Welcome to Legends Of Tomorrow, the show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter! Sometimes they screw things up for the better? Here are assorted musings on the third season’s end, although they may cease to be spoilers if time gets broken again.
While it’s entertaining, there’s something holding this series back from being completely satisfying. LOT does so much stuff that appeals to me like embracing the kitchen sink craziness of Silver Age comics, yet I don’t love it as much as I theoretically should. This is a show that was invented to house the spare heroes since the Flash is already overpowered & they’d put Green Arrow out of a job. Protecting the space-time continuum is gigantic responsibility for the closest thing the CW has to the Justice League, yet it often feels like nothing is really at stake thanks to wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey. Its time travel rules are already as inconsistent as Doctor Who’s despite its fifty year head-start. They only go to the easy time periods that always get featured in fiction instead of doing something more unusual like visiting Mansa Musa. It’s certainly gotten better since they’ve adopted a more lighthearted tone, but I don’t think the first season was terrible. (It was definitely rough, but all the Captain Cold & Heatwave developments made it worthwhile.) While it’s the most fun DC show, the quality yo-yos. Inconsistency is still better than being the consistently worst this season! I wish the musical numbers weren’t just the cast having fun. If Legion can integrate dance sequences…
Caity Lotz won the Arrowverse lottery. She went from being unceremoniously fridged to headlining an ensemble series. Now she gets to lead the team, wear lots of chic period outfits, have all the romances, wisecrack, & do nifty fight scenes.
Death Totem Sara looks too much like Killer Frost & Livewire. (Fie on Supergirl for killing its best recurring foe! I don’t even understand how Reign could permanently kill her with heat vision since Livewire’s an energy being.) Mallus-possessed Nora Darhk resembles evil season six Willow Rosenberg as well. I should’ve been excited to see a lady transform into a demon but it was just a non-volcanic Balrog. If they’d used Eclipso inside of made-up Mallus, they could’ve had some more creative designs.
This show has the unique opportunity to spotlight DC characters that wouldn’t fit on other CW shows yet rarely capitalizes on this. B’wana Beast had more potential than just being an Easter Egg costume. It’s nice that they picked up a loose end from Arrow, but I worry Nora borrows too many elements from Scandal Savage & Eclipso to see direct adaptations of them soon. I guess Trigon is earmarked for that non-CW
Teen Titans show, but why couldn’t Mallus be one of DC’s other official demons like Neron? Mallus’s Death Totem link sounds like Nekron (who is a different demon from the prior one as a opposed to a typo), & it’ll be years before WB is ready to hastily throw him into the rumored Green Lantern Corps movie. Why bother making up a completely generic demon when there’s many to chose from? It also would’ve been nifty if it was Mr. Mind pretending to be a demon, but he’s probably embargoed for the Captain Marvel Shazam movie. (Shouldn’t Mallus at least have a hammer based on its name? Also you can’t tell everyone your name is Mallus then suddenly say it’s pronounced Malice.)
Vixen is a problem. When Megalyn Echikunwoke wouldn’t return as the modern Mari McCabe despite being hyped up as a big deal, this series invented Amaya Jiwe, her African predecessor from WWII. This was a great opportunity to inject a new historical perspective that’s rarely spotlit, but Amaya is sadly stoic about everything that’s not her family & intra-office romance. She may as well be from the present day USA. Becoming the new Captain Morgan was one of the rare opportunities this show has afforded Maisie Richardson-Sellers to show as much personality as the rest of the team. With Zambesi Totems playing such a huge part in the narrative this season, it feels really awkward that Mari hasn’t interacted with her time displaced grandma. Nora corrupting Vixen’s Spirit Totem was glossed over very quickly. She still has the paradox dilemma hanging over her head because she could be killed on a mission before she’s destined to have her daughter. (I mistakenly thought the season premiere’s stinger implied she returned to her timeline to have children.) I’m glad they finally resolved this, although maybe not since Amaya won’t be absent next season.
(Citizen) Steel disrespected her homemade doughnuts, so Amaya was completely in the right about dumping him on his birthday. I’m glad he’s not Mari’s & Kuasa’s grandpa. He’s sticking around, which is unfortunate as his micro-pompadour is the most charismatic thing about him.
Zari is pretty great. She’s quite different from DC’s Isis, but then so is everybody that gets adapted to TV. They don’t call her Isis because being an alternate acronym for Daesh has soured that Goddess’s name with the general public. (You’d think Daesh wouldn’t want to be associated with Her name either given its ideology.) Tala Ashe plays her as upbeat, outspoken, empathetic, religious, & clever. Her ethos for improving history instead of just preserving it opens an ethically intriguing worm can. She fits really well with the team. For someone from a dystopian future she does seem overly familiar with vintage video games, however, this may be a side effect of Ready Player One coming true.
I like John Constantine here better than on his own show (that should’ve been a direct adaptation of Hellblazer), but Matt Ryan is still using the wrong English accent to say gibberish in Latin. At least he’s not as bowdlerized as its toothless Jonah Hex. We’re seeing more of him next season when he becomes a series regular. (Hopefully the CW works out is scheduling so LOT doesn’t have to share a time-slot with Supergirl.) He should bring The Helmet of Fate along with him so it can finally acquire a host. Etrigan, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Deadman, & everybody else waiting in Development Hell for Justice League Dark should come too! Since the timeline shifted without him, why does he believe the severed dragon’s head he probably acquired via antiquing is the team’s fault? Nyssa volunteered to help Ava out with Constantine.
“Necromancing the Stone” is my favorite episode title this season. Why did the Death Totem manifest Jesse Quick? Everybody dies eventually, but she wasn’t dead to Kid-Flash. (Now that The Shanara Chronicles isn’t preoccupying Malese Jow, when will he meet Linda Park?) His mom fits the pattern of dead relative guilt trips better. If Mallus can do illusions of anyone that will ever die, why not impersonate currently living Leg-Ends so they don’t look like morons for falling for the most obvious ruses?
“Guest Starring John Noble” lived up to its title! Atom gets John Noble (who voices Mallus) on the set of Return of the King to record some dialogue to deceive Nora. That was some A+ metatextuality.
Last season finale, the team broke time. This season Mallus needs time to be more broken to escape? The amount of time-brokeness needed to free a demon seems arbitrary. It would’ve been more interesting if Mallus was released at the start of the season so we could get to know it better & spend more episodes combating it directly. (I appreciate it was still the heroes’ fault it escaped, but it was such a obviously boneheaded move on their part.) A death-centric fireball-throwing demon wanting to escape its prison while possessing a girl’s body is basic demon stuff. We don’t learn what’s unique about it because the Darhks, Kuasa, & Grodd are doing all the heavy lifting. “It’s bad just because it’s a demon” is such lazy characterization. Vandal Savage felt more interesting.
Preventing the Zambesi village from being exterminated was the final anachronism needed for Mallus to escape its temporal prison. (Are we not all prisoners of time?) The Arrowverse timeline changes radically whether Nora Allen is murdered or not, so an entire African village not being massacred should have even bigger ramifications since Zari’s simulator couldn’t find a loophole for it. I get the sense that the only major change we’ll see, however, is Kuasa as Vixen. If the other series don’t acknowledge this, the stakes on this show will feel even more trivial. So now the floodgates are open for the rest of the team to rescue their murdered loved ones. (Remember how difficult it was to alter events in a meaningful way back in the inaugural season?)
Rip Hunter’s sacrifice didn’t land as well given we didn’t spend much time following his character arc this season. Aside from Kid-Flash karaoke, he was just unnecessarily shady. Why did he train the Time Bureau to disdain the Leg-Ends when he knew they’d be working together? Why did he abandon Gideon? Why did he need to go rogue in his attempt to halt Damien’s resurrection? Why couldn’t he let Ava Sharpe know she was a mass produced clone? Why did he headquarter the Time Bureau in Star City when it has annual disasters? How does he know the bureaucratic
Men In Black Time Bureau won’t evolve into the draconian Time Lords Masters? Why does he never use a time sphere when that’s the thing Reverse-Flash says he’s famous for inventing?
Mallus assembles a legion of Centurions, Vikings, & pirates. None of them were particularly threatening separately, so they’re still cannon fodder together. Jax returned without the spectacular Sticky-Man powers, which means I’ve already spent too many words on this. On the opposite end of the callback spectrum, Helen of Troy trained by Themyscrians is cool!
The opening salvo against Mallus is a bending battle better than anything in The Last Airbender movie (also featuring John Noble’s voice). Then Amaya finally figures out how the Zambesi Totems worked on Mallus the first time. Although she has time travel at her disposal, she learns this through a psychotropic vision quest. It looks like a unified Care Bear stare, but she later insists the totem bearers are supposed to form a gestalt avatar like Captain Planet. After a Cronenbergian failure, they eventually get it right by forming a Brobdingnagian Beebo! Beebo bests Mallus in the most adorable clash of kaiju!
Okay, LOT, you have justified your existence for another season. Now why can’t I buy a Beebo plush right now?