Legends of Tomorrow: Tender is the Nate

Ava: "There has to be a way out of here."
Nora: "Well, it’s a prison cell."
Mona: "Or an incubator for our burgeoning friendship."

Well.

Wow.

That shoe did not drop at all in the way I was expecting that shoe to drop.

There's a song by Josh Ritter called 'Thin Blue Flame', which I've been misquoting for years now. The way I originally misheard the line was 'The future descending like a brittle chandelier'. In reality the line is 'bright chandelier', but that's not important for the point I'm making at the moment, and frankly I like my version better so I'm sticking with it.

There's an art to telling a tragic story in what you might call a 'brittle chandelier' fashion. There's a tragedy on the horizon that's perfectly clear to the viewer, if not to the characters involved. It's not intended to be a surprise, it's intended to be anticipated. You can see what's coming, and you can anticipate how horrible the inevitable crash is going to be. Indeed, the entire hook of that type of storytelling is the anticipation of exactly how horrible the crash is going to be. Everything about the Charlie and Nate plotlines this season has read as a brittle chandelier, scheduled to hit the parquet floor in this episode.

But of course this is Legends, and so instead Nate met Charlie, immediately guessed exactly what circumstances had led her to look like Amaya, and then, outside of a totally understandable sense of awkwardness around her initially, was completely chill about the whole thing. Hell, he never even once called Sara out for not having told him about Charlie prior to this, and he would have been totally justified in doing so. I liked that a lot. I also really enjoyed the chemistry between Ava, Mona, and Nora once they got past Ava pretending not to have grown at all since the beginning of last season and had her start acting like a human being again. The other things I enjoyed about this episode include:

-Sara proving yet again what a good captain she is in a hundred ways. Particularly backing Nate up against Hank.

-There were some good jokes, particularly the recurring gag of Gideon including herself in the crew count.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald not being remotely concerned about the Minotaur.

-The concept of 'Cryptozoological Dietician' as a job title. Mona's right, screw law school, her job is awesome.

That completes the list of things I enjoyed about this episode.

Look, I'm willing to concede that this might be down to my personal preferences. The episode was well structured, the two plotlines were paced well, and they bounced off each other thematically well enough, essentially turning into parallel 'guys night out' and 'girls night in' stories. They even seeded the eventual key to defeating the Minotaur, Hank's love of 70s soft rock, casually and well in an earlier conversation. But ultimately I just didn't enjoy this one, which to be fair is different than it being bad. I cordially dislike James Taylor. I fervently dislike Hemingway, although the short story 'Hills Like White Elephants' isn't bad. And I really, really, hate Hank Heywood. In the four pages of notes I took for this review, roughly 40% of them end with the words 'and F**k Hank.'

There's nothing wrong with having a character that we're supposed to dislike. That was most of Cordelia Chase's jam for the better part of the first three seasons of Buffy. The problem is that at least in this episode I'm not entirely sure that the show isn't under the impression that Hank is really a 'lovable grump' sort of character, and he is vehemently not. He's a 'toxic asshole' sort of character who reflexively abuses his son emotionally, only ever praises his son when he's physically fighting a Minotaur after Hank himself screws up the non-violent solution that was working perfectly well because he's too stupid and ego driven to sit back and let it work, and then we're supposed to go, 'awww, shucks, he's all lovable underneath' just because he knows a James Taylor song. I spent a lot of time this week hoping Sara would kill him and dump his body in the Seine. Seriously, F**k Hank. I hope he doesn't live out the season. No offense to Tom Wilson, I'm sure you're a nice guy. Although, would it have killed you to actually fake playing the guitar?

Come on Sara... Just one little punch...

This is just speculation, but potential spoiler warning I guess on the off chance I'm right. I have a terrible feeling that I can see where this season is heading and it's going to break my heart if I'm right. I was confused earlier about the sheer number of new regular characters we got this season, but I now have a working theory why it was necessary. They're building up the Time Bureau roster to be an equal weight as the crew of the Waverider, all the time setting up characters on either side in relation to one another. Ray and Nora. Sara and Ava. Constantine and Gary. I have a terrible feeling that we're setting up the pieces for a Civil War situation, and if Sara and Ava's relationship gets torn apart in the crossfire it's just going to break my heart.  That there chandelier looks brittle to me, and it's on the way down.

What have we learned today?

About the nature of time mechanics, nada. However, we continue to get confusing information about the Waverider's relationship with the Time Bureau. Since when is the government buying the Waverider's condiments and costumes? How did the Legends get those things before the Bureau existed? Did they also hire a hairdresser, thus answering my most pressing question from last week? Why are they taking Hank's crap when not only does the Time Bureau not own the Waverider, but  Hank is the Bureau's liaison to the government, not Ava's boss. Once he's approved their budget, which he did a few weeks ago, she could cheerfully tell him to go to Hell, although that wouldn't do next years budget any favors.

I suppose I need to just let that issue go, since the show doesn't show any signs of caring to address it, but it bugs me all the same.

Pictured: Mick Rory, Author.  Accompanied by some painter.


Everybody remember where we parked.

This week the Waverider took us to Paris, 1927. In real life the Fitzgeralds had left Paris for California the previous December. Depending on what time of year it is Hemingway will have either just gotten divorced or is about to be. The story 'Hills Like White Elephants', referenced above, was published in August of 1927. Maybe Mick helped him punch it up a bit and that's why I like it better than the rest of his catalog. I'm going to choose to believe that from now on.

Quotes:

Ava: "I’m not firing you, Mona."
Mona: "Awesome. Because I can not wait to decorate my cubicle. There’s Rose from Golden Girls. She’s like the OG of girl power, am I right?"
No, that was clearly Sophia.

Ray: "Nate’s here? I could really use a hug. And get his advice on Nora."

Nate: "Next up – The Parlour. Which we spell with a ‘U’ because our first captain was British."

Sara: "Have you ever been cold cocked by a girl... Hank?"
Hank: "No, ma’am."

John: "Just remember, the yanks, they don’t say rubbish. They'd say, ‘That was absolute garbage. I’m American. Soccer. Yardsticks. Ranch dressing. Weeeeeeasel.’”

Sara: "A little drunk hunting with Hemingway. What could go wrong."

Mona: "What if you change your mind. Or your heart."

Nate: "I don’t know if you happened to notice, but I’m a grown-ass superhero. Who's just trying to play a lute for a minotaur."




Bits and Pieces:

-- Matt Ryan's American accent is really good. As was Maisie Richardson-Sellers when she was Amaya. Charlie's attempt at imitating Amaya made me realize this for the first time.

-- Ava's whole initial attitude seemed out of place to me. She long since grew out of the cold and distant control freak that this episode made her out to be. Maybe she was just surly because of the whole birthday issue, or maybe she was playing up the authoritarianism because Mona was late on her first day and she wanted to 'scare her straight', as it were. Whatever the cause, it felt forced for the sake of the plot.

-- Sara's ninja moves after nearly getting busted having workplace nookie with Ava were hysterical and well staged.

-- With the scripting for this show as consistently good as it is, moments where they go for material that is beneath them really stands out. I'm specifically looking at Hank's line about Sara screwing Ava financially while Sara is under the desk and Hemingway's 'Mine's longer' comment. Come on show, you're better than that.

-- Constantine does nude Tai Chi and doesn't appear to be overwhelmed with Puritan modesty. I wonder if they warned Matt Ryan about how much he'd need to work out for this show.

-- I love Charlie's taste in music.

-- It was unclear why Mick forced the issue of getting Nate to the lab to see Charlie. Did he just have no time for the deception and wanted to get the reveal over with? That would be very much in character for him, but it would be nice if that had been made clearer.

-- The running joke of Gideon adding herself to the crew count reminded my of Hudsucker Proxy. If you don't know why, you should go watch Hudsucker Proxy, because it's awesome.

-- It took me an embarrassingly long time to make the connection as to why Hemingway was paired with a minotaur.

-- I'm loving the tradition that everyone who leaves the Waverider gets a going away party.  And that Nate went out of his way to be kind to Charlie before he left.

It's hard to really parse out how much of my irritation with this episode is because of me or because of the episode, so I'm going to split the difference and say–

Two out of four Gin Rickys

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.

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