This review contains spoilers.
There’s nothing more relatable than a comic book character who is also a nerd. Whether it be Ms. Marvel or Sir Ray of the Palms, we all love to see a nerdy protagonist. Every nerd reading or watching at home knows what it feels like to wish they were a character in their favourite story.
Enter Ray Palmer, who gets to spend Camelot/3000Mary Sue-ing through Arthurian legend. It makes for a somewhat silly standalone-type episode, but isn’t that what Legends Of Tomorrow does best these days? Unlike more “serious” comic book adaptations, Legends doesn’t try to distance itself from unabashed passion that borders on the ridiculous. On the contrary, it encourages and celebrates it. That attitude both to its source material and to the superhero comic book genre in general continues to be one of this show’s biggest strengths.
Here’s everything that went down in Camelot/3000…
When Gideon picks up a whiff of the Spear of Destiny in 3000, the Waverider crew gets there just in time to find the hacked up body of Doctor Mid Nite, a former member of the Justice League of America who has been tasked with protecting a fragment of the Spear. Rip got to him first, which means Legends’ evil cabal now has two of the four fragments. That’s not good and provides a baseline level of stakes for what is, for the most part, a relatively breezy episode.
The Legends travel to the Middle Ages to hunt down the next part of the Spear, only to find themselves ensconsed in Arthurian legend. One of the best gags of the entire episode was Nate’s insistence that everyone’s Renaissance Faire outfits would make them look like idiots, only to be the one who didn’t fit in when it became clear this destination was more legend than history. Nate obviously still hasn’t figured out what show he’s on.
The Legends have stumbled onto a real-life version of the Arthurian legend, complete with warrior Guinevere, hunky Arthur, and a familiar face as Merlin: Stargirl. The JSA member is guarding her part of the Spear by creating her own Arthurian court. (I think there’s an argument to be made that she is an even bigger Arthurian fanboy than Ray, given that she seemed to whip up this little Knights of the Roundtable setup from memory. Either way, she has an infinite amount more chill than Ray.)
The Waverider crew spends some time getting to know the Roundtable crew before Damien Darhk and Rip appear on the scene, using a cybernetic device Rip took from the 31st century to control Arthur. He kills his pal Galahad and holds a knife to his own throat. Damien gives the Legends and knights an ultimatum: hand over the Spear fragment by an arbitrarily-designated time or Brainwashed Arthur will attack with an army of Brainwashed Knights.
Though the epic battle might seem like a foregone conclusion, when Amaya manages to convince Stargirl to give her the fragment for safekeeping, the Legends crew boards the Waverider, ready to get the heck out of Dodge… except for a still fanboying Ray, who is really drinking the Arthurian legend Kool-Aid.
A lot of the episode rests on believing that Ray would be so caught up in the Arthurian delusions of grandeur first formed by his 12-year-old self that he would prioritize playing knight over making sure the shard of the Spear of Destiny stays out of Damien and Rip’s hands. Luckily, this totally makes sense given what we know about his character. He’s an idealistic idiot. Even when Nate tells him that a Medieval work of art chronicles his death here, he decides to stay. LARPers gonna LARP, you know?
The remaining Legends are conflicted about what to do. On the one hand, Ray is their team member. On the other hand, he chose to stay and it seems more important to keep the Spear out of Darhk’s hands. I like that this is an actual discussion and, while you suspect Team Waverider isn’t actually going to leave Ray behind, you’re not positive. That’s the kind of unpredictable character group Legends Of Tomorrow has managed to construct — a trait that the other shows in the DC CW universe have yet to totally master.
Ultimately, it’s Rory’s refusal to leave “Haircut” behind that turns the tide in Ray’s favour. The gang returns to help, resulting in a truly badass battle sequence that begins with Sara, Amaya, and Nate striding out of the fog into the muddy battlefield and Ray slow-motioning stabbing a knight on horseback using a lightsaber. This is why I watch this show. (Also, for the delightfully subversive character of Sara Lance, who glides through history like a bisexual Lothario. Extra points for the Sara Lancelot twist.)
Using Rory’s brain-intensity, Stein and Jax figure out a way to short circuit Rip’s mind control technology and Team Good Guys wins the battle. Sara even manages to capture Rip in the process, who is left behind by a characteristically out-for-himself Darhk. “I don’t do rescues,” he says, hilariously, before he exits stage left, pursued by Ray. Ray manages to hold his own for a while, until Darhk pulls out a gun and shoots him. (Of course Ray brings a saber of light to a gun fight.) He is only saved by the Atom suit he has worn underneath his suit of armor. He’s dumb, but he’s not that dumb. Apparently.
The episode ends with Rip as a prisoner aboard the Waverider, locked in the ship’s prison cell. It’s a seeming boon for Team Waverider, if not for the fact that no one was apparently smart enough to cut off Rip’s access to Gideon. After Jax comes to threaten Rip, we see the brainwashed villain reunite with his computer bestie. Amateur move, guys. Despite the lapse in logic, I am eager to see a more intimate battle of Brainwashed Rip v. Team Waverider. Rip continues to be an intriguing villain who gives tangible stakes to the Spear of Destiny plot. Unlike Darhk or even Malcolm Merlyn, we care what happens to Rip.
Overall, Camelot/3000 was a fun yet ultimately forgettable Legends Of Tomorrow episode that felt like filler before the upcoming race to the season finish. That being said, it proves how good Legends has become in its second season that even its filler episodes have so much to like. Frankly, I would follow these bickering characters anywhen.