DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 5 Episode 3
“Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes the team to 1947 Los Angeles to track down the latest “encore” as Nate tries to figure out the mystery of the woman he remembers.
Sara points out in this episode that they’re dealing with a problem that isn’t actually their fault. This is pretty rare for this show and there’s a real sense that the characters are revelling in that as they get to turn their attention to something they can fix without the guilt associated with having caused it. John’s actions resulted in Astra being vengeful and freeing souls from Hell but it was a long time ago and he’s a recent addition to the team so it still counts as being something that isn’t their fault.
It’s an important distinction because it allows most of the characters to be unburdened and gives the writers further justification for leaning into what the show is good at; strong character work with a firm grasp on the ridiculous. It’s the characters, their interactions and their developments that allow this show to be something other than a disposable romp week on week and this episode does a lot of good things with them.
I mentioned that the characters are unburdened by guilt because the problem they’re dealing with isn’t their fault. That certainly doesn’t apply to John who very much blames himself for what’s going on. The part he played in banishing Astra to Hell has resulted in this and he’s committed to putting a stop to it. John remains predisposed to being a loner especially when he feels that a situation is his responsibility to fix. It isn’t explicitly stated here but there’s a strong implication that his primary motivation is shame. He doesn’t want to involve the team because he’s ashamed of what he caused and wants to stop it himself. His appearance on the Waverider at the end of the previous episode was a necessary one as he needed access to a piece of Rasputin in order to facilitate a trip to Hell. This is so he can have a conversation with Astra and try to convince her to stop what she’s doing. Astra seems to be beyond redemption at this point and fully committed to her evil plan which presents John with a difficult choice; he can either let her continue to amass power by inflicting dangerous damned souls on the timeline or he can kill her.
He seems all set to do the latter towards the end of the episode when he storms into Hell armed with a gun capable of killing anything in one shot but when he’s standing in front of Astra with one bullet left he hesitates and tells her that he’s not giving up on her. Even though she has succumbed to her darkness John still remembers the innocent young girl he accidentally damned all those years ago and he isn’t willing to end her life. This forms part of the theme of goodness that runs through this episode in different ways. John is leaning into more difficult moral choices because he wants Astra to have that second chance. This is largely informed by his interactions with Jeanie Hill (Haley Strode) who also wrestles with her darker impulses. Her motivation differs to Astra though both are a victim of circumstances and have found their own way to adapt. Jeanie feels suffocated by a relationship that has forced her into being fully dependent on her partner so she wants to find a way out of it. Jeanie is a great guest character; she’s complex, interesting and had so much personality that made her and ideal partner for anyone she shared a scene with.
There’s an instant connection between the two of them because they both live in that moral grey area that makes them willing to take actions that many wouldn’t under similar circumstances. They quickly see eye to eye over tough choices that need to be made and John clearly sympathises with her feeling trapped in a less than ideal situation which is why he doesn’t try to stop her from taking ownership of her own life even if it takes her down a dangerous road. John is no saint so isn’t in the business of making heartfelt appeals to the better nature of others because he has convinced himself that everyone is inherently selfish. His change of heart around how to deal with Astra shows that deep down he does believe in the better nature of others but it goes against his instincts to attempt to bring it out in others.
It’s notable that John chooses to lie to Sara when he returns from Hell when he describes a very different version of events. He talks about being swarmed upon arrival and losing the gun in the process rather than his relatively easy infiltration followed by using the remaining shots. I’m usually against characters keeping things from one another in Arrowverse shows because it’s often tedious and dragged out to the point of immense frustration but I feel it’s warranted in this particular case as it connects to John’s character arc. He has always felt like an outsider from the team largely because that’s how he likes to place himself so it’s reasonable that he doesn’t entirely trust Sara to back his decisions. Telling her that he lost the gun is easier than telling her he wasted all of the shots because he believes that Astra’s soul can be saved. I’m not sure how Sara would have reacted to the truth but I can certainly understand the assumption John made and why he chose to detail a different version of events.
The theme of goodness is appropriately funnelled through Ray who is moral to a fault. He takes great delight in being told he has a “cop’s face” and is encouraged when he encounters a police officer who seems to have sidestepped the corruption that is rife within the police force of the time. He’s equally disappointed when that turns out to not be the case. Most significant is when he is the only one who picks up on John being less than honest and immediately understands his reason for doing so. He’s happy to see that John also fits his definition of “good guy” even if John doesn’t agree with him. Ray continues to be the moral centre of the team which makes it especially disappointing that he will be departing the show at some point as his goofy moralising will certainly be missed.
This is a big episode for Ava who is adjusting to her separation from the Time Bureau and her new role as a Legend. The main thing she is wrestling with is feeling useful and having significantly reduced responsibilities. For someone who was at one time defined by the job she was literally made to do it’s difficult to find a sense of purpose when that is taken away from her. This causes her to attach extra importance to any task she’s given such as being left on the ship as backup for those in the field. Mick offers the perfect counter to Ava’s enthusiasm with a dose of realism. He points out that their assignment means to do literally nothing and he treats it with the level of importance he thinks it demands; that is to say almost none. They do change locations by propping up a bar for observation purposes but it’s perceived by Mick to be far less important than the heroic field work that Sara, Ray and John are tasked with.
One of my favourite things about this show is Mick’s philosophy on life. He lives it the way he wants to and finds a way to let that mix with being a Legend. He can still keep an eye on a location and drink heavily at a bar meaning he can do pretty much what he wants to do while still being part of the team. His observation skills are casually keen as evidenced by him latching onto the patron who is driven to misery by the responsibilities in his life. That’s not something he wants from his life so he’s happy for people to expect very little from him. I don’t expect Ava to fully subscribe to this outlook but she is encouraged to learn how to be comfortable with doing nothing. She’s not there yet based on this episode but it’s identified as something she needs to work on.
Jes Macallan plays the adrift Ava really well. She’s clearly spiralling and has a strong desire to matter but no idea how to go about ensuring that she does. Sara asking her and Mick to cause a distraction gives her a chance to find purpose in the current mission with her feelings of inadequacy amplified by a large quantity of alcohol. Her distraction is absolutely hilarious with an imagined glamorously lit and professionally performed musical number giving away to the reality of a tactless out of tune horror show that literally clears the room. As someone who was designed to be perfect it’s interesting that her drunken mind allows her to see herself that way and the lifting of her inhibitions allowing her to perform with no concept of her audience is a really nice touch. Sara is immediately amused by her performance likely seeing it as a necessary step for her as she is cutting loose and allowing herself to have fun which is something she consistently finds difficult to do. Sara is all for letting Ava get it out of her system because she understands how she has been feeling. Once again Legends finds an insane delivery method for strong and meaningful characterisation.
The plot surrounding the altered timeline and Nate’s memories of the previous one featuring Zari continues when he attends Behrad’s father’s birthday dinner. This leads him to none other than a direct encounter with Zari who is very different in this timeline. She is now a social media influencer with an outwardly perky attitude and a very different style. Tala Ashe is great as the altered Zari; she creates a vastly different character with hints of the one viewers know beneath the surface. Even her voice is different which goes a long way towards selling how much she has changed. As the episode progresses we see more of the person she was inside the new shell that has been created. This is especially apparent when Nate asks her if she feels as if they knew one another in another life and she responds to it positively. There’s a familiarity between them in this scene that harkens back to their prior relationship. Zari doesn’t hesitate to put her hands on him and seems ready to make a move on him which seems to point to the connection they shared before the timeline was altered. She also opens up to him about the hardships she has endured in her life around being thrust into fame and what led her to where she is now.
There’s a lot to play with in Zari’s new life as well. Behrad is the centre of attention within her family with her accomplishments being ignored by her parents who clearly favour her brother over her. She has an antagonistic relationship with Behrad that is founded on her resentment of how he so easily gains the approval of their parents while she is ignored. It’s basically the classic “money can’t buy happiness” problem but there’s a lot of heart behind it as we know a version of Zari really well. There’s also a tragic overtone to this as Zari is living a version of the life she always wanted as she always wanted to save her brother and let her family be complete. Achieving that dream has left her miserable so it’ll be interesting to see how she contextualises this when her memories are inevitably restored and she’s in a position to reflect on what it means to get everything she wants.
I’m hoping there isn’t a pattern emerging where the encores are concerned. Rasputin was far from the best examples of villainy the show has given us and the same can be said for Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (Jonathan Sadowski). He’s far too straightforward and is completely overshadowed by the more interesting Jeanie who rightly takes more of the focus. The saving grace is that Caity Lotz is able to dial up her performance when Sara struts around as if she owns the place which is immensely entertaining but there’s little of substance to this villain which makes scenes featuring him drag.
A strong character focused outing that does great work with John’s morality, Ray’s goofy yet ethical nature Ava’s lack of purpose and a delightfully unexpected return for Zari. John still seeing himself as a loner and wanting to solve the problem himself because he feels responsible for it makes sense for his character. His interactions with Astra show the guilt he carries with him around the decision he made that eventually led to what she’s doing now. His hesitation and commitment to not giving up on her is a great moment because it shows that deep down John wants to believe the best in people even if he won’t admit it to himself. He lies to Sara about his trip to Hell for reasons that make sense and Ray picking up on this is perfect because he’s best place to see the good in others. John and Jeanie’s interactions work really well throughout because he understands how she feels and wants to help her but also won’t force her down a particular path. They have a lot in common and connect instantly because of that. Ava adjusting to her separation from the Time Bureau is handled really well as it starts her down the path to accepting diminished responsibilities. She feels aimless and responds to every task as if it’s vitally important. Mick offers the perfect counter to this by pointing out exactly how important he feels their tasks are while highlighting how he has managed to balance his role as a Legend with his desire to have no responsibilities. Ava hasn’t learned that lesson yet but has a lot to work on and her musical number where alcohol helps her cut loose is hilarious while also being meaningful. Sara recognising that Ava needs to cut loose and have fun is a nice touch as well.
The altered Zari’s appearance in this episode is delightfully surprising. Tala Ashe does an excellent job creating a different version of the character while also imbuing her with familiar traits beneath the surface. Her interaction with Nate where they talk about feeling a connection works really well as Zari shows physical comfort by putting her hands on him and appearing as if she’s going to make a move consistent with their prior relationship. Her background is also interesting and a good example of the “money can’t buy happiness problem”. Behrad casually has the approval of their parents who flatly ignore her accomplishments which creates an antagonistic connection between Zari and Behrad. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out when she gets her memories back as Zari wanted her brother back so she’ll have to find a way to contextualise the reality of getting exactly what she wanted. Hopefully Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel doesn’t represent a trend around the encores as antagonists as he was less than compelling and was overshadowed by the much more interesting Jeanie. Caity Lotz clearly had a lot of fun dialling up her performance but the scenes featuring Siegel dragged.
- John deciding not to give up on saving Astra’s soul
- Jeanie and John’s effortless connection and how that plays out
- Ray seeing the goodness within John
- Ray’s general delight at seeing people leaning into their better natures
- Ava struggling to adjust to having far less responsibility
- the contrast between the imagined and the reality with the musical number
- Mick offering the perfect contrast for Ava and giving her a different perspective
- Tala Ashe as the altered Zari
- the background of Zari’s new life
- Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel as an underwhelming antagonist
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