Saturday, October 27, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 4, Episode 1: The Virgin Gary

It's the Season 4 premiere of Legends Of Tomorrow!

As I've pointed out before, Legends had a rocky start, as its first season was pretty dire. Fortunately the producers learned from their mistakes and jettisoned everything that didn't work. Season 2 was a vast improvement, and Season 3 was even better, as Legends quickly became my favorite TV show. It gleefully embraced its Silver Age comic book roots, along with all the insanity that implies. So far it looks like Season 4 is continuing that trend.

After the departure of both Vixen, Jackson and the late, lamented Professor Stein last season, the Legends are definitely a much leaner team this year. That could actually work to the show's advantage, as it was often difficult to find something for each cast member to do each week.

Unfortunately, I've read online rumors that Vixen is supposedly returning to the show. Ugh. I liked the character OK when she first appeared, and she had a pretty cool power. But once she hooked up with Steel and began constantly whining about the fate of herself and her village, she became absolutely insufferable. I'd be perfectly happy if she stayed back in the past.

I'm also not sure about the Atom/Nora Darhk relationship that's foreshadowed this week. I get why they're eager to pair them up— Brandon Routh (who plays Atom) and Courtney Ford (who plays Nora) are married in real life. As you might imagine, the two of them share an easy onscreen chemistry, but I dunno... Somehow it seems wrong to write a romantic subplot about an evil, psychotic witch who's murdered dozens of people.

his week also features the return of John Constantine, and sets up his eventual joining of the team. I like Matt Ryan's portrayal of Constantine quite a bit, and I think he'll fit in pretty well.


The Plot:
In 1964, the Legends protect the Beatles as they arrive for their first American concert tour. Suddenly Paul Revere appears on horseback, shouting, "The British are coming, the British are coming!" Com-O-Dee! Heat Wave punches him out and they fix the anachronism by taking him back to 1775.

Back on the Waverider, the Legends are bored now that they've cleaned up the final anachronism. In addition, Steel and Heat Wave are disappointed they've not seen any dragons after John Constantine hinted they'd unleashed them in the Season 3 finale.

Just then the Legends are summoned to the Time Bureau in Washington, DC. Thinking they're in trouble again, they're stunned when they arrive and Agent Sharpe throws them a surprise party. She congratulates them on fixing after breaking it in Season 2.

During the party, Zari tells Atom she somehow knows he helped Nora Darhk escape in the previous episode. That night, Agent Sharpe invites White Canary to move in with her. Canary hesitates at first, but ultimately agrees, saying it's time they advanced to the next step in their relationship.

Canary enters the kitchen for a drink, and is surprised to see Constantine waiting for her. He warns her that the magic forces they unleashed are still loose, and she and her team had better be ready for the battle that's coming.

Meanwhile, Heat Wave and Steel are still at the party (how many hours has it been going on at this point?). Heat Wave says he feels like stealing something and leaves. Steel goes along with him to keep him out of trouble. Steel suggests they break into a particular mansion, and once inside, we see it's actually his parent's house.

Shaken by Constantine's doomsaying, Canary returns to the party (?), and with Time Agent Gary Green's help, discovers there's possible magical activity in Woodstock in 1969. She uses Gary's time courier to jump there and check it out.

Elsewhere, Atom detects the trouble at Woodstock as well, and believes it's being caused by Nora. He and Zari use the jump ship to travel to Woodstock as well. Once there, they find a dead hippie in a tree, with his heart ripped out of his chest.

Meanwhile, Steel has an awkward reunion with his parents. During their strained conversation, Steel's dad, Hank Heywood, just happens to mention "The Woodstock Massacre." Steel and Heat Wave realize something's gone wrong with history, and excuse themselves. They travel to 1969 as well.

Everyone meets up at the festival, and Heat Wave sees the source of the problem a magnificently dazzling unicorn. They're stunned by its ethereal beauty, until it charges at a hippie and stabs her through the chest with its horn. It then throws her to the ground and eats her heart right out of her chest.

Heat Wave blasts it with his flame gun, but it has no effect. It then fires a wave of rainbow-colored spores at the Legends, which disorient them long enough for it to escape. Canary somehow dodges the spores and goes to find Constantine for help.

Canary returns to the present, finds Constantine and tells him what's happening in 1969. He says he'll help, and asks if any of the Legends were "musked" by the unicorn. She says yes, and he tells her they're in for one hell of a ride.

Back at Woodstock, the Legends begin hallucinating. Steel sees Heat Wave as his emotionally distant father. Heat Wave in turn sees Steel as his dead rat Axl, who's seemingly now six feet tall and able to speak. Atom and Zari begin seeing things as well.

Canary returns with Constantine, and they spot the Legends in a field, rolling around in the grass, still under the influence of the unicorn's musk. Eventually it wears off, and the groggy Legends return to the Waverider. Constantine says he can defeat the unicorn, but will need several items to create the spell.

First up is the saliva from a nine-fingered man. Steel says Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was missing the middle finger of his right hand. He finds Garcia hanging out at the festival and steals a joint from him to obtain his saliva. Next they need the "protection stone" from a powerful shaman. Heat Wave bumps into Jimi Hendrix and palms the turquoise medallion from around his neck.

The third item they need is a lock of hair from a doomed woman. Atom suits up, shrinks and grabs a few strands from the head of Janis Joplin, who died in 1970, just a year after Woodstock. 

Lastly Constantine says he needs a virgin to lure the unicorn to him. The Legends scoff and snort, saying there's no way in hell they'll ever be able to find a virgin at the biggest love-fest in history. Constantine says he thinks he knows where he can find one.

Cut to Gary standing in a secluded grove, holding an apple. Sure enough, the unicorn appears and begins roaring, gore dripping from its ghastly maw. Gary sees it and shrieks for help.

Constantine drinks the potion, recites a spell and an interdimentional portal opens up behind the unicorn. The unicorn's skin is burned off, revealing its horrific true nature as it's inexorably drawn toward the portal. 

As the unicorn's about to enter the portal, it bites down on Gary's hand, dragging him along with it. The Legends all grab onto Gary's other hand, and a mystic tug of war ensues. They finally free him from the unicorn's mouth, and it's sucked into the vortex.

We then get the obligatory wrap-up as Atom tells Zari he has feelings for Nora. You know, Nora Darhk, the evil, murderous daughter of the Legends' most powerful enemy. Steel shows up at his parents' house with a six pack of beer, in an attempt to bond with his dad. Canary tries to convince Constantine to join the team, but he tells her no thanks (except he says it much more rudely).

Later that night Constantine exits his shower and is suddenly tossed around the room by an invisible mystical force. He looks up and sees the words, "I'M COMING FOR YOU JOHNNY" written on his mirror in blood.


• At the beginning of the episode, the real Paul Revere appears in 1964 and of course starts shouting, "The British are coming!"  For some reason, Atom points out that Revere never actually said that. Wait, why is Atom telling us that? Isn't Steel supposed to be the resident historian? Why isn't this HIS line?

Also, for anyone out there under the age of fifty, Revere's line was a pretty funny bit, as it had a double meaning. The Beatles came to America in 1964 and became a huge sensation. Their massive success spawned a steady stream of similar bands (such as The Yardbirds, Herman's Hermits and The Zombies), who all hoped to hit it big as well. This influx of talent from across the pond was jokingly dubbed "The British Invasion."

Also also for anyone out there under the age of fifty, there was a popular American band in the early 1960s called Paul Revere And The Raiders. Was the appearance of the real Paul Revere in this scene a subtle nod to them?

• This week (and maybe all season?) the Legends Of Tomorrow title screen changes to resemble one of Constantine's visible spells.

• Meta humor alert! At the beginning of the episode, Zari says, "Yeah, I'm beginning to think Wally had the right idea. Taking time off, clearing his head, traveling the world. Speaking of the same old crap, isn't that what he did last year?

Of course she's pointing out that Wally left The Flash in Season 4 to "find himself."

A few seconds later, Canary and the Legends have the following conversation: 

Canary: "I'm confused. We are all happy that there was only one dragon, right? We don't want to be fighting werewolves in the Alamo!"

Steel: "Ehhhh..."
Atom: "Well, it would be good for our ratings."
Canary: "What ratings?"
Atom: "Oh, you don't know? The Time Bureau rates all their employees. But don't worry. We have a few dedicated fans!"

Two more reasons why I love this show!

• When Agent Sharpe summons the Legends to the Time Bureau, Canary says, "Gideon, set a course for Star City." Sharpe corrects her, saying, "I'm not talking about our field office, Miss Lance. I meant our Time Bureau Headquarters in D.C."

Is that new? I thought there was just one Time Bureau. Have they always had multiple offices in various cities?

• The Waverider exits the time stream and flies over Washington DC, fully visible.

It then flies under a bridge for some reason, in full view of the hundreds, maybe thousands of onlookers.

Only after it clears the bridge does the ship finally activate its cloaking device. Jesus, why bother with it at that point? 

Why the hell wouldn't they cloak the ship BEFORE it exited the portal? Why wait till it's out and flying over a heavily populated area, where millions would see it

Of course the real world answer is that the producers need for the audience to see the ship flying over DC to understand what's going on. That can't happen if it's invisible when it arrives. 

So what's the in-universe reason? I'm starting to come to the conclusion that there must be some reason why the Waverider can't use it's cloak inside the time stream, and has to wait till it's out to activate it.

• Once again, Legends Of Tomorrow continues the running gag in which the chain smoking John Constantine never quite gets to light up. In this episode he puts a cigarette in his mouth, and just as he's about to light it Canary yanks it away and asks him what the hell he thinks he's doing.

• There's something really wonky about this episode's timeline. First the Time Bureau throws the Legends a surprise party. Cut to what appears to be hours later, as Canary and Sharpe are home in bed, dressed in their jammies and discussing their future together.. We then cut to Steel and Heat Wave at the party, which is apparently still going strong. A bit later, Canary returns to the party in her street clothes and asks Gary for help.

Did these scenes get mixed up in editing? Or did the party really last long enough for Canary & Sharpe to go home, go to bed and then get up and come back again the next day?

• Thomas Wilson as Steel's no-nonsense dad Hank Heywood is perfect casting!

• Take a good look at this impressive CGI shot of Woodstock's 400,000 attendees. Once this scene's over, all we ever see are twenty or thirty of the same extras milling around in the background behind the mains.

• How did Steel and Heat Wave get to 1969? Canary used the time courier she stole from Gary to get there, while Atom and Zari used the Waverider's jump ship. Even though it's never mentioned in dialogue, I guess Steel and Heat Wave must have taken the Waverider there?

• I don't really have anything to say about this scene, but I had to post an image of Heat Wave hallucinating his beloved late rat Axl.

• I loved the montage in which the Legends had to collect the saliva from a nine-fingered man...

The protection stone from a powerful shaman...

And a lock of hair from a doomed woman.

• Why am I just now noticing the birthmark on Canary's arm?

• Not sure why Gary needed to be shirtless to attract the unicorn, but whatever. By the way, it looks like Gary's missing an appendix...

• When the unicorn's true nature is revealed, it looks a LOT like one of the thestrals from the Harry Potter films. I guess maybe there's only so many ways you can depict a skinless, skeletal horse.

• Constantine's magic spells look very similar to those of Doctor Strange over in the MCU. Wait, did I say similar? I meant IDENTICAL. They're even round and glow with the same yellow light!

• OK, I get that the unicorn's a magical creature that can't be killed by conventional means like fire. That said, I'm a bit fuzzy as to why the gang needed Constantine to get rid of it. He ends up opening a portal which sucks the unicorn back into Hell.

But earlier in the episode, Zari used a time courier to open a portal to 1775, in order to return Paul Revere to his proper time. Note that Steel actually rides a horse through this portal (which, now that I think about it, should have freaked out the poor animal). 

So why couldn't the Legends have used the courier to eliminate the unicorn themselves? Open up a portal to the year One Billion, and shove the unicorn through that. Or if they're afraid it could still wreak havoc in the far future, open a door into deepest, darkest space and force it through. Surely it couldn't survive the harsh vacuum of space, or cause trouble for anyone millions of light years away?

My point is, with the tools at hand a bit of creative thinking, the Legends could have dealt with the unicorn themselves, and wouldn't have had to hook up with a dangerous and dogdy wizard.

This Week's Best Lines:
Paul Revere: (as The Beatles arrive at the airport) "Who are you people? Where am I? Why are all those women screaming?"

Canary: (seeing Constantine's knuckle bones from the hand of a martyred saint wiggle and form into a shape on her kitchen counter) "Bollocks!"

Steel: "Um, Mick these are my parents."
Dot: "I'm Dorothy Heywood; you can call me Dot."
Heat Wave: "Hi."
Steel: "And uh, this is my dad, Hank "
Hank: "HENRY Heywood. (nodding to Heat Wave) And I believe one of my great grandmother's silver candlesticks has found its way into your coat."
(Heat Wave pulls a candlestick from under his coat)
Dot: "Oh, you have exquisite taste in silver, Mr..."
Heat Wave: "Rory. Mick Rory, of the Central City Rorys."

Dot: "You certainly can eat a lot of sandwiches, Mr. Rory. Where did you get those big muscles?"
Heat Wave: "Prison."
Dot: "What a hoot! Isn't he a hoot, Henry?"

Atom: (seeing the unicorn for the first time) "Is that what I think it is?"
Steel: "Twilight Sparkle come to life."
Atom: "You a brony?"
Steel: "Dude, we're brony bros."
Atom: "Mick, join the herd!"

Heat Wave: "What's the beef between you and your old man anyway? He hit you?"
Steel: "No."
Heat Wave: "Burn you?"
Steel: "Nope."
Heat Wave: "Did he dress up like a clown and scare the hell out of you?"
Steel: "What the hell, Mick? No. He was emotionally unavailable to me when I was growing up.:
Heat Wave: (flabbergasted) "Are you serious?"

Canary: (to Constantine) "You ever think that you cause misery not because of some romantic 'I was born to walk alone' crap, but because you're an ass who doesn't know how to trust people?"

Constantine: "This is King Solomon's original grimoire The oldest magical textbook in existence. Now, if there's a spell to quell our equine friend, it'll be in here.:
Canary: "Well, not to pressure you, but the entire fate of the sexual revolution is in the balance here."
Constantine: "It is my favorite revolution."

(Constantine and the Legends use Gary as bait to lure the unicorn)
Canary: "Admit it, this is fun working with a team."
Constantine: "Well if ol' Gary gets eaten alive, it only goes to prove my point: People who care about us die."
Gary: "What was that?"
Constantine: "Oh, nothing mate."

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