DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 3 Episode 18
“The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow closes off season 3 with a visit to the Old West and a final showdown against the newly released Mallus.
Last week finally revealed the true form of Mallus and it was a little bit of a disappointment to have the villain of the season turn out to be a CGI creation but this show has certainly built up enough good faith to earn the benefit of the doubt in finding a way to handle that. A strong backdrop to the Mallus story had been built and allowed plenty of opportunity for exploration of these elements.
Mallus being a CGI Demon brings limitations in terms of usage as having him on screen is very expensive so the episode has to be about the characters. This isn’t a problem as that is where the focus should be and this episode definitely delivers on this in different ways.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has chosen to be silly as a way of distinguishing itself from other shows on TV but it never fails to bring strong emotional moments that remind the audience of the genuine stakes involved. The first of these is the apparent death of Rip Hunter who sacrifices himself to buy the team time to escape. Arguably Rip is the most expendable version of the cast as his appearances have been limited since the beginning of season 2 so in the grand scheme of things his permanent loss won’t affect the dynamic of the show too much. I would disagree with that as I find Rip to be a really engaging and entertaining character so his loss is definitely significant.
The handling of his death was really powerful thanks to the reminders of his dead family and the inner peace he seems to achieve when thinking about being reunited with them. It’s understated yet epic and lets Rip go out as a Hero. Of course no body was seen and he did use a time drive so it’s possible he was deposited somewhere in time to later make a surprise return.
In an effort to hide from Mallus the team head to the Old West and are reunited with Jonah Hex who doesn’t really do much in this episode other than remind the Legends that they do have allies in this dark time for them. There is also a spark between Jonah and Zari that proves to be really amusing and endearing.
The Old West provides the setting for much of the action this week and it’s not especially noteworthy as locations go. It’s certainly fun to see everyone dressed in Wild West clothing which now includes Wally but it does little more than provide an arena for the action to take place. Seeing Romans, Pirates and Vikings teaming up to fight the Legends in the Old West is just the right level of lunacy for this show though the fight sequence itself isn’t that impressive nor does it feel like the team are in any real danger.
That’s alright to an extent because the focus remains on the team. This season has been all about developing the idea that they are a family and that becomes the emotional core of this episode as success is entirely tied to them all embracing their connection and believing in themselves. It’s a really cheesy sentiment but it works in the context of what the season has been building to and what each of the characters have been through.
Amaya finds out that the Totems can be uses to give birth to a champion that can fight and defeat Mallus. Nate refers to this being like Voltron which it is though I also drew comparisons to Captain Planet especially considering the Totems are elemental in nature. In order to do this each of the Totem bearers needs to be entirely focused and believe that they are worthy of it. Their first attempt creates an abomination that has to be killed in order to be put out of its misery which makes most of the team think that they aren’t worthy to be Totem bearers. This self doubt fuels the episode as rising to the challenge of being true Totem bearers becomes the goal that the Legends need to achieve.
This is actually a refreshing take on worthiness as it isn’t something that is decided by some vague undefinable quality. In this context worthiness is decided by self belief so anyone who believes that they are capable of wielding a Totem can do so. Amaya and Zari appear to be born to wield it but Amaya had to push aside her own insecurities to control her Totem earlier in the season and Zari had to come to her own personal realisation in order to wield hers so their worthiness is definitely tied to their own sense of self worth. Amaya points out that Mick’s encounter with his father in Vietnam taught him a lot about himself and made him a better person in the process. This adds some form of justification for many of the missions being personal to members of the team though doesn’t explain why that happens beyond mysticism which may be enough considering their are magical forces at work.
Ultimately the team does manage to get it together and believe in themselves enough to summon the champion to defeat Mallus. The handling of this is completely bonkers but amazing at the same time. In an affectionate nod to Ghostbusters the champion takes the form of Beebo after Nate thinks about the purest thing that he possibly can and we get a giant Beebo facing off against Mallus. It’s a great fight with excellent visuals and it’s just hilarious to watch. This sort of lunacy is something the show has fully committed to and completely earned through the good work it has been doing since deciding to lean into the silliness. It also manages to be meaningful as the giant Beebo is a representation of the team’s ability to both trust each other and work together so it’s yet another example of silly not having to be stupid.
Despite this Mallus is dealt with a little too easily and his threat level is definitely diminished by him becoming a CGI creation. He barely appeals in this episode outside of a couple of key scenes which definitely lessens the urgency associated with the threat he is supposed to represent. He is constantly referenced and his influence appears through returning characters but not enough is done with them to make Mallus a meaningful villain. As a motivation for the characters to rise to their true potential Mallus works well and nothing can take away from how great his fight with a giant Beebo is.
The influence of the Legends is a major theme in this episode further developed by Ava who brings examples of their positive influence to help encourage them. Helen of Troi returns now fully battle hardened after being trained on Themyscira along with Kuasa who had a much more stable life in the altered timeline and Jax who is forever grateful for the opportunities given to him by the Legends. Ava is also someone who has been enriched by their contribution to her life so bringing all of these characters in as a reminder of all the good they have done worked really well even if the characters didn’t receive as much screen time as they otherwise could have.
Jax in particular was great to see back as his exit was somewhat abrupt and it was unclear what the show would do with him. Ava brings him from 5 years after he left and he’s happy with a family of his own. The characters so often focus on the mistakes they make that they forget to consider all the good that they do and Jax is a clear example of that who is now content to live out the rest of his days with his new family without forgetting the influence his old one had on him. It’s a touching sentiment and great to see him back however briefly. Helen is featured far less but is clearly content with her life among the Amazons so that’s definitely a positive thing to have happened.
Kuasa has meaningful interactions with Amaya. Her attitude is very different to the bitter and resentful outlook she had before as the sense of betrayal is now erased thanks to the efforts to save Zambesi. It is mentioned that she and Amari share the Totem which means that Kuasa no longer feels betrayed allowing her to look on her grandmother with fondness and pride which gives Amaya exactly what she wanted from her legacy rather than the mistakes she clearly made before that lead Kuasa down the darker path.
This helps Amaya make the decision to return to her own time to live out the life she was meant to with her people despite what it is she might be giving up in the process. Her need to return has always been hanging over her and it’s a decision she has been putting off all season but recent events have allowed her to commit to this decision and accept her fate gracefully. This means saying goodbye to Nate and the rest of the team which is as emotionally resonant as it needs to be. Her final scene with Nate is really moving and puts a respectful end to their relationship. Amaya’s desire to keep her memories shows how much she values what she has experienced and would rather live with leaving them behind than forget all she has learned and experienced. It’s a touching exit and feels like the right time even though her loss for the show will definitely be a significant one.
Damien Darhk’s story is wrapped up when Ray decides to help him save Nora. Redeeming Damien Darhk is arguably impossible but that doesn’t mean he can’t go out on a noble sacrifice. Despite all the evil things he has done it has become clear that he is completely devoted to Nora and has come to regret his devotion to Mallus because it has impacted on her in ways that he hadn’t predicted. As a father he realises that his duty is to protect his daughter from harm and does so the only way he can. At the point where Mallus emerges from Nora he manages to free her from his influence and have Mallus possess him instead.
The end result is the same as in Mallus is freed but the key difference is that Nora is saved and it marks the end of Damien Darhk. It’s an effective end for this character as it allows him to go out on a somewhat heroic note without losing any of the traits that make him so likeable. If this is indeed the final end for this character then it’s a good one though this shared universe has now lost one of its most charismatic villains. Nora is still out there thankfully and the show leaves what comes next from her nicely ambiguous. Will she take Ray’s advice about not wasting her second chance or become an antagonist for the team next season?
The major issue I had with this episode is that the implications of their actions aren’t really considered which is bizarre considering the returning characters are there to remind the Legends that their actions have positive consequences. Changing the timeline so that Zambesi isn’t destroyed may have a positive influence on Kuasa but what does that mean for the rest of the universe considering what we have seen of Mari McCabe in the animated Vixen series? This will surely alter the Arrowverse in some fundamental way but this isn’t addressed in the slightest. Damien Darhk’s sacrifice only changes the timeline in a very small way in terms of how the events play out but preventing the destruction of Zambesi is established as having significant ripple effects so failing to address this is very clumsy.
Once the crisis is dealt with the team take a well earned trip to Aruba to rest up but are interrupted by Gary and John Constantine who show up with bad news to set up the next season. Apparently freeing Mallus also allowed other things to escape which means that the Legends have to work to solve another problem that is all their fault. Nothing changes and the fun continues.
A great finale that isn’t without its issues but manages to deliver where it counts. Mallus as a CGI creation limits his appearance possibilities and means that the episode has to find something else to focus on which it does by making it all about the characters and how they react to the situation. The Old West isn’t the most interesting backdrop but having Pirates, Vikings and Romans show up for a fight is the right kind of lunacy even if it feels like the team are never in any real danger. Having wielding the Totems tied to self worth instead of an abstract concept of worthiness was a really nice touch that affects the characters differently and contributes to the idea that they have become a family. Using a giant Beebo fighting Mallus as the pay off for this was incredible.
There are some key losses in this episode such as the moving sacrifice of Rip Hunter that leaves a hint that he could return, Damien Darhk’s redemption through saving Nora and Amaya’s decision to return to her own time to live out the life she was meant to. Each of these work really well in their own way and Amaya’s decision is motivated by the change made to the timeline meaning that Kuasa would live a more positive life making Amaya’s legacy something to be proud of rather than being defined by the mistakes she made. In general the reminders of the positive influence the Legends have had works well with a touching appearance by Jack and a notable brief Helen of Troi appearance. The return of John Constantine at the end of the episode setting up the next season was intriguing and establishes another problem that is all the team’s fault.
Little is known about the next season other than a few small details. It was recently announced that Ava Sharpe would be an official series regular as of next season and John Constantine was to join the main cast should the show be renewed for another season.
Since the renewal definitely happened that means the confirmed roster is Sara, Ray, Mick, Zari, Nate, Wally, Ava and John Constantine. I fully approve of this line-up as there’s a lot of potential for entertaining character interactions in there. It has been said that Amaya will continue as a series regular next season but how that will come about considering her decision to return home is anyone’s guess. Maybe she’ll return for one more mission like she did this season and go back home at some point or have her own separate Zambesi based story.
The final scene of the episode indicates that the show will be going in a more mystical direction next season which definitely fits considering the exploration of that in this season. John Constantine will definitely be a great addition to the cast and seeing the Legends coming up against supernatural threats will be a nice change of pace. Whether this will offer resolution to the Rising Darkness arc John’s own cancelled show is anyone’s guess though I suppose it’s possible that the actions of the Legends is the cause of that and John only realises this long after the fact.
There’s lots of potential for this show to continue to be the most entertaining of the DC TV shows and I trust the production team to keep up the high standard delivered in the past two seasons.
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