This article contains DC’s Legends of Tomorrow spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 7 Episode 5
It was almost impossible for Legends of Tomorrow to follow up the spectacular 100th episode with something that matched it, and while they didn’t hit the same high, they came really close. Could they pull off three all-time classic episodes in a row? Could the best show on television put out a three episode run in season seven that eclipses the rest of the series?
Turns out no. But even a down episode for Legends of Tomorrow is a ton of fun.
With a looming midseason break in a couple of weeks, we were due for a plot mover, and that’s exactly what “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist” is. But there might be something else going on here.
The big plot news of this episode is the reunification of the team, after several episodes travelling apart. Gideon, Spooner and Astra finally catch up to the rest of the gang in New York City, just in time to stop them from electrocuting themselves on the malfunctioning time platform of one Dr. Gwyn Davies, the mad scientist working for Thomas Edison (yes, that Thomas Edison) who claims a “divine purpose” to his time travel experiments. The team keeps mistaking him for a distant relative of various old crewmates – Sara thinks he’s a young Professor Stein, others think he’s a relative of Ray Palmer, one even mistook him for a Rory.
He is, of course, played by the returning Matt Ryan, who plays Davies as a neurotic mess, a pretty significant departure from his previous visit to the Waverider as John Constantine.
The team encounters Davies in their quest to find a time machine and get back to a place where the Time Bureau’s resources will let them dig into who’s hunting them. He’s got an almost fully functional time platform in his enormous NYC apartment, and they try and steal it (to then replace it in the instant it left) and get to 2021 Tahiti.
In my mind, there are three big outstanding mysteries that need to be addressed…
Who is Gwyn Davies?
These shows have done the “aren’t you familiar” bit in the past, with Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer saying that Kara Davners “looks like [his] cousin” during the Invasion crossover a few years back. While that was a nice joke referencing Routh’s turn as the big-screen Superman, the jokes about Davies, made by almost everyone on the show, feel a little bit too visible to not be pointing towards some kind of plot twist. The fact that nobody has pinned Constantine on him yet, but that people are still doing it at the end of the episode, feels like something’s still up here.
If something is up, it’s probably not the thing we all jumped to: Legends of Tomorrow showrunner Phil Klemmer had a ton to say about Ryan’s return when we spoke with him earlier this fall.
“[Matt and I] were talking about how Constantine stories are all circular,” Klemmer says. “He’s essentially like an addict or a person with pathologies. He always imagines that he’s moving forward and despite his strength and his cleverness he’s always just ending up back where he was.”
Davies is a clean slate for Ryan and the Legends crew.
“[He] doesn’t have the canon of Constantine. He doesn’t have to put on the mantle of the tie and the trench coat. He doesn’t know how the story ends and neither do we,” says Klemmer. “He’s now on a linear story as opposed to a circular one, and yeah, it’s terrifying but it’s also thrilling because he gets to evolve.”
That freed Ryan up to stretch his legs as an actor.
“I think it’s really exciting because Constantine was so tortured but I can’t believe that Matt Ryan had to spend the better part of a decade knowing that he was never gonna find salvation as a performer. That’s a super heavy thing to do to an actor. So I’m glad for him that he’s plotting his own course.”
Who is Davies’ person?
Davies and Sara have a heart to heart in Bellevue – he’s there because Edison had him fired and institutionalized for continuing work on his time machine, and she’s there because her rushed attempt to long-term borrow Davies’ time machine broke the timestream and erased Ava and Gary.
They connect over their shared desire to find “my person,” the one they’re each wading into the timestream to save – Ava for Sara, and giant flashing question mark for Davies. The show feels like it’s deliberately tiptoeing around any clues as to who that person might be, which makes it feel very plot-relevant.
Why is Bishop protecting the timestream?
It doesn’t seem like his thing to care enough to keep replacing Hoovers and Edisons with robot versions (real Edison dies when robot Hoover explodes in front of him), but their programming is clearly from him. Is it possible there’s a third faction out there? Maybe the future Legends trying to make sure the timeline stays solid-ish and keeping them from being picked off by angry derivative villains, and their work keeps getting intercepted by Bishop?
While it was a plotwinder, this week’s Legends of Tomorrow wasn’t completely devoid of good character beats. We’ve got some nice moments for Nate and Totem Zari as they try and decide how to be together even though she lives in a bracelet. And the Spooner/Astra relationship has really flourished on their road trip. But, as Legends periodically does every season, all the character beats take a backseat to the plot, and the end result is a solid B episode, one that seems less enchanting because it’s surrounded by ungradable high ones.