DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 3 Episode 10
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow picks up where it left off after a long hiatus with the arrival of fan favourite John Constantine onto the Waverider to help with the Mallus problem.
There has been a widespread sense of disappointment ever since the cancellation of Constantine. The casting of the character was note perfect and the series consistently delivered solid supernatural entertainment. Thankfully Matt Ryan’s portrayal of the character hasn’t been lost as a result of the show no longer being in production. Arrow featured him in a guest appearance during that show’s fourth season and an animation is due to appear on the CW website at some point in the future. Combine those with this appearance and Matt Ryan’s John Constantine lives on. For those that are interested I reviewed the entire series back when it aired.
John’s appearance on the Waverider capped off the previous episode and this one wastes no time explaining why he’s there with a scenario perfectly suited to the character. He shows up at a mental asylum to exorcise a Demon from a young girl who later turns out to be Nora Darhk. That Demon turns out to be Mallus and this makes John part of what the team are dealing with. Since Mallus mentions Sara Lance he uses magic to track her down and the rest is history.
One of the great things about the Arrowverse is that it touches on pretty much every aspect of the DC Comics universe in some way. Time travel and magic are two concepts that certainly belong in a comic book and when combined there’s a lot of fun to be had. Some of this episode is devoted to John Constantine considering time travel to be weird by his standards which makes for a fun contrast with the Legends who are still trying to get their heads around magic. They may have two magic based team members but they are still ill equipped to understand magic because even those that wield it don’t understand it.
John is the perfect antidote for that as he’s a self confessed expert on the occult so is the best resource they have for being able to understand how to combat this new type of threat. His main reason for being there is self serving as is consistent with the character but he is also perfectly willing to lend a hand while he’s around. This leads to a really fun horror themed adventure further proving how versatile this show is.
Sara is somewhat haunted by Mallus after her trip into his realm. This created a connection that he can exploit and it’s something that weighs on her throughout this episode. In some ways it feels like an unwelcome return to her being affected by the bloodlust that dragged down much of the first season but thankfully this isn’t really the case in this instance as the temporary nature of this connection is made clear along with the fact that Sara is a different person to the one who was consumed by the blood lust. She is better equipped to handle powerful influences which definitely shows how far she has come since her post resurrection days.
John and Sara’s interactions make for interesting viewing because they are both highly skilled and overconfident characters carrying more than their share of baggage. Their conversation about John’s failure to save Astra as mentioned repeatedly in his own show is really enlightening as it gives them clear common ground. This helps to facilitate them hooking up during the episode which feels consistent for both characters and helps contribute to the fluid approach this show takes to sexuality though I wish a more meaningful story would be told about Sara being bisexual than what we often get.
Outside of his interactions with Sara, John Constantine feels like a natural fit for this show. The way he banters with the entire cast allows him to fit right in and the prior connection he has to other events in the Arrowverse mean that he fits the mould of a DC’s Legends of Tomorrow character as this show has been a home for characters introduced elsewhere. He has a prior connection to Sara that means he isn’t unknown to the team and this is used as a jumping on point to allow him to interact with the rest of the cast.
Most of his scenes are with Sara as is to be expected which means there’s a limited amount of time for him to spend with other members of the cast. Each of the moments he has are brilliantly written and take full advantage of John as a character. His recognition of Amaya’s totem with the flirtatious edge to the way he talks to her causing Nate to role his eyes is a great example of how John weaves his way through the cast as it shows he has a keen eye for mystical artefacts, finds Amaya attractive and irritates Nate all in the space of a few seconds. Flirting with Leo is another fun aside as it brings in John’s fluid sexuality in a slightly ham fisted yet entertaining way.
The horror elements of the episode worked really well. A spooky asylum setting is perfect for an adventure featuring John Constantine and the standard horror imagery such as flickering lights and unsettling camera angles made for an effectively spooky setting. The fact that Sara found herself affected by what she was experiencing also helps sell how dangerous the situation is since Sara Lance is scared by very little. Of course Sara tries to take everything in her stride and soldiers on but there’s no denying how terrified she really is.
Trying to free Nora Darhk (Madeleine Arthur) from Mallus’ influence makes for some exciting supernaturally themed sequences. It doesn’t feel out of place for this show to have John Constantine chanting in Latin while a young woman writhes around as mystical interference upsets the possessing force and it allows some furthering of the Mallus plot. We saw Nora use Mallus’ power to resurrect her father earlier in the season which makes this episode something of an origin story for that event. Mallus goes after Nora at a very young age and corrupts her to the degree that we see her as an adult. The possession is clearly powerful and seductive but also terrifying but this is the point where Nora can be redeemed. She is characterised as being at her most vulnerable at this age because she has recently lost her father and has been routinely mistreated in the various places she ends up. There is no stability to her life other than what Mallus offers her and it’s easy to see why that would be such a corrupting influence.
This angle gives Ray and Zari something to do when they take it upon themselves to try to carve out something better for Nora. If she can be shown a better path at this point in her life then it’s possible that she can be tempted away from becoming the Nora they have previously encountered. Madeleine Arthur does a great job portraying the innocent yet tortured Norah and the story told here is very much a tragic one. We already know how evil Damien Darhk is but at this point in her life Nora is an innocent victim who has had her father brutally taken away from her. Ray and Zari’s approach is to embrace that innocence and show her the kindness that has been lacking in her life since her father was killed by Oliver back in the Arrow season 4 finale.
Up until a point this seems to be working and with Sara’s help Nora is able to resist Mallus up until Damien Darhk shows up to tell her that there will be a point where they will be reunited and she has to embrace Mallus in order to bring him back. This undoes all of the hard work Ray and Zari put in to help her find a different path and sets her down the road to the Nora Darhk we see in prior episodes. I suspect the memory of Ray and Zari’s efforts with change up the antagonistic relationship somewhat but for now Nora still becomes the villain we have seen. It’s a tragic ending to this particular subplot and very effective in its execution. No matter how effective Ray and Zari are they are still no substitute for Nora’s father so it’s very apparent why she decides to take his side.
Amaya gets to spend some quality time with her granddaughter Kuasa after Nate helps her be captured. They have a short and largely boring conversation about Amaya’s responsibilities as a grandmother and the relationship that Kuasa remembers. This is supposed to be in service of deepening the bond between them and making their antagonistic relationship more interesting but it doesn’t really work because the dialogue comes across as little more than hollow melodrama that adds very little. Amaya goes from compassionate to hostile and back to compassionate in the space of a single scene and it feels clumsy in its execution because there is no weight to the relationship to make any of it believable. There is definitely potential in a grandmother having to fight a granddaughter who hasn’t been born yet from her perspective but none of that can really be seen here.
Leo has an unceremonious exit from the show. His reason for staying in the first place was fairly flimsy in its execution which seems to be indicative of a trend involving this character. After a couple of adventures he simply decides that it’s time to leave and propose to the boyfriend he left behind. The understated goodbye between Leo and Mick was nicely done showing that not everything needs to be met with large scale fanfare but it would have been better if his decision to leave had actually been informed by something. Leo will certainly be missed as part of this cast as will Wentworth Miller in general but at least there’s scope for a return at some point.
Mick was predictably an excellent presence in the episode. This week his disinterest takes the form of simply wanting to enjoy the first live game of American Football he has been in a position to watch in three years. He has no tolerance for the external drama going on around him and barks orders at the team in order to get rid of them. The amusing thing is that those orders make a lot of sense and suggest a capacity for leadership that has yet to be nurtured. It could also be that he stumbled onto the most sensible approach through sheer frustration.
This episode offers some relationship foreshadowing by featuring two conversations between Sara and Agent Sharpe. It’s very obvious foreshadowing as has always been the case for these two characters but the chemistry between them continues to be strong. Their second conversation also serves an important plot purpose by informing us that Rip Hunter has escaped and setting up that as being something to deal with.
An excellent episode with a great guest star that furthers the main season plot in really interesting ways. John Constantine is a natural addition to the cast and bounce off Sara wonderfully. Using him to add a horror edge to the episode works really well and his skills allow the Mallus’ plot to be developed in interesting ways. Nora Darhk as an innocent presence works really well by allowing potential for her to be changed from the villainous presence that the Legends have dealt with before. This fails because Ray and Zari can’t compete with her father but she certainly appreciated the kindness so there’s potential for that to colour their interactions in future episodes.
The attempt to develop the connection between Amaya and Kuasa is appreciated in concept but utterly fails in execution. Their conversations aren’t all that interesting to watch and the resulting conflict doesn’t work. Amaya flipping from compassionate to hostile before going back to compassionate really doesn’t work despite the potential this relationship has. Leo’s decision to leave the Waverider feels a little too sudden and unprompted but the understated goodbye he has with Mick works really well as a character moment. Mick is at his best in this episode showing accidental leadership skills brought on by frustration. Sara’s flirtatious relationship with Agent Sharpe works really well in the two interactions they have even if the endgame is obvious here and further the plot with the reveal that Rip Hunter has escaped.
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