Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 11: Here I Go Again

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, the series finally does its obligatory Groundhog Day tribute, in which the crew relives the same day over and over, and only one of them is aware of it so they can attempt to break the cycle.

At this point virtually every sci-fi and fantasy show on TV has done a variation on this same theme, including Buffy The Vampire SlayerCharmedEureka, Farscape, Fringe, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Xena: Warrior Princess and The X-Files. And that's just off the top of my head! I'm sure there're many more I'm forgetting or just not aware of.

Despite the fact that it's hardly an original idea, I like the Groundhog Day Trope when it's done well. Unfortunately Legends Of Tomorrow drops the ball a bit with their attempt. First of all, they chose Zari— the least interesting character on the show— as the focus of the episode, and the one who's aware of the loop. 

As if that weren't bad enough, there's a big twist in the third act, in which we find out that the whole loop situation is a dream! Well, sort of. You'll see when you read the plot summary. So we have my least favorite character, combined with my all time most hated plot twist. Is it any wonder I'm not a fan of this episode?

Another problem with this "It Was All A Dream" reveal— it completely undermines Zari's big speech, in which at long last she learns to love her teammates and sacrifices her life for them. Why give us that scene in the first place if it's part of a simulation, and doesn't "count?"

Honestly I'd rather have seen the throwaway "offscreen adventure" instead— the one in which the Legends apparently impersonate ABBA or some similar group.

Also in this episode, Zari learns a valuable lesson about family, and how to work as a member of a team. Ugh... what is this, and Afterschool Special? I could swear they've already done this plotline with her character at least once before this season.

Man, with each passing week, I'm feeling Professor Stein's absence more and more. They need to bring in someone comparable to him, stat!

As I think I predicted a couple months ago, Wally West is joining the Legends. Good. Maybe the writers on this show will know what to do with him, and won't shamefully waste his character the way the creative team did over on The Flash.

Lastly, the past two episodes have felt really cheap, as the Legends have seemingly avoided using their powers as much as possible. This week's show was particularly low rent, as it was a bottle episode— one that takes place entirely inside the ship on standing sets.

I see why that is now. Next week's pirate adventure looks to be a big budget extravaganza, so the producers had to scrimp and save on Episodes 10 & 11! And they thought we wouldn't notice...


The Plot:
Onboard the Waverider, Zari tries to convince Gideon to let her run a dangerous simulation while the other Legends are off on a mission. Gideon's reluctant to run the sim, as it looks for "loopholes" in time that'll allow Zari to hack history— much like she did in Helen Hunt. She's hoping she can use one of these loopholes to save her brother in 2042.

Suddenly the Legends return early, surprising Zari. She hurriedly runs the simulation, which shorts out Gideon and shuts her down. The Legends enter the bridge, dressed like members of ABBA (it's a long story). White Canary asks why Gideon's offline, and Zari sheepishly admits she accidentally fried her while trying to hack time. Canary's furious that she'd pull something like this, and the two begin arguing. Canary tells Zari if she can't follow orders, then she needs to get off the ship. Atom tries to calm everyone down, but trips and falls on his platform heels (Plot Point!).

Zari goes to the engine room to fix the ship. She pulls a tube out of a console and is splashed with some kind of glowing blue "time goo." Just then there's a rumble, and the entire ship explodes!

Suddenly Zari's zapped back onto the bridge, arguing with Canary. Disoriented, she leaves to fix the ship again, and notes that Atom falls off his heels a second time. Zari walks past the library, and overhears Steel and Vixen discussing the fact that they just had sex during a mission (AGAIN). She asks them if they've noticed anything unusual, and of course they say no. She asks Heat Wave and Atom the same, but they've not noticed anything either. She returns to the engine room, and the ship explodes again.

She pops back to the bridge, and realizes she's stuck in a time loop. She tries to tell the others what's happening, but they don't believe her and think she's gone nutty. Heat Wave grabs her and takes her to the medbay, where Atom sedates her. This happens over and over for several cycles, until she builds up an immunity to the sedative.

Zari escapes the medbay and finds Steel. She explains what's happening, and is amazed when he believes her. He says it's just like the movie Groundhog Day, which of course she's never heard of. He tells her if the loop happens again, to just say the name of the film to him in order to save time. Just then the ship explodes. Zari locates Steel, mentions the movie, and the two of them try to work out what's happening. They come to the conclusion that one of the Legends is causing the explosion (?), and decide to investigate everyone.

They sneak into Heat Wave's quarters, and are killed several times by traps he's rigged to keep people from snooping (!). Eventually they manage to open a suspicious trunk, and find a typewriter and a manuscript inside. Apparently everyone's favorite pyromaniac is writing a sci-fi romance novel (!!!). After a couple more cycles, they clear Vixen and Atom as well.

Atom's afraid Canary may be possessed by Mallus again, and is the one blowing up the ship. He shrinks himself and Zari, and the two of them follow Canary to spy on her. They're suspicious when she enters the jumpship, but then discover she's secretly calling Agent Sharpe to vent. Sharpe asks her out, but Canary makes some feeble excuse about being busy. She then spots the tiny Atom & Zari and for some reason thinks they're flies (?). She stomps on them just before the ship explodes.

Zari tells Steel she's tired of living through the loop and being powerless to stop the explosion. He tells her she should take advantage of the situation and have a "fun montage." She takes his advice, and begins playing pranks on her crew mates, eating whatever she wants and learning to play a Stradivarius that's in the ship's storage area for some reason.

She finally tires of the hijinx, so the next time she pops onto the bridge she tries to shoot herself in the head. Amazingly the gun jams, and she laments that she can't even kill herself right. This act of desperation finally gets to Canary, and she says she wants to help. Zari tells her what's been happening, so Canary orders the crew to look for a bomb.

They check each room of the ship, and finally discover clumsy Time Bureau agent Gary Green trapped inside the trash compactor. Heat Wave sees him holding a futuristic device, assumes it's the bomb and destroys it. Gary screams, saying that was the "chrono-repeater" that's been causing the time loops.

He explains that he got an alert that the Waverider exploded, so he tried to teleport to the bridge to save everyone. He ended up in the compactor instead, and the repeater has kept them alive in a loop ever since. Now that it's been destroyed, this is their last time through the cycle. Canary tells everyone they have five minutes to find the bomb, or they're all toast.

Heat Wave suggests the bomb may be in an 8-track tape he brought on board from their previous mission. Amazingly, he's right. Zari grabs the bomb, but before it can be diffused, she enters the study and raises a forcefield to protect the others. She then tells them all everything she's learned about them through her many times through the loop, and says she finally feels like part of the team. The others beg her to let them diffuse the bomb, but she refuses, and activates her powers to contain the explosion. The bomb explodes.

Zari wakes up in the medbay. A beautiful woman enters— one who sounds just like Gideon. She says she IS Gideon, and explains that when Zari was sprayed with the highly toxic time goo, she lost consciousness and was taken to the medbay. Yep, that's right— it's a goddamned dream episode, as all the time loops happened only in Zari's head. 

Gideon says that Zari's powers are crucial to the Legends defeating Mallus, so she couldn't let her leave the team. In order to make sure she stayed, she placed Zari's mind in her matrix, to show her she needed to work WITH the team or some such hooey.

Zari wakes up in the real world, and tells the Legends what happened while she was out. Of course they don't believe her, until she tells them all intimate details about their lives. Canary says maybe they can figure out a way to save Zari's brother after all. 

Cut to China, where Wally West is meditating in an outdoor temple (?). A twitchy Rip Hunter approaches him, and says he needs his help.

• There's no opening narration again this week. I guess that's no longer a thing on the show?

• As I said earlier, I think I'd much rather have seen the offscreen "Waterloo Mission" than the one we got in this episode. Every reference to it sounds like a lot of fun, and it's too bad we'll never get a chance to actually see it.

I've tried to piece the mission together as best I can from the clues, but I'm still not entirely sure what happened. As near as I can tell, Napoleon Bonaparte was somehow brought to 1975, either by Damien Darhk or simply by accident. This caused history to be changed, as he wan't around to surrender at the Battle Of Waterloo. At some point Napoleon also got ahold of an 8-track tape of ABBA's Waterloo album. Fitting!

The Legends then went to 1975 to clean up this mess. This involved them wearing 70's era fashions and putting on some kind of elaborate song and dance number, in an effort to distract Napoleon long enough to get the tape away from him. After the big finish, they likely took Napoleon back to 1815, and history was restored. Heat Wave brought the 8-track back with him and smashed it.

As I said, that all sounds much more fun and interesting than the adventure we got!

There's an additional subplot in which we find out the Waterloo 8-track contained a powerful bomb. That part didn't actually happen though, as it was part of Zari's dream or simulation or whatever it was.

• Loved the Legends' amazing ABBA-esque costumes this week! Especially Vixen's.

Atom looked suitably goofy, and yet right at home in his stylish 1970s ensemble.

Canary definitely won the night though with her look. That feathered Farrah Fawcett hair, blue eye shadow and pink lipstick are all absolutely PERFECT to the period! Kudos to whoever came up with this look for her!

Heat Wave's the odd man out, as I guess he must have posed as the actual Napoleon at some point during their mission?

• And we have a title! As the ship explodes for the third or fourth time, Zari sighs and says, "Mama mia. Here I go again."

• So how many times did Zari live through the time loop? Eh, it's impossible to know for sure. I counted, and we see her go through twenty five loops during the course of the episode. But it's obvious she experienced many, many loops that we didn't get to see. 

For example, she learned to expertly play the violin by practicing an hour at a time. That had to take a ton of loops. She also read all of Heat Wave's book, which was a thousand pages long. That no doubt too a lot of hours as well.

Factoring in all those clues, it's likely she went through hundreds, if not thousands of loops!

• There's one thing about the time loop that doesn't make any sense. Well, there's actually tons of things, but there's one major one. OK, because of Gary's chrono-repeater, the Waverider experiences the same hour over and over. Due to being exposed to "time goo," Zari is the only member of the crew to realize she's stuck in a loop, and remember all her times through it. Fair enough.

I assumed this meant that Zari's body was caught in the loop, but her mind wasn't. Apparently her body is independent of the loop as well. Why? Because when the crew thinks she's crazy, they confine her to the medbay and Atom sedates her. After several trips through the loop, her body builds up an immunity to the drug!

The only way that could happen is if her body is somehow "out of the loop," like her mind. Which of course makes no sense, but there you go.

• Part of the appeal of a Groundhog Day episode is seeing the characters live through the same events multiple times, as the audience hopes, "Maybe THIS time they'll figure out how to get out of the loop." Usually such episodes take place over the course of an entire day, giving us tons of situations to repeat.

Unfortunately Here I Go Again's loop is only an hour long. That's not nearly enough time to work with, or to establish a set of repeatable actions. The only events we get to see play over and over are Canary bitching at Zari, Atom falling off his heels and Steel & Vixen arguing in the library. Yawn!

• Back in the Season 2 episode Turncoat, I complained about the fact that Steel and Vixen ignored their mission because it was more important to have sex in a tent instead. How heroic and inspiring.

Welp, they're at it again. This week the two of them were supposed to take part in the big Waterloo song & dance number during the offscreen mission, but missed their cues because they were backstage screwing. 

Jesus Christ! These two are ostensibly supposed to be heroes, but they consistently ignore their responsibilities just so they can have a roll in the hay. I honestly hope Canary finds out and throws them off the ship. Preferably in the Jurassic Period.

Don't get me wrong here, I have nothing against them fraternizing— as long as it's on their own time. Doing it during a mission is downright intolerable. It was wrong of them to do it the first time, but to repeat it... I'm actually starting to hate these two characters, and I'm glad Vixen's likely going to leave the show at the end of the season.

All that said, I did laugh when the horrified Zari stands outside the library as Steel & Vixen go at it. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of Steel, er, "steeling up," as well as Vixen summoning the power of a tiger!

• When Zari finally convinces Steel that the Waverider's caught in a time loop, he suggests they use the jumpship to escape. She vetoes that idea, saying, "Yeah, while you guys were out, I was running my own little side mission, which crashed Gideon, and with her down, the jumpship's locked into the docking bay."

Wow. That seems like some really, really bad engineering. The jumpship's completely independent of the Waverider! Part of its job is to serve as an escape pod. And it can't be launched when the main ship's computer is down? 

• When Canary's Skyping with Agent Sharpe, she thinks she hears a fly buzzing around in the jumpship. Sharpe looks concerned and says, "Did you say a fly? You have to kill it. You have no idea what year it's from. You could reintroduce the plague and have a whole other crisis on your hands!"

That actually makes a lot of sense! In fact, forget flies, the Legends probably place themselves at risk every week by traveling to eras filled with diseases to which they have no natural immunity. And vice-versa— they could easily infect the past with modern bacteria.

Maybe they regularly go through some kind of decontamination process whenever they travel to another time, and we just don't see them doing so.

• It's hard to tell, but I'm betting Steel just lost his foot here when he tripped Heat Wave's booby trap! Yikes!

• So Heat Wave regularly washes his own undies. Surprising! He seems like the type who'd go commando. Or wear 'em till they rotted off!

• It was also surprising to find out Heat Wave is actually capable of writing a novel! He needs to up his "hunt & peck" typing game though.

• Zari reads an excerpt from Heat Wave's sci-fi romance novel, which says, "As the twin suns of Dartayus set on the horizon, her heaving bosom undulated like the soothing waves of the bay. Buck swept her into his musky embrace."

Apparently over in the Marvel Comic Universe, "Dartayus" is the name of a planet in the Negative Zone. Shoutout or just a coincidence?

• At one point Steel tells Zari that since there are no permanent consequences inside the time loop, she should indulge her fantasies in a "fun montage." Here're all the things we see her do:

- Pigging out on whipped creme with Steel.
- Dressing up in Roman centurion armor and playing around.
- Throwing snowballs at Heat Wave (don't ask where she got 'em).
- Putting on Heat Wave's gear, trying out his flame gun and almost burning up the ship.
- Finding a Stradivarius in storage and sawing out a few scratchy notes on it.
- Putting on Steel's costume and prancing around.
- Reading Heat Wave's novel.
- Putting on Hawkgirl's mask and camping it up.
- Practicing the violin.
- Catching Atom when he falls off his platform heels for the umpteenth time.
- Practicing the violin some more, and actually getting good.
- Finishing Heat Wave's book.
- Doing a Love Actually tribute with cue cards as she stands behind Atom and Heat Wave.

• When the Legends find Gary in the trash compactor, he tries to explain himself by saying, "I took matters into my own hands, but because of my little portal mishap, I couldn't warn you about the bomb! But I could operate the chrono-repeater, which is programmed to start a one hour loop prior to the explosion, and I had hoped that would give you enough time to diffuse the bomb yourselves."

So I guess for reasons he couldn't use a Time Bureau portal to appear on the ship and warn them. Fine. But why couldn't he just call them up on the comm and warn them? Better yet, tell Agent Sharpe that the ship her girlfriend's on is about to blow up. She was just talking to Canary!

• When the Legends find the bomb, they try to figure out the best way to diffuse it. Heat Wave suggests burning it, which seemed like a really bad idea.

The writers missed the most obvious solution— have Atom shrink the bomb! Then when it went off, it'd make a tiny poof like a firecracker.

Of course in the end it didn't matter, since the whole thing was a dream or matrix construct or some such hooey.

By the way, I loved the fact that Heat Wave stuck his fingers in his ears right before the bomb counter reached zero. As if that would make any possible difference!

• Eventually we discover there is no time loop, and Gideon appears in physical form to explain that the whole thing happened in Zari's mind or inside a matrix or something equally dumb. 

This isn't the first time we've seen Gideon "in the flesh." Back in the Season 2 episode Land Of The Lost, a physical manifestation of Gideon appeared inside Rip Hunter's mind.

In both cases, Gideon's played by actress Amy Pemberton, who regularly voices the character. It sounds odd to hear her normal, unprocessed voice though!

• Last week in Daddy Darhkest, we were introduced to the concept of The Six— a group of mystical totem-bearers who are obviously being set up to defeat Mallus. So far we have Zari (Air), Kuasa (Water) and Vixen (um... Animals?). Vixen herself says they know of two others, Fire and Earth, but I have no idea who she's talking about here. That leaves one more elemental we've not heard of yet.

This week Zari comes up with a plan to hack time and prevent her brother's death. Amazingly, Canary says that's a good idea. 

I'm calling it right now— the Legends will save Zari's brother Behrad, and he'll turn out to be the sixth totem-bearer.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Late in the episode, Zari knocks on Heat Wave's door, encourages him to keep writing, and even gives him some constructive criticism on the end of his story.

The thing is though, when she knocks, a full half a second passes before it slides open and he sticks his head out. Was he really standing just on the other side of the door, waiting for someone to knock? What is he, a trapdoor spider?

Told you it was heavy duty!

• At the end of the episode, we see Zari pick up the Stradivarius and begin playing. Apparently all that practicing inside the time loop paid off, as she's pretty darned good! 

Of course this makes no sense, since the time loop wasn't real and she didn't actually relive the same hour over and over. Is it possible to practice an instrument in your mind? I don't think so.

Anyway, it looked like she was actually playing, to my eyes at least. I wondered if actress Tala Ashe really knows how to play the violin or not, so I did a little digging, and... turns out she does! Apparently she's been playing a long time, as she posted this photo of herself practicing on Twitter! Cool!

• We need to talk about Gideon's actions in this episode. She came to the conclusion that the Legends couldn't defeat Mallus without Zari on the team. When Zari was injured, Gideon took it upon herself to place her consciousness inside an elaborately constructed dreamworld, designed to traumatize her into staying on the team. In other words, this artificial intelligence decided she knows what's best and mentally tortured a member of the crew in order to influence their actions!

Naturally this is all glossed over by the plot and treated as comedy, but it's pretty darned scary when you sit down and think about what she did.

This Week's Best Lines:
Canary: "I said 'please.' And even if I didn't, bossing you around is part of my job as captain."
Zari: "Yeah, and it's really easy to take you seriously in that outfit."
Canary: "You know this whole apathetic cool girl thing? It's not as cute as you think."

Zari: (as the ship begins exploding again) "Mama mia. Here I go again."
(There are a TON of meta lines like this in the episode)

Heat Wave: (indicating Zari) "What's up with her?"
Atom: "Working theory? Cabin fever."
Atom: "Working theory? Space madness"
(Wow! A Ren & Stimpy reference!)
Atom: "Acute entropic dementia."
Atom: "Too many donuts."
Atom: "I mean, it could be anything."

Zari: "I have no idea why I'm stuck in this time loop."
Steel: "Time loop, you mean like Groundhog Day? You don't know Groundhog... All right, it's a movie about this guy who lives the same day over and over and over again until he learns to be a better person. I know it sounds totally hacky. However, it's very well executed!"
(Hey now! There's nothing "hacky" about Groundhog Day!)

Zari: "I have something to tell you. Hedgehog Day!"
(Steel stares at her blankly) 
Zari: "Damn it, you told me if I said Hedgehog Day you would know what I was talking about."
Steel: "Do you mean Groundhog Day? Why would I tell you to tell me about a Bill Murray movie?"
Zari: "I don't know, all I know is I'm stuck in this time loop."
Steel: "Like Groundhog Day! Okay, got it, okay."
Zari: "You do?"

Steel: (after finding out he's in a time loop episode) "It was only a matter of time before we did one of these!"
Heat Wave: "I gotta get my undies in the dryer before Haircut does!"

Atom: "Happy Captain..."
Zari: "Happy ship."
Atom: "Happy ship! Yeah! Well, I guess I guess my catchphrase is catching on in the future!"
Zari: (patronizingly) "Yeah, yeah, um, everyone is saying it where I'm from."
Atom: "Huh. That's cool."

Steel: "Why would Mick rig all these traps for a damn typewriter?"
Zari: "Maybe it's his criminal manifesto."
Steel: "Let me see this. This says "bosom" far too many times to be a manifesto."

Steel: "Zari's caught in a time loop and the ship explodes every hour."
Atom: "Oh, like Cause and Effect."
Steel: "What?"
Atom: "Star Trek: Next generation."
Steel: "It's Groundhog Day!"
Atom: "Fair enough."
(I'm with Atom here— I much prefer Cause And Effect)

Atom: (as they prepare to be miniaturized) "You ready?"
Zari: "Yeah, let's shrink, Ray."
(har har!)

Zari: (after being shrunk) "You sure she can't see us?"
Atom: "No, not when we're in stealth mode. Which really just means library voices and no sudden movements."

Atom: "If you wash your clothes inside out, it keeps them looking newer longer. Try it. Oh, I never see you wear this."
Heat Wave: "Stop touching my clothes!"
Atom: "I'm just saying it's a nice color."

Zari: "I can't do this anymore. I'm losing my mind."
Steel: "Wait, did you do the, uh..."
Zari: "Fun montage?"
Steel: "Yeah."
Zari: "Yeah, thanks for that."

Gary: "Well, uh, actually, I got an alert that the Waverider exploded at precisely 4:20 temporal standard time."
Canary: "What?"
Gary: (chuckling) "4:20!"
Canary: "Get to the point, Gary."
(Hmm. I would not have pegged Gary as a pothead!)

Heat Wave: (after discovering the bomb) "Burn it!"
Zari: "That'll make it explode. You know, for a guy who loves fire, you really have no idea how it works."

Zari: (to Steel and Vixen) "What you guys have is so special. I mean, the way you look at each other honestly makes me want to puke, but don't fight it. You're crazy about each other. Just don't have sex on missions."

Zari: (to Atom) "You know, when I first came on board, you were so nice and polite to me that I wanted to punch you."

Zari: (to Gideon) "What's happening? If you tell me I've been dreaming this whole time, I'm gonna kill you, real or not."
(I'm with Zari on this one. I HATE "It Was All A Dream" episodes!)

Zari: "One last question. Gary? Why even have him in the time loop, if he was just gonna be stuck in the trash compacter the whole time?"
Gideon: "Thought it'd be funny."

Zari: "I am terrified and in awe of you, Gideon. Who knew you were such an evil genius? And a bit of a perv."

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