Saturday, February 15, 2020

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 4: Slay Anything

This week on a jam-packed Legends Of Tomorrow, we get a masked serial killer, a look at Constantine's childhood home, Heat Wave's high school sweetheart, the gang going to prom and the welcome return of Nora Darhk.

It's a well-written and fun little romp, and feels like classic Legends Of Tomorrow. Best of all, the characters are all present and accounted for, and everyone gets a moment and has something to do.

Slay Anything is a love letter to 1980s slasher movies, and features numerous shoutouts to the genre. If you're a fan of movies like Halloween, Carrie or Prom Night, this is the episode for you.

The theme of the episode— that you shouldn't let your past define you— was pretty blatant and presented in a typically heavy-handed way. That said, it's a lesson worth learning, and one we should all strive to embrace.

As I mentioned above, Nora Darhk finally returns to the show, and all I have to say is it's about damned time. Courtney Ford, who plays Nora, was this week's MVP, and carried the bulk of the episode on her back. She's become a valued and powerful member of the team in the past year or so, and she'll be missed when she's written off the show.

The Plot:
It's complicated and involves two three different time periods, so get comfortable!

In 2004, serial killer Freddy Meyers (GET IT?) is being executed for the murder of seven high school students in 1989. As he's strapped into the electric chair, his mother Kathy watches from the gallery. They throw the switch and Freddy's electrocuted. Kathy's so distraught she has a heart attack and dies.

Later that night, the Coroner picks up Freddy's body and drives it to the morgue. Suddenly his brakes fail and he crashes into a tree. He gets out and sees that Freddy's body is missing from the van. Just then he's stabbed in the back by someone and dies.

On the Waverider, Nora Darhk finally rejoins the show. She's still in Fairy Godmother mode, destined to grant the wishes of children in need. She complains to her boyfriend Atom that all kids ever want is a pony.

After bringing Zari 2.0 onto the Waverider last week, Steel & Behrad hope the ship will spark her memories from the previous timeline. Unfortunately it doesn't. She notices the Air Totem on Behrad's wrist and says she's telling their parents that he stole it. Behrad locks her in his quarters until they can figure out what to do with her.

Gideon alerts the team that Freddy Meyers has apparently escaped from Hell and is another Encore on the loose in 2004. Sharpe, who's a serial killer fangirl and even has a podcast on the subject, squees with delight and fills them in on Freddy The Prom Night Slasher. She mentions Tiffany Harper, the Final Girl and only survivor of Freddy's attacks. Atom checks the records and says the Central City Class Of 1989 is having their fifteen year reunion that night (in 2004). Sharpe says Freddy will likely show up there to finish off Tiffany.

The Legends land in 2004 and infiltrate the reunion at Central City High School. Sharpe gushes over the place, pointing out areas where Freddy killed his various victims. Heat Wave admits it's his old school (!), and says he remembers Freddy Meyers as a loser. A woman named Ali recognizes Heat Wave, and overtly flirts with him. He looks uncomfortable to see her and runs off.

White Canary and Sharpe search the dance floor for Freddy, while Atom and Steel patrol the outside of the gym. They find a dead cop in a police car, and realize Freddy's there. Inside the gym, the Class President introduces Tiffany, becoming annoyed when she doesn't walk out on stage. The lights come up, and the crowd sees Tiffany sitting dead on a throne with a trophy sticking from her chest.

The crowd panics, as Canary tries to calm them down. Atom and Steel spot Freddy— decked out in creepy mask and coveralls— entering the gym. Unfortunately Freddy uses his telekinetic powers (?) to seal the doors, locking them out and the prom crowd in.

Meanwhile in the present (I think?), Constantine and Gary arrive at an old house in Northumberland, UK. Constantine admits he used to live there, and it's been empty since he left. He's gobsmacked when he sees himself emerge from a room, along with a gaggle of other partiers. He tells the others to piss off and get out, then tells "himself" to drop the charade. Suddenly the Fake Constantine morphs into Charlie.

Back in 2004, Canary and Sharpe try to find a way out of the gym before Freddy strikes. Heat Wave looks for Ali, suddenly concerned about her welfare. Canary radios Atom and tells him to try going back in time to "fix" Freddy before he becomes a slasher.

Atom and Steel take the Waverider to 1989, where they pose as teaches at Central City High. They spot pre-slasher Young Freddy being bullied in the halls by a group of jocks. As they watch, a young Tiffany Harper helps him pick up his books and asks him to be her last-minute prom date. Young Freddy enthusiastically accepts.

Steel realizes Tiffany's working with the bullies and is setting up Young Freddy for some sort of humiliation that'll cause him to snap. They try to talk him out of going, but he's weirded out by them and runs off.

Atom & Steel return to the Waverider. Nora begins hearing voices in her head, and says as a Fairy Godmother she's tuned into kids who need her help most. She thinks she can help Young Freddy and teleports into his room, scaring him half to death. She explains she's his Fairy Godmother, and amazingly he buys her story.

Just then Young Freddy's mom Kathy knocks on the door, and he tells Nora to hide. Kathy says she's ready for their stay-in movie night, but Freddy says he's going to the prom. This visibly upsets the clingy, overprotective Kathy. He gets rid of her, and tells Nora he wishes for a "cool" suit. She happily conjures up one for him.

Cut to the prom, where Young Freddy arrives in a limo provided by Nora. He's met outside by Tiffany, and the two go into the gym. Nora, Atom and Steel follow.

In 2004, Heat Wave stands watch over the trapped crowd. Ali says she's not about to die in the gym and looks for a way out. Heat Wave tells her about a vent he used to use to sneak out of school. They talk about their lives as they find the vent. Suddenly Ali's stabbed and killed by Adult Freddy, who then runs off. Heat Wave calls the Legends in 1989 and tells them they'd better hurry and fix Young Freddy and undo Ali's death.

Back in 1989, Young Freddy takes Tiffany out on the dance floor. She's surprised to find he's a good dancer, and looks genuinely impressed. Steel notices Tiffany looking up, and sees a large net full of garbage hanging above the dance floor, right above Freddy. He also sees the bullies holding a rope attached to the net, and realizes they plan to drop it on him in front of the entire crowd.

To her credit though, Tiffany has a change of heart and leads Young Freddy away from the garbage. This angers the bullies, and they run over and throw their drinks on Young Freddy and shove him to the ground. Tiffany tells them to stop, and Young Freddy realizes she was just playing him. She tearfully says that's not true anymore, now that she's gotten to know him. Young Freddy stalks off, and Nora tells Atom that high school sucks.

Nora finds Young Freddy, fearing he's snapped and wants to kill his fellow students. She gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling him not to give into his demons and to "just be himself." Groan! She asks what he would wish for to show the bullies who he really is.

Cut to the stage as the lights go out. Young Freddy appears in a spotlight and begins an impressive dance routine, as Nora provides magical fireworks. The other students begin cheering him on. The bullies try dropping the garbage on him, but Nora turns it into sparkling light. Tiffany approaches Young Freddy and dances with him.

Back on the Waverider, Zari 2.0 asks Gideon to let her out. When Gideon says she can't do that, Zari 2.0 experiences flashes from the original timeline— in which she was a hacker— and begins typing away on a computer keyboard. She manages to hack the door open and waltzes out. As she leaves, she tells Gideon to call her a limo.

Zari 2.0 exits the ship (which is apparently parked somewhere on the high school grounds!) and sees Young Freddy's limo. She thinks it's for her and gets in. After his performance, Young Freddy thanks Nora, and she realizes her mission to "save" him is complete. He, Tiffany and several other girls get in the limo as well. Zari 2.0 thinks it's a ride share. But what's this? Masked Freddy ominously watches from the shadows. How could that be, if he's been saved?

In 2004, Canary, Sharpe & Heat Wave spot Adult Freddy in shop class. Out for revenge, Heat Wave blasts him with his flame gun. Unfortunately the killer uses his telekinetic powers to reflect the flames back at Heat Wave, burning him to a cinder! Yikes! 

As Canary and Sharpe watch, the flames burn off Adult Freddy's creepy rubber mask, revealing that "he's" actually Kathy Meyers! Gasp!

Sharpe asks why she's doing this, and Kathy says that 
once she killed Freddy's new good-time friends, he took the fall to protect her, and was imprisoned and eventually executed. So she decided to come to the reunion and kill Tiffany and everyone else who ever wronged her little angel. She attacks Canary and Sharpe, and the three begin fighting. Kathy uses her powers to hurl Canary across the room, knocking her out.

Back in 1989, a younger version of Kathy (wearing a mask) begins trying to kill the kids in the limo. She begins stabbing through the car's ceiling, slashing a couple of the passengers.

2004: Sharpe asks Kathy how she became an Encore. She says when Freddy was executed in 2004, she was so upset she had a heart attack and died. She went to Hell for murdering Freddy's classmates, but was sent back to Earth (by Astra) to finish the job she started. Just then Canary recovers and chops Kathy in the back with a fire ax! Amazingly, this doesn't seem to phase her, as she continues fighting them.

1989: Kathy continues trying to kill the occupants of the limo. Zari 2.0 sprays Kathy in the eyes with her pricey, signature perfume. She then rips off Kathy's mask, and Young Freddy stares at his mother in shock.

Kathy tells Young Freddy she's doing all this for him, as she can't stand to see his new friends take him away from her. He's horrified, and says he refuses to let her control his life. Kathy's so distraught she starts to stab Young Freddy, saying it's for his own good. Just then Behrad shows up and blows Kathy across the lot with his Air Totem, knocking her unconscious.

2004: Kathy prepares to deliver the killing blow to Canary and Sharpe. Just then she disappears, as history is changed in 1989. Heat Wave, Ali and Tiffany are restored as well.

1989: Young Freddy asks Nora what he's supposed to do now. She says she had an equally disturbing and dysfunctional childhood, but managed to overcome it. She says he will too.

Back on the Waverider, Zari 2.0 says she now understands why Behrad is their parents' favorite. He says they only dote on him because they worry he can't fend for himself. He asks how she managed to hack the door, and she dismisses it as a "side effect of time travel." She decides to stay on the ship for a while.

At the prom, the Legends Adult Freddy and Tiffany— now married
— dancing together. Atom and Nora begin dancing as well, as do Canary and Sharpe. In the shadows, Heat Wave and Ali kiss, as she aggressively jumps his bones.

Back at Constantine's house, Charlie asks him what he plans to do about Astra. He tells her that in his younger days he hung around with the Newcastle Gang— one of whom was a powerful witch. He says she's on the other side of a spell-locked door at the end of the hall, and is none to happy with him as she's Astra's mother. He steels himself, casts a spell to open the door and walks through. The doors slam closed behind him.

• The of this week's episode is Slay Anything. This of course is a play on the 1989 Cameron Crowe rom-com Say Anything, starring John Cusack and Ione Skye. Wakka wakka!

If you're a fan of Seinfeld, you know the show's episode titles were all very simple, and always started with the word "The." For example, The Pen, The Red Dot and The ContestIn an interview, Jerry Seinfeld said insisted on this, as he didn't want his writers wasting time trying to come up with witty and clever episode titles— that the audience would likely never see.

Sometimes I wonder if the Legends showrunner should adopt a similar title policy.

Slay Anything contains a ton of references to 1980s slasher, horror and other types of films. Here are all the ones I caught (SPOILERS!):

— First of all, the name "Freddy Meyers" is an amalgam of Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare On Elm Street and Michael Myers from Halloween. Subtlety, thy name is Legends Of Tomorrow!

— Friday The 13th: Jason Voorhees is thought to be the killer, but it turns out it's actually his mother Pamela.

In Slay Anything, Freddy Meyers is thought to be the killer, but it turns out it's actually his mother Karen. Freddy confesses to the crimes to protect her.

— Halloween: Michael Myers wears a creepy mask and coveralls, and uses a butcher knife as his weapon of choice.

In Slay Anything, Freddy Meyers (and later his mom) wears a creepy mask and coveralls, and uses a butcher knife as his weapon of choice.

— Carrie: Carrie's a socially awkward teenaged girl with a clingy, overbearing mother. She's invited to the prom by a popular boy, in an effort to draw her out of her shell. At the prom, she's publicly humiliated by a group of bullies who drop a bucket of pig's blood on her. She's so traumatized by the incident that she uses her newfound telekinetic powers to kill everyone at the prom.

In Slay Anything, Freddy Meyers is a socially awkward teenaged boy with a clingy, overbearing mother. He's invited to the prom by a popular girl, as part of an elaborate prank by a group of bullies who plan to drop garbage on his head.

Once Kathy Meyers is sent back to Earth as an Encore, she has telekinetic powers.

— Prom Night: A group of children accidentally cause the death of a girl named Robin. Years later at their senior prom, they're picked off one by one by a masked killer.  Kim, the sister of Robin, turns out to be the Final Girl. She's confronted by the killer, who turns out to be her twin brother Alex, who sought revenge for the death of their sister Robin.

Non-Horror Movie Influences:

— Back To The Future: Marty McFly accidentally travels back in time and meets his parents as teens. He inadvertently keeps them from meeting, altering the past and erasing his future. He then has to make sure they get together at their senior prom.

— Cinderella: An isolated, socially awkward teen girl is visited by her Fairy Godmother, who conjures up a ballgown and sweet ride so she can attend the royal ball.
• This episode takes place primarily in both 1989 and 2004. You have no idea how depressing it is to me that stories set in the early 2000s are now considered period pieces.

• Heavy Duty Nitpicking Alert: After Freddy's execution in 2004, the coroner takes his body to the morgue. Freddy's Encore mother Kathy, fresh from Hell, sees this and uses her telekinetic powers to cause the coroner's van to speed down the road at over 80 mph. Eventually the van crashes into a row of water-filled plastic barrels, which dents the front end slightly. The driver exits the van, a bit stunned but otherwise OK. 

Yeah, I don't think so. If the van had actually been going 80+, it would have been flattened against the barrels like an accordion, and the driver killed instantly. It looked like its speed was closer to 30 or 40 mph at the most.

• When the driver checks the back of the van, we get this lovely closeup of a tag on Freddy's empty body bag. Note that it reads, "Iron Heights Penitentiary, Central City, MO, USA."

Fans have long assumed that the Flash's hometown of Central City is somewhere in the Midwest, but no one was ever sure exactly where. Near Kansas City, maybe? As near as I can tell, this is the first ever onscreen confirmation that Central City is indeed in Missouri!

• Gideon detects a timequake in 2004, and displays the front page story of Freddy Meyers' execution. Note that the newspaper is the Central City Picture News. That's where Iris West worked in the early seasons of The Flash (though not in 2004, as she'd have been in her mid teens then).

Iris eventually left the Picture News, and started her own online (I think?) newspaper, called The Central City Citizen.

• Sharpe's disappointed that none of the Legends ever listens to her Stab Cast podcast, so Steel finally gives it a shot. He listens to it all through the mission briefing, and as they head to 2004 he shouts, "And order one of these mattresses using promo code LACERATION!"

Obviously the writing staff listens to a lot of podcasts, because that type of blatant shilling is part of virtually every one!

More Heavy Duty NitpickingWhen the Legends find out their mission is to prevent a prom night massacre, Canary does her "thing" and makes an appropriate battle cry, saying, "Well then, babe, grab your autograph book, because we're gonna go catch a serial killer!"

Given that they're going to a high school prom, wouldn't it have made more sense if she'd said, "Grab your year book?" My classmates and I all signed one another's year books when we graduated. I never saw a single person pass around an autograph book.

Told you it was heavy duty!

• Charlie's back this week! Huzzah! She doesn't have a lot to do in this episode, but at least she's present and accounted for. I was starting to wonder if they'd written her off the show or not.

• Constantine visits his former Northumberland, UK residence in this episode, which of course is a run-down, creepy haunted mansion.

Is it possible his place is supposed to be the Arrowverse version of the House Of Mystery or the House Of Secrets? In the comics, those were the names of two competing horror anthology books. Cain lived in the House of Mystery, while his brother lived in the House Of Secrets. Both would introduce various macabre stories in each issue.

The only problem with my theory is that the two comic Houses were located in Kentucky. Maybe the Arrowverse versions are in the UK? Or maybe I'm way off base here and it's just a generic spooky house.

• Gary arrives late at Constantine's house, explaining, "I tried a teleportation spell to get here ASAP, and now I'm stuck walking backwards!"

So Gary can perform real magic spells now? Yikes. That seems like a bad, bad idea.

• I'll be honest— I wasn't a fan of Nora's Fairy Godmother storyline at the end of last season. Well, maybe I should clarify that. I didn't mind her becoming a Fairy Godmother so much as I did seeing her saddled with that ridiculous princess costume. I wasn't looking forward to seeing her clomp around in that thing from now on.

Luckily the producers must have felt the same way. She does wear the princess getup at the beginning of the episode, but she quickly uses her wand to alter it into a variety of fashions always in the same powder blue color.

She first shows up in an equestrian outfit, as she wearily complains that kids always wish for a pony.

Later she transforms it into a comfortable track suit...

Then a prom dress...

And finally a hip-hop DJ getup.

• Canary, Sharpe and Heat Wave arrive at the reunion in 2004. Ali, one of Heat Wave's former classmates, sees and recognizes him. OK, if Heat Wave was a senior at Central City High in 1989, that would make him 33 in 2004. He looks considerably older than that, yet Ali doesn't seem to notice or comment on it. Maybe she assumes he's had a hard life, and looks older than his years? Or maybe she's just being polite.

Also, if Heat Wave was 33 in 2004 then he'd be 49 in 2020 which just happens to be actor Dominic Purcell's real age. It never occurred to me that Heat Wave's supposed to be that old. I just assumed he was around 40.

• Apparently Heat Wave grew up in Central City. Did we know that before?

• Man, that Kathy Meyers works fast and impossibly! 

OK, stay with me here. At the reunion, Canary and Sharpe meet Adult Tiffany, who's handing out name tags. They get their tags, an d the two walk directly into the gymnasium. Less than ten seconds later, the former Class President introduces Tiffany. When she doesn't appear onstage, he unveils a throne and we see Tiffany sitting in it, stabbed to death with a trophy.

So... in far less than a minute, Kathy grabbed a trophy out of the case, stabbed Tiffany with it, then somehow carried her dead body into the crowded gym ahead of Canary & Sharpe. She then placed Tiffany's body on the throne and covered it with a blanket— all without any of the hundreds of people in the auditorium noticing. Got it.

I guess she must have used some of her Hell powers to accomplish all this.

• Speaking of Kathy Meyers, I'm assuming she picked up her telekinetic powers when she was sent back from Hell as an Encore. The episode never makes it clear WHY she got the added bonus of extra powers.

• Based on this episode, the Central City High mascot is the Cavaliers. I don't think that's ever been mentioned before over on The Flash.

Missed Opportunity— Given that this episode takes place primarily in Central City, it would have been nice to see a cameo from The Flash's Detective Joe West. He was probably around in both 1989 and 2004!

• I'm assuming Freddy/Kathy Meyers' slasher mask was supposed to be scary. Unfortunately it ended up looking kind of... goofy. It reminds me of someone, but I can't quite figure out who. Jake Busey, maybe? With a little bit of Beetlejuice thrown in for good measure?

• Kudos to actor Seth Meriwether, who plays Freddy Meyers. He was awesome in this episode, turning in a sympathetic and relatable performance.

• This week the Original Zari's hacking skills suddenly come to Zari 2.0, allowing her to escape the Waverider. Hopefully more of Original Zari's memories will come back as well, making Zari 2.0 a little less unbearable.

Actually I'm not being fair to her here, as in this week's episode she started showing signs that she's not quite the self-absorbed airhead she seems, and there's more depth to her than is readily apparent. Hopefully they'll continue softening her if they insist on keeping her around for the entire season.

By the way, take a look at the computer in that shot above. In addition to this very obvious Mac, earlier in the episode there's a shot in which Steel listens to Sharpe's podcast on a pair of prominently framed AirPods.

I have to assume The CW must have a major product placement deal with Apple.

• Seems weird for Freddy to arrive at the prom in a limo by himself. Yes, I know Tiffany said she'd meet him there, but... isn't the whole point of having Nora conjure up a limo so he can make a big splash and impress his classmates? As is, Tiffany's the only one who sees him show up.

Why does Freddy arrive the prom in a limo by himself? Yes, I get that Tiffany said she'd meet him there, but she's the only one who sees him pull up. Isn't the point of having Nora conjure up the limo so he can make a big splash and show up his classmates? Only one person sees him in it.

Speaking of the limo that Nora whips up... who's driving it? When Freddy drives up in the limo, I assumed Nora was probably at the wheel. Nope! Later on we see the limo again as Freddy and his new friends pile in, and there's clearly a chauffeur sitting in it.

Did... did Nora just conjure up a living, flesh and blood person? Is that really something she can do? Wouldn't that make her... God?

Wherever the poor driver came from, it doesn't much matter now as he's dead anyway. Kathy kills him seconds after the kids enter the car.

• I'm really going to miss these two when they're written off the series in a few weeks. As I've said ad infinitum, Atom is the heart and soul of the Legends, and I feel it's a huge misstep to get rid of him. I've grown to really like Nora too, as I've always been a sucker for villains who turn over a new leaf and join the heroes. I'm so pissed about their imminent departure that I'm having trouble enjoying their last few appearances.

• At the end of the episode, a time-resurrected Heat Wave and Ali get hot & heavy at the reunion. Heat Wave's totally gonna have a sixteen year old son when he gets back to 2020, isn't he? 

Don't believe me? Then think back to last week's episode, when he had a conversation with Sharpe, and told her how awesome it was to have no kids or responsibilities. I didn't think about it at the time, but that had to be some pretty obvious foreshadowing.

This Week's Best Lines:
Nora: "It's the same thing every time. Kid gets a fairy godmother, what do they wish for? (imitating Oprah) You get a pony, and you get a pony. Everyone gets a damn pony!"
Atom: "Well, maybe next time, you should say, neigh..."

Zari 2.0: "Hey, what's with the Wi-Fi? I need to clap back at Blue Ivy on CatChat. CatChat's the chat app that lets you clap back..."
Behrad: (snidely) "I didn't say tell me."
(I laughed out loud at Behrad's line because he & Zari 2.0 sound like me and my sister when we were younger!)

Sharpe: "Oh, my God. It's Freddy Meyers, the Prom Night Slasher. Come on, guys. I ranked him #5 killer of all time on Stab Cast!"
(The Legends all give her blank stares)
Sharpe: "My podcast about serial killers babe?"
Canary: "Oh."
Gideon: "As I was going to say, Freddy killed seven of his peers before..."
Sharpe: (interrupting her) "At his high school prom in 1989. He used a kitchen knife and he wore a creepy mask. I actually did a whole series on it. So none of you open my emails, clearly?"

Steel: "Let's rap, Freddy."
Freddy: "Who are who are you guys?"
Atom: "New teachers. Cool new teachers."

(Nora appears in Young Freddy's room, wearing her ridiculous Fairy Godmother getup.)
Nora: "I am your fairy godmother. So Please don't kill me?"
Freddy: "You're a fairy godmother? My fairy godmother?"
Nora: "Uh-huh."
Freddy: "Prove it."
Nora: "You think I'd be wearing this if I really had the choice?"

(Atom, Steel and Nora see the bullies have set a trap for Young Freddie at the prom.)

Steel: "So that's the prank. She leads him to the center of the dance floor and they drop trash on his head. Classic Carrie. Bet these bullies don't know how that ended!"

(The bullies humiliate Young Freddy at the prom, and he vows revenge as he runs off.)

Steel: "We just went from John Hughes to John Carpenter."

Sharpe: "I cannot believe I got to get an exclusive scoop for Stab Cast and I got to be the Final Girl!"
Canary: "Well, technically, I never died, so...
Sharpe: "Technically, you've died more than three times, so just give me this one, babe."

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