Monday, November 13, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 5: Return Of The Mack

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter returns as the team ostensibly hunts a vampire in Victorian London.

Sadly, Return Of The Mack was nowhere near as fun as last week's episode. It promised us an adventure featuring elements of Jack The Ripper, Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker. Unfortunately it delivered on none of that. There wasn't even an actual vampire in this vampire episode! 

Add to that the return of Asshole Rip, the twentieth or thirtieth resurrection of Damien Darhk and some jaw-droppingly terrible writing and you get an episode that's mediocre at best. Feh.

I really hate to see actor Victor Garber leave the show, but they seem to be making his final episodes count. This week he pulls double duty, playing both Professor Stein
AND his ancestor, Sir Henry Stein! Two Steins for the price of one! Sadly his Sir Henry character had little or nothing to do with the actual plot, and seemed to be included just to give Garber something extra to do.

The past few weeks I've been a bit worried about what's going to happen to Firestorm on the show. 
Firestorm's unique in all of superherodom, as he's one of the only characters who's made up of two people, each of which have to learn to work together to operate him. 
Without that hook, he's just a run of the mill Human Torch clone. 

I was hoping the show wouldn't actually remove Professor Stein without bringing in a replacement for him. Unfortunately it looks like that's exactly what's going to happen. Unless the producers have some sort of secret plan to bring in a new character, Firestorm's going to continue as Jefferson Jackson only.

This week the show introduced a new character, the psychic Madame Eleanore. According to online sources, her full name is Eleanor Darhk, and she's supposedly the daughter of supervillain Damien Darhk. There was nothing in this episode to actually indicate that, so I'm honestly not sure if it's true or not. Hopefully we'll find out one way or the other in the next few weeks.

Lastly, there's some troubling news concerning the Arrowverse. It seems that Andrew Kreisberg, who co-created Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow, is the latest Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual harassment. 

Warner Bros. Television Group announced it's suspended Kreisberg until further notice. What this means for the future of the Arrowverse isn't yet clear. I doubt anything will happen to the shows, as they're currently among the most popular on The CW, but it's still troubling and disturbing.

What a wonderful world we live in. 


The Plot:
In 1895 London, a woman walks through the narrow streets alone at night. She sees a man following her and ducks into an alley. She screams as she sees a dead body on the ground. The man who was "following" her turns out to be Rip Hunter, in full Victorian garb. He examines the dead body, says it's been drained of blood and finds two puncture wounds on the victim's neck. Victorian Vampires!

On the Waverider, Atom helps Jackson secretly try to separate Professor Stein from Firestorm. This is patently ridiculous, but let's just roll with it or we'll be here all day. Atom tells Jackson the serum he's concocted may cause short term memory loss. Uh-oh. Prepare for forgetfulness jokes!

Zari excitedly tells the others she can't wait to take the Waverider to 2041 to prevent her brother from dying. White Canary tries to explain to her that it doesn't work like that, citing Rip's many failed attempts to save his family in Season 1, and her trying to prevent her sister Laurel's death. Zari says why have a time ship if you can't use it, and stalks off in a huff. She has a point.

Steel studies the anachronism map and says there's a report of vampires in 1895 London. The Legends head there to check it out.

Canary, Atom, Jackson, Steel and Heat Wave disguise themselves as policemen and visit the coroner's office. Heat Wave sees the vampire's victim lying on the slab, takes the stake he always carries with him (!) and rams it through its chest, to make sure the corpse doesn't come back to life. Just then the Legends hear a ringtone, and realize the coroner is wearing a 2016 Palmer Tech 7G Smart Watch (made by Atom's company).

They question the coroner, who says the watch belonged to a dead man dressed in strange clothes who "fell out of the sky" a few days ago. He examined the man, took the watch for himself and sent him on to be buried in Stones Hollow cemetery. They wipe the coroner's memory and head for the graveyard.

At the cemetery, they find a freshly dug up grave, and are shocked when Rip crawls up out of it! They're even more shocked when he says he needs their help.

Back on the ship, Stein suspects that Jackson's hiding something from him. Why Jackson doesn't just tell Stein his plan is apparently none of our business. Vixen and Zari get into an argument about something, and both their amulets being glowing. They suspect they're connected somehow (you think?).

Canary and the others ask Rip why he needs their help, and if the Time Bureau's after them again. He says they're safe, as the Time Bureau doesn't know he's secretly meeting with them. He says for the past five years he's been chasing Mallus, an ancient and super powerful evil entity. He believes Mallus is recruiting an army from all across time, in order to conquer the universe or something.

Rip says the Time Bureau doesn't approve of his crusade against Mallus, so he's going after him alone. He asks the Legends to help him. Canary agrees, but only if he calls off the Time Bureau permanently.

The Legends then use Steel as vampire bait, presumably because his power will protect him from a bite. He wanders the streets of London, daring the vampire to attack him. Suddenly he's distracted by a man who looks exactly like Professor Stein. Just then another man comes up behind Steel and injects him with a drug, knocking him out.

Steel wakes up strapped to a table in a lab. Naturally, the knockout drug has scrambled his powers, so he can't break free. He notices he's hooked up to a contraption that will drain his blood into a nearby tank, and starts freaking out.

Steel uses his Bluetooth to contact the ship, fills them in on his situation and tells them about the Stein lookalike. Gideon says the doppelganger is Sir Henry Stein, a celebrated actor and distant ancestor of Professor Stein. Steel says he doesn't know where he is, but there's a painting of a red moon in the room. Rip suspects that Sir Henry is part of a cult that plans to use Steel in a "blood moon" ritual, presumably to summon Mallus.

Rip, Canary, Heat Wave, Vixen and Zari track down Sir Henry, and attend a party hosted by him. He introduces Madame Eleanor, a woman who claims she can speak with the dead. She zeroes in on Zari, goes into a trance and starts channeling Zari's deceased brother, which understandably freaks her out. Rip and Canary sneak off to look for Steel.

Meanwhile, Steel's still strapped to that slab (I guess his powers STILL aren't working). A scientist enters and prepares to drain Steel's blood with a special two pronged syringe that leaves marks like a vampire's bite. So there really aren't any vampires in this vampire episode. Boooooooooo!!!

Back on the Waverider, Atom and Jackson get sidetracked and try to figure out where the smart watch came from. The contact Curtis from Team Arrow, to remind us that these shows are all connected. Curtis somehow determines the watch came from none other than— Damien Darhk!

Rip and Canary burst into the lab, knock out the scientist and rescue Steel. Canary opens the tank and sees Darhk's lifeless body lying inside. Apparently Steel's blood was meant to revive him. Rip theorizes that Darhk is one of Mallus' recruits. Instead of simply chopping off Darhk's head and ending his threat once and for all, for some reason Canary tells everyone to retreat to the ship.

On the Waverider, Canary says they need to keep Darhk from coming back to life (so... why didn't she destroy him when she just had the chance?). Rip disagrees, saying Mallus will be arriving during the blood moon ritual to recruit Darhk. If they kill him, they'll lose their chance to eliminate Mallus.

Stein confronts Atom and Jackson, demanding to know what they're up to. Jackson reluctantly says he's trying to break up Firestorm so Stein can go home and be with his new grandson. Quite rightly, this upsets Stein and he storms out.

Rip exits the Waverider and uses a secret code to lock down the ship and prevent anyone from leaving. He then goes to the blood moon ritual in the hopes of killing Mallus. What he doesn't know is that Zari already sneaked off the ship.

Zari meets with Madame Eleanor, and asks her to channel her dead brother again. Eleanor says she'll need something personal in order to do so (even though she didn't need anything the first time she did it). Zari stupidly hands over her Isis amulet. Right on cue, Eleanore knocks out Zari and makes off with the amulet. Sigh...

The ritual begins, and Eleanor dedicates it to Mallus. She flips a switch to pump Darhk full of blood and revive him. Just then Rip steps in to stop it. A portal opens, and several other Time Bureau agents step through as backup. Um... why exactly are they there?

Eleanor then channels Mallus himself, who sounds a lot like Walter Bishop. Mallus says it's too late to stop him, and Darhk suddenly comes back to life. Back on the Waverider, Canary discovers they can't leave the ship, but they can fly it. She orders Gideon to take them to the ritual.

The Time Bureau agents (minus Rip of course) attack Darhk, but he easily kills them all. He then grabs Rip and begins choking him. Just then the Legends arrive and save Rip. Zari gets her amulet back. Darhk and Madame Eleanor teleport away (natch).

Back on the ship, Stein makes up with Jackson, and agrees to help with the Firestorm separation. Canary tells Rip that an entire squad of Time Bureau agents died because of him and his quest. She says she can't trust him, and Agent Sharpe appears and takes Rip away for judgement. Sharpe thanks Canary for tipping her off about Rip, and in exchange says the Legends are free to do as they please.

• Rip does this week's opening narration.

• This week we find out that Heat Wave has been carrying around a wooden stake his entire life, just in case he ever runs into a vampire!

• The Legends run into Sir Henry Stein, a distant relative of the Professor. Stein comments on his ancestor, saying "Family lore recalls him as being an eccentric."

The Stein clan must have some damn thorough family lore, if he knows what an ancestor from a hundred and twenty two years ago was like. I couldn't tell you what anyone in my family was like past my grandparents!

• When Steel's strapped to the gurney, he bangs the right side of his head on the table to activate the comm in his ear and call the ship for help. A bit later he bangs the left side of his head to do the same thing. Do the Legends really wear comms in both ears?

• Madame Eleanor channels Zari's brother Behrad, who accuses her of running off and letting him die.

Wait a minute— Zari's brother died in 2042. The Legends are currently in 1895. How the hell can Eleanor channel the ghost of a man who hasn't even been born yet? Can spirits travel back and forth through time? Or did Eleanor just read Zari's mind, get the basic details and pretend to be possessed by her brother?

• When Canary refuses to go along with Rip's plan, he activates a secret code called the Gentleman's Dreadnought, which causes Gideon to cover the entire ship in metal plates, locking it down and preventing the Legends from leaving.

A bit later, Canary discovers that the Gentleman's Dreadnought only prevents them from leaving the ship— it doesn't prevent them from flying it.

That seems like a pretty big design flaw in the code! It's like somehow locking someone inside a car, but forgetting they could still drive away in it!

• The whole subplot with Jackson secretly trying to separate Stein from Firestorm makes absolutely ZERO sense. We've been told since the series began (and in this episode as well!) that the two share a psychic link, and can sense what the other's thinking or feeling. So how in the name of Stan Lee's Toupee could Stein not know what Jackson's planning? 

Apparently their psychic link only works when it's convenient to the plot— or the writers remember it.

• Damien Darhk's chronology is so convoluted at this point that I have no idea if it makes any sense for him to even exist in this episode or not.

• I did like Rip's little grenades that freeze the flow of time for a few seconds when detonated. The Legends need to get ahold of a box of those, stat!

• Time after time in superhero movies and TV shows we've seen a giant blue laser beam stab up into the sky in the third act. This week's episode actually gives us something different— a giant white beam shooting down from the full moon! 

• Did the voice of Mallus sound familiar? It should— he was played by actor John Noble, of The Lord Of The Rings and Fringe fame!

• Poor Rip. This episode marks the second time he's been kicked off a team he formed! First the Legends, and now the Time Bureau. Harsh! It almost makes me feel sorry for him. Almost.

• The biggest question of the episode: did Heat Wave ever get to finish reading Dracula?

Loved Heat Wave's little reading glasses too.

By the way, I was fully expecting him to lose his copy of the book somewhere in 1895 London. Then in the tag scene we'd see a hand reach down, pick up the book and start leafing through it. Someone would then say, "Oi, Bram, wot's that you got there?" Bram Stoker would go on to "write" Dracula two years later in 1897.

I thought they didn't agree with his Ahab-like campaign against Mallus?

• This Week's Best Lines:

Professor Stein: "There's no such thing as vampires. Increased immigration at the fin de siecle (aka the end of the century) and the fear that good English women would lose their virtue to foreign predators is responsible for these ludicrous stories."
(I gotta say, that's a pretty interesting theory, and makes perfect sense!)

Canary: "Victorian London. Opium dens and low-cut corsets."
Steel: "Arthur Conan Doyle and the rolling fog."
Heat Wave: "Syphilis, whores, and vampires."

Jackson: "There's a strong smell of garlic."
Heat Wave: "It's tied around my neck."
Canary: "Yep, you're a regular Van Helsing."
Steel: "That's from Dracula."
Heat Wave: "I'm reading it. Don't tell me the end."

Heat Wave: "Trusting the Englishman was a damn mistake."

Rip: (over the comm system) "You know we're all on comms, don't you, Mr. Rory?"
Heat Wave: "I don't give a rat's ass."

Zari: "I can't believe we're in a time where women can't vote and the Internet's not a thing.
(Um... isn't she from a dystopian, totalitarian police state future? And she's judging the past?)

Rip: (trying to convince the Legends to go along with his plan) "If we destroy Darhk's body, we destroy any chance of apprehending Mallus at the resurrection ceremony."
Steel: "If Sara says 'Kill Darhk' or 'Re-kill Darhk' or 'Prop him up in a convertible like Weekend at Bernie's,' that's what we do, because she's the captain."

Rip: "Look, Sara. I understand how perilous it would be for Mr. Darhk to return."
Canary: "Do you? Because I'm the only one in this room that's been resurrected, and it wasn't an improvement."

Atom: (seconds before the Waverider may be destroyed) "Aww, who wants to hold hands?" Steel: "Ray, it's not freakin' Toy Story 3!"
No sign of any vampires.
I wish this was like a Kristen Stewart type, all broody and sparkly.
Vampires don't sparkle.

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  1. I don't know what they'll do with Firestorm, but I know what they SHOULD do. Firestorm got one of the best superhero reinventions in history post-Identity Crisis: instead of the same two people fusing every time, the new guy, Jason Rusch, could fuse with anyone who was handy. That particular Firestorm seems to be considered kind of a dud now, but I have no idea why -- they took a cool idea and made it even better. Jason's powers are not only easier to write around, they add a moral dimension you can hook any number of stories on. (Is it okay for Jason to fuse with an unwilling person to save lives? What if it's someone weak who might not survive? Etc.) And when it gets old, he can "settle down" with a regular partner for a while -- Jason went through several.

    There's no reason the show can't do that with Jax, and I really hope they do. (They could even use Jason! He's still out there someplace.) I doubt it'll happen, but I bet the idea was at least kicked around in the writers' room.

  2. Hmm. I kind of drifted away from comics a decade or two ago, so I was dimly aware of the Jason Rusch Firestorm, but didn't know about his "merge with anyone" power. Interesting!

    While that would be cool for all the reasons you mentioned, I don't see that happening on the show. Over the past two seasons the writers would often do their best to separate Jackson and Stein so they couldn't form Firestorm.

    I think they did this for two reasons. One is because the Firestorm effects are probably expensive, and they only have so much money in the budget for each episode. The more shots of Firestorm, the fewer shots they can do of anything else.

    Secondly, Firestorm was the most powerful member of the team. There were few threats he couldn't handle alone! So quite often I think they kept Jackson and Stein separate just so Firestorm couldn't swoop in and save the day in five seconds, so the rest of the cast would have something to do.

    It's also odd that they finally gave Firestorm his classic "transmutation" powers in Season 2, then promptly forgot all about them. I think he turned bullets into sand or flowers or something in one episode, maybe two. And that's the last we ever saw of that power.

    Still, I think it would be cool if he could merge with anyone. Imagine Jackson merging with Heat Wave for an episode!


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