Sunday, March 11, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 13: No Country For Old Dads

Well, that was... different!

This week's Legends Of Tomorrow wasn't necessarily bad, but lordy was it odd. 

At the very end of last week's episode, Atom was captured by the Darhks. So I naturally assumed this installment would be a dark and somber affair, as the Darhks would ransom Atom in exchange for the rest of the Totems.

The last thing I expected was a wacky Cold War spy romp, which is pretty much what we got!

The cinematic homages continue this week, which has been a theme all through Season 3. So far we've had tributes to E.T., Apocalypse Now and even the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. This week we get a Coen Brothers-inspired episode, one that features many of their trademark cinematic touches

The big news this week was Wally West, aka Kid Flash, officially joining the Legends, which was something I predicted a few months back. Amazingly, he seems completely at home onboard the Waverider after just one episode!

The way Wally was treated over on The Flash was downright criminal, as the writers didn't understand who the character was or what to do with him. The Legends writers don't seem to have that problem, as they've already integrated him seamlessly into the group. Hopefully he'll stick around for the rest of the series.

This week's episode continues to build up the connection between Atom and Nora Darhk. Since nothing happens in fiction without a reason (or at least it shouldn't), so I'm assuming there's a purpose to this. I'm betting that in the season finale, Nora will use the power of her love for Atom (or some such hoeey) to rise up and expel the demon Mallus from her body. And then she'll either kill her dad or die in Atom's arms. Maybe even both! Remember, you heard it here first!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Onboard the Waverider, we see that Agent Sharpe obviously spent the night with White Canary in her cabin. Zari wanders into the galley and notes the dishes haven't been done in some time— a chore that Atom usually enjoys doing. Canary realizes she hasn't seen Atom onboard in a while. Suddenly Sharpe gets a call from Time Agent Gary, who's received a message from Atom, saying he's been captured by Damien Darhk and his daughter. He begs the Legends not to come looking for him, as the Darhks will kill him if they do.

Somewhere in a secret hideout, the Darhks meet with Kuasa. Nora Darhk tries to get Vixen's stolen Spirit Totem to work, but can't. Kuasa explains that it won't work for her unless she finds a selfless reason to use it. Damien orders Atom to repair his stolen Fire Totem, or else. Atom reluctantly agrees, but says he'll need a lab with the proper tools. Darhk teleports the group to Upswipz, the startup tech company where Atom briefly worked at the beginning of the season.

On the Waverider, Canary and Sharpe scan time & space for Atom. Suddenly Rip Hunter and Wally West teleport onto the ship. Rip asks for their help in stopping Mallus, which is kind of what they've been doing the past twelve episodes. Vixen says if she meditates and accesses her "ancestral plane," she might be able to locate her Totem. Wally, who's big into meditation, volunteers to help.

Atom examines the broken Fire Totem and says he'd need the power of the Big Bang itself to fuse the pieces back together. Either that or cold fusion, which doesn't exist. Damien begs to differ, saying cold fusion was invented in 1962 by a German physicist named Bernhard Vogal. Atom asks why he's never heard of this, and Darhk replies it's because he was hired by the oil cartel to assassinate Vogel in '62, to prevent cold fusion from replacing fossil fuels.

Nora and Atom then time travel back to 1962, in order to rescue Dr. Vogal from Damien's ruthless, younger self. They find Vogal in a safe house, but he refuses to leave without a doll he bought for his daughter (gosh, I wonder what could possibly be inside that?).

A group of armed guards enter and attempt to stop Atom and Nora. She tries to use her magic to stop them, but her powers sputters and fizzles out. She realizes she hasn't fully recovered from Atom's nanite attack last week. Just then Young Damien shows up (wearing a bizarre Anton Chigurh bowl cut)  and takes out the rest of the guards. Nora tries to time travel them out of the safe house, but her time stone is destroyed by a stray shot from young Damien. D'oh! Atom, Nora and Vogal somehow manage to escape from Damien just in time.

They hole up in a building somewhere, and Nora's angry with herself for messing up, as her father still sees her as a child who can't do anything for herself. She decides to torture Vogal to get the cold fusion formula, but Atom talks her out of it. With no way out of East Germany, the group enters the home of a known document forger. They carefully create immigration papers for themselves (exciting!) so they can safely pass into West Berlin and freedom. They drive to the border, where a guard carefully scrutinizes their papers. After a tense moment, he finally lets them pass.

In the present, Old Damien is worried that Nora hasn't yet returned from the past. He uses his time stone (I guess they both have one?) to go back to 1962 and see what's holding her up. He shows up just in time to save Nora, Atom and Vogal from his younger self. Nora's furious that her father came back to rescue her, rather than let her figure things out on her own, and storms out of the room. Is this really the best time and place to be having this argument?

Meanwhile in the present day, Vixen and Zari meditate, and transport their minds to the ancestral plane. Vixen's shocked, as the mystic realm now looks like a desolate, lifeless space. Her ancestor appears and explains that the plane became dark and lifeless the minute Nora stole the Spirit Totem. She also reveals the Darhks' plan— by constantly causing anachronisms, they're weakening the fabric of time, which will allow Mallus to escape into the real world. Oh, and she also tells Vixen she needs to save her granddaughter Kuasa from darkness.

Back in 1962, Nora's captured by Young Damien. For some reason, Old Damien ties up Atom, and the two have a heart to heart talk about Nora.

Young Damien then somehow calls Old Damien and threatens to kill Nora unless he hands Dr. Vogal over to him. The two Damiens meet on the rooftop of a nearby building for the exchange. Young Damien shoots Vogal, and tosses Nora off the roof. Old Damien uses his magic to catch her. Before he can raise her to safety though, Young Damien attacks him.

While all of this is going on, Atom sees his tiny, shrunken suit sticking out of Damien's discarded coat and manages to activate it and escape.

On the rooftop, the two Damiens fight, as Nora hangs far above the street. She finally tells her father to let her fall in order to save himself. He refuses, but she finally convinces him it's the only way. He lets her go, and beats Young Damien unconscious. As he rushes to the edge of the roof, he sees Nora rise up under her own power, having finally figured out how to use Vixen's Totem.

Atom then flies up to the rooftop and tends to Dr. Vogal. He pulls the head off the doll he's been awkwardly carrying all episode, and to no one's surprise, shows Atom that the formula for cold fusion was inside it all along. Just then Old Damien shoots Vogal dead, so as not to ruin his perfect assassination record.

Damien and Nora then turn to Atom, demanding he hand over the formula or else. Atom tries a desperate gamble by shooting a hole in the Berlin Wall, hoping that'll get the attention of the Legends. Sure enough, in the present day, Gideon detects an anachronism at the Wall in 1962. Canary orders the ship to fly there.

Just as the Darhks are about to kill Atom, the Waverider arrives. Wally West zips to the scene and whisks Atom to safety. Damien remarks that he hates speedsters.

Back on the Waverider, Atom says he has the cold fusion formula, but the Darhks still have the Fire Totem. Wally then reveals he swiped the Totem from Darhk's pocket while he was rescuing Atom. Huzzah! Vixen tells the Legends how the Darhks intend to release Mallus. Agent Sharpe calls Director Bennett of the Time Bureau  to alert him of the plan.

As they Skype with Bennett, they see Gorilla Grodd appear in the background and begin running amok. Unfortunately he kills Bennett in front of their eyes. Rip points out that Sharpe is now the director of the Time Bureau.

Canary asks Wally to stay with the Legends. Happily, he agrees. Rip says his goodbyes, but before he does, he secretly commands Gideon to delete File 354-Z, because Canary must never find out the truth about Sharpe. Ominous!

Thoughts:
• This week's episode was directed by "Viet Nguyen." Gosh, I wonder where he's from? That's the equivalent of naming someone "America Jones."


• Wow! What a difference a show makes! Wally West officially joins the Legends this week, and already he's getting more screen time than he had over on The Flash!

It's a real shame that The Flash writers never quite figure out what to do with Wally once they introduced him, so it's nice to see him finally getting the attention he deserves here. I think he'll fit in a lot better with this team too. Already he seems energized and more interesting.

Plus actor Keiynan Lonsdale has some actual comic chops, something he rarely if ever got to demonstrate on The Flash. I was surprised to see Wally could actually be funny!

Now let's just hope the Legends writers don't hobble Wally and constantly come up with reasons why he can't use his power, as they're prone to do with the rest of the characters on this show.

• Last week I pointed out that Atom was an idiot for leaving his armored suit at home when he confronted the Darhks, which of course resulted in him getting captured.

This week we find out he actually had his suit in his pocket the whole time, but just didn't wear it when he approached these two known villains. 
Somehow this makes Atom seem like an even bigger idiot!

• When Ray sends his "ransom message" to the Legends, he offhandedly mentions that Damien Darhk keeps asking him if he wants to go to a Greatful Dead concert. We then find out that Damien said that as a distraction, knowing that the Legends would time travel to every concert the Dead ever played, looking for Atom.

Sure enough, a bit later we see Steel and Heat Wave enter the ship, decked out in Dead shirts! Nice bit of detail there!

• I guess it makes sense that Kuasa would be leery of the Fire Totem, since she can transform herself into living water. 

She also mentions how she was once killed by the Fire Totem. If you're scratching your head trying to remember when that happened, you're not alone. It actually happened in an episode of the Vixen animated web series, and not on Legends.

• Nora tries on the stolen Spirit Totem, but can't get it to work. She angrily asks Kuasa why she can't access its powers. Kuasa replies, "Because power is all it is to you. Until you find a selfless reason to wield it, my grandmother's bond to the totem, even at a distance, will remain stronger than yours."

So the Totems can only be used for selfless purposes. Fair enough. But what about Kuasa? Was it a "selfless act" when she tried to drown Steel by shoving her watery arm up his nose a couple weeks ago in Daddy Darhkest? 

Everything Kuasa does with her Totem is downright evil! If her explanation is true, then she should never be able to get hers to work either!

• So far every time we've seen Nora Darhk, she's been portrayed as a cold, ruthless psychopath. Suddenly in this episode she acts like a sullen, eye-rolling teen! She stopped just short of running to her room, throwing herself on her bed and sobbing into her pillow while moaning "It's not fair!"

We've never seen any hints of this type of behavior before, which made it all the more bizarre and jarring here.


• This week I learned that Brandon Routh, aka Atom and Courtney Ford, aka Nora Darhk, are married in real life! I guess that explains Atom's strange preoccupation and attraction to Nora!

• So apparently the Darhks' plan is to cause as many anachronisms as possible, in an effort to weaken the fabric of time and free Mallus.


That's actually not a bad little plot. Too bad it's just now being mentioned in the goddamned THIRTEENTH EPISODE!

• There's no way I can look at "Upswipz" and pronounce the second half as "swipes." All I see is "swips," as in rhymes with "sips."


By the way, when Damien's searching the Upswipz app, there's a lingering closeup of his phone as he "likes" the profile of a woman named Carrie C.

That would be Carrie Cutter, aka Cupid, who's a supervillain over on Arrow! A nice little shared universe detail there!
• There's some subtle cinematography and color coding going on in this episode, which probably sailed under the radar of most viewers.


The scenes onboard the Waverider are all suitably bright and colorful, as they generally are.

Contrast this with the scenes set in 1962 Berlin, which are all gray, drab and washed out.

Finally the scenes inside the ancestral realm are all garish and oversaturated.

It's a nice little touch to help sell the idea that the episode's taking place in different times, as well as dimensions.

• Speaking of cinematography, there's a lot of split screen shots in the 1962 scenes. I'm assuming this was an homage to the spy thrillers of the 60s and 70s, which used this effect quite a bit. The Coen Brothers— whose work this episode references, right down to its title— make use of these kinds of shots as well.

• As is typical of all Arrowverse series, this episode featured some truly atrocious and fake-looking wigs. The mop on Young Damien Darhk's head in particular was a stand out, as it appeared to be some unholy union between Anton Chigurh and Hannah Montana-era Billy Ray Cyrus.

I'm still not sure if they were serious with this wig, or if I was supposed to be laughing at its ridiculousness.

And for the second week in a row, Vixen appears to be wearing an ill-fitting wig as well. Did she cut her hair between episodes? Was there some hair coloring or trimming accident? Why else would she suddenly start wearing this sad thing on her head?

• In the third act, there's a rooftop battle between Old Damien Darhk and his younger, even more psychotic self. The two punch, jab and strangle each other in a brutal and savage fight. For absolutely no good reason, Old Damien wears a ski mask over his face during most of this fight. Convenient!

Since both versions of Damien were played by Neil McDonough, I'm betting they put the mask on one of him so the FX team didn't have to work overtime on dozens of "twin" effects.

• I don't know why, but I loved the scenes where Old Damien stops a hail of bullets with his magic! It's just such a cool effect!

• The scenes of the ancestral plane were very obviously filmed on a soundstage, with a few trees strategically placed around the set as the fog machine was cranked up to eleven. But you know what? It actually worked here! This mystical realm isn't supposed to look like any place on Earth, so the fake setting worked to their advantage. It actually reminded me of old Hammer Horror movies and their "foggy moor" set!

• This week we get a very brief cameo by Gorilla Grodd, as he murderizes Director Bennett.

• At the end of the episode, Rip realizes Canary and Sharpe are together. He tells Gideon to delete file 354-Z, and then says, "Sara can never find out the truth about Ava."

So what's Sharpe's big secret? Is she a time anachronism? Is she unknowingly possessed by Mallus? Maybe she's somehow the mysterious Sixth Totem in human form?

This Week's Best Lines
Zari: "Sara, can we take the Waverider to when Mount St. Helens erupted? I've always wanted..."
(she sees Agent Sharpe, and suddenly changes her tune)
Zari: "Psych. That would not be a cool thing to do. This is, uh, a very important time vehicle. We we would never use it for recreational or dangerous purposes. Hey, Ava. You look great in... what you were wearing yesterday. Right. I'm gonna I'm gonna stop talking now, yeah"

Atom: (in a video message) "If you're finding this, it's me, Ray, obviously. You've probably guessed by now that I have been abducted by the Darhks."
Zari: "Hey, when we see him, do we tell him we didn't even notice he was gone?"
Canary: "Yeah, definitely not."

Agent Sharpe: (to Rip) "If you're here to apologize for burgling the Bureau and, and, and humiliating Gary..."
Wally: "Well, we actually did that for a good reason, because we have to stop Mollusk."
Canary And Sharpe: "Mallus!"

Canary: Wally, it's good to see you. I remember you from Barry and Iris's wedding."
Wally: "Yeah, wasn't that so fun? It was such a beautiful ceremony. The hors d'oeuvres were, like, meh. And then, the Nazi invasion!"

Damien: (fiddling with the Upswipz app) "Trouble is I haven't had a single match yet. I think the thing is broken."
Alan: "If I may... you might have more luck if you talk about your hobbies."
Damien: "I just said that I enjoy destroying the world to remake it in my image. Oh! I like trying new restaurants."
Alan: "Also, your profile says you're 199 years old."
Damien: "Yeah, it it wouldn't go any higher. Can you fix that?"
Alan: "Well, everyone lies about their age, brah."

Wally: "The incense will calm you, and I'm just gonna ease you into the altered state through some guided meditation."
Vixen: "Thank you for helping us."
Wally: "Yeah."
Vixen: "So how do you know Nathaniel?"
Wally: "I was kind of like his wingman back in Central City. Just helped him get over a broken heart, actually, because this basic bitch just dumped him on his birthday. Can you believe that?"
Vixen: "Yeah, 'cause I was actually that basic bitch."
Zari: "Great vibe, Wally. I think we can take it from here."
Wally: "Yeah, yeah, okay, I'm gonna go."
(he zips out of the room as superspeed)

Damien: (to Nora) "Okay. What has gotten into you? I send you off on one lousy mission by yourself, and suddenly the... Oh of course. I should have known Ray Palmer would be a good influence on you."

Nora: (to Damien) "You know what? I thought I raised my father from the dead, but instead I see I just got a selfish man-child!"

Atom: (to Damien) "If you really care that much about Nora, then maybe you shouldn't let her be a conduit for a primordial evil."

Young Damien: (seeing Old Damien levitate Nora) "Huh. Magic. I should look into that."

Director Bennett: "Make it fast, Agent Sharpe, because I've got to stop Alexander Hamilton from seeing Hamilton the musical."

Atom: "Thank you for searching all of history to save me from a demented supervillain."
Steel: "Two demented supervillains. Are you forgetting the apple of Damien Darhk's eye?"
Atom: "She's had a tough life. She may come off all mean and witchy, but underneath all that, she's a real person."
Steel: "Wait. Do you have the hots for Nora Darhk?"
Atom: "What? No! No. No?"
Steel: "Look, I'm not blind. She's hot. But she's also bonkers, which is kind of hot."
Atom: "I just think that you know, maybe there's hope for her."
Steel: "You would, you big softie. But you're a delicate flower, Raymond Palmer. Take care of that heart of yours."

Agent Sharpe: "Well, I wish we could stay longer, but my boss was just murdered by a gorilla, not to mention the mess in Berlin that needs fixing."

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