Saturday, November 24, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 4, Episode 5: Tagumo Attacks!!!

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow we get an honest to goodness Thanksgiving episode, which is appropriately stuffed to the gills.

Seriously, it's amazing just how much is going on in this episode. There're at least four major plotlines going on, with a couple minor ones thrown in as well. And yet somehow the episode doesn't seem rushed or cramped for time. Well done, Legends writers!

I can't prove it, but I have a feeling the reason this episode was so packed is because all the Thanksgiving stuff was supposed to happen last week. As I said in Wet Hot American Bummer, Steel sat out that episode because actor Nick Zano was busy dealing with his infant daughter's life-threatening illness. So it wouldn't surprise me if they simply took his arc from that episode and grafted it onto this one.

Out of all this episode's many plotlines, there was only one that suffered from a lack of attention— Nora saving Constantine's life. Based on last week's episode, I thought this was going to be a major story arc, that would possibly take up the entire run-time. Instead it was barely given any consideration at all, and felt more like an afterthought rather than a major plot.

I'm a little puzzled as to why the writers are so obsessed with Nora Darhk, her relationship with Atom and adding her as a regular. Yes, I know that Brandon Routh (aka Atom) and Courtney Ford (aka Nora) are married in real life, and they have an easy, on-screen chemistry.

But I think the writers feel that the character of Nora is WAY more interesting than the audience does. Plus her redemption in this episode feels rushed, and completely unearned. What's she done so far to make Atom trust her, or even like her? Not much.


The Plot:

In 1951, filmmaker Ishiro Honda is directing Aoi shinju (aka The Blue Pearl) in Tokyo. Suddenly a huge creature springs up out of the bay, startling the movie crew. Honda grabs a camera and begins filming the monster.

On the Waverider, John Constantine is still dying after transferring his life force into a child last week. Atom says Nora Darhk might be able to cure Constantine with magic, but he has no idea where to find her. Gideon does a simple facial recognition scan and discovers Nora in present day Star City. That was easy!

Just then Gideon gets an alert about the monster in 1951, which ended up destroying the city of Tokyo. Canary tells Atom to find Nora, while she and the rest of the team go to Japan to recover Honda's footage of the monster and stop it from flattening the city.

Meanwhile, Hank Heywood (aka Steel's dad) is inspecting the Time Bureau again. He's troubled when he sees a holding cell filled with magical Fugitives. Director Sharpe assures him it's a temporary arrangement, until their new containment facility is finished. Satisfied, Hank tells Steel he's looking forward to seeing him on Thanksgiving. He invites Sharpe to come along as well.

The Legends arrive in Tokyo, where they pose as movie producers. Zari and Heat Wave find ishiro Honda, who's coincidentally filming a giant monster movie on a miniature city set. They ask about the footage he shot of the alleged monster, but he nervously says it was destroyed during transport (?). 

While the others are distracting Honda, Canary and Charlie search his office. Charlie finds the film canister inside an unexploded bomb on Honda's desk.

Back on the Waverider, they watch the film and see a gigantic tentacle rise up out of the water. Charlie says the monster doesn't look like any Fugitive she's ever seen, and suggests it's a radioactive mutant. Canary says if that was true, it wouldn't have set off their Magic-O-Meter.

In 2018, Atom tracks down Nora, who's inexplicably working at a Renaissance Fair. He tells her Contantine's dying, and she's the only one who can save him.

Steel and Sharpe arrive at Chez Heywood for their Thanksgiving bash. He introduces her to his dysfunctional extended family. Steel's mom Dot announces that the turkey's just about done brining, and will be ready in about six hours. Steel and Sharpe both down their glasses of wine in one gulp.

Cut to the Time Bureau, where Gary Green's working the holiday. He orders in, and his food's delivered by Mona, who we met a couple weeks ago in Dancing Queen. He awkwardly invites her to say and eat with him. 

Canary and the others visit Tokyo Bay to search for the giant monster. They see Honda's already there, tossing a book into the water. Suddenly the book shoots out of the Bay and flies back into his hands.

Back at the studio, Charlie examines the book and says it's the Diary Of Brigid, who was the Celtic goddess of art, creation and healing. She says the diary has the power to turn its owner's imagination into reality. Canary tells Honda to start talking. He says he was out scouting locations when he found the book. He tells them that ever since he survived the horror of Hiroshima, he's had terrible nightmares. The book inspired him to create a giant land octopus called Tagumo as a metaphor for his trauma. 

Unfortunately the diary brought Tagumo to life, and the monster's threatens to flatten Tokyo. Honda says he tried to destroy the book, but it always comes back. Canary tells him to draw a new ending, one in which Toyko's saved. Honda tries, but as soon as he makes a mark on a page, the ink fades from the paper. Charlie says you can't expect him to write a happy ending if he hasn't had a happy life. 

Meanwhile, Gary gives Mona a tour of the Time Bureau, and notices the Fugitives have broken out of their holding cell. He calls Director Sharpe and asks what to do. Steel says he'll handle it and time-couriers to the Bureau, leaving Sharpe alone with his hellish family.

On the Waverider, Nora examines Constantine and says there's nothing she can do. She explains that she'd need to drain someone else's life force to save him, which would involve dark magic. She says she's trying to live a good and decent life, and using her powers could cause her to backslide and become evil again, like her father. Atom says he has an idea.

In Tokyo, Tagumo rises from the Bay and heads for the studio. Canary and Charlie (?) rush out to fight it. Canary tries to miniaturize it with Atom's shrink ray, but it's too fast. It grabs her with one of its tentacles and lifts her off the ground. Charlie manages to distract it and free Canary. She shrinks the giant octopus down to a more manageable size, but it slithers into the sewers and gets away.

Atom rigs up a way to siphon power from the Waverider and into Nora. She then transforms the power into pure life force energy (I guess?) and transfers in into Constantine. Amazingly this works, and he recovers.

At the Heywood home, dinner's finally ready. Hank wants Steel to cut the turkey, and wonders where he went. Sharpe tries to stall him until Steel returns, but it doesn't work. Hank demands to know what's going on, and Sharpe reluctantly tells him. He orders her to take him to the Bureau at once. They time-courier there, and when they arrive they see Steel, Gary and Mona feeding the monsters, who're now calm and docile. Steel explains the Fugitives were just "hangry," so Mona rustled up some food and fed them.

Back in Tokyo, the Legends discuss how to deal with Tagumo (even though he's been shrunk). Canary suggests getting the diary to bond with another creative type, so they can write a safe and happy ending. Zari pipes up and says Heat Wave's secretly a writer, as he's been working on a novel for months. 

Heat Wave's reluctant to help, claiming he has writer's block. They finally talk him into it, and he begins writing about Garima, Queen of Thanzanon, the heroine of his sci-fi novel. The diary bonds with Heat Wave, causing the warrior woman to magically appear. And what a warrior she is, too— tall, blue-skinned and three-boobed!

Just then Tagumo appears, and Garima fights it in the middle of the miniature city set. Their battle looks like something out of a Godzilla movie, and Honda actually begins filming it. Eventually Garima manages to kill Tagumo, saving the day.

Heat Wave introduces himself to Garima, and the two start going at it right there in the ruins of the miniature city, much to the disgust of Canary, Zari, Charlie and Honda. Later on, Heat Wave tells Honda he's keeping the diary, and to forget about giant octopi. He tells Honda, "Lizards are king." Honda thinks about his words and says, "King... Lizard. Kai... ju!"

On the Waverider, Constantine's fully recovered and goes off to have a smoke. Nora thanks Atom for showing her that she can use magic without becoming a monster like her father. She then announces she's tired of running and says it's time she paid for her crimes. She uses her time stone to teleport to the Bureau, where she surrenders to the agents. Atom's sad, but proud to see her do the right thing.

Hank tells Sharpe he's budgeting additional money to the Bureau for a proper holding facility. Steel, Sharpe and Hank then return to the Heywood home. Steel finally cuts the turkey for his family. As he does so, Hank get a call. He takes it in the other room and says he's seen that the magical Fugitives can be controlled. He tells the caller that Project Hades is a go.


• At the beginning of the episode, Ishiro Honda's filming a scene of a woman diving for pearls in Tokyo Bay. It would appear he's shooting The Blue Pearl, which really was filmed in 1951, just like the episode says. Kudos to the writers for doing their research!

Unfortunately this is pretty much the only thing they got right about Honda, as we'll see in a minute.

• LOVED the Japanese title screen this week! It was even subtitled, for those of us who don't read Japanese (I'll have to take their word for it that it's accurate!). Someone in the Legends' art department is obviously having a lot of fun.

• For weeks now Atom's been pining over Nora Darhk, but hasn't been able to figure out a way to find her. Canary wonders if Nora's pulling the old "hiding in plain sight" trick, and asks Gideon to run a facial recognition scan for her. Gideon locates Nora outside Washington DC in literally three seconds.

Isn't Atom supposed to have a genius-level intellect? Why the hell didn't he think of this simple solution six months ago?

• I don't know if I've ever mentioned it in a review before, but Kudos to the Legends' costume department. Whenever the characters visit a particular era, they're always dressed in perfect era-appropriate clothing. 

I don't know if they're raiding the Warner Bros. costume warehouse for these clothes or sewing 'em up from scratch, but either way, they do an excellent job. Keep up the good work!

• Nothing to do with anything, but a nice little detail: Someone at the Time Bureau decorated the office for Thanksgiving!

• Director Sharpe tells Hank that she's keeping the magical Fugitives in a temporary holding cell inside the Time Bureau, until their containment facility is up and running.

I don't get it. Why's the Bureau building a containment facility? I thought the whole point of this season to capture the Fugitives and have Constantine send them to Hell. Did that plan change between episodes, and they forgot to tell us?

Maybe the Bureau needs a facility to hold the Fugitives until Constantine can get around to opening a portal and send them through?

• By far my favorite part of the episode was Director Sharpe trying to navigate the Heywood family Thanksgiving, with disastrous results.

I especially liked when Steel's mom announces that the turkey only needs to brine for another hour and a half. Steel then tells Sharpe that dinner will be ready in six hours or so, and they both start hittin' the sauce. I think we can all relate.

By far the best part though was when Steel introduces her to the family and says, "And there's my Uncle Rich." He then whispers, "Don't mention Obama."

Wow! I laughed long and hard at that line, as it really hit home for me. You have no idea how many times I've heard (or said!) that very thing during the Holidays! I wonder if that was a scripted line, or Nick Zano ad-libbed it?

• The writers perform a slick little bit of plot trickery this week that's so subtle it's easy to miss. At the beginning of the episode, Canary tells the team, "In the summer of 1951, a film crew shot footage of a monster in Tokyo Bay. Two days later, the city was destroyed. We need to get that footage before any panic sets in and to capture that monster before it can do any real damage."

At first I wondered why they were placing so much importance on recovering the footage. So the public sees it and panics. Who cares? The entire city's gonna be gone in two days!

Eventually I figured it out. The writers wanted to include Ishiro Honda in this episode. If the Legends just went after Tagumo and destroyed him, they never would have encountered Honda and the episode would have been fifteen minutes long. By giving them the extra task of finding the footage, they were guaranteed to meet him. 

Pret-ty  sneaky, sis!

• This week's historical figure is Ishiro Honda, who was an influential director in the Japanese film industry. He directed eight films in the popular kaiju franchise.

Unfortunately the episode fudged a LOT of the facts for dramatic purposes. It's heavily implied that Honda created Godzilla (or Gojira, as he's known to the Japanese). That simply isn't true. 

The idea for Godzilla came from producer Tomoyuki Tanaka in 1954 (a full three years after this episode takes place). Most film scholars agree that Tanaka created Godzilla to ape the success of Ray Harryhausen's The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, which premiered in 1953. Tanaka also intended Godzilla as an allegory for the atomic bomb and its many horrors.

In the episode, Charlie finds the secret Tagumo footage hidden inside a hollowed out bomb on Honda's desk. While this is true, the reality of the situation is even more bizarre. When Honda was a soldier in WWII, the shell fell to the ground in front of him, but for some reason it didn't detonate. Honda considered the shell to be lucky, I guess, and took it home to use as a decoration on his desk. Unlike the one in the episode though, the real shell was never hollowed out and diffused!

In the third act, TV Honda tells the Legends the story of how he survived the Hiroshima bombing. He recounts how he wandered the deserted streets, trying to figure out where all the people had gone. To his horror, he realized they were all around him— the ash of their vaporized bodies was in his hair, all over his clothing, and even in his lungs!

It's a very memorable and powerful speech. Too bad it's complete and utter bullsh*t though. Honda was serving in the Japanese army when he was captured by the Chinese. He was released after six months, and returned to his old unit. He was fighting on the Chinese front, and therefore nowhere near Hiroshima when it was bombed. 

To be fair, Honda really was plagued with horrible nightmares about his experiences in the army. But none of them about Hiroshima.

• Honda brings Tagumo to life with the help of the mystical Diary Of Brigid, which has the power to turn its owner's thoughts and ideas into reality.

At one point we get a good look at the cover of the diary, which is decorated with an odd looking primitive cross.

That symbol is called a Brigid's Cross, and is traditionally woven from reeds. It's associated with St. Brigid, an ancient Celtic goddess.

Somebody on the staff's been doing their homework!

• Apparently Earth-1 features knockoffs of famous companies we have here in our world.

At one point Mona tells Gary her Thanksgiving plans, saying, "My family's in LA, so it's just me, instant ramen and Bestflix binging." I assume that must be the Earth-1 version of Netflix.

Later Director Sharpe says "And I am thankful for the new Whole Paycheck grocer by my work, you know?" I'm guessing that's a Whole Foods analogue?

• I was happy to see Mona join the show as a regular this week.

Mona's played by Ramona Young, who previously starred in a slew of indie films, as well as TV series like Z-Nation, The Real O'Neals and Santa Clara Diet (in which she also played a character named Ramona). She was also in Cock Blockers, er, I mean Blockers.

• I loved the fact that Steel saw the monsters and immediately knew what was wrong with them, based on his experiences with his own family!

• So Constantine's dying because last week he transferred a big chunk of his life force into a little boy named Randall. If he's to survive, he'll need a magical transfusion of life force energy. Nora's reluctant to perform the procedure, saying she'll have to drain someone else's life to save Constantine's.

Atom says, "Well, life force is essentially energy, right?" Nora agrees, so he then rigs up an electrical cable to transfer power from the Waverider's core into Constantine. Nora uses magic to convert the electricity into life force energy first, but still...

It's official then— according to Legends Of Tomorrow, humans are basically just batteries and as long as we stay charged up, we'll never die! Good to know!

• I have to say, Tagumo looked pretty darned good—especially for a TV budget. I kind of wish they'd gone with a more traditional dinosaur-looking kaiju, but the giant octopus worked out OK in the end.

• Of course you can't have a giant monster stomping around Tokyo without scenes of frantic Japanese running through the streets! As I said before, someone had a lot of fun with this episode.

• It only makes sense that Heat Wave's dream woman would be an alien warrior queen with three breasts!

• OK, let's see if I've got this straight. Tagumo starts out as an enormous, five hundred foot tall octopus monster. Canary then uses Atom's miniaturization ray to shrink Tagumo down to human size. Heat Wave conjures up Garima to fight Tagumo. The two of them then battle it out on a miniature city set, which makes them look like they're both five hundred feet tall. Got it!

• Once Tagumo's been defeated, Heat Wave takes Honda aside and tells him to forget about giant octopi. Instead he tells Honda that "Lizards are king." After Heat Wave leaves, Honda thinks a minute and says, "King... lizard. Kai... ju. Kaiju!"

It's a nice little scene, but apparently Honda doesn't understand his own language. "Kaiju" translates to "strange beast." Not "king (or giant) lizard."

• I don't know if it was intentional or not, but there's a very obvious Doogie Howser, MD moment near the end of the episode.

We see Heat Wave over his writer's block, tapping away at his typewriter. He pauses and stares off in the distance, carefully organizing his thoughts...

He then finishes up his story with the perfect sentence: "Garima was as strong as she was stunning, and with her by his side, Buck had at last vanquished his true enemy: fear."

This is exactly how EVERY episode of Doogie Howser would end. After learning a valuable lesson about life and love, Doogie would sit down at his computer and start typing. He'd then pause and stare off in the distance, carefully organizing his thoughts... after a few seconds he'd start typing again, finishing up his journal entry with the perfect sentence.

• In the final scene, Hank gets a call from a fellow official, and tells them the Fugitives can be controlled. He ominously tells them that "Project Hades" is a go.

A couple things here. First of all, I was starting to warm up to Hank, and was sad to see that it looks like he's shaping up to be the Big Bad of the season. Or one of them, anyway.

Secondly, it sounds like Hank wants to weaponize the magical fugitives, but turning them into some sort of fighting team. A team of commandos, if you will. Commandos who are... creatures...

I'm not sure if we just saw the origin of the Creature Commandos in the Arrowverse, but man, that would be so awesome if that's where they're going with this!

In the comics, The Creature Commandos, as you've probably guessed, were a military team made up of supernatural soldiers that resembled the Universal Monsters. There was a reanimated patchwork man, a vampire, a werewolf, a woman who looked like Medusa and a normal human who commanded them. And yes, the vampire character's name was "Velcro."

This Week's Best Lines:
Heat Wave: "Hey. Closed door means stay out.:
Zari: "Sorry, Sara called a team meeting. Were you..."
Heat Wave: "Yes. I was watching porn."
Zari: "On a typewriter?"

Canary: (as the Legends mosey onto the bridge) "Oh, well, look who finally pried themselves away from their important business."

Zari: "Look, hobbies are very important. Right, Rory?"
Heat Wave: "I take my porn very seriously."

Steel: (giving his dad Hank another tour) "We only have the most highly qualified Time Bureau personnel dealing with... oh, boy. And Here's Gary with a live one."

Gary: "Ah, say hello to Baba Yaga. We caught her trying to eat Chinese gymnasts at the 2008 Olympics."
Baba Yaga: (lunging at Hank, as she screeches in Russian) "I will peel the skin from your face!"
Director Sharpe: "Sorry about that, sir."
Hank: "What did she say?"

Gary: "Just a typical Russian greeting."

Hank: "What are you doing for the holiday, Director Sharpe?"

Sharpe: "Me? Oh, well I was planning on spending it with my girlfriend, but she's working overtime. So I'll probably just be sticking around here, I guess."
Hank: "You should join us. It'll be fun, right, Nathaniel"
Steel: "Absolutely. Absol..."
Sharpe: "Bye, sir."

(the elevator closes on Hank)
Steel: "Yeah, that is if you don't mind starving all day while your family slowly gets loaded and starts fighting and then your dad gets called for a "work emergency." 
Sharpe: "Well, at least your family are real people. Mine are actors."

Heat Wave: (as Honda shows him his miniature city set) "It'd look amazing on fire."

Canary: (as she sees footage of Tagumo) "Guys, I think we're going to need a bigger time ship."
(What can I say, I'm a sucker for a Jaws reference)

Gary: "Now this is where we monitor time zone infractions.:

Mona: "Isn't that a little overkill?:
Gary: "No, here at the Time Bureau, there's no such thing as over kill."

Gary: (seeing that the magical Fugitives have escaped their holding cell) “I’m so fuuuuuh-ired!"

Mona: "Oh, my God. Is that a Kaupe?"

Steel: "No. What the hell is she doing here?"
Gary: "She was supposed to stay locked in the closet. I was going to flash her later."
Steel: "What?"
Gary: "That didn't sound right."

Steel: (observing the restless Fugitives) "Wait... I've seen this before, They're hangry. These poor creatures are starving to death. What does a Kaupe, Chupacabra, and a Baba Yaga eat?"

Mona: "That'd be Hawaiian BBQ, Birria, and Veal. Babies, more precisely, but veal will do in a pinch."
Steel: "Really?"
Mona: "I read a lot."

Zari: "Rory, I read your novel. As much as it pains me to say it, you are very, very talented."

Heat Wave: "Well, it doesn't matter. I can't write anymore. Nothing comes out."
Zari: "You have writer's block?
Heat Wave: "No, I dropped a deuce this morning."
Zari: "Ugh..."

Honda: "Why couldn't I just tell sober, grounded stories instead of indulging in silly monsters?"

Heat Wave: "Sober and grounded's boring."
(Why, it's almost like they're talking about Legends Of Tomorrow!)

Heat Wave: "Where is everyone?"

Honda: "Your compatriots grew tired of waiting."
Heat Wave: "Oh, sorry about that. Got a bit messy in there."
(He picks up the journal)
Heat Wave: "I'm going to take this with me."
Honda: "Oh, please. It clearly likes you. Your creation was magnificent."
Heat Wave: "I was thinking about a fourth boob."
Honda: "Three was plenty."
Heat Wave: "Oh."

Hank: (once the Fugitive crisis is over) "And your mother is gonna kill us."

Sharpe: "Not necessarily. Perks of time travel. We can portal back in to the second after we left."
Hank: "That's fantastic."
Steel: "Yeah."
Hank: "Well, let's make like a tree and leave!"
Steel: "Not sure that's how it goes, but..."
(Actually it's exactly how the saying goes. After sixty three years, Biff finally says it right!)


  1. Could Heat Wave's dream woman be a nod to Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon VI, the woman who once called Zaphod Beeblebrox "the biggest bang since the big one"?

    1. Possibly! It's been a while since I read Hitchhiker's Guide, so I didn't even think of her.


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