Legends of Tomorrow: Hell No, Dolly!

"I think we may have a Chucky situation here."

Legends sets up next week's midseason finale with an episode that's not so much a game of two halves as it is a game of sixteen thirds.

I liked it.

OK, let's just be adults up front and acknowledge what we're all thinking. John's boyfriend Desmond was insanely hot and spent a lot of his screen time in a towel. If you need to take a moment with that before we continue, I totally understand.

Everybody ready to move on? OK then.

I've been struggling to come to terms with something all season that really came into focus this week. That's that the structure of how a typical Legends story is told has fundamentally changed this year, and I've been continuing to judge this season's episodes as if it hadn't.

It's easiest to illustrate what I mean with tonight's episode. Historically, a Legends episode would focus on one specific scenario in which the entire team participated, more or less, e.g. the team all goes to Camelot to find a piece of the Spear of Destiny, or the team all go to the early 80s to prevent Ray from being wiped from History. That means that if we were still treating Legends episodes as episodic storytelling, then this week's storyline would have been largely if not entirely contained to New Orleans, 1856. We would have had an A-plot of Ava, Ray, Mick and Sara going to track down the creepy possessed doll, and a B-plot of Constantine, Charlie and Zari finding Marie Laveau, with an embedded subplot about Mick and Ava competing for Sara's allegiance against one another. And in the final act the A and B plot would converge, with the solution to the creepy doll murders would in some way bring about a new understanding between Mick and Ava. Amen.

Based solely on the pre-show advertising for this one, that's what I was expecting to get this week. Instead it all happened in the first act, and then we were off to the Time Bureau for other fun stuff that had nothing to do with dolls, creepy or otherwise.

Because the show isn't really doing episodic storytelling this year. The various plotlines in any given episode aren't supposed to be interacting with one another either through plot mechanics or theme. They're specifically designed to all happily run along independent of one another until they converge at the end of the season, rather than at the end of any given episode. It's less like a typical episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more akin to Melrose Place with superheroes, kaupes and a fabulous time travelling bisexual ninja who has great hair and solid leadership skills. And now I want Heather Locklear to star as an 'Elseworlds' White Canary.

That's in no way a dig, by the way. The structure that soap opera fare a la Melrose Place use is perfectly valid, and writing stories well that way is no less a skill than writing good self-contained episodes. So, the fact that Mona discovers that the Time Bureau is doing Something Very Sinister to the magical creatures in its care isn't meant to have any impact on the creepy doll story that it's sharing episode run time with, and that's just fine.

The problem with this episode specifically is that I think we've only seen half of it, and it's hard to really judge it with what seems like so many pieces still missing. The fact that the episode ends with one of the most crack-addled cliffhangers I've ever seen is only the most obvious manifestation of this. They go to all the effort of setting up Gary's comically misunderstanding Mona's confession of her love for the Konane the Kaupe, but it never pays off through Gary discovering his mistake. We see Mona letting herself be degraded by the jerk with the car door, and her growing realization that he had been in the wrong, but we never get around to her 'you go girl' moment where she stands up to the guy in some way. There are a lot of plotlines kind of half-started and then set down and never returned to this week. This is definitely a part one of two.

So, what we have this week is a lot of fun, and just plain a lot, period. We get a good chunk of what John Constantine did on his summer vacation, and it's kind of John's love life in a nutshell. I still think that there's a lot more to the story that we don't know. Possibly a lot more that John doesn't know. Time will tell. His genuinely cruel breakup with Dez was heartbreaking, by the way, and excellently played by Matt Ryan. Good on Dez for seeing right through the love potion lie right from the start. Interestingly, despite all my yammering in last episode's review about tragedy that you're supposed to see coming, I never once considered that they were actually going to go through with his breakup with Dez and the corresponding destruction of reality. That was bold.

Finally, there were two moments in the episode that I want to briefly theorize about, but I'm going to put them after this lovely picture on the off chance that my guesses turn out to be right and you don't want to read them. Feel free to jump ahead to the 'What have we learned today' section, as we've got some good stuff there this week.



Right, so there are two moments that I think might be significant this week. The first is when Marie Laveau's eyes flash white while she tells John to save her great-great grandson. Is it possible that the reason that John is so determined to save Dez even when he must know that all of reality is at stake is not entirely from guilt over what he'd done to Dez, but is at least partially due to Marie having put some sort of compulsive 'whammy' on him at that moment? Or am I just trying to find an excuse for John to not be responsible for his actions there? The second is that odd transitional cut from Gary's face to Gary's face just after Nate mentions high school. It's brushed off in that moment, but I'd be willing to wager a fair bit that that odd moment is going to be relevant next week. Just a hunch.

So what have we learned today?

Quite a bit, actually. Firstly and most obviously that the Legends of Tomorrow timeline is a big fan of Doctor Who and observes its 'fixed points' philosophy. First we have Zari theorize about it, but then it's more or less completely confirmed when John manages to change the timeline after he'd met Dez when he couldn't do so before he'd met Dez.

Also confirmed – going back and directly changing your own personal timeline makes reality collapse, and apparently can turn people into cats. Let's give them their due, they did not borrow that from Doctor Who. Not even during Tom Baker's later seasons, which is too bad, because Tom would probably have loved that.

Ava and Sara both are unsure whether Marie Laveau being a serial killer is a change to the timeline or not, and only Gideon can say definitively. It's hard to know what to make of that one. John later confirmed that Sara still says that time cements after a little time has passed if you make changes, so was there a serious risk that if Ray hadn't been eating the world's most irresponsible children's cereal then Sara and Ava wouldn't have noticed the change and it would have stuck? Maybe Billie is right and I just need to stop looking for logical consistency here.

Are we going to talk about the mustache?  No.  We are not.

Everybody remember where we parked.

This week the Waverider took the Legends to New Orleans in 1856. Conveniently to the same exact section of the same exact street where John would meet his super hot boyfriend 162 years later. John and Charlie meanwhile took the jumpship a couple of times back to that same street in 2018. Meanwhile, Mona and the rest of the admin staff remain in DC in 2018.

You know, 'Meanwhile' isn't a particularly useful term when you're talking about groups in multiple different timezones. Ah well, you know what I mean.

Quotes:

Garima: "Beer."
Sara: "Yes, Garima. Beer. It’s the only word Rory taught her."

Nate: "Hey, Catch-A-Predator, what was that?"

Ray: "Gentlemen, I 'mustache' you both to calm down."
Mick: "Get out of my way, otherwise I’ll knock that furball off your lip."

Sara: "Zari, you’re on their mission."
Zari: "You can just say 'the B Team.'"

Marie: "Now, what do you know about bondage, mon cher?"
John: "Buy me a pint at a local pub and I’ll tell you all about it, love."

Ava: "Don’t worry, I can handle myself against the cretin."
Mick: "Whatever, man-pants."

Mona: "I’m afraid people would think it was weird. I mean, that hair..."
Nate: "Well, he just needs the right product."
Mona: "What about the man meat?"
Nate: "Um… what..what about it?"
Mona: "I think he’s… had some."
Nate: "That wouldn’t surprise me, I mean, it’s 2018. I don’t judge."




Bits and Pieces:

--They confirmed Gary's bisexuality twice this week. Cool.

--Speaking of such things, it was a little surprising that Marie Laveau was so comfortable with her great-great-grandson being in a same sex relationship that it didn't even bear mentioning. Cool of her, but surprising. I freely admit that my knowledge of Voudon is sketchy. I have no idea if they were super progressive about sexuality in the 19th century.

--I actually wondered in advance if the title was a little nod to Victor Garber, seeing as that's the show he left this one to go do. And even then I was totally surprised by the reveal of the possessed Stein puppet, because I'd completely forgotten it existed. Man, they are really mining the past this season for some delightful little treats.

--I loved that Sara referred to Mick as both her friend and her family at various points in the episode. And that Ava and Sara continue to be able to discuss differences of opinion without either resolving them or fighting about them, just acknowledging that they exist.

--What do the Legends think is happening to the magical creatures they capture at this point? They've obviously stopped sending them to Hell, so what do they think is the end game there? Are they just assuming they're going to stay in the detainment center forever?

--And speaking of creatures, why is the Time Bureau wetwork team taking dangerous creatures offsite for whatever torture/experimentation they've been doing? Isn't that insanely dangerous? Wouldn't they be much more likely to do it there in the building?

--It doesn't appear that there was a real serial killer named 'Mike the Spike,' but I can't be sure as 'Mike the Spike' turns up a surprisingly large number of Google responses, not all of which I'm super happy about encountering.

--Mick is wrong. Snickerdoodles are the cookie all other cookies aspire to be. They are categorically the best cookie. I'm willing to fight on this issue.

--Did they change Zari's necklace into a bracelet entirely so that it could be a cat collar here?

--Ava has free will and agency of her own, which Sara respects and cherishes. Garima is completely under Mick's control. That's the difference, Mick.

A really fun episode, but I feel like it's impossible to rate until I see the second half of it, so I'm going to pass on giving it a rating this week. Now, did anyone see my enormous bag of crack? I left it in the writers room and... oh dear God, I just saw the trailer for next week.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, volunteer firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John's boyfriend is insanley hot, yes. Very fun ep. So Mona is living Shape of water and Gary is none the wiser.
We'll see what happens next week.
Good point re Garima.
mazephoenix