This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 4 Episode 7
I think it really says something about the quality of Legends of Tomorrow that we can have an episode where Ray grows a mustache for no apparent reason*; where that mustache is called a “tush tickler”; where Mona and Nate can have a misunderstanding about Gary’s sexual appetites and the dietary habits of the pacific werewolf in bureau custody and frame it around “man meat”; and, of course, where the main bad guy is Pee Wee Herman’s voice in a murderous puppet. And yet with all those ridiculous happenings, we still have an episode where notorious scummy antihero John Constantine can almost make me cry real, genuine tears.
This goes back to the point I raised last week about the show. The writers and cast know their characters inside out, and that includes the new ones. It’s why Zari was integrated into the cast so quickly last season. The writers room wraps their brains around a character; the character is cast exceptionally well; the new actor figures out their angle; and then the writers find ways to challenge the actors that enable the actors to buy all the way into the emotional beats.
Constantine is a bag of crap. He admits he’s a bag of crap in this episode as we discover what a bag of crap he is. However, this revelation (or reminder, or what have you) does nothing to blunt the emotional impact of seeing Constantine genuinely fall in love with someone and then lose him to Hell. In fact, it almost makes it more important because of the tiny shred of nobility it lends John’s betrayal of Dez. Just a tiny one, though: John gives all the goodwill back later in the episode.
The main story of the episode is ostensibly about a dybbuk that inhabits dolls to continue killing, but that’s just a means to segue into the Constantine-focused A plot. We find out that John had truly been in love; that he lost his love Dez when Neron, a ruler of Hell, was sent back; and eventually, that John made the deal to send Dez back. John spends most of the episode trying to make sure that he and Dez never end up together, because his heartbreak over the loss is what drove him to the Legends, and in the end, he is disastrously successful.
The B-plot of the episode really shines, too. Ava confiscated the inspirational book hat Mick picked up in Japan, so now he can’t have sex with Garima and he’s mad. So Sara tries to get them to bury the hatchet, but just succeeds in getting him something really vile to Ava and Sara (“Howcome I don’t get to have sex with my fake girlfriend but you do?” referring to Ava being a clone). As part of this exchange, Sara has one of the most perfect Legends lines of the show: “Ava, you are my love, and Mick, you are my family.” For all of Ray’s smirking fourth wall breaking, this feels like the most meta and most appropriate summary of the show that I’ve seen: it’s about an action hero making friends and falling in love and then just going with it.
The C-plot, where Mona falls in love with one of the monsters and sees him kidnapped, was stupid. Even finding out that Gary was secretly an MRA.
Ultimately, this episode gets dragged down a couple of points for feeling a little overfull, but a Legends of Tomorrow 7/10 is a 9 on any other CW DC show because we’re just so accustomed to quality that “not being more hilarious than the previous week” feels like a dip.
DC Universe Time Bubbles
– Of course, we haven’t talked about the Stein puppet or the fact that next week promises us puppet versions of the whole team. I am already penciling in that 10th star…
– Marie Laveau was a real person, “the voodoo queen of New Orleans,” so it’s shocking she’s never been integrated into the DC magical universe. She has shown up in a few Marvel books, though.
– *Full confession: my DVR crapped out or was mysteriously deleted from my cable box COMCAST, so I missed the first four minutes and any explanation of the mustache contained therein. But having seen the mustache, I can’t think of an explanation I would have accepted, so let’s stick with “no reason”.
– Neron is an interesting name drop. He was a lord of superhero DC hell, introduced in 1995’s Underworld Unleashed, a winter crossover that let DC dig out of some continuity muck. He later appeared all over the DCU, including 52 where he tried to convince the Elongated Man to sell his soul to go see his wife’s soul (which was also in hell). And most recently, he was the one trapping Apollo in the delightful Midnighter and Apollo by Steve Orlando and Fernando Blanco that you really should read.
– Constantine describes Hell as being ruled by a “triumverate.” This is, I think, a Sandman reference, where Hell is ruled by Lucifer, Azazel, and Beelzebub. Neron being slotted in there could be explained by Lucifer’s appearance on Fox TV?
– John and Dez’s relationship seems a lot like the one from the James Tynion/Ming Doyle/Riley Rossmo book that ended as Rebirth restarted most everything.
– Next week: Broken time means all hell has broken loose.