DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 4 Episode 1
“The Virgin Gary”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns for a fourth season with a smaller team and a further shift towards magic based threats.
It’s more than safe to say that pretty much anything goes on this show at this point. Last season ended with a giant Furby knock-off fighting a winged Demon and it worked like a charm so now the creators of this show have Carte Blanche to try anything and see how it lands.
Surprisingly this season starts off more sedately than you might expect. The team are tracking an anachronism due to appear on 7th February 1964; the day The Beatles first came to America. It’s a really well put together scene merging archive footage and careful camera work to conceal the faces of those standing in for The Beatles. It must be difficult creating a specific moment in history on the resources this show has especially for a brief scene like this but it more or less works and reintroduces us to the natural camaraderie that exists between the characters. Tracking down anachronisms is treated as another day at the office which it very much is at this point. Very little time is spent on this as it’s resolved without complications which suggests that the team have managed to curtail their tendency to make a situation worse at least to some extent.
Opening the season with a more sedate story -at least by this show’s standards- is a really good idea as it gives the writers time to set a few things up. If any theme can be extrapolated from what we see here it would be family and acceptance. It has been well established that the team have become a family of sorts so now it’s time to expand on that and show what outside interests also factor into that definition.
This is explored through all of the characters to varying degrees. Sara and Ava are at a really comfortable point in their relationship where Ava wants Sara to move in with her and Sara is more than open to the idea. It’s brought up early in the episode and Sara accepts it right away though has some trepidation as the warning issued by Constantine as to what they have accidentally unleashed weighs on her mind. She’s unsure whether to tell Ava about it particularly after the team have been given medals for defeating Mallus so can’t truly let herself be happy until that particular error is corrected.
Eventually it proves to be a non issue because Ava already knew about the mistake and sees it as an acceptable consequence of defeating Mallus but it affects Sara in the sense that she feels that it’s her responsibility to fix this before she can truly let herself settle down. As relationship complications go it’s a fairly minor one and it’s treated as such but it’s enough to form an arc for Sara to progress through this season without delaying things unnecessarily with tiresome angst. As always Caity Lotz and Jes Macallan have amazing chemistry that makes their relationship believable as well as fun to watch.
Ray and Zari are paired up in an effort to explore the connections that they don’t have more than the ones that they do. Ray facilitated Nora’s escape last season and is left wondering what became of her. The reason he let her go is because he firmly believes that she has the potential to be a good person and only needs a nudge in the right direction. Zari doesn’t necessarily believe that but ends up supporting him in his self imposed quest because she recognises that he needs that from her. If there is to be a realisation that Nora is irredeemable then it can’t be forced on him and there’s a good chance that he’s right. Zari opens up to Ray by taking him to 2018 to show him her mother at the park with the younger version of her. It’s a quietly poignant moment that offers insight into how Zari sees futility. She has the capability to warn her mother about everything that will come to pass but can’t do it because she has to preserve the timeline. I’m still positive that the time period Zari belongs to can’t be the future of the Arrowverse but as far as Zari is concerned her timeline has to come to pass so she is unable to interfere. It doesn’t entirely connect to Ray’s struggle but it does unite these characters by creating an understanding between them that works just as well.
Nate and Mick spend a lot of the episode together and are connected by their relationship to their fathers. The episode established a strained relationship between Nate and his father, Henry (Tom Wilson). It’s the classic father/son disconnect where the son didn’t receive a lot of encouragement and has their self confidence forever dented by the lack of a nurturing family environment. It isn’t all that interesting and doesn’t endear Nate to me in any meaningful way. I did enjoy Mick becoming more and more angry at Nate’s drug fuelled complaining about how his father never seemed to love him because it’s another opportunity for Dominic Purcell to entertain while playing around with what has been established about Mick so far. It makes sense that hearing Nate complain about an emotionally unavailable father would irritate him considering he had a much more violent relationship with his. It was so bad that Mick burned his father to death with very little in the way of remorse felt in the aftermath. It completely makes sense that he doesn’t want to listen to what Nate has to say because it strikes an uncomfortable chord within him that he would rather not explore. Without Mick this thread wouldn’t have had an awful lot to offer.
The outlier in all of this is John Constantine. This is clearly by design as he is very much a loner consumed by his own neuroses and character flaws. He starts down the road of coming around to the idea of admitting that he needs people in his life and joining a team though he’s not quite there yet by the end of the episode. He’s content to lend his expertise here and there but would rather remain on his own for the most part.
Sara and John’s relationship is key here as there are a lot of similarities between them even if they are at difference stages in their own development. Both are broken in their own way but choose to handle it differently. Sara has embraced having a team, a stable relationship and having a purpose where John gives into his more self destructive impulses. It’s clear that Sara handles things so much better when John tries to pull her back down into her own darkness and she refuses. Instead she encourages him to join them because of how useful he will be against the threats they are due to face but also because she recognises that he needs people in his life to make him feel that he belongs. The fact that two bisexual characters can have such a close bond and bounce off each other so naturally without their sexuality being a component in the least is a testament to the inclusivity of the show and the work the writers have done developing these characters beyond their component parts. I suspect that the demon attack he suffers will be a big part of his decision to join the team and he will find his place within it from there.
Matt Ryan is as always a revelation in this role and very much embodies the version of this character we have seen in the show before now. Now that he is a series regular he does have to bring more to the table as a character and it’s evident from his sadly short lived own show that Matt Ryan is more than capable of adding that depth to the character. I also firmly believe that he’s in the right hands with the writers of this show.
Even though this was quite a sedate opening by comparison there was still a good amount of the insanity this show is known for. The almost fourth wall breaking conversation about anachronisms being last year’s problem, Wally on a journey to find himself being no different to what he was doing last season and Ray’s comments about ratings along with loyal followers made for some sharp self aware banter that was just a joy to watch.
The main problem to be dealt with this week was a Unicorn attack during Woodstock. The timeline is altered to Woodstock being a massacre rather than a celebration of love and free thinking. It turns out that a Unicorn was the cause of this though nobody remembers it because of the substances being consumed at the festival. It’s a lot of fun to watch the team taking on a heart eating unicorn and the ropey CGI is actually a benefit as it allows the Unicorn to take on a magical quality since it doesn’t look entirely real. Using Gary as bait because he happens to be a virgin is oddly counter to the progressive nature of this show. It’s an odd choice and doesn’t entirely work no matter how good it is to see Gary on the show.
A strong opening to the season that feels appropriately sedate by this show’s standards. The focus is on establishing where the characters are at this point and setting things up for the season ahead. Different pairings explore these to varying degrees of success with Ava and Sara coming out the strongest because of how appealing their relationship is to watch. Nate and Mick are interesting enough because of how Mick reacts to Nate’s daddy issues but Nate’s relationship with his father does little to endear him. Zari and Ray are connected by not really having much in the way of connections and contribute to the plot in compelling ways on their own because of their shared inability to change the things they want to change.
John Constantine is a great addition to the show and shows signs of having an arc to follow around getting used to the idea of being part of a team. Sara encourages him to work alongside them to find a purpose where he encourages her to come down into the darkness with him so it’s clear who is in a better emotional place. Their connection is well played as always and Matt Ryan plays the role flawlessly as always. Despite the sedate plotting there are some great almost fourth wall breaking comments and the showdown with a murderous Unicorn is typical of the insanity I have come to love about DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
- hilarious almost fourth wall breaking comments
- pairing up the characters to explore their individual stories
- Sara and Ava’s endlessly endearing relationship
- John Constantine
- the battle with the Unicorn
- Nate’s uninteresting relationship with his father
- the use of Gary’s virgin status being at odds with the inclusivity the show normally champions
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