DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 4 Episode 14
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow picks up the pieces following the team learning about Neron possessing Ray and try to figure out their next move.
One of the major strengths of this show is the constant focus on characters and the unflinching commitment to have the story flow from them. This isn’t always true but it certainly applies most of the time and the effort is always appreciated. In this case the team are split into three distinct groups each with their own character driven story to contribute to. There is a soul searching morality tale involving John and Neron, a ticking clock escape involving the majority of the Waverider crew and Nora’s orientation at the Time Bureau as an evil Gary tries to corrupt the staff with Mona and Ava backing her up to some degree. The purpose of each of these stories is clear and they remain separate while also being connected to one another.
The most interesting one for me was the plot that takes place on the Waverider. They find themselves stuck under tons of ice during the Ice Age after Mick foolishly orders Gideon to fire on Neron as per John’s insistence. Having the group stuck with no hope of escape and no access to help ends up creating a lot of downtime for them to process the apparent loss of Ray and take stock of how important he was to the team. Sara especially takes it hard because she’s the Captain and feels responsible for the safety of the crew which stirs up a number of resentments that have been largely unaddressed until now. The main target for her frustration is Mick because he was the one to order Gideon to open fire. She has a point as his order is what stranded them in the situation though Sara didn’t exactly help matters by positioning them in such a way that being buried under tons of snow and ice was inevitable. Her issue stems more from Mick’s lack of hesitation when it came to giving the order to fire. It was a moment where Sara was clearly conflicted over what to do next as she weighed up definitely losing Ray against the untold horrors that Neron was sure to inflict on an unsuspecting world.
By contrast Mick doesn’t hesitate because he understands what it means to lose a partner from when a version of Snart who didn’t have all the character development threatened the team. At that point he elected to turn on his partner for the good of the team because he recognised that Snart wasn’t the man he knew and had to be stopped. The Neron situation is a similar one and the fact that he doesn’t hesitate shows an ability to make tough decisions while the rest of the team hesitate. As Captain Sara should be willing to make the tough decisions but is unable to in this moment as it concerns one of her own and that perspective is easy to understand because the Legends are very much a found family and Sara simply can’t bring herself to fire on a member of that family.
There’s a lot of blame being thrown around for being stuck in this situation. Sara brings up Mick going to the convention in the previous episode and suggests that they might not be in this mess had his mind remained on mission rather than pursuing something personal in the midst of a potentially apocalyptic situation. Mick’s retort is to bring up the amount of time Sara spends with Ava as a source of distraction for her. Both of them are just lashing out in a high stress situation which is a very familial thing to do. The apparent loss of Ray has deeply affected them in particular because they would be the only original members of the crew left. It’s good to address that and also spend some time focusing on how Sara and Mick interact because it isn’t something that happens an awful lot.
The other characters deal with the crisis in their own ways. Nate and Zari take their relationship to the next level and devote their attention to the Dragon egg that was recently discovered. It becomes an analogue for parenthood for both of them though doesn’t go much further than lamenting them getting to that stage in their relationship without indulging in the “fun stuff”. Their interactions remain endearing enough without descending into becoming obnoxious. It’s good that their relationship is something of a background element that enhances the material around it rather than being the focus and so far the characters retain agency on their own.
Ray’s presence is felt on the Waverider despite note being there as the crew are dealing with the prospect of losing them. His thoughtfulness is highlighted when Sara discovers his survival guide and finds that they’ve exhausted the options he thought of so have nothing else to do except follow his final contingency which is focused around enjoying each other’s company. Ray saw the family dynamic they have built together as the most important asset they had so it makes sense that he would come up with a plan to accept certain death with dignity and not waste time with futile escape attempts when they could take the time to usher in the end together. To facilitate this he created a game called “Cards To Save The Timeline” and the crew simply play it which leads to an excellent scene where they laugh, reminisce and generally take the time to just be around each other. It’s a great showcase for the dynamics that have naturally developed over time and amusingly the passive nature of their actions is what frees them from the situation. It’s a clear message that they are stronger when united even if they aren’t actually doing anything when they’re together. Ultimately this part of the plot exists to lean into the strengths of those around and deliver a heart-warming collection of scenes that remind the audience that the crew are a family who are essentially mourning the loss of one of their own.
The second plot focuses on Nora’s first day at the Time Bureau where she has to prove that she can rise above her previous evil leanings and function as part of a team. For some reason this involves banal orientation tasks such as filling out forms with Mona guiding her through the process. That part isn’t all that interesting but it isn’t supposed to be as the focus is on the difficulty Nora is having finding a place within a more heroic setup. The form filling is a metaphor for accepting rules and learning to live by them without ever having done that before.
Of course it would be tedious to simply watch Nora filling in forms for the duration of her scenes so there’s a problem to be solved in the form of the re-nippled Gary who is able to enact some form of nefarious mind control that has everyone repeating “Gary Green is all the man we need”. Even Ava isn’t immune to this and it quickly becomes apparent that the entire Time Bureau is slowly succumbing to Gary’s influence. Nora and Mona quickly find themselves the only people unaffected and it Nora is reluctant to take action because she is so committed to proving that she has the ability to be a team player. Ultimately this leads to her falling under Gary’s spell and it’s up to Mona to solve the problem. It was a confusing choice to have Mona be the one up against the entire Time Bureau under Gary’s influence as this episode really should have been Nora’s trial by fire ending with her proving herself by breaking the spell. Sidelining her by having her taken over is a missed opportunity in that regard.
On some level it does make sense for Mona to be on the front line as there was a point where Gary was trying to impress her romantically which bordered on creepy at times. This episode takes that notion and dials it up to an extreme through his overtly lecherous speech pattern when he talks to her. Enough is known about Gary to understand that this isn’t really him but there’s also the sense that the potential to be this way always existed within him which is concerning on its own. The idea of him being something of a joke to those around him is furthered here by other members of the Time Bureau scoffing at the idea of him doing performance reviews. I would have liked to see this taken further as there’s no sense that Gary really gains anything from this.. There was a real opportunity to explore what Gary wants out of life and possibly reveal where his talents actually lie rather than furthering the “Gary is useless” joke through having him easily thwarted.
Mona comes to the realisation that she isn’t alone as her Werewolf form is a separate entity that is there to support her. Any fears she had about handling this situation herself are put to rest when she realises that she will never be truly alone because she is inhabited by a powerful creature. Mona proves that she’s capable of dealing with a situation where the odds are stacked against her thanks to her partnership with Wolfie and Nora is identified as a team player so it’s a successful if underwhelming story.
John spends the episode with Neron who wants to use John to stabilise the portal to Hell in order to bring back his beloved Tabitha. He is taken back in time to witness the cruelty of his ancestor King Kon-Sten-Tyn. Matt Ryan pulls double duty with a dodgy wig to bring this role to life. His performance in the other role is fine though feels largely the same as the way he plays John. Brandon Routh on the other hand does an excellent job as Neron. Everything about the way he conducts himself is different and it works brilliantly. The aim of this visit to the past is to accentuate the self loathing John deals with on a daily basis by proving that he comes from horrible beginnings but it ends up having the opposite effect as John resolves to not define himself by the bloodline that he comes from and see it as a fact of his heritage that doesn’t have to impact him. He shows sympathy to the captured creature and rises up against his ancestor to prove that he has a more nuanced way of seeing the world and has a different perspective on magical creatures than his ancestor’s blanket assumption that they are all evil beings that have to be eradicated.
Interestingly this realisation might be part of Neron’s overall plan as he makes the point that John has no idea who or what he has previously sent to Hell which suggests there wasn’t a lot of vetting going on on previous hunts. Neron is specifically referring to Tabitha in this instance but this experience may be enough to make John consider the creatures he is damning more carefully. Charlie may be the clearest example of that but seeing the sadistic and uncompromising way his ancestor conducts himself is another indicator. This ultimately leads to his sacrificial moment where he throws himself into Hell in order to save Ray’s soul as he sees this as the only way to stop Neron. This selfless gesture is very unlike John on the whole though ties nicely into the crew of the Waverider enjoying each other’s company while extending that idea to have John feel part of that family. His visit to Hell will no doubt come with significant difficulties considering how unpopular he will be among the inhabitants.
This episode also brings the introduction -or rather reintroduction- of Tabitha, who is revealed to be the Fairy Godmother. This is just the sort of insane left field twist that this show has become known for. Of course it depends what is done with this idea but based on her prior appearance she is certainly powerful enough to present a problem and it could lead to expansion of the overall mythology since she was believed to be a specific magical entity but now seems to have a lot more to her than initially thought. Is she more powerful and more dangerous than Neron? That could be interesting especially if she maintains her Fairy Godmother persona. The coming episodes will no doubt explore this.
A strong episode that favours character over plot and makes great use out of the team being split among different situations. Nora’s induction into the Time Bureau coming at the same time the re-nippled Gary looks to brainwash every employee. As fun as this was there’s no real sense that Gary gains anything from this and having Nora succumb to the mind control ruins the potential for her to solve a problem to prove herself as a team player though it also makes sense for Mona to deal with this given her personal history with Gary. This plot also develops her Werewolf side as a separate entity which gives Mona extra confidence when she realises that she isn’t alone even when it seems that she is. All in all this is successful if underwhelming. The Waverider plot is the strongest as it allows the characters to spend some time together while processing the apparent loss of Ray. His influence is felt throughout with his survival guide and team building game that everyone indulges in. It serves as a reminder that the crew have become a family which is backed up through Sara and Mick bickering over recent events without actually meaning anything by it.
John’s capture by Neron is in service of stabilising a portal to Hell so that Neron can free his beloved Tabitha. He does this by showing John one of his ancestors to convince him that he comes from horrible beginnings. This ends up having the opposite effect as he decides that he isn’t going to be defined by where he came from. He rises up against his ancestor and proves that he has a broader view of magical creatures. This also proves one of Neron’s points about John not thinking about who or what he has previously banished to Hell. This marks a shift in the way John looks at the creatures he hunts and leads to him throwing himself into Hell in order to rescue Ray’s soul. This ties John into the familial bonding happening elsewhere. The reveal that Tabitha is the Fairy Godmother is a good twist that is nicely in line with every other insane twist this show has delivered and has the possibility of broadening the overall mythology.
- giving the crew the chance to bond and process the apparent loss of Ray
- Brandon Routh’s performance as Neron
- John using the example of his ancestor to realise that he is nothing like him
- the Tabitha twist
- Gary not really gaining anything from his plot
- failing to take the opportunity for Nora to fully prove herself
What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below
User Review( votes)
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up.
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.