needs to stick with the team in order to achieve her goals. It’s an interesting way to finally get Zari to gel with the team and prove that she is needed with the team for the plot to keep moving forward with the totems.
Normally this dream revelation tends to invalidate many things from the world that was seen, but as Gideon pointed out while some of these things might not have happened as they were seen they were things that will happen as she incorporated real things about her team into the simulation. Amaya and Nate are sure to hook up again. Sara and Agent Sharpe’s flirtation and such is real. Mick’s erotic fiction novel writing is actually real though, so that’s a treat. That being said, the reveal that all that the group went through wasn’t real did sting some as Zari’s big speech to them seems like something they should have heard. In the end, though the team actually did move forward and get some things done and aired out some things to one another, and seem to be on their way to being a well oiled dysfunctional machine again.
Season three’s storyline comes to a stall mostly this week for a bottle episode, but that’s welcome at this point. What makes this show work is that it knows when to have fun and sometimes that means taking a pause from the main storyline to have that fun. Zari definitely benefits this week and becomes a more fleshed out and somewhat likable character. That makes the episode fully worth it.
Score: 9 out of 10