DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 3 Episode 11
“Here I Go Again”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow channels Groundhog Day when Zari finds herself stuck in a time loop ending in the destruction of the Waverider.
A time loop episode for this show was inevitable. Most sci-fi/fantasy shows get around to it sooner or later and I’m actually surprised that this one took so long to dust off this old trope. A well used concept doesn’t mean that the episode has to be bad or disposable and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow brings its own wacky spin on the idea.
Zari has been around for a while but hasn’t done much of significance. Her introduction episode featured her heavily and the following episode had her back up Ray but since then she has been a background presence. The large cast means that this inevitably happens with characters but it has the detrimental effect of newer characters not having much time to make an impression. Strangely it wasn’t something I realised until this episode and the aim of this outing was clearly to help define Zari’s role on the team and her place in the overall dynamic.
A time loop is the perfect way to accelerate her development as a member of the team as it allows her to interact with all of the characters individually and forge a relationship with them. The fact that they don’t remember the shared experience is somewhat limiting but it does allow Zari to play catch up and learn more about the people she’s spending time with.
The episode approaches this by her spending time with each of them in turn. She starts with Nate who is the first to believe her story about a time loop. He’s the one to address the derivative nature of the concept by referencing Groundhog Day and pointing out that this is something they haven’t done yet. Readers of this site will know that Nate is far from my favourite character so it should come as no surprise that I’m not impressed with him here. Initially it seems like the episode will be the two of them working through the problem but he eventually disappears into the background and doesn’t really accomplish much other than backing Zari up on her investigation.
In many ways Zari is an outside observer for the team thanks to her inability to find her place within the group dynamic. This allows her to comment on things from a fresh perspective which sometimes works though doesn’t in the case of Nate as his development merely retreads old ground by focusing on his relationship with Amaya. Their current status could be best described as “in denial” as they are sneaking off during missions to have sex then having discussions about how much they regret it after. Nate isn’t as reluctant as Amaya claims to be so their discussions amount to Nate being eager to rekindle the romance and Amaya resisting it with the built in compromise of erasing their memories of ever having hooked up. This of course means that neither of them learn anything as a lack of memory means that mistakes continue to happen.
The most interesting thing about this is that they are effectively stuck in a loop just as Zari is as their relationship is unable to progress in any way thanks to an inability to remember it. Zari’s outsider perspective allows her to point this out and force them to confront their feelings rather than constantly avoiding them.
Her interactions with Ray are geared towards her getting over the fact that she finds him irritating. After spending an extended period of time with him Zari finds it within herself to appreciate his likeable qualities and acknowledges that above all Ray is a decent man. She helps him resolve the issue he’s having over John Constantine’s warning from last week by encouraging him to be honest. Doing so takes a weight off his mind and thankfully stops the personally maligned unnecessary secrecy issue that plagues so many similar shows. One week later Ray is up front about the warning and Sara accepts that she might have to be taken down by her own team should Mallus inhabit her once again. For Ray this manifests as being afraid of Sara which is funny in its own way but also telling of how large a threat she could be working against the team.
Sara and Zari’s relationship is the most troublesome as Zari has a problem with authority causing Sara to become frustrated. Zari’s latest example of insubordination takes the form of damaging Gideon but uploading a simulation program to analyse loop holes that can be exploited by the team to change history. This is all in service of her goal of changing the time period she comes from to something more positive. Sara objects to this because the team aren’t in the business of willingly changing history even though they routinely make a huge mess. Zari going out of her way to change events irks Sara but more than that there’s a clash in personalities as Zari is unwilling to let herself blend into the team because she sees it as a temporary situation so in her mind there’s no need to forge any lasting friendships.
Finding a way to deal with Sara is part of her arc around finding a sense of belonging. In order to respect Sara enough to take orders from her she first has to understand that she is a damaged and vulnerable person deep down. Externally she exudes a standoffish authoritative persona but in private she becomes more sensitive and vulnerable. The scene where she enters the Jumpship to reflect is especially effective at allowing the audience to see a more vulnerable side of Sara. Her conversation with Ava works really well because it lets Sara engage with someone who understands what it means to lead others and can provide a level of support that the rest the team can’t. It’s clear that we’re getting closer to the point of this relationship progressing away from the holding pattern it’s currently in it will be a welcome step forward when it does. Caity Lotz and Jes Macallan have great chemistry together as I’ve repeatedly said and the development of their relationship has felt natural.
The resolution of this conflict works well as they both see the point of view of the other. Zari understands Sara’s misgivings about changing the timeline after realising the temptation to save Laurel and Sara understands why Zari wants to make her own time better. I find it troubling that Zari’s timeline being a bleak outlook for the world that everyone is fighting for hasn’t been addressed but it seems likely that it will be changed.
Zari’s interactions with Mick are around encouraging his creative side. He has been secretly working on a sci-fi romance -or is it smut?- novel and is clearly feeling more than a little self conscious about it. This works really well because it’s not something that would be expected of Mick and adds some much needed depth outside of his -admittedly hilarious- angry wise cracks that make up his contribution to the bulk of the episodes. The revelation that there is a sensitive artist under the gruff exterior is great and the fact that Mick feels self conscious about it only adds to the beauty of the reveal.
Knowledge of the novel helps Zari’s development as she considers the story and gives advice on how to make the ending better. It links into her reluctance to be a part of the team and the suggestion she makes shows clearly that Zari has come to a personal realisation about her own relationships. There’s also a real sense of respect from Zari for what Mick has accomplished and the fact that he has dared to follow his dreams.
The time loop concept was used really well even though the hour timescale is very small. One way that the episode falls down is not showing much in the way of repetition to be built on in each loop. We see the Zari/Sara argument, Ray fall, the conversation between Nate and Amaya, Mick doing laundry and the explosion each time which is definitely enough for a short episode but there was room for more shenanigans that could have been taken advantage of in subsequent loops. It’s not a deal breaker but would have been nice to have added variety.
One thing that the loops allows was to allow Tala Ashe to show her lighter side. There’s a montage of her enjoying a consequence free life such as whipped cream binges, learning to play the violin and trying on her teammate’s costumes. This is inevitably followed by immense frustration as the repetitive nature of her existence overwhelms her. Basically this episode hits all the beats you’d expect a time loop episode to hit and does so well.
There is a twist to the concept when it is revealed to be an extension of the software Zari was trying to upload into Gideon. She is injured near the beginning of the episode and has her conscious uploaded into Gideon’s mainframe. Gideon takes the opportunity to teach her a lesson about teamwork in an effort to encourage her to stay on the team because it’s the only way the Legends will be able to achieve their goal. To do this Gideon creates a scenario where Zari has to become close to the team in order to solve it which presents the appearance of a time loop but isn’t really.
It could be argued that this makes very little difference as the end result is largely the same. Zari spends more time with the team than they ever spend with her so develops a closeness to them that she was lacking. Whether Gideon facilitates it or not makes little difference as none of the eventualities actually happen. I would argue the opposite for several reasons as Gideon being behind the scenario adds substance to the mythology of the show itself.
Even though the time loop doesn’t actually happen Gideon has managed to extrapolate the probable behaviour and reactions of the team based on what she knows about them. As the ship’s artificial intelligence she hears every conversation, sees every movement and adds it to her data bank which means that she knows all of the characters better than they know themselves. None of them feel out of place in the fantasy scenarios because Gideon can predict with near total accuracy how they will behave. It makes the scenario real enough and the fact that Zari delivers pertinent advice and observations shows how completely Gideon nailed these observations.
Another advantage to this is it furthers Gideon’s role as a defined character within the show. Amy Pemberton gets to lend her body to the role for the second time which makes for a welcome change of pace. There is a heavy implication that Gideon is growing and learning as time goes on and she’s every bit a member of the crew as any of them. It’s oddly satisfying to see Zari and Gideon bond in such a way and deepens the overall framework of the team dynamic as a result.
The ending of the episode is almost perfect. Zari playing the violin as the rest of the team take her advice and move themselves forward is a really quiet and thoughtful moment but it’s somewhat ruined by the cliffhanger ending showing Rip Hunter approaching Wally West. The right moment to end on was Zari playing the violin with the actual final scene being left until next week.
A fun episode that solidifies Zari as a member of the team in really creative ways. The time loop concept works really well as a vehicle to allow her to spend time with everyone on the team. These interactions are all meaningful in some way with some being more effective than others. I like the idea that Nate and Amaya are stuck in their own version of a time loop even if Nate fails to make a big enough impression outside of self referential humour. The deeper understanding gained between Sara and Zari works really well and the added depth to Mick is excellently done. The episode doesn’t take full advantage of the time loop concept by having a lot of repeated moments to play with but it’s fun enough and good to see a lighter side to Tala Ashe’s performance.
The reveal that it was all engineered by Gideon to convince Zari to stay on the team was a nice touch as it shows how well Gideon knows the team as well as furthers the idea that she is as much a part of the team as anyone else. Everything Zari learns is meaningful despite never really happening and the story ends on a really nice moment as she plays the violin while the team accepts her advice. The tease of further narrative to close the episode was unnecessary.
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