This Legends of Tomorrow article contains MAJOR spoilers for “A Head of Her Time.”
With Sara off galavanting—read that as Caity Lotz prepping for her upcoming directorial debut on Legends of Tomorrow—the crew of the Waverider were under the command of Ava (Jes Macallan) for “A Head of Her Time.” Whilst there was plenty of French revolution fun to be had, the big narrative arc here centered on Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and John (Matt Ryan) as they delved into their pasts and shared some pretty Earth-shattering secrets.
There’s a lot to unravel here and luckily at a recent press brunch Den of Geek was invited—alongside some other outlets—to chat with some of the cast and crew behind the wild episode to break down those shocking reveals and hint at what comes next for the Hellbound crew.
Since we first met the Legends they’ve often been entangled in strange and surreal adventures and this week’s episode is no different. Whilst the Waverider gang was off battling Marie Antoinnette, John and Charlie were facing up to their demons—literally. The barren haunted mansion where their story was set felt like a stark contrast from the fun and colorful worlds we often see the Legends inhabit. But as co-showrunner Keto Shimizu explained, coming up with the settings is always sparked by the needs of the character, first and foremost.
“We always start with an emotional story. We talk about who needs to have a story, who we should pair up with whom to really bring something fun to the story. So, for Charlie, her having a journey with Constantine felt really appropriate for both of their stories and what they both needed. After we have those sort of the emotional pinpoints that we need to reach for that episode and we get to that, OK well, where could we set this? When could we set this? Then we start going down the historical rabbit hole.”
Magical shapeshifter Charlie is brought to life by Richardson-Sellers and up until now fans have known very little about the woman who took on the shape of Maya. However, that’s all about to change and it fits with what Richardson-Sellers sees as a thematic shift in this season.
“We’ve really kind of brought it back to the core of the emotional journeys of these characters while still maintaining the comedy,” says Richardson-Sellers. “I feel like you know we’ve really got these two worlds symbiotically feeding on each other and every episode kind of feels like it touches on both sides of that. Some of the characters go through intense intense emotional experiences this time around, but we also keep it fun and playful at same time.”
Both Richardson-Sellers and Matt Ryan come from a theater background and share a love of pushing artistic boundaries. But whereas the pair have plenty of fun on set, Richardson-Sellers shared that for Charlie, Constantine is a vastly challenging ally.
“Constantine’s the only one who really puts her in an uncomfortable place,” she says. “He’s the one who’s like, ‘Wait, I’m not done with you, tell me more.’ Whereas everyone else just lets her be Charlie. So it makes sense that he’s the one who finally drags out of her darker side.”
Fans got a hint of that darker side in “A Head of Her Time,” as Charlie began to open up about what brought her to the Legends and the occult and powerful secret at the heart of her journey which is something that Richardson-Sellers is excited to explore.
“All of last season, we didn’t really know much about Charlie, just that she was broken out of jail and she’s a magical creature and she’s a shapeshifter,” says Richardson-Sellers. “And finally we start to see this new journey of her sort of slightly unraveling as she finally shows a vulnerable side. Constantine also comes from a place of deep darkness and has a very complicated dark past, so the two of them are—even though they may not want to be—they are kind of linked and similar in those ways, and they can see through each other’s wounds.”
Richardson-Sellers continued. “It’s so nice to finally see her other side, we really go deep into her past and that actually becomes one of the main throughlines of the season: Where is Charlie from? Why is she here? And what’s she gonna do now?”
Fans finally got (part of) the answer to those questions in this episode as Constantine shared an anecdote about the Loom of Fate. Whilst John’s memories of the occult legend were nostalgic, Charlie revealed a massive secret: the ancient Loom from Greek Mythology is real and the reason that Charlie is on the run is because she broke it.
Richardson-Sellers explained the importance of the artifact and how it would play into the season going forward.
“The thing with the Loom is it’s kind of ultimate power, right?” Richardson-Sellers tells us. “It can rewrite history, change the past, we can control the masses. So it’s something which John specifically would have a pull to want to be involved with and get his hands on, like everyone has a reason in the group to want to control this thing. It’s been broken, so I think you can tell that there might be some impetus to want to try and change that. But there’s a reason why Charlie broke it so that definitely introduces a tension and that will definitely become a very big part of this season.”
Charlie isn’t the only one with a secret here, though, as John’s past has finally caught up with him. Fans of Legends of Tomorrow will likely remember Astra, the child from Hell who released a bunch of maniacs onto the mortal realm from the fiery pits of the Underworld. Those so-called “Encores” are the driving force behind this season, but during “A Head of Her Time,” fans found out about the dark story behind Astra and her connection to John. See, the young girl was sent to Hell by John after a failed seance to restore his ex-girlfriend Nat. This led to her young daughter being dragged into the realm and raised by demons. Now Astra is all grown up and less than happy about the experience.
During our chat, showrunner Phil Klemmer explained how Legends crafted their unique vision of Astra’s homeworld.
“We knew we wanted Hell to be different than people with pitchforks and fiery thrones and stuff,” says Klemmer. “So we landed in the ’80s in New York and then we talked about stock markets and Wall Street, that sort of greed is good mantra. In the end, then we started just imagining it was sort of like Working Girl, sort of a riff on an ’80s movie but a much more diabolical version of it. To make Hell like a man’s world but also have it as a take on capitalism. It’s just a completely awful place but Astra has learned how to thrive.”
Olivia Swann, who plays Astra, is still getting used to her key role in the show, especially as when she took on the role she thought it was a one and done thing. As viewers saw this episode, that is far from the truth with Astra apparently playing a large part in the future of the Legends. So how does someone balance playing the woman who (maybe) killed John Constantine with the show’s theme of redemption and the fact that both John and Nat seem to think that Astra can still be saved?
“I know that basically the root of her is this little girl who was so wrong done by and grew up in the worst place imaginable and is a tortured soul,” Swann shares. “I know that, but I feel like it’s something that we haven’t seen from her yet, it’s almost as if she’s not even aware of it herself because of the surroundings that she’s grown up in. So it’s been interesting trying not to play that, because at this point she is this kind of machine that wants to harm the guy who hurt her.”
Swann continues: “I know in my mind that she is essentially a human and has all these varying emotions and she’s not a robot. So it’s been fun kind of finding moments to put that in, and I think within the script it comes out when it when it needs to. So it’s been fun having those little moments but it’s also been fun just playing the straight up badass, terrifying, can kill you if she wants character, which at the moment feels like it’s kind of the root of her. So it’s been nice to kind of plant that because I feel like if things come up where we do get to see different sides of her, it’s going to be much more of a contrast and that’s much more fun to play.”
You can watch Legends of Tomorrow every Wednesday on The CW at 9PM E.T.