Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 3: Zari

This week's Legends Of Tomorrow is another so-so affair, elevated somewhat by some impressive fight sequences, and the usual fun character bits.

It's also notable for introducing a new Legend into the mix— Zari Tomaz. Viewers of a certain age may recognize Zari as a modernized Isis, last seen in her own 1970s Saturday morning show.

Unfortunately Zari doesn't make much of an impression in this episode. She's the standard Cynical Female Hacker Anti-Hero character *yawn!), seen over and over in movies and TV. Think Lizbeth Salander, but without the bad hair and a blander attitude. I realize this is only her first episode, but so far there's nothing in Zari's personality that makes her stand out on the team. Right now I can't tell if it's the character or the actress herself that's dull. Either way, hopefully actress Tala Ashe steps up her game quite a bit in subsequent episodes.

The only slightly interesting thing about Zari so far is she hails from the future, so it might be nice to see another character from a different era on this time travel show.

Fortunately Kuasa more than made up for Zari's dullness. She brought a real sense of danger and menace to her character, and with her shape shifting powers, came off as a watery T-1000! Hopefully she'll stick around for a few more episodes.


The Plot:
In 2042 Seattle, two guards in an armored car are transporting a prisoner to ARGUS. Suddenly they're stopped by Kuasa, the water witch we saw at the end of last week's episode. She uses her powers to kill the guards and opens the rear of the transport, only to find the prisoner escaped in the commotion.

Onboard the Waverider, Steel tells a disinterested Professor Stein about his relationship problems with Vixen. Stein looks up and sees Vixen unconsciously using her animal powers to stick to the ceiling like a spider. When they wake her she has no memory of the event, and worries she might summon the power of an elephant and crash through the hull of the ship, which seems like a reasonable fear.

Gideon monitors the Time Bureau and picks up a "Code 99" in 2042 Seattle. They fly off to investigate. Once there they find the city's become a police state, and ARGUS is enforcing martial law. They run into the wimpy Agent Gary Green, who's been sent by the Time Bureau to rescue the prisoner who was in the AGRUS transport. He tells them they're not the only ones looking for the prisoner— there's also a woman who can turn into water who's after their quarry.

Gideon somehow locates the mysterious prisoner, a hacker named Zari Tomaz. The Legends track her down, but are quickly surrounded by ARGUS grunts. Apparently metahumans were outlawed in 2021, and they place the Legends under arrest.

White Canary gives the signal and the Legends attack, easily defeating the ARGUS agents. Unfortunately Zari escapes in the confusion. Kuasa looks on from the shadows.

Back on the Waverider, Stein examines Vixen but can't find anything medically wrong with her. She insists that's because her problem is mystical, not scientific. She says there's something wrong with her magical totem, and Steel suggests flying to the past to ask her ancestors what's wrong. For some reason, Vixen rejects this perfectly logical (for this show) idea.

The Legends track Zari to a dive bar (with Heat Wave's help). They approach her, but she tells them she doesn't need their help. Suddenly Kuasa attacks. Canary and Heat Wave stay behind to fight her, while the others take Zari to the ship.

Everyone returns to the Waverider, and the Legends ask Zari why Kuasa's after her. She claims she doesn't know, and they tell her they want to use her as bait to capture Kuasa. She agrees, on the condition that they help rescue her brother from an ARGUS prison. Apparently having nothing better to do, the Legends go along with this plan.

Meanwhile Steel has Gideon synthesize a Lyoga root, a plant that contains a powerful hallucinogen. With it, Vixen can go on a vision quest and ask her ancestors what's wrong with her totem. She drinks the Lyoga root, and for no good reason, Steel does as well.

The Legends sneak into the ARGUS prison (pretty easily, I might add). They figure out which cell Zari's brother is in, and go to free him. Jackson watches a bank of monitors and sees that ARGUS is not just incarcerating metahumans, but torturing them as well. Enraged, he then opens ALL the cells in the facility, freeing every prisoner (except of course the ones who are currently being tortured).

In the confusion, Zari sneaks off and enters a storage room, where she finds an amulet. She puts it on and sneaks off. She's intercepted by the Legends, who realize there was no brother, and she duped them in order to steal the amulet. She congratulates them on their deductive abilities, and uses the amulet to conjure a tornado and fly off.

Canary sends Atom after her, and calls Steel to come and get them in the ship. Unfortunately he's under the influence of the Lyoga root, and is extremely high. He eventually makes his way to the bridge and sets a course for the Legends. Somehow the ship finds its way to the Legends, and they all board.

We then see Vixen on her vision quest. She wanders through a "jungle," and meets one of her ancestors. The woman tells Vixen all she has to do is trust in her powers. Really, that's it? All this trouble for a goddamned "Believe In Yourself" message?

Atom catches up with Zari, who's standing in the middle of some ruins. She says this the place was a sanctuary where she was supposed to meet her brother, but it was presumably destroyed by ARGUS. Kuasa then shows up and Atom calls for help.

The Legends head for Atom's location, but are intercepted by a massive Time Bureau ship, captained by Agent Sharpe. Once again she says they're all screwups and under arrest, yadda yadda. She also demands they hand over Zari, for some reason. Canary realizes Gary told Sharpe where they were, and he opens a portal and scrams before she can kill him. Canary orders Gideon to hightail it out of there.

Meanwhile Atom attacks Kuasa, but is no match for her. She starts drowning him with her water powers, until Zari steps in and asks what the hell she wants. Kuasa says she wants Zari's new magic amulet. Zari says finders keepers, and she and Kuasa battle one another.

On the Waverider, Vixen emerges from her quest, seemingly her old self again. The Time Bureau ship begins firing on the Waverider, threatening to destroy it. Canary turns the Waverider around and heads right for the larger ship. At the last second, Sharpe teleports the Time Bureau ship out of the way.

Zari and Atom are still fighting Kuasa, as the Legends arrive. Vixen steps forward and Kuasa attacks her. Vixen easily deflects her blast, and knocks her half a block away. Kuasa uses a totem of her own to teleport away.

On the Waverider, Vixen announces she's in control of herself again, but has decided to stay onboard for a while longer. Zari plans to go back to 2042, until Vixen tells her she thinks their amulets are connected somehow. Zari agrees to stay with the Legends to search for answers.

Cut to Ivy Town in 1988, where we a young boy is being chased by a group of bullies. He hides in a sewer, where he sees a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Having never read Stephen King's It, the boy introduces himself to the unseen figure as Ray Palmer, aka Atom!

• The opening narration's back! Huzzah! I dunno why they didn't do it the past two weeks, but I'm glad it's back. I like the way all the Arrowverse shows do these little narrations, to get new viewers up to speed.

This week Canary recites a brand new narration:

"How will we be remembered? Will it be for saving the world twice? Nope, we're the team who broke time. That's right, history has been torn to shreds, which means it's up to us to put it back together again piece by piece, fixing these so-called anachronisms before we get torn to shreds. So please don't call us heroes. We're Legends."

• At the beginning of the episode, Vixen summons the power of a spider while she's asleep and sticks to the ceiling. Coincidence, or a nod to Spider-Man?

• New character Zari is of course a revised, updated version of Isis. She first appeared way back in 1975, in her own live action Saturday morning show called The Secrets Of Isis. The show was obviously an attempt to ape the success of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series, which debuted the same year.

In the series, science teacher Andrea Thomas discovers an ancient mystical amulet on a dig in Egypt. She puts in on, and finds the amulet grants superpowers to whoever wears it. Whenever Andrea would say, "Oh, mighty Isis," she'd be transformed into a female superhero.

Isis had quite a range of powers, which she usually summoned by reciting a rhyme. By saying, "Oh zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly" she'd take to the air and zoom away. In addition to flight, Isis also had super strength, could control the elements, weather and even increase gravity. She could pass through walls, see into the recent past, conjure up trees and animals, and even stop and reverse time (!).

Naturally since this is a CW show, Zari looks absolutely nothing like the original character. Obviously there's no way they were ever gonna call her "Isis" in this day and age, but couldn't they do some sort of update of the character's look? Something besides having her walk around in everyday civilian clothing?

The only concession they made to the original version was Isis' magic amulet. In this episode, Zari breaks into an ARGUS prison and steals a golden amulet with a red center.

This new amulet is identical to the one Isis wore around her head in her show. Nice attention to detail!

One last thing about The Secrets Of Isis— there were three episodes of the series that crossed over with Shazam! It featured Captain Marvel, and was another sort of a companion show to Isis.

It's probably a long shot, but could the appearance of Isis on Legends mean we might someday get an appearance by Captain Marvel? Or Shazam, or whatever the hell he's called these days?

• Things we learned this week: Time Agent Gary's last name is Green.

• Much of the episode takes place in 2042. According to Legends Of Tomorrow, in 2021 all metahumans and religions will be declared illegal. Wow, that's not that long from now! Better hurry and read those bibles while you still can!

• While searching for Zari, several of the Legends are confronted by an ARGUS drone. It shrieks, "Sara Lance, Nathaniel Heywood, Raymond Palmer and Mick Rory, you are listed in the Metahuman Registry as missing! You are hereby under arrest for violating the Anti-Metahuman Act!"

There's just one problem with that statement— only one of these particular Legends is a metahuman! According to the internet, a metahuman is someone with superpowers, roughly equivalent to a mutant. Sara Lance, aka White Canary, is a ninja assassin. Raymond Palmer, aka Atom, wears an Iron Man-like suit that allows him to fly and shrink. Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave, is a plain old ordinary human who carries a compact flamethrower! 

The only one of the group who could be considered a metahuman is Nate Heywood, aka Steel, who can transform his skin into metal. Sounds like the ARGUS drone is using a very broad definition of the term!

• Professor Stein examines Vixen, using science to try and solve her anger management issues. She tells him her problem isn't scientific, but mystical in nature. He says mysticism is just "science that hasn't been understood yet."

That sounds an awful lot like scifi author Arthur C. Clarke's quote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Which I bet was intentional.

• After the Legends track down Zari, they have the following conversation:

Zari: "Okay, I’ll help you, on one condition. You help me break my brother out of the ARGUS facility where they’re holding him."
Heat Wave: "Prison break. I’m in."

As you're no doubt well aware, actor Dominic Purcell, who plays Heat Wave, starred in Prison Break for four seasons.

This isn't the first time they've done a Prison Break joke. Captain Cold did it first back in the Season 1 episode Fail-Safe.

• At one point the Legends discuss the state of Future ARGUS:

Atom: "You know what I don’t get? ARGUS. In 2016, they weren’t..."
Heat Wave: "Idiots!"
Atom: "Well, I was gonna say they weren’t trying to control the city with killer drones, but..." Canary: "Any authoritarian organization always goes bad. Always."
Jackson: "Which means it’s only a matter of time before Rip and his Time Bureau turn into the Time Gestapo."

Hmm... is that just superfluous dialogue, or an ominous bit of foreshadowing? Is the Time Bureau going to become evil in the second half of the season, or was that just some filler dialogue? We already got Evil Rip last season, so we don't need a repeat of it this year as well.

• When Zari's first brought on board the Waverider, we get yet another shot of just how impossibly vast the interior is. Given the relatively small size of the ship, there's no way all these enormous rooms could possibly fit inside it. It's almost like the producers are doing it on purpose now, just to mess with us!

In fact this week they even add ANOTHER new room to the Waverider! This one looks like some sort of study, I guess. It's definitely a different room than the office/library/trophy room Rip had in Season 1.

As always, the fight scenes on this show are amazing. Especially the fight between Canary and Kuasa. Caity Lotz (aka Canary) is definitely the series' MVP, as her stuntwork is continually impressive. Tracy Ifeachor as Kuasa was no slouch either!

• Vixen believes her rage problems are being caused by the mystical totem she wears around her neck, and frets over what to do about it. I guess it never occurs to her or anyone else to just take the thing off until they figure out what's wrong with it.

• Vixen says the totem is the "legacy of her ancestors," so Steel suggests they use the Waverider to go back in time and ask them what's wrong with it. For some reason, Vixen poo-poos this completely logical idea, and instead embarks on a mystic vision quest. Sure, why not?

• So how does Vixen eventually solve her anger management issues? Why, she simply drinks some magic tea and gets a visit from the ghost of an auntie who says, "Trust your power." That's it! Problem solved! Well, that was certainly easy! I thought sure her rages would last at least until the mid season finale, but I guess not.

• Kuasa's totem allows her to transform her body into water. It looks like she can just change her mass into a corresponding amount of liquid, and can't actually generate water.

At one point she attacks Atom by turning her hand into liquid and forcing it into his nose and mouth. A bit later she stops trying to kill him and starts battling Zari. Atom then spits out a mouthful of water and announces that Kuasa "tastes terrible."

If he's spitting out liquid, then that implies she left some of herself inside him! Ew! I hope the part she left in him wasn't anything important, like a spleen or part of a lung!

I guess it's possible that she can actually generate water from nothing and isn't always using her own mass, but if that's the case it wasn't made very clear.

• At one point Canary calls for the Waverider to come rescue the Legends. Unfortunately the only person who answers is Steel, who's hopped up on Lyoga root. Com-O-Dee them ensues as he struggles to stagger to the bridge and try to fly the ship. 

I guess Professor Stein must have been in the can doing a crossword puzzle at the time, and couldn't help? What about Gideon herself? Why couldn't Canary just order the ship to fly itself to their location?

• Late in the third act, the Legends come to the rescue and surround Kuasa. For some reason, Jackson's there pointing a large, futuristic gun at her. Gosh, I wonder why he's doing that, instead of forming the ultra powerful Firestorm with Professor Stein?

Answer: Because the show blew its effects budget on water morphing scenes this week, that's why! There wasn't anything left over for Firestorm effects.

• Kuasa attacks the confident and newly revived Vixen, who easily repels her watery blast. 

Whenever Vixen uses her power, we see a glowing blue image of an animal surround her. I have no idea what animal she's using to protect herself from Kuasa's attack. I think maybe it's supposed to be a manta ray? That would make sense, since it's a watery creature, but I honestly can't tell what animal she's using.

• During their brief fight, Vixen knocks Kuasa into next Thursday. Kuasa makes a puzzling remark that she can't kill Vixen without killing herself. That's because Vixen's her grandma! Or at least she is in the CW Seed animated Vixen series.

If that's true in live action as well, then why the hell did Mallus (this year's as-yet unseen big bad) recruit Kuasa to attack the Legends, knowing that she doesn't dare harm Vixen?

• By the way, when Atom first sees Kuasa in action, he says, "I fought someone with water powers like this a few years ago!" Atom really did pop up in Season 2 of the animated Vixen series, where he fought Kuasa!

• Apparently all these women and their various totems are related somehow, in a way I'm sure we'll find out by the mid-season break. Vixen has the Animal Totem, Kuasa was the Water one, and Zari's totem apparently lets her control the air.

• Agent Sharpe's first name is Ava. I think this is the first we're hearing of this, but I'm not sure.

• At the end of the episode we see a flashback to Ivy Town in 1988, where young Atom hides in a sewer and apparently meets Pennywise The Dancing Clown! Looks like somebody on the staff really liked the recent It movie!

• This Week's Best Lines:
Jackson: "What’s going on?"
Canary: "We intercepted a distress call from one of Rip’s Time Bureau agents."
Heat Wave: "Why? Actually, forget it. I don’t care."
Canary: "It’s the dweeby one, Gary."
Heat Wave: "Still don’t care."

(in 2042 Seattle) "Something feels off about this place."
Atom: "Yeah. Like, where is everybody?"
Heat Wave: "Martial law. It’s a police state."
Jackson: "How do you know?"
Heat Wave: "I can smell pigs."

Atom: (after the Legends rescue Gary) "What’s going on?"
Gary: "No, this is classified Time Bureau business."
Heat Wave: "Open your mouth and say some words."
Canary: "Guess you’re gonna have to decide who you’re more afraid of. Agent Sharpe or Mick here."

Canary: (to the Legends) "Get her to the ship!"
Zari: "You guys have a ship? Is it a big ship?"
(Oh, Zari, if you only knew! It may not be very big on the outside, but it's huge on the inside!)

Zari: "I can’t believe it. You guys are time-traveling superheroes."
Atom: "Yeah, we’ve actually saved the world twice. Not that we’re counting."
Zari: "Really? You saved the world."
Atom: "Twice!"
Zari: "Then why does it still suck?"

Canary: "Nate, how are we doing with that rescue?"
Steel: "I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Cap’n! The ship can’t take much more of this!"
Gideon: "Actually, Dr. Heywood, the engines are still idling."
(cut to some kind of bird flying by the hovering ship)

Canary: "Ray, you have eyes on Zari?"
Atom: "Yep, I’m on her tail Not literally. I’m following her posterior from a respectable distance."
(only the straight-laced, uptight Atom would answer a simple question like that!)

Steel: (experiencing the effects of the Lyoga root) "Quiet! The marshmallows are talking."

Gideon: (as she's attacked by the Time Bureau ship) Oh, dear! I’m afraid our rear deflectors have been completely lost, Captain.
(somehow I find the idea of a ship that politely announces its being destroyed hilarious)

Kuasa: (to Zari) "You had your chance. I was willing to offer you a compromise. But now I have to kill you."
Jackson: "I’m afraid we can’t let you do that!"
Heat Wave: "If anyone’s gonna kill Haircut, it’s me, lady."
Atom: "Aw, thanks, Mick."
Heat Wave: "Pleasure."

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