DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 4 Episode 7
“Hell No, Dolly!”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow dives right into the inner -and outer- Demons of John Constantine as a doll possessing Demon terrorises the crew.
It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point but I’m constantly amazed at how this show manages to pull together a collection of ludicrous ideas and weaves them into a cohesive narrative that manages to be hilarious while being meaningful. This episode is a great example of that as there is a weighty emotional John Constantine story running alongside an unconventional romance and a killer doll hunting down the crew. On paper these pieces shouldn’t fit together but the uniqueness of this show means that they do.
The main plot starts off being a standard setup where the team head to an era to hunt down a magical fugitive. New Orleans in 1856 is the setting and the mission is to find out what changed the timeline to reflect Marie Laveau as history’s most notorious serial killer. This leads them to a doll possessing Demon and a number of Chucky references because there’s no way those films couldn’t be referenced. In a swerve from the norm this part of the plot is cleared up fairly quickly in the sense that the timeline is restored and the Legends are able to go on their merry way but this exists mostly to add depth to the John Constantine plot through Marie Laveau being connected to his emotional anguish which beautifully combines the concepts of magic and time travel in a unique way.
It was recently teased that John is running from a Demon that is coming after him and Nora Darhk saw a vision of a man that he clearly didn’t want to discuss. This episode fleshes out the relationship he had with Desmond (Christian Keyes); a man he met 6 months ago in his personal timeline. Meeting him completely rocked John’s world by awakening feelings within him that he thought impossible. Despite not knowing Desmond for long, John fell for him but also had to deal with a Demon named Neron. This Demon was looking to amass power through Human souls and John naturally took it upon himself to stop him. The biggest issue for him that his feelings for Desmond meant that he had something to lose which was naturally used against him. Desmond felt just as strongly for John and bound his soul to Neron which meant that John had to send Desmond to Hell in order to stop him.
This makes for a really tragic tale and develops John far beyond the overconfident loner persona he has been projecting up until now. Of course it’s all a front and there’s a real sense that his contribution to the season so far has been building to this moment. There has always been underlying self loathing motivated by a great deal of guilt. He prefers to be on his own which means he never gets to properly deal with those feelings as he doesn’t have a proper outlet for them. Despite joining a team he still considers himself a solitary figure as part of that team and it proves to be very damaging to his mental state. A clear example of his self loathing was when he tried to prevent himself from being born.
John reveals that his personal mission has been to prevent the events that led to Desmond’s death. He sees stopping himself from meeting and falling in love with Desmond to be the only solution so works to prevent that meeting. It could be argued that trying to stop himself from being born was his first attempt. It may have failed but it also helped John learn some of the rules of time travel to better refine his plan. His next attempt is a lot less radical; he asks Charlie to pretend to be Amaya to divert his past self from meeting Desmond. It looks to be successful but only delays the meeting by a few days. Zari explains this as being a fixed point in the timeline that has to occur in order for it to maintain integrity. It’s a fairly standard excuse though Zari seems to be as clueless as anyone and only makes an educated guess based on available evidence. I would enjoy some consistency in the time travel rules though it’s appreciated that everything in this show is so character driven which makes the cavalier attitude to following a set of rules easier to accept.
Matt Ryan’s always delivers a great performance but this is a particular standout. It’s unheard of -in this show at least- to see John so open and vulnerable. It’s something Matt Ryan takes full advantage of and shows sides of John Constantine that have never been seen before. Opening up to Zari and Charlie is clearly difficult for him as it’s not something he normally does especially when his last experience of allowing himself to be vulnerable ended so negatively.
Despite Zari’s best efforts to prevent him from doing something that would be hugely damaging to the timeline, John and Charlie manage to evade her and go through with his plan. The results are predictably catastrophic leading to a cliffhanger ending making it clear that John has broken the timeline including turning Zari into a cat for some reason. Once this is resolved it will likely be a powerful lesson for John in the permanence of loss and that even time travel can’t stop someone from dying.
Zari makes for the perfect foil for John in this instance because she is at a later stage of the same journey he’s on. When she was first added to the cast she was motivated by grief and guilt so she understands his mindset better than anyone does. This is why she regards him with sympathy rather than judgement and does everything she can to find a way to save Desmond. Unfortunately there’s no way to do it while still preserving the timeline so she tries to help him understand that Demond has to stay dead for the greater good. At this point John isn’t ready to hear that so I suspect the solution to the problem in the next episode will be John acknowledging this and sacrificing Desmond all over again.
The John/Desmond relationship is very quickly developed which both works and doesn’t. John points out that they didn’t know each other for long so the brevity of it is part of the point though it’s difficult to accept the intensity because of how little of it is shown. John breaking up with him and lying to him about placing him under a love spell is appropriately heartbreaking but it’s an example of excellent acting making up for writing that doesn’t quite measure up to what needs to be conveyed. The alternative to this would have been losing the mystery which wouldn’t have been a good thing but it would have been better to get more of a flavour of this profound connection that doesn’t come along very often in the life of John Constantine.
On a lighter note there is some friction between Ava and Mick after Ava confiscates the diary that allows Mick to bring his triple breasted warrior queen to life. He resents her for taking the diary away from him because it helps him to be more creative and Ava doesn’t trust Mick with something so powerful as a change in writing style could create untold problems for everyone. Sara can’t tolerate this conflict as Ava is the woman she loves and Mick is someone she considers to be family so she plans a dinner that allows them to talk through their differences.
The dinner scene is hilarious thanks to the insults thrown back and forth. Ava assumes that Mick’s writing is sexist and derivative and he agrees with her but is proud of what he has created anyway. This suggests he has gained more confidence in his writing ability to the point that he can take criticism and isn’t affected by anything negative. He also doesn’t understand why he can’t have sex with his “fake girlfriend” when Sara gets to continue having a relationship with a clone. This strikes a nerve for Ava who is self conscious about not having a real past to call her own. Mick’s words really hurt her though they eventually find some common ground in the midst of a crisis. I like that Mick doesn’t isn’t turning into a character who plays well with others because that would be counter to his established character. He is someone who has become comfortable with the team he’s a part of but they still have to make allowances for his personality rather than the other way round. It’s shallow in some ways but it works for Mick who actively tries not to be complicated with little morsels of depth creeping in here and there.
Outside of this there are two doses of lunacy within the framework of the episode. One of them is the Demonically possessed doll that is brought aboard the Waverider. The Demon escapes and inhabits the puppet version of Martin Stein seen back in “Beebo the God of War” as a therapy tool used by Leo Snart. This is the perfect use of an old prop as it allows for a personal connection to the Legends while also being hilarious to look at. Not much is done with the meaning behind this particular puppet but the implication is there and that’s good enough.
The other dose of lunacy is explored through Mona’s attraction to the captive Konane (Darien Martin). It subverts the expectation that Mona and Gary will get together while also normalising an unconventional relationship. It’s really endearing to see how the connection between them is developed and there’s some hilarity to be found in the misunderstanding about who she’s actually talking about when Nate encourages her to follow her heart. It’s a fairly standard sitcom style misunderstanding but it definitely works.
This also furthers the monster harnessing plot when Konane is mysteriously taken away by two men clearly indicating that there is something more nefarious going on. It’s fitting for Mona to be the one to discover the truth given her personal connection to the captive creatures though I’m still not sure if the government sanctioned monster project plot will go anywhere interesting. Lastly there was nowhere organic to put this but Ray’s moustache was a great touch even if it was happening for no reason though I wonder if it’s a reference to Henry Cavill’s famous moustache.
A strong episode that allows John Constantine to open up in really profound ways while still delivering the usual Legends style lunacy with killer dolls and unconventional romances. John’s plan to prevent the death of the man he loves plays out brilliantly as it draws on prior actions to make it appear as if this was the plan all along. Zari makes for the perfect foil for John as someone who is at a later point of the journey that he’s on and the stage is set for him to understand the importance of preserving the timeline and make that sacrifice once again. The Desmond/John relationship was really well acted by Matt Ryan who always does a great job but is featured too briefly to have the depth that the dialogue suggests. Brevity is part of the point but in order to invest in the connection more time needed to be spent on it. The acting does make up for a lot of the script’s shortcomings in that regard but it’s still a problem.
The friction between Ava and Mick created after Mick has the diary confiscated. He resents Ava from stopping him spending time with his triple breasted warrior queen especially when he sees a double standard since Sara gets to spend time with her despite the fact she’s a clone. The dinner scene is hilarious and ties into the insecurities of the characters. The demonically possessed doll transitioning to the possessed Martin Stein puppet was an effective dose of entertaining lunacy as was Mona’s endearing fledgling relationship with Konane which also picks up the thread of the government sanctioned monster project though I’m still not sure that will lead anywhere interesting.
- John Constantine opening up in ways he hasn’t before
- excellent acting from Matt Ryan
- Zari as the perfect foil for John
- the friction between Ava and Mick
- the hilarity of the demonically possessed Martin Stein puppet
- Mona and Konane’s endearing fledgling relationship
- not enough time spent showing the Desmond/John relationship
- the government sanctioned monster plot failing to be interesting
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