DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 5 Episode 10
“The Great British Fake Off”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow continues the hunt for the Loom of Fate with a Constantine/Zari collaboration and a trip to Hell for Ava.
The previous episode promised an engaging John and Zari team-up and then this episode wasted no time in delivering it. They both have strongly defined motivations with John’s long held desire to redeem himself for damning Astra’s soul to Hell and Zari’s desperate need to have her brother brought back from his recent death. As with many episodes of this show the stakes are high, there’s plenty of opportunity for rampant silliness and the character work is strong.
Zari 2.0 has been a revelation this season both in terms of showcasing Tala Ashe’ range and the ability of the writers to craft two distinct versions of the same character without either of them feeling short changed. The New Zari isn’t better or worse than the old one; she’s very different and the episodes revel in those differences by finding unique ways to put her to use within a given story. Any given situation could be retooled using the other Zari to come up with a different solution so they’ve managed to avoid the trap of convenient plots that happen to suit a newcomer perfectly that would otherwise have doomed the team under the old circumstances. Zari 2.0 started off as shallow and self obsessed with hints that there was more going on behind the eyes. As time has gone on the level of insight into how her mind works and how she feels about her life has increased to the point that there is so much to play with.
John and Zari couldn’t be more different in terms of personality but they have one key thing in common; when faced with seemingly insurmountable hardship their first instinct is to take action of some kind. John’s reaction to losing Astra in the first place was to dedicate his life to protecting others from magical threats as his own form or punishment or redemption. Zari’s first instinct is similar as is reflected in her instant decision to follow John in doing whatever it takes to save her brother. She goes into more detail about other times she has dealt with different kinds of hardship and the theme is that she focuses her energies on something she can actually accomplish. This reveals that she is someone who has become adept at compartmentalising as a coping mechanism. It makes sense given what we know about her history and makes her the perfect partner for John in this instance as he is known to do exactly the same thing. This is also unknown territory for this version of Zari as she has never had to deal with the loss of a family member unlike her previous timeline counterpart so is finding it difficult to compartmentalise her feelings about Behrad’s recent death. Instead she uses that as the motivation that fuels her actions in this episode with her every effort being singularly focusing on doing everything she can to make sure that his death is undone.
The added advantage in this plot is that Zari and John haven’t spent a lot of time together so John only has his initial impressions of her to go on. He sees her as vapid and shallow so didn’t pay her a lot of attention before this point but working closely with her lets him see that there’s a lot more to her than he initially thought and he realises that he has more in common with her than he would have ever imagined. John’s judgement of her may seem harsh considering his entire life has been about seeing the hidden truth but it fits with his personality and the fact that he’s willing to admit that he judged her too harshly shows that he’s always battling against his own flaws. This show always does such a great job of putting two unlikely characters together and making it work in ways that are far better than anyone could have imagined. John and Zari’s clashing personalities make for engaging banter between them and there’s great chemistry between the two actors which makes these interactions work brilliantly. Their plot transitions naturally from them highlighting their obvious differences to recognising their skills and the value they can bring to each other. There’s also a healthy dose of sexual tension setting up a potential love triangle between John, Zari and Nate. My hatred for love triangles is absolute but at least the writers have managed to justify the existence of this one by spending the time building the dynamics between the characters rather than just making it part of the DNA of the show as a lazy attempt to manufacture tension.
Zari’s particular skillset comes in handy when infiltrating the gathering of Encores as she poses as Cleopatra and has the self confidence to completely sell it without anyone questioning it. She appears dressed appropriately and commands the room with ease which even impresses John who goes along with her plan immediately despite it not being aligned to what he was trying to do. The group of Encores was the weakest aspect of the episode as they amounted to nothing more than a collection of caricatures that give the barest sense of the historical figures being portrayed based on their well known traits rather than creating actual characters. The fact that there are so many of them and none of them have been seen before necessitates this though only in the sense that it was the only way to have such a large group of new characters and make them distinct. A better way to handle this would be to introduce these Encores earlier in the season and have them converge in this episode.
I’m not saying the setup wasn’t entertaining because it most definitely was. Bonnie and Clyde (Abby Ross and Ben Sullivan), Black Caesar (Sean Millington), Henry the 8th (Chris Gauthier), Brutus (Peter Ciuffa) and Jack the Ripper (Timothy Lyle) were all entertaining in their own right even though there was nothing below the surface for any one. The closest to being a character was Jack the Ripper because he had more one on one screentime with John and Zari than any of the others. Their inclusion allowed for some really amusing antics including Brutus pointing his knife at John’s back and being immediately called out for how on the nose it was. They never came across as a significant threat but I don’t think they were supposed to as the focus was on finding the final piece of the Loom of Fate and solving the mystery surrounding how to find it. The solution ties into John and Zari’s current difficulties as the only way to find it is to stop looking for it. Both are trying to force the world around them to conform to what they want in some way. John wants to rewrite fate in order to save Astra’s soul and Zari wants to undo her brother’s death so both have to learn to stop obsessing over what they want to achieve and learn that dogged determination isn’t always all that’s required to find a solution. Once they relax the solution presents itself naturally which proves to be a pointed lesson for each of them. It’s worth mentioning that the DC character tasked with hiding this piece of the Loom of Fate was the Enchantress (Marion Eisman and Samantha Liana Cole); a character seen in the movie Suicide Squad though is used very differently here.
The other main plot involves Ava, Mick and Gary heading to Hell in order to force Astra to tell them where she has sent the Encores to so that they can retrieve John and Zari from wherever they ended up. This comes with the added complication of Sara being incapacitated for mysterious reasons following her fight with Atropos forcing Ava to step up and fill her shoes as Captain in the meantime. Ava’s main arc this season has been around finding purpose in her life without having the Time Bureau to give her that purpose. She and Sara have taken on a parental role of sorts for the Legends and Ava is finding ways to get the team to follow her lead without Sara being around. It’s a daunting prospect for her as Sara makes it look so easy where Ava struggles to deal with the fact that the Legends are prone to acting on their own whims at random intervals which makes a cohesive group dynamic difficult to manage. Luckily for her Mick is available because his daughter told him to go to Hell which amusingly he ends up being able to take literally.
Ava leading a team into Hell is a continuation of her arc but it isn’t the point of this particular plot as it is more designed to be a development opportunity for Astra who starts to realise that she isn’t in control as she thought she was. Ava’s arrival puts her onto the fact that Encores have been sent to Earth without her knowledge which makes her feel somewhat powerless for obvious reasons. This leads her to learn that Lachesis (Sarah Strange) is actually a fate and has been grooming her to take Charlie’s place while also using her to keep an eye on John Constantine so that he can do the legwork for them and assemble the Loom of Fate. She does offer Astra the opportunity to become a fate in Charlie’s place which seems to be a tempting offer for her on the surface but this comes after a meaningful conversation with Ava about choices and determinism.
Astra and Ava have a lot in common as they were both shaped by external forces into things that they arguably never wanted to be. Ava had memories implanted by Rip Hunter that made her the perfect Time Bureau agent and Astra was raised by Lachesis in Hell after being sent there against her will so both have an idea what it’s like to have your life hijacked by external forces. The difference between them is that Ava broke free of what others wanted her to do and is now in complete control of her own choices. She has chosen to be a Legend, chosen to be in a loving relationship with Sara and has a great deal of control over the direction her life is going. She has learned that the only way to move forward from having life dictated to you is to take control and make your own choices. Astra may seem to betray her after that but those words definitely resonate with her and she sees the appeal of what Ava said to her so makes the choice to ally herself with the Legends and go back to the Waverider with them.
Now that all of the pieces of the Loom of Fate are in the possession of the Legends this likely means that the show will have some fun playing in bafflingly brilliant ways. We’ve seen elements of this before with the Spear of Destiny and various time travel situations but this device allows them to literally do anything and that’s something that excites me greatly. Astra being among the Legends working with them because she wants to take control of her own destiny has a lot of potential as well especially with her having easier access to John to allow their dynamic to develop. This season has built up to this moment well and I look forward to seeing what insanity will come next.
A strong episode that makes great use of Zari and John and forges an unlikely yet endlessly engaging connection between them while Ava finds the perfect way to relate to Astra in a way that is unique to her. Zari and John compliment each other in really interesting ways while realising that they actually have a lot in common in terms of how they deal with situations. John’s reaction to accidentally damning Astra to hell was to dedicate his life to helping people with his skills and Zari’s reaction to losing her brother was to focus on getting him back. She talks about times in her life that she has taken action to help her deal with a problem she was facing which shows that she has a gift for compartmentalising her pain just as John does. It’s really fascinating to see them interact and make use of the common ground that they find. Zari posing as Cleopatra and John recognising the validity of her plan before going along with it is an excellent moment that makes perfect use of the new Zari’s skillset. Unfortunately the Encores are far too broadly drawn to be either threatening or memorable though it’s a necessary conceit when there are so many of them. It doesn’t alter the fact that they are so poorly characterised but it is understandable to an extent. The sexual tension that appears between John and Zari happens organically enough though sets up a love triangle that I’ll never be comfortable with even if it does make more sense than most. The key to finding the piece of the Loom of Fate being not actively looking for it makes for an interesting connection to their particular outlooks. They essentially have to stop trying to force things to happen and simply have to let them happen which is something they both have difficulty with.
Sara becoming incapacitated forces Ava to step up as Captain as a continuation of her arc moving her towards finding purpose to her life. She is slowly beginning to understand how the team works from a leadership standpoint and is learning how to use their skills within that setup. It’s a slight continuation in this episode as it’s more about putting her in a position to relate to Astra in a unique way. Astra’s life has been dictated by things that were outwith her control which has shaped the person she is now. That’s something Ava can understand and relate to. Her advice to Astra about taking control of her life and her choices comes from an earned perspective and informs Astra’s decision to try doing things Ava’s ways especially after she sees proof of further manipulation. This episode ends the hunt for the Loom of Fate so I’m hoping for some excellent lunacy now that the Legends have the ability to rewrite fate with the added bonus of having Astra be on the Waverider with easy access to John.
- John and Zari having such a natural and fun dynamic
- Zari pretending to be Cleopatra
- Ava and Astra connecting over their lives being defined by the decisions of others
- bringing Astra onto the Waverider
- the collection of Encores being poorly characterised
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. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Ratings” box
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.