DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 4 Episode 5
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow explores the reluctance that comes with expressing creativity and the fear associated with tapping into potential.
The writers of this show are very good at taking two things that really shouldn’t have any connection and finding a way for them to fit seamlessly into complimentary plots that have very little to do with each other on the surface. A giant monster attack on Tokyo doesn’t have any obvious connection to Nora Darhk struggling with the notion of giving into the dark magic within her but these two things actually have a lot in common.
Not being afraid of your own potential is the major theme of this episode as explored through Mick and Nora. Last season revealed that Mick was a budding novelist specialising in erotica; this detail has hung around in the background since then without really being explored because it wasn’t really necessary to do so. Knowing that Mick has a hobby outside of burning things adds depth to him through suggesting that he has a well hidden sensitive side. Zari knowing this detail about his life also created a unique connection between them that enhances their dynamic greatly.
The magical problem of the week involves a giant octopus attacking Tokyo by the name of Tagumo. This is caused by film director Ishirō Honda (Eijiro Ozaki ) bonding with a magical book drawn to creative types that brings those fantasises to life. Honda talks about being flooded by inspiration upon opening the book and creating the monster that now terrorises Tokyo though his pessimistic outlook means that the story ends with Tokyo’s destruction which of course is fated to come true now that he’s written it down. For the Legends fighting the monster is out of the question due to the sheer size of the creature and the lack of resources they have to handle something of that scale. The magical origins of the creature also present problems as it can’t be defeated by anything outside of the narrative that has already been written for it.
Mick’s creative side is the only possible solution as none of the others have that area of interest so can’t solve the problem. He is initially reluctant because he’s afraid to give others access to what he has created in case they mock him for it. The greatest fear for any creative type is others telling them that their work isn’t any good so the fact that Mick is afraid of that makes him so much more interesting and relatable. Naturally there is comedy associated with the fact that Mick is the person you’d least expect to be creative but that’s also part of his charm. His very gruff exterior hides a ln artistic soul and that adds a lot of potential to the overall team dynamic.
Saving a city ends up being a powerful motivator along with some encouragement for Zari so Mick grabs a pen and changes the ending of this monster movie by conjuring up a triple breasted warrior princess named Garima who fights and defeats a shrunken Tagumo before letting Mick indulge in another fantasy of his. It’s entertaining, meaningful and hilarious though come to think of it those three words should be the tagline for this show in general. I also like that Mick inspires Honda to create Godzilla despite how on the nose that is.
This plot also delivers Charlie’s first outing as a member of the team. She is an abrasive presence who gets on everyone’s nerves at one time or another. Zari in particular is triggered by her attitude while Sara works to maintain her composure when Charlie tries to push her as far as she can. I like what she brings to the team dynamic as she is a challenging addition to a group that have largely become a cohesive unit though she is arguably very similar to John in that regard especially with her magical knowledge.
Ray brings Nora Darhk in to help with John’s deteriorating condition. Her arc mirrors Mick’s as she is also reluctant to embrace her full potential though her fear and uncertainty comes from the assumption that her power is evil in nature so embracing it would take her back down a path she no longer wants to travel. Last season she was possessed by a Demon and carried out terrible acts on her father’s instruction so moving away from that is her only chance to find a way to live with herself.
John echoes that sentiment and reiterates his warning to Ray about trusting Nora even though his life force is very quickly draining. Ray still has hope that Nora can be redeemed but John is still cautious and doesn’t want to be seen to be proven right if it puts Ray or anyone else in danger.
Thankfully the episode makes no attempt to make Nora’s motivations in any way ambiguous; instead the writers choose to characterise her as both uncertain and terrified. She has no desire to tap into the dark magic necessary to restore John to health because she knows what the implications are. In order to do what Ray is asking she would have to drain the life force from someone else to restore John and making that kind of decision is unthinkable in her current mindset. Ray comes up with a cop out solution involving using the Waverider’s energy in place of life force which doesn’t entirely work as it neuters the morality battle going on within Nora. It is interesting to see how different expertise can work a magical problem and could end up being employed to great effect in the rest of the season but as an answer to the current problem it feels weak because much of the drama behind it is robbed.
John does eventually recognise that Nora is struggling with the hold magic has on her and sees that she is constantly battling the urge to fully indulge. He doesn’t want her to make the decision to embrace it on his account because he knows what that commitment does to people through his own personal experience. John also has enough damned souls on his conscience without adding Nora’s to the collection so he makes it clear that the decision must be her own.
Ultimately she makes the decision to save John and embrace magic once again after coming around to the idea that it doesn’t have to be evil. Nora clearly isn’t a bad person so her morality should allow her to use magic responsibly though given her past it’s clear that she will need some form of anchor in order to pull her back when she goes too far. Ray offers her another opportunity to run away and start over after witnessing her goodness. She’s concerned what the other Legends will think but Ray only cares about ensuring that she’s safe and able to live her life. She decides to turn herself into the Time Bureau as she will never be able to repent for her sins and crimes if she is on the run always looking over her shoulder. This clearly shows that there is hope for Nora and I really liked how the show handled her interactions with Ray. If she is to be a reluctant Legend in the coming episodes then she will be a welcome addition to the team.
The final plot of the episodes involves more Heywood family drama and it’s about as interesting as it has been previously; that is to say not very. Nate’s conflict with his father that was apparently resolved didn’t really add much to the show and the dysfunctional family Thanksgiving plot leaves a lot to be desired. Ava’s inclusion should have been a good opportunity for her to experience a “warts and all” family thanksgiving after having her own memories of the experience fabricated but instead it played out like a really cheesy episode of a bad sitcom.
Another bad sitcom trope that comes into play is the situation that develops that requires one character to distract everyone while someone else tries to fix it. This situation is escaped monsters at the Time Bureau with Nate having to sneak off to help Gary take control of the situation. Even that part isn’t all that interesting because the whole thing is too over the top even by Legends standards. The monsters themselves look like cheap rubber suits -which fits in the with monster movie plot playing out elsewhere- so it doesn’t feel like there is any real threat. Gary is always an enjoyable presence and his efforts to woo Mona (Ramona Young) that leads to her having a job at the Time Bureau brings in another fun character that can add to the mix periodically.
This display supposedly shows Hank Heywood that the monsters can be useful to the Government suggested by his cryptic phone call about “Project Hades” which appears to be shrouded in mystery for now but is clearly a Government project focused around weaponising monsters in some way. Maybe it will play out in interesting ways or it could be written off as a bad joke and a ridiculous idea; it would be more in keeping with the mantra of this show to do the latter and it’s probably the best such a contrived mystery deserves. On a character level this is designed to put a spanner in the works of the repaired relationship between Nate and his father but everything leading up to this hasn’t been compelling so there’s no reason to assume it will improve from now.
A Strong episode that makes great use of a background detail for MIck and mirrors that arc nicely with Nora Darhk’s. The idea of being afraid of showing something that came from your imagination is something that has plagued every writer at one time or another and is especially effective when applied to Mick who hides sensitivity beneath a really gruff exterior. Having a problem that can only be solved by a creative mind is a great touch and allows Mick to resolve his confidence issues when it comes to his writing in an entertainingly hilarious way. Charlie’s addition to this plot is a lot of fun because she is an abrasive presence who shakes up the team dynamic a great deal. This is important for a group that have gelled so well together by this point as it offers different challenges. In particular Zari is most wound up while Sara has to be the responsible leader and not let Charlie’s attempts to subvert her authority get to her.
Nora’s arc works really well because she’s afraid of her own potential in very different ways. For her embracing her powers means going back down a really dark path that she might not be able to come back with but Ray has faith that she has the ability to overcome that. An example of why she fears her power is that what she is being asked to do would end up costing someone else their life based on her knowledge. Ray finds a cop out answer to that problem that neuters the moral conflict within Nora but it’s one reason she’s afraid of what she’s capable of. John reminds Ray that she can’t be trusted before realising that Nora is struggling with the hold magic has on her and urges her to make the decision for herself rather than be motivated by saving him. The last thing he wants is another damned soul on his conscience. Ultimately she decides to embrace her magic and realises that it isn’t inherently evil. When Ray offers to let her run away and be free she turns herself in out of a desire to repent. The Heywood family drama is less than compelling to watch and borders on sitcom level silliness especially with the fake rubber costumed monsters. Gary and Mona are a fun pairing but there’s very little here of note. “Project Hades” feels like a fairly standard non mystery with an obvious answer and it only really exists to create future conflict between Nate and his father. It hasn’t been interesting up to this point so likely won’t become interesting.
- exploration of the fear associated with creative expression
- more layers added to Mick
- Charlie as a challenging presence for the team
- Nora’s arc mirroring Mick’s but still seeming different
- the moral dilemma Nora is faced with
- an organic choice for her to accept using magic
- hope for Nora’s redemption
- Ray’s cop out solution for Nora’s moral dilemma
- uninteresting Heywood family drama
- sitcom level silliness in the Nate plot
- the obvious “mystery” of “Project Hades
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.