DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 4 Episode 2
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes the team to Salem in 1642 to track down a magical threat
This season promises to be as much of a riot as the previous season with magical threats both dangerous and ridiculous challenging the team in hilariously predictable ways. Juggling tone is something this show does particularly well which allows things that shouldn’t work when presented in the same episode to blend together fairly seamlessly.
Compelling characters is pretty much the secret of how to achieve that and this show has those in abundance. No matter how much silliness is on display there is often an interesting emotional core that keeps a given episode from becoming disposable stupid. In this case the lion’s share of the serious drama goes to Zari who is struggling to process seeing her mother before the world she belongs to came to pass.
The reminder of what the future holds is fresh in Zari’s mind and goes a long way towards informing a lot of her behaviour in this episode. To her Salem is an example of how little has actually changed over the centuries as people are still afraid of anything different that they don’t fully understand. In the case of Salem this led to widespread persecution that meant the deaths of those who really didn’t deserve it. Zari is well aware of what that feels like in her timeline and finds herself driven to protect Jane Hawthorne (Laura Regan) no matter what Sara says about preserving the timeline. It’s something that works in theory but Zari isn’t someone who can stand idly by and watch bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it. This is very much a pattern with Zari who doesn’t seem to care about preserving the timeline since one of the reasons she became a Legend was to prevent her dark future from coming to pass. This should be really dangerous for the team considering how cavalier she is about carrying out their mission statement though this has always been a problem for the show as none of the characters seem to really care about changing the timeline.
Tala Ashe is great in this episode as expected. Zari has a lot of pain that she barely manages to keep hidden and it definitely compromises her in really fundamental ways. She says herself that she uses sarcasm to cover up her darkest thoughts and impulses so she has an awareness of her damaged state of mind but has no real desire to change her behaviour. In some scenes she comes across as more tired than anything else which stacks up when considering the realisation that the way people treat those who are different doesn’t really change across the centuries. Her fatigue combines with anger and grief to create an endless source of frustration that keeps Zari coasting on a wave of cynicism. Tala Ashe doesn’t oversell this in any way which continues to keep Zari compelling.
Sara makes for an excellent supportive figure in Zari’s life because she knows exactly where she’s coming from. Zari lets her personal losses define her in different ways which Sara understands because she has lost so many people over the years while dealing with her own inner demons that she finds difficult to control. There’s a lot of empathy in Caity Lotz’ performance towards the end of the episode that offers further evidence of how strong a leader Sara is and how she can relate to her crew in really profound ways.
Character studies like this are what makes it more palatable to also feature a Fairy Godmother (Jane Carr) as the villain of the week. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds but it also works wonderfully as a threat that nobody was expecting or prepared for and feels perfectly in keeping with this show’s particular brand of lunacy. The introduction of the Fairy Godmother was brilliantly done with ominous fog and a swelling score being deflated by the appearance of an old woman with a wand. John Constantine’s confused and disappointed facial expression further sells the moment. The musical number was also brilliantly done thanks to Ray’s boyish reaction.
John being an expert in the threats the team are dealing with also helps establish the threat value of the Fairy Godmother. It’s not something he’s familiar with so she represents an entirely new breed of danger that he isn’t prepared to deal with. Once he assesses the situation he realises it can be dealt with through familiar tactics but for a while it’s something new for him.
The most dangerous thing about her is that she gives people exactly what she wants though needs a willing host to enable her powers. She latches onto Prudence (Jordyn Ashley Olson) who wants to punish those who mistreated her and her family. The Fairy Godmother is completely without conscience but is frustrated by many of the things she has had to do in the past. It’s through learning that revenge isn’t always the answer that Prudence is able to find it within herself to release the Fairy Godmother and render her powerless.
John offers her a deal that will protect them both as well as restore her powers but she considers that to be worse than going to Hell because John is so badly damned they she considers him to be beyond saving. The thing that is after John is only referred to as “him” but John has no further questions as he knows exactly what he’s dealing with and is terrified of it. Joining the Legends seems to be a strength in numbers sort of arrangement though I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hoping to keep one step ahead by travelling through time.
There’s a lot of comedy to be mined from John coming aboard the Waverider. Up until now he has been around for one off adventures but now that he’s going to be a more permanent fixture the dynamics shift massively. This plays out as John being the insufferable roommate to Mick with him taking liberties with Mick’s routine and usual haunts. It’s hilarious because both actors fully commit to it and John seems to be trying to be deliberately annoying at least to some extent. We already know he bounces off Sara well. With Mick being a fun pairing for John as well I look forward to seeing how he interacts with the other members of the team.
Nate’s complicated relationship with his father continues to play out though still doesn’t amount to anything interesting. There is a sort of comedic irony to him declaring that he doesn’t want his father’s money only to be essential in convincing his father to authorise a continued budget for the Time Bureau. He does so by proving that magic exists in an amusing enough way. Outside of the mechanics of this plot there isn’t an awful lot to recommend here and they reach an understanding once Nate shows his father that he has accomplished something important and isn’t the screw up that he is believed to be. Nate working with Ava at the Time Bureau could be a good move for a character who often lacks definition and it provides ample excuse for Ava to be a part of the show without relying on her connection to Sara. More Gary will also be a good thing.
A strong episode that expertly blends a moving character study with the supremely ridiculous. Zari is the star of the show this week as she processes the realisation that people don’t generally improve when it comes to how they treat those who are different. Tala Ashe delivers a powerfully nuanced performance throughout that brilliantly shows the complex feeling Zari has about the situation. Sara as a supportive figure who understands is a really nice touch as well though some work will need to be done with her cavalier attitude to preserving history.
Having the Legends take on a Fairy Godmother is an inspired choice that is consistently hilarious while still tying into what the show is trying to set up in a meaningful way. John’s offer to work together for mutual protection shows that she is to be taken seriously as a threat as well as further exploring how much danger John is in. John coming aboard the Waverider and clashing with Mick when he invades his routine makes for excellent viewing and makes me curious about how he will relate to the other characters. Nate’s frosty relationship with his father continues to be uninteresting but I like the idea of him spending more time at the Time Bureau as it gives Ava a purpose in the show beyond her connection to Sara while also allowing Gary to be more prominent.
- Tala Ashe’s brilliantly nuanced performance
- the characterisation of Zari throughout the episode
- John and Mick butting heads
- using a Fairy Godmother as a villain and having it work
- the musical number
- the uninteresting relationship between Nate and his father
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