Legends of Tomorrow: Nip/Stuck

"Gary Green is all the man we need."

This episode title got about 1000% funnier after the reveal of Gary's evil nipple last week.

I'm just saying.

Technically, this week's title only represents two out of the three plotlines. What we really get is more like Nip/Stuck/Sunday in the park with Neron, but it's hard to complain too much about it since it's both a solid joke and a pleasant reminder that the show Nip/Tuck was a thing once. Plus, and it hurts me to say this, the Constantine stuff was really the weakest of the three plotlines.

That's probably a good place to start. At the end of the last episode, Neron-in-Ray's-Body teleported away from the Waverider taking with him Gary and Constantine. I actually missed, at the time, that John had been taken with them, and so I was a little confused when we opened in the ice age with Him and Neron and no Gary in sight. That said, they cleared up pretty quickly that Gary had been sent to the Time Bureau, although why Neron would bother to do this was a little unclear at first.

Gradually, however, one thing became very clear. Neron is probably the most competent villain that the Legends have ever encountered, and his 'to do' list is shockingly task oriented. What Neron wants, ultimately, is his lady friend Tabitha to be released from Hell. Once she's out there's probably some idea about conquest and domination, but for now all we really see is Neron being laser focused on getting her out. Seriously though, how nice would it be if step two was just him and Tabitha taking a nice vacation in the wine country and getting a couples massage?

In any case, Neron has clearly taken a moment to troubleshoot his plan, because he's very efficiently begun from 'the Legends will try to stop me,' reasoned that forcing John to use his magic over a very large trap will be a nice way to get them out of the way, foresaw the hitch of the Legends just calling the Time Bureau to rescue them and headed that off by getting Gary on his side and having him make the Time Bureau unavailable to help.

So, despite how things look at first glance, all three of the plotlines this week are just three different pieces of the same plan, and neither Neron nor the show feel any need to overtly point that out. Indeed, the most impressive part of Neron's plan such as we see it this week is just how not flashy it is. He's not showing off for anyone or trying to impress his enemies, or any of those common villain-flaws. He's efficiently anticipating threats and neutralizing them while simultaneously maneuvering John into the position of either allowing both himself and an innocent to be sent to Hell, or to stabilize the portal to Hell which will allow Tabitha to come back to him.

And the ultimate result of this well prepared and competently executed plan? He wins. Absolutely, 100% Neron achieves exactly what he intended to do, with no hiccups whatsoever. There are precisely two things that happen which Neron didn't intend, and neither of them matters to him in the slightest. The Legends manage to escape from their snowy grave and Constantine decides to swan dive into Hell to save Ray, and neither of those things matter, as they have zero impact on Tabitha's successful escape.

The swan dive into Hell was a nice resolution to a theme that's been bubbling away under John's plotline. He's repeated many times that he's a complete bastard, that he's a monster, that he's a horrible person. Because believing that about himself is kind of Constantine's character brief. But the emotional climax of that theme was probably the easiest thing to miss in this episode. We're told that the Puca only mirrors those that are around it. If you're angry, it's angry; if you're violent, it's violent. And when it's alone with John, it's kind. Judging from the look on John's face when the Puca heals his forehead, he didn't miss the significance. That's what brought about the change of heart that led him, the first one to board the 'Ray's gone and never coming back' train, to jumping into Hell to bring back his friend.

That's just a really solid emotional through line.

Meanwhile, The Waverider is trapped below 500-odd feet of snow during the ice age. Sara immediately makes the logically correct choice to turn power down to minimum so that they can conserve it as long as possible while they slowly freeze to death while bickering. How nice was it, by the way, that they were all wearing spare Captain Cold jackets because Snart left a supply of spares. That was just adorable.

It's easy to give Ray short shrift as compared to his team-mates. He's the sunny, optimistic one, and that's a character type that it's just way too easy to make fun of these days. Characters like Mick and Sara with all their gruff cynicism are just more fun to watch, we tend to think. How wonderful is it, then, that the secret to the Waverider's escape was to find and embrace their inner Ray, turning the heat back up to full and determining to enjoy each other for as long as they can, because even if all they have is each others' company, that is not nothing. The answers in the Cards to Save the Timeline game were a little on the nose, but I don't care. The Legends were saved by the magic power of optimism and friendship, and that's just fine by me. We need more of that. Also, please mass produce that card game, I want to play it.

Which leaves us with Gary and his hypno-nipple, Stepford Wife-ing his way through the Time Bureau and interrupting Nora's new hire paperwork. This is basically your by the numbers 'all of your friends are being turned against you, one by one' template, although it's very well done. It also must have been nice for Adam Tsekhman to get to shake things up in his portrayal of Gary, although I do wonder if he was told early on just how much of the plotline this year was going to be driven by his nipple. I feel like that would be a weird burden to carry. It's thematically pleasant that this plotline too was solved by remembering that you aren't alone. In this case, Mona and Wolfie. It would appear that Wolfie is essentially a separate personality from Mona, and can take control of just portions of her body to communicate, which is interesting.

So, three distinctly separate plot threads, all of which are really just different parts of the same plot thread, all of which essentially boil down to the idea that 'friendship is good.'

This episode just works really, really well.



Everybody remember where we parked:

The first stop for both Neron and the Waverider is the Donner Pass in the Ice Age. This is little less precise than they usually get, as there were at least five ice ages, and they tended to last for a little while. Things get a little more specific when the Legends trace John's magic and realize that he's 1.3 million years in the past, but that still seems like a suspiciously round number.

It also begs the question of whether the Donner Pass would actually exist 1.3 million years ago. Wikipedia assures me that the Sierra Nevada range began its uplift four million years ago, so it's theoretically possible, I suppose. But let's be honest, they really only set things there for the sake of a few cannibalism jokes.

Next, Neron takes John to a 'Celtic village' in 55 BCE. That's 'Before Current Era,' which is an alternative phrasing to B.C. although they both refer to more or less the same thing. It's a little odd that a show that's already confirmed the existence of Christ would use the more neutral term.



Quotes:

Nate: "And who knows what he’s doing in Ray's name, or his perfectly grass fed organic butter-body."

Nate: "What do we do till then?"
Zari: "Stress eat."
Mick: "Drink."
Charlie: "Yeah, how’ve you lot survived until now?"

Gary: "Let’s rap for a sec."
Mona: "Is Gary cool now?"
Co-worker: "That’s impossible."

Gary: "No need to stress. Unless your infraction is looking too good in that suit. Agent Reyes knows what I’m talking about."
Mona: "Oh my god, I think she just swooned."

Sara: "There is such a thing as too much exposition, Gideon."

Nora: "My forms keep getting rejected because records show I’m fifteen and living in a mental institution."

Charlie: "Good thing that this Snart bloke kept a supply of supply of jackets though, innit? They smell good, too, actually. What is that, is that sandalwood?"

Sara: "Look, I know that book convention was important to you. And I’m really glad you got to go."
Mick: "I’m glad you have Ava."

Sara: "Look, Ray would want us to have faith that we will escape. He wouldn’t want us cold and miserable. So right now, we are going to enjoy our time together. Let’s go."

Wolfie: "You will do no more harm with your nip-ple!"

Ava: "It’s a long story, but Gary took over the bureau. He nip-notized everyone."
Nate: "Yeah, you’re gonna have to explain that."


Bits and Pieces:

-- So Tabitha is the fairy godmother from 'Witch Hunt.' I did not see that coming. Did they meet in Hell after the team sent her there? Are fairy godmothers all really demons? I have so many questions.

-- They seem to have forgotten that Mick likes Ray. That was sad.

-- It's out of character for Mick to question Sara's decisions. That felt forced.

-- It appears that Wolfie ate Gary's Evil Nipple. Is Gary still evil? He did choose to go with Neron at the end.

-- 'Gary's Evil Nipple' is going to be the name of my new punk band.

-- Dragon eggs need more heat than that. They should be kept on a fire because their mothers breathe on them. Yes, I am a Ravenclaw.

-- It's surprising that we went another week without Wixtable the Dragon hatching or becoming particularly relevant. Perhaps they're saving him for the finale.

-- Everybody knows that Zari and Nate are hooking up and responses are in the positive to indifferent range.

-- Neron slicing his own throat was a really nice effect. And of course John couldn't not stop him.

-- Calling John 'Johnny' was Dez' thing, not really Neron's. It seems odd that Neron is still doing it.

-- Honestly, the gimmick of John's ancestor being the one who was persecuting the Puca felt a little gratuitous. Like, they really only did it because they thought it would be fun for Matt Ryan to play a different part for a bit.

-- 'Persecuting the Puca' is going to be the name of my new punk band.

-- Back in the day, the Hellblazer comic's letter page was constantly full of the debate about whether it was pronounced Constantine rhyming with 'mine' or Constantine rhyming with 'mean.' The publisher was very clear that it was 'mine.' I suspect we've ended up with the other pronunciation entirely because of the Keanu Reeves film, which isn't as bad as you remember, by the way.

A deceptively elegantly structured episode that comes down wholeheartedly on the side of optimism. What's not to like?

Three and a half out of four creepy nipples.

'Creepy Nipples' is going to be the name of my new... oh, never mind.
---
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...

Great episode. I'm sorry they forgot Mick is very into Ray too. Tabitha being who she was was kinda priceless.
Neron is a far cry from Vandal Savage that's for sure.
mazephoenix