Legends of Tomorrow: Mortal Khanbat

"I can fix everything."

They really wove all the plot threads together here. I'll apologize for that pun a little later.

As I mentioned in last episode's review, this episode was directed by Caity Lotz. Hence her near-complete absence in both that episode and this one. So that begs the question, how did she do? The answer, really well. At least, I'm about 87% certain she did really well.

Here's the thing about genre pastiche. It kind of depends on your knowing anything about the genre. And my knowledge of late 90s Hong Kong action films extends about as far as knowing who John Woo is, and no further. So, while I'm vaguely aware that the hail of bullets, table flipping, slo-mo gunfight action dive is all part of that genre, I can't really speak to how well she evoked anything specific. The reflection of the guards in the mirrored sunglasses, for example, seemed pretty likely to be a visual cue from something, but I couldn't tell you what.

This isn't a problem, to be clear. You shouldn't have to know everything about the genre they're referencing in order to enjoy the episode that you're watching, and I don't think you needed to in order to enjoy this one. I just wanted to be up front that if she committed some unpardonable sin in capturing the aesthetic, I wouldn't ever know about it.

So, that said, there's a lot of plot threads going on here, and in opposition to last week, they're interplaying with one another nicely. John's collapse at the end of the previous episode led directly to Gary and Ray bringing him to the Waverider where the rest of the crew was, since it would have been ridiculous and unbelievable if that hadn't been Ray and Gary's very first response to the situation. Similarly – and this is something that most shows resist doing – they brought in all the obvious 'Well, wouldn't XXX cure this?' solutions from other episodes. Usually a show will avoid this, requiring as it does that you've seen the other episode they're calling back to. Here that wasn't a problem, since Nora being a Fairy Godmother is something they have to keep reminding us of anyway, and the Puca doesn't really need explaining beyond 'magic wish granting creature,' so even if you didn't know or remember that we've seen one before, it doesn't hurt the story. If, on the other hand, you are like me and just spent half an hour trying to remember when we saw one before, it was in 'Nip/Stuck.'You're welcome.

John's condition makes Ava feel helpless, so she responds by refocusing the team on 'tidying up the timeline,' and unveils a shiny new program to identify where the Encores are going to be so that they can pre-emptively deal with them. Yes, this is the exact identical solution that they came up with for both the anachronisms and the magical creatures in seasons three and four, respectively. Because you can't start every episode with the team happening to notice that somebody's calling breakfast the wrong name.

The Genghis Khan plotline worked nicely. It was appreciated that they explained why he was time displaced when none of the other Encores have been. He came back in his tomb, and it took him this long to dig his way out. OK, that makes sense. His magical encore-weapon is the sword he was buried with, which appears to do exactly the same thing that Bugsy Siegel's gun did, and is used to dispatch him in the exact same way Bugsy Siegel's gun was.

It's beginning to feel like the 'Encore of the week' plotlines have run their course and are in danger of becoming a little repetitive. We can only hope that they realize this and know that this is the time to radically change the course of the season with a new element that changes how the elements of the season fit together.

Oh, hello there, John Constantine's plot and the revelations it forces out of Charlie about her past. Your timing is impeccable.

I want to draw attention here to something that's becoming more and more clear as the season progresses. The production schedule for this year must have been a complete garbage fire of scheduling conflicts and production logistics. Maisie Richardson-Sellers had a movie to shoot. So they write into the plot that Charlie is scared of something and goes missing for a few episodes to hide. That sort of thing is usually just functional plot mechanics, but here they used it as the starting point for revealing Charlie's backstory instead of just an absence of convenience. And that worked great. Caity Lotz needs is directing one, so she needs to not appear much in both that one and the one proceeding, so they use that to establish Ava's relationship with the other characters outside of being 'the girlfriend.' And that also worked great. Jes Macallen has great chemistry with the others in her own right, and I don't know that we'd ever have noticed that without Sara out of the picture for a bit.

What I'm saying is that there better be a damn good reason that Mick's been an essential no-show these last two weeks, and it better not be that they're building up to him leaving. Honestly, 'he's in his room mooning over Ali' feels remarkably lazy, given how well they juggled the scheduling problems I mention above.

Three things that I resolutely love about this one:

- The temporary resolution of John's lung cancer. By giving Astra the power to cure him, but leaving her the ability to re-cancer him at any time, they've left a huge Sword of Damocles over John's head while simultaneously putting his goals in direct opposition to Charlie's. He needs the loom to be reassembled to undo the damage to Astra's family. Charlie is desperate that it remains broken apart because people shouldn't have their destinies forced onto them.

- The reveal that Charlie is Clotho, one of the three Greek Fates, was something I didn't see coming, and I have a million questions. This kind of answers my questions about how powerful she used to be, doesn't it. I wonder how she ended up in whatever magical prison she was released from at the end of season three?

- The casual reveal that it was Crisis' combining of the universe that brought this problem on. Charlie had safely stowed the pieces of the Loom in different realities, but now that they're all in the same plane of existence it's somehow called out the other two fates (Lachesis and Atropos in case you were wondering).  I cannot wait to see how Astra's and the Fates' relative plans ricochet off of one another.



Everybody remember where we parked:

John's house, where he spent his 'last night with his mates,' continues to be in Newcastle, probably 2020. The Waverider took the crew and Nate's scooter to Hong Kong, 1997, on the Eve of Great Britain giving it back to China.

It's weird to have events you remember shown as history, just as an aside.

It was interesting to learn that the Legends retained the Time Bureau's Time Couriers, and have them on a cute little stand in a shelf. I guess we kind of knew that since they've been using them all season.



Bits and Pieces:

-- They went out of their way to remind us that Marie Antoinette is still their prisoner, and that they are apparently feeding her cake. I bet Courtney Ford really enjoys doing those scenes. Her response to hearing that sex with Behrad was merely adequate was very funny.

-- The running joke of people realizing that Charlie and Behrad had had sex was genuinely funny and paid off well with Khan.

-- Charlie made an attempt to drive Behrad away by flirting with Zari, and while it was obviously a ploy to hurt him, neither Charlie nor Zari seemed opposed to the idea. I don't want to judge anyone, but personally I make it a policy to never have sex with more than one member of a family.

-- I was disappointed that they had to specify that Charlie and Behrad's sexcapade happened after Behrad had replaced Zari. I'm sure that was just to prevent us from wondering what happened with Zari and Charlie back in 'Legends of To-Meow-Meow,' but personally I was hoping it was right after she'd returned Behrad from being a cat.

-- Mick had one scene, featuring no other regulars, that clearly could have been knocked out in a couple of hours anytime his schedule permitted. Somebody tell me where Dominic Purcell has been?

-- Were we supposed to infer that the talking bulldog cane topper was the ghost of Winston Churchill? He's got a 'Bulldog' association, right?

-- The reveals were all done really well. The realization that the Mongols were invading on scooters was well paced and shot, the realization that John had poisoned himself so that he could die just prematurely enough to bargain with Astra was handled well, and the reveal of Charlie as Prince Charles was great. Well directed, Caity Lotz.

-- The arc of John getting angry at his friends, apologizing, and then enjoying his last night with them was really touching. Then of course he was manipulating the whole thing, because John Constantine.

-- In addition to a roast, Ray also prepared a hand cut vegetable tray. I'm really going to miss him. I probably didn't need to know that Ray was uncircumcised, however.

-- It could have used a little underlining that Nate leaving the wreck of his scooter behind inspired Genghis' plan.

-- I realize that in addition to the John Woo stuff there were also plenty of callouts to Tarantino and the 90s Charlie's Angels.

-- I apologize for the pun in the opening tagline above.



Quotes:

John: "Well, there’s no point in quitting now."

Ava: "Does Marie Kondo rest just because she’s built an empire?"
Zari and Ava: "No."

Nate: "Thirteenth century armor. Fu Manchu mustache. Guys, I think I know who the encore is."

John: "Gary, bring me the foxglove and the serpents' tongue. And the hair of an albino."

Nate: "There’s only one explanation. B and Charlie went to pound town."
Zari: "Ew. Gross."
Ava: "Wait, what?"
Nate: "Moan Zone? Smash City?"

Pippa: "Fairy Godmother, I wish your scary British friend wasn’t sick."

Nate: "How was it? She shape shift?"
Behrad: "That’s what you want to talk about?"
Nate: "100%, but we don’t have to."

I feel like there are a million things in this episode that I haven't gotten around to talking about, because this was a particularly stuffed one. For my few minor complaints above, they made a bunch of good decisions and reveals here, and changed the direction of the season in a way that I'm really excited about.

Three and a half out of four invading hordes

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.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

The Fate reveal came out of nowhere, but it sort of made sense. Good on them. And I'm going to miss Ray, too.

Never apologize for a good pun, Mikey. :)

Anonymous said...

Mick's going to have his hands full soon enough.

Robin said...

More astute fans than I twigged a couple episodes ago that Constantine has been exclusively evoking Greek mythological figures when incanting this season, foreshadowing Charlie's backstory as a Fate.

I would also have accepted "Charlie turned into a cat to have sex with Behrad as apology for breaking time."

Josie Kafka said...

I really loved this episode despite also lacking anything more than a cursory knowledge of Hong Kong action movies.

Mick's absence was sorely felt, at least on my end.