DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 3 Episode 15
“Necromancing the Stone”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow revisits the threat of Mallus when he uses his influence to turn one of their own against them.
Sara’s duality and inner conflict has been a big part of this season. The circumstances surrounding her resurrection make her attuned to more mystical problems and Mallus is able to use her conflicted nature to corrupt her. In effect, Sara becomes the villain of the piece and she makes for one of the most formidable threats the team has ever faced.
Heroes turning against other heroes is a popular comic book trope. It works because the tension associated with someone who fights for “good” suddenly using their abilities for “evil” is easy to build. Something familiar is taken and perverted putting the other heroes in a difficult position as they have to bring down someone they care about without really hurting them when the same courtesy isn’t extended in the other direction.
Caity Lotz has plenty to do in this episode and all of it is great. She gets to play Sara as a sort of mystical based Terminator as the uses the Waverider as her hunting ground to divide and bring down the team. Her knowledge of the ship allows her to activate the Nostromo sequence which locks the ship down completely preventing escape and setting the stage for the style of the episode. After this it very much takes on a horror theme very similar to Alien by framing the Waverider as a cold, dark, dangerous and uninviting location where every second seems to bring the team closer to death.
Sara’s fighting prowess is always used to great effect on this show and the same is true here. The obvious difference is that she’s using it against her own time which establishes a clear threat level as there’s no way anyone else on the ship is a match for her. Under the influence of Mallus and the death totem she has no real boundaries which makes any encounter with her really tense. Obviously none of them will be killed off but the episode does a great job of making it seem like a possibility.
Outside of the Alien inspired sci-fi haunted house plot Sara finds herself in Mallus’ realm with only Nora Darhk for company. Nora has succumbed to Mallus and encourages Sara to do the same by promising that doing so will free her of all pain and regret. The episode depicts a recurring dream Sara has featuring a little girl that has some significance to her. This pays off by showing that the little girl is the daughter of a man she killed while in the service of Ra’s Al Ghul. On a surface level the girl represents the guilt over all the pain and suffering she has caused in the past and on a deeper level she represents Sara’s lost innocence that can never be reclaimed.
Using the Black Canary manifestation as a reminder of all the death she has caused is a nice touch as it’s an easy reminder of a darker time. She has a lot of blood on her hands and the things she has done will haunt her forever no matter how much good she does to make up for them. Things like this make Sara interesting because she will always have that inner conflict and carry intense guilt about the life she has lead. The offer of having command over death is a very powerful temptation for her as she still mourns the loss of Laurel and would at least consider the possibility of being able to bring her back.
Her relationship with Ava proves to be something that grounds her in reality. Ava is a positive influence on her and Caity Lotz plays Sara as being very content when sharing scenes with Jes Macallan. This is clearly deliberate and makes the emotional stakes of this episode very believable. Ava is the one who reaches out to Sara while she is a prisoner of Mallus and encourages her to fight back which helps her realise that her darkness no longer defines her. The realisation that she would rather live a life containing fear and regret rather than being subservient to a Demon is a powerful one because it comes with the confidence that such a life is better because she is free to make choices and learn from her mistakes. I don’t think that the show has closed the book on Mallus being able to manipulate Sara but she definitely develops significantly and it’s clear that she won’t be an easy target for him next time.
Sara’s reasons for ending her relationship with Ava don’t work so well especially after using their connection as a big part of her being able to resist Mallus. The reasoning feels completely overdramatic and it feels out of character for Sara to reject Ava because of her past regrets especially when Ava makes it clear that her past isn’t something she’s overly concerned about. Combining this with the fact that Ava apparently has a secret that will further drive a wedge between them means that there’s a lot of unnecessary angst weighing this down.
The episode was light on the other characters and many of them behave like horror movie idiots by doing really stupid things like splitting up or letting their guard down even when they know what the threat is. Thankfully the episode builds suspense and tension in other ways because the behaviour of the rest of the team really doesn’t help with that.
Ray spends the bulk of the episode unconscious which means there’s almost nothing to say about him beyond his delight at using forgotten science to reform the Fire Totem but many of the other characters are haunted by manifestations of their own fears and insecurities that lower their guards before Sara attacks them. Wally sees Jesse who reminds him of the lack of confidence that ultimately doomed their relationship. Wally never felt good enough for her because she’s a genius level intellect which means that he never truly accepted his feelings for her. This drove a wedge between them causing her to end it.
Once again this is a clear example of how badly Wally was used in The Flash because none of this was covered. In the context of this episode it works as the manifestation of Jesse can be seen as a woman from his past who represents a profound regret on his part. Keiynan Lonsdale does a great job in this scene playing Wally going from confidently defying the deception to becoming weak as Sara/Mallus pushes the right emotional button.
Zari sees a manifestation of her dead brother who really gets to her by saying the right thing to weaken her resolve. Ultimately it doesn’t work but it does distract her long enough to allow her to be incapacitated. Zari’s guilt over her inability to save her brother isn’t something the show spends a lot of time on but the possibility of preventing it is her main motivation for joining the team so it’s good for her personal arc to be reminded of this and Tala Ashe’s performance clearly shows how close the connection was giving her desire weight.
Nate is confronted by a version of his grandfather who berates him for encouraging self sacrifice to preserve the timeline. The manifestation calls him selfish and accuses him of throwing his own grandfather under the bus to save himself. Nate clearly has insecurities that he isn’t dealing with and feels that he isn’t good enough for Amaya. It’s a fairly shallow and predictable problem but it fits with Nate’s characterisation as a shallow and predictable guy.
Mick taking ownership of the Fire Totem is a development that makes sense. Amaya points out that he has been obsessed with fire for a long time and being destined to wield the totem could be the reason why. Very little is done with it in this episode other than setting it up but this will clearly develop over the next few episodes and will allow Mick to be shaken out of the comedic rut he has been languishing in. His current role does provide lots of entertainment but it’s time to give him something more meaningful to do.
John Constantine makes a welcome return in this episode as an outside expert called in to help deal with the problem. In some ways this is an outlet for Ava’s insecurities as she has to deal with one of Sara’s old flames and questions of whether Sara is the type of person to be in a relationship are really well approached. The whole thing is handled with a trademark light touch and Ava’s jealousy is an excellent source of banter. John is clearly very similar to Sara in his attitude to casual sex in that neither of them see it as a big deal and don’t attribute an emotional connection to the physical activity. Ava thinks differently because she doesn’t understand that mindset which forms the source of her jealousy.
As with most things it’s treated with a very light touch but as I’ve said before, silly doesn’t have to mean stupid and this is another example of that. Ava’s feelings for Sara and her knowledge of the prior encounter with John means that she does act childishly when the subject comes up. It makes for entertaining viewing and John’s nonchalant attitude to the situation is definitely played for laughs but it does serve the purpose of developing Ava and Sara’s relationship by showing how seriously Ava feels about it.
Mallus offers John his own temptation in the form of freeing Astra’s soul. The child he accidentally doomed to eternal damnation in Hell is his single greatest regret and being faced with that does cause hesitation. His knowledge of how the supernatural works is enough to snap him out of it but the fact that John is affected shows how powerful Mallus is.
John is a great addition to the team and it makes me happy that he will be a permanent fixture should the show return for a fourth season. His cheeky and casually confrontational attitude makes him a great foil for pretty much anyone and his skills are undeniable. i liked the comedy beat of him playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with Gary as a way to finish off the episode.
Another great episode that makes excellent use of Sara and shows how formidable she can be as a villain. None of the team are a match for her and the episode does a great job of turning the Waverider into something of a haunted house. The other characters may act like horror movie idiots but the way Sara manages to get to them is really effective. Most of the characters encountering their fears and insecurities by way of magical manifestations works really well with Zari’s being most emotionally resonant. The fact that it almost works on John Constantine as well shows how formidable Mallus’ influence is.
The episode does a great job with the Sara/Ava relationship by showing how serious it is becoming for both of them. It’s treated with a light touch by exploring the jealousy Ava feels over Sara and John’s prior fling. It manifests as being childish though shows how much Ava cares and gives some insight into her own insecurities over the relationships. Having Sara break it off is very overdramatic and injects too much angst into the episode unnecessarily but hopefully this will be fixed before long. John Constantine is once again a welcome presence with his attitude making a great foil for pretty much anyone with undeniable skills. Seeing him play “Dungeons and Dragons” with Gary is a hilarious touch as well.
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