Legends of Tomorrow: Luchas de Apuestas

"You were right. There’s no such thing as happily ever after."

Legends of Tomorrow is back with its first episode in nearly four months, and it comes out swinging.

The second half of season four just got real, y'all.

Wow. That is a lot to process. Just... wow.

The most admirable thing about this episode is how much every additional tragedy felt like a natural consequence of the events that led up to it. So often when a show wants to create big, dramatic rifts between its characters it ends up coming across as incredibly contrived. The writing staff wants A and B to have a falling out for whatever reason, and so they find some way of starting a fight between them that usually comes wrapped in a big sign that says 'this is an excuse for A and B to fight.'

That's not the case here at all. What we have here is a bunch of characters that we know quite well by this point, responding to events in ways that feel perfectly true to who they are. And the actions that they take cause other characters to react in ways that are true to who they are, and soon the reverberations of all of those in character actions are careening off in tragic but understandable ways. It's like watching a meticulously arranged domino pattern but with crying.

Obviously, I'm girding myself to discuss Sara and Ava.

OK, right now I'm rocking gently and repeating to myself, 'It's not permanent. They'll work it out' over and over again. But as much as I hate that Sara and Ava have broken up, I can't help but watch all the little steps that led up to it and think, 'Yes. That is exactly how Sara would respond to that' and 'Yep, that's exactly how I would expect Ava to react to that situation.' Of course Sara would choose to give Mona and the Kaupe the benefit of the doubt and try to shield them from the Bureau. Of course Ava would feel betrayed by that and respond by attempting to take more control over Sara and the Waverider in order to protect time. Or course Ava would ultimately try to prevent Sara's team from doing something she sees as reckless by sending in troops, and of course Sara is going to respond badly to that. Just to make it more heartbreaking, they both genuinely tried several times to talk the situation through like adults so that they could head the whole thing off, but failed.

Ava needed Sara to be on her side, and Sara couldn't be because that would mean abandoning Mona and the Kaupe, both of whom are basically innocent, to punishment and torture. She feels like Sara let her down, because Sara did actually let her down, even if it was for the best of reasons. Sara needed Ava to back her up against Hank and the government forces that are torturing their prisoners, and Ava couldn't do that because without Hank and his funding the Time Bureau ceases to exist, which would leave time unprotected just as it's being overrun with magical monsters. She feels like Ava is compromising herself ethically by ignoring the torture because Ava is, in fact, compromising herself ethically by ignoring the torture, even if she is doing it with the greater good in mind.

Which was a great final twist of the knife, by the way. A lot of Sara's dilemma in this episode was not knowing if Ava was part of the corrupt system, or in danger from the corrupt system. And because Sara is an emotionally healthy adult her default position was to have faith in Ava. Which made that final conversation all the more painful when Ava not only revealed that she didn't have a problem with the torturing of prisoners, she also pointed out that the Legends were sending those same prisoners to literal Hell only a few months ago. Ouch. I had forgotten that. Hell, they were ready to send Charlie to Hell now that I think about it. Goodbye moral high ground.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the episode, wow we have a lot of characters now, don't we. So, Charlie and Ray hang out back at the Waverider, while Mick, John, and Sara go to check out the Lucha Libre to which they've tracked the Kaupe. Zari, meanwhile, heads to Time Bureau HQ to dig into their security software and find out if Mona is telling the truth about not having released the Kaupe herself. She pairs up with Nate, and of course uncovers that Hank doctored the footage and is behind the whole 'creature torture' thing. Nate shows that he's undergone some character growth and doesn't fly off the handle at Hank, but instead pretends to be cool with it so that he can go all monster hunter Donnie Brasco. I like that new direction for Nate a lot. Having him investigation the TB from within is a lot more interesting than him slowly turning to the dark side and siding with Hank during the inevitable upcoming civil war, which is where I thought he was going.

Mick, John, Charlie and Ray don't get a ton to do this week, but Mick does get a couple of solid bonding scenes with Mona, over his Buck and Garima books, of which there are now apparently many. I guess that's what Mick was doing over the winter break. John, similarly, doesn't get a lot, but had a couple very nice moments with a Luchador who is supposed to be a big hero, but who's been supplanted by the time displaced Kaupe who's now wrestling under the name El Lobo. The detail that John is apparently a big fan of that particular wrestler and his later monster movies is perhaps a tad too convenient, but it was earnestly endearing, and earnest helps to excuse a lot in my book.



So, after all that uplifting triumph over adversity, Mona has the opportunity to run away with the Kaupe, but makes the emotionally correct choice to not run away from her problems, and everything is warm and fuzzy and deeply moving. But then the Kaupe is abruptly shot and killed and Mona is apparently a werewolf (were-Kaupe?) now, and all you can think as a viewer is, 'Oh, that's why they reminded us about her Kaupe-injury and why we had all the wolfman references made to the Kaupe. They were setting up that moment really well as the natural consequence of this sequence of events and I didn't even notice.'

If only every hour of broadcast television understood and used cause and effect as a result of character choices this well. What a world that would be.

So what have we learned today?

That the show isn't even remotely concerned about what the knock on effects of changes to the timeline might be anymore. That was actually the one big flaw this week. If the presence of the Kaupe in 1961 was changing the timeline in a way that the Bureau could see, then it would have eliminated a lot of the underlying problem. Specifically, if Ava could have seen that having the Kaupe fight the Lucha de Apuestas fight was the only way to get history back on the correct course, then the whole final fight could have been avoided.

Of course, the whole final fight was much more about Sara and Ava and their relationship, so it doesn't detract that much from the episode. But it would be nice if they'd addressed it at all.



Everybody remember where we parked:

This week the Waverider went to Mexico City, 1961, to catch a little Lucha Libre. And Zari somehow flitted back and forth between the Waverider in 1961 and the Time Bureau in the present day.

Present day, interestingly enough, is still stated here as 2018, probably unavoidably, as the action picks up right where "Legends of To-Meow-Meow" left off.

Quotes:

Gary: "Aw, what an adorable little puppet."
Puppet: "Eat my fuzzy dung, ya dick!"

Ava: "Gary. Close that hospital gown or I will report you to HR."

Gary: "I don’t know who I am. I don’t know why anything is things. I don’t know where my nipple went. Where’s my nipple? Where’s my nipple?!?"

Constantine: "Oh, come on Raymondo."

Nate’s mom: "Zari? What a beautiful name for a beautiful woman with excellent childbearing hips."

Ava: "Sara, my ass is already on the line. Feeling me up in front of my boss is not a good idea right now."

Constantine: "Trust me, there’s nothing people like more than a good comeback."



Bits and pieces:

-- Please don't let them be hinting that Zari and Nate are going to be a couple. I'm just not down for it.

-- Zari and Sara again looked absolutely amazing in their party dresses.

-- On the one hand, I like the implication that the show has finally remembered Nate's hemophilia, since it's implied that that's why his parents host an annual fundraiser for it. On the other hand, it's weird that that never came up once from anyone.

-- Seriously, powers that be, if you're going to take a four month mid-season break, for the love of god make the first half's episodes available on-demand so that we can get back up to speed. I spent most of this episode thinking, 'Oh yeah, I forgot that that happened,' which really killed several of the reveals for me.

-- I really, really wish that there'd been a luchador with the number 5 on his mask, somewhere in the background.

-- Luchas de Apuestas means a fight with a wager on it. Usually either the opposing wrestler's mask or hair.

-- Was the Kaupe a demi-god before? Because I think that was a bit of a ret-con.

-- Apparently the heavily hinted Gary/Mona/Kaupe love triangle is not going to be a thing. I hope they find a way to fix Gary and that he forgives Mona.

-- I did not see Mona's monster transformation coming. Can't wait to see where that goes.

-- When exactly did Sara and Ava learn that Tango? Not that I'm complaining, it looked amazing.

-- I would totally play Ray's 'Cards to Save the Timeline' game.

An episode that was both a lot of fun, and a lot of heartbreaking. Welcome back, Legends. You were gone too long.

Three and a half out of four missing nipples.

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.

2 comments:

ladydmaj said...

I'm glad the show is back too, and happy to be reading your reviews again.

I think the original plan was to have Nate turn to the dark side as he bonded with Big Bad Daddy Heyworth (which sounds like the lead singer of a swing band), but the writers realized A) Biff Tannen is weirdly adorable and 2) there was purer gold to be mined in a more complicated push and pull between father and son.

I figure that means either there will be no heel turn/civil war now, or (my personal hope) Nora loses her battle with the Dharkness and takes Ray down with her. I'd really love to see Brandon Routh break out his Chuck abilities as evil Ray, and Ray having to contend with and atone for that for the rest of the series.

Mikey Heinrich said...

I would totally go to see Big Bad Daddy Heywood in concert.

Thanks so much, you always say such nice things to me here :)

I'd actually completely forgotten about Nora in the mid season break. See, network, this is why you have to make the first half available for re-watching

I'm totally down for Evil Ray. I wonder what Mick's reaction to that would be. Speaking of, did you notice that Mick's signature on Ray's petition was 'Go Haircut'

Legends, American Gods and Cloak and Dagger all just started back up simultaneously, so there will be no shortage of my reviews around here for a little while. I'll be around to an obnoxious degree :)