If you’re not caught up on Legends of Tomorrow before this week’s episode, beware of spoilers! There are no spoilers for the latest episode.
Legends of Tomorrow is an unconventional superhero series known for its boundless energy and its assortment of quirky, misfit, b-list superheroes. But nobody tunes in to Legends expecting heavy hitters like the Justice League, instead, they keep coming back for the imaginative, reality-warping time travel scenarios and the chemistry of the cast.
Tala Ashe has quickly become a fan favorite on a show full of fan favorites. Ashe plays Zari Tomaz, a hacker from the future who also wields the power of the mysterious air totem. Introduced early in season three, Ms. Ashe had the challenge of establishing a little-known comics character on a show where many of her co-stars already had multiple seasons of Arrowverse backstory to make their own space in the Waverider.
“It’s always weird, I think, to be the new kid,” Ashe tells Den of Geek. “Especially if you’re sort of an especially awkward person like myself. Everyone was really nice. What I think is wonderful about Legends amongst other things, is that there’s no diva behavior on our set. Everyone’s really kind, and doing their own thing. Everyone’s in a sort of rhythm of course, from being together for two seasons. I think on-screen and off, the season has been an evolution of integrating more as Zari, and as Tala.”
This season of Legends of Tomorrow has already seen major changes to the roster. Rip Hunter is even more absent than he was during the show’s second season, and there have been major departures (Firestorm), high profile guest stars (Matt Ryan as John Constantine), and other new additions (Keiynan Lonsdale’s Kid Flash is about to join the team). While Ashe feels that “the new kid thing is sort of fading away” she also welcomed the arrival of Lonsdale as Wally West, who she describes as “a really lovely person with wonderful energy.”
But you can’t have major cast upheavals without feeling the effects. “I do sort of feel like it was two seasons…before Franz and Victor left, and then after,” Ashe says. “It does feel like a different set of people. Everyone’s wonderful, but you know, it’s different.”
Zari is loosely based on the DC Comics character, Isis, although Legends has given fans a significant departure from the comics. That doesn’t mean they’re abandoning them entirely, though. “[executive producers] Mark [Guggenheim], Phil [Klemmer], and I from the beginning have had a very open dialogue in terms of developing this character,” Ashe says. “I obviously did reference the source material coming into it, because I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Zari has sort of taken us all on her own journey. So I feel like I’m learning from her, and from who she is.”
“I do still look at the comics, because I think there’s sort of an aspirational quality,” Ashe says. “We will see Zari harness her powers more and embody them as the season goes on. We saw her at the beginning and she thought wasn’t even worthy of them, and that they were really her brother’s powers. I think what’s helpful to me is I see how strong that character is in the comic books, and I think that’s sort of helpful to what Zari is working towards, if that makes sense.”
But what “aspirational” qualities does she see in her take on the character? “I think [Zari] actually has a great deal of empathy, which sometimes is buried under a lot of protective measures,” Ashe says. “We’ve actually seen it a few times in the season, especially with the kids, with young Ray and young Nora. I hope that we see more of that as we go…Her no bullshit attitude with the world, and the fact that she names things for what they are. I really admire that. There is a fearlessness that she has outwardly, which in this episode, I think we see her vulnerability come out. I think that makes her stronger, and I hope it will make her stronger in the long term…I think she has a lot of loyalty. Once she considers someone her family, she’ll do anything for them, and we see that play out directly in [this week’s episode].”
“Here I Go Again” which is the “Groundhog Day” episode of Legends, was particularly helpful as it presents a unique problem for Zari to solve, and allowed Ashe to explore new elements of the character. “This episode [“Here I Go Again”] actually taught me a lot about her sort of edges and her sort of internal challenges and strengths,” Ashe says. “With everything really great about the episode is that we see a lot of character development for her, and we see parts of her that we haven’t seen before, because of the nature of what anyone can imagine a time loop would do to your sanity. There’s a lot of humor and desperation that kind of causes Zari to lose her apathetic, cool girl thing, because she thinks she’s losing her mind.”
In fact, it sounds like “Here I Go Again” is the episode where Zari does finally lose the “new kid” feeling once and for all. “What’s important about this episode is that she fully does embrace being part of this team,” Ashe says. “She fully embraces their mission, with the caveat of still continuing to hack her way through history in the way that makes sense to her. Which I think that the team is kind of getting at more on board with. There is sort of a compromise that happens.”
But make no mistake, the character of Zari is bigger than that, and Ashe is well aware of what else the character can accomplish. “I think ultimately she wants to do good, and she actually has very lofty ambitions of wanting to save the world, and wanting to make the world a better place, and a more egalitarian space for everyone. Whether as a Muslim-American, whether it’s religion, or ethnicity. I think that’s her long term goal, and that’s always churning for her.”
Legends of Tomorrow “Here I Go Again” airs Monday, February 19 at 8 pm on the CW.