Monday, March 2, 2020

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 5: A Head Of Her Time

Sorry this review is so late, but as I mentioned elsewhere, I've been laid out on my ass for the past week by the coronavirus, or something worse. 

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, we get another fun, jam-packed romp that hearkens back to Seasons 2 and 3. A Head Of Her Time gives us Courtney Ford pulling double duty not only as Nora Darhk, but a new Encored Marie Antoinette as well. We also get a bit more character work to soften Zari 2.0, as she's given a reason to stick around the ship a while longer— something that was sorely needed ever since she appeared.

The big news is on the Constantine front. This week's episode feels like a lost storyline from his series, as we learn more about his checkered past and relationship with Astra and her entire family. And it looks like we're getting an adaptation of one of the most infamous story arcs from Constantine's Hellblazer comic. Yeah, that one!


The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, Constantine's in his old manor and has just entered the room containing Astra's mother. Charlie and Gary wait outside, unsure what to do next. They hear Constantine scream, and Gary casts a spell to open the door. He bumbles it of course, causing the doorknob to fall off. A ghost comes screaming out the hole in the door. Constantine exits the room a second later, and asks Gary what he's done.

On the Waverider, White Canary says she has urgent business in Star City, and leaves Sharpe in charge of the ship. Sharpe's apprehensive, but Canary says she'll do fine.

In Hell, Astra's playing poker when she's pulled from the game by a demon. He says so far three of her Encores she's loosed have been destroyed. He urges her to turn the tide before she loses everything. She takes off her necklace, which features a gold coin emblazoned with Constantine's name, and says it's time to play naughty.

Back in Northumberland, Constantine, Charlie and Gary search the house for the ghost. Constantine explains that the wandering spirit is Astra's mother Natalie, and she died in a car accident. Her husband Alex begged him to bring her back, so he did. Natalie the ghost then angrily spells out the word "LIAR" on the wall. Constantine changes his story, saying the demon he summoned to bring back Natalie then took Astra to Hell. When Natalie found out what happened to her daughter, she killed herself. 

On the Waverider, Behrad gives Zari 2.0 a tour of the ship. She asks him if they'll be returning to 2044 in time for the rollout of her new perfume, Dragonesque. He says no problem, as they're in a timeship. When Zari 2.0 finds out the Waverider is a time machine, she says they can look ahead at future trends and make millions. Sharpe overhears and says it's forbidden for them to profit from time travel.

Elsewhere, Atom's in the Medbay skyping with Nora Darhk, who's off being a Fairy Godmother to another kid in need. Heat Wave enters and says something's wrong with him. He demands Gideon scan him, fearing Ali gave him an STD in last week's episode. Gideon finds nothing wrong with him, and Atom tells him he simply has a crush on Ali. Heat Wave grumbles and stalks off.

Sharpe calls the team to the bridge and hands them a binder outlining her "A.L.O.H.A." field behavior, which stands for Assess, Listen, Observe, Hydrate (?) and Attack. Behrad says they don't really do binders, and usually make things up as they go along. They wander off the bridge, ignoring Sharpe.

Just then Gideon detects a timequake in 1793 Paris, and says another Encore has popped up. This particular one's somehow caused the collapse of the French Revolution. Sharpe orders Gideon to take them to France. Zari 2.0 has Gideon replicate her a period-appropriate dress, but Sharpe refuses to let her go on the mission. Steel, who's still infatuated with Zari 2.0, offers to look after her. Sharpe throws up her hands and says whatever.

The Legends arrive in 1793 Versailles and infiltrate the palace. They hear a massive party going on in the ballroom, but when they attempt to enter they're stopped by a surly guard. Zari 2.0 uses her schmoozing abilities to get them all in. 

Meanwhile in Hell, Astra takes Constantine's coin— which apparently controls his life— to a woman called The Coinmaker. She thinks Astra wants to trade the coin for something. Astra says the woman misunderstands, and she wants to use it to kill Constantine. 

Elsewhere, Constantine explains to Charlie that when Alex begged him to bring back Natalie, he couldn't say no. Natalie's ghost causes a knife to fly across the room, just missing Constantine. He changes his story again, admitting it wasn't a demon who brought back Natalie, but himself. A radio suddenly turns on, playing a Mucous Membrane song. Constantine says it was his old punk band, and Natalie was the lead singer. Charlie's impressed with Natalie's shrill screeching. 

Ghostly images of Natalie and a young Constantine (with a fauxhawk!) then appear, revealing they were a couple. The two apparitions argue, as Natalie tells Young Constantine he has to choose between her and magic. When he refuses to stop with the spells, Natalie angrily walks out. 

Constantine says enough with the memories, and tells Natalie's ghost to get out of his head. Charlie says Constantine's lies have trapped them in the house. Just then two creepy children in masks lead Gary away, and Natalie possesses Charlie. 

Back in Versailles, Steel (the historian) says something's wrong, as the ballroom is filled with peasants and royals, all partying together. He says at this point in time, the royalty was very unpopular and most had been executed. The Legends then spot Marie Antoinette, who's surrounded by dozens of admirers. This strikes them as odd, as the Queen was notoriously unpopular with the public. They're also surprised to see she inexplicably looks like Nora Darhk (?).

The guards wheel out a portable guillotine, and use it to slice up a cake. The crowd goes wild, greedily stuffing the cake into their mouths. Zari 2.0 sees Behrad about to gulp down some champagne, and reminds him that he doesn't drink. 

Just then a man comes up to Zari 2.0 and tries hitting on her. When she rejects him, he falls over and dies. Zari 2.0 says the man literally partied himself to death. Sharpe realizes that Marie Antoinette is the Encore, and has come back to get revenge on the peasants who executed her. She and Zari 2.0 notice Marie constantly spritzing herself with perfume, which drives everyone around her wild. Sharpe realizes Marie's Encore superpower is magic popularity perfume. 

Sharpe says they have to get Marie out of the ballroom and into the Waverider. Zari 2.0 says the best way to get a celebrity away from a party is to convince them there's a better one somewhere else. Instead of simply doing this herself, she gives Sharpe a makeover and has her do it (?). 

Sharpe approaches Marie, mentions a cool after party, and before you know it they're leading her out of the ballroom. Unfortunately Marie invites the entire crowd, and they all begin running behind her. The Legends try and hurry Marie out of the palace, but she hits her head on a pillar, knocking it clean off. Steel dives and catches her head like a football. Atom picks up Marie's body, and they all hightail it back to the Waverider

On the ship, they cover Marie's decapitated head with a cloth, and strap her body to a gurney. Behrad compliments Zari 2.0 on her quick thinking, and says she's a superhero now. She says she's late to her perfume rollout, and has Gideon replicate her another dress.

Elsewhere, Natalie forces Charlie to shapeshift into her form. She asks Constantine why he brought her back. He says because he loved her, but Natalie demands the truth. He finally admits it was to prove he was right to choose magic over her. She thanks him for telling the truth at last, and says they need to find a way to save her daughter Astra.

As Zari 2.0 prepares to leave for her perfume rollout, she asks Gideon for a small peek at her future. Gideon shows her a news report, in which dozens of people claim Zari's Dragonesque perfume destroyed their sense of smell, leading to her financial ruin.

Zari 2.0 is shocked at this, and wonders if Gideon can quickly whip up a new scent for her. Then she remembers Marie Antoinette's magical popularity perfume. She nabs it, drops in in her purse and goes to the rollout. As she leaves, Marie's body breaks free.

Cut to Zari 2.0's launch party in 2044 New York. She's approached by her "boyfriend" DJ S'more Money, a celebrity who wears a preposterous s'more mask on his head. S'more says their publicists have decided they should get married, which surprises Zari.

Back on the Waverider, the Legends discover Zari 2.0 is missing, as is Marie's body. Marie's head shrieks, and tells them Zari 2.0 is a thief. Sharpe realizes Zari took the magical perfume.

On the red carpet, Zari 2.0 and S'more pose for the paparazzi. She spritzes herself with the perfume, and everyone is suddenly enamored with her. S'more immediately gets down on one knee and proposes right then and there. Unfortunately he jostles her, and she spills the entire bottle of perfume on herself. Instantly the entire crowd become mindless living zombies, each wanting a piece of her, causing her to flee.

Sharpe, Steel and Behrad arrive at the launch party, looking for Zari 2.0. Sharpe sprays them all with Dragonesque, to temporarily (hopefully!) destroy their sense of smell, so they won't be affected by the magical perfume.

They spot Zari 2.0 being chased by the crowd. Behrad uses the Air Totem to keep the crowd at bay, while Sharpe grabs Zari and they both jump into a nearby fountain. Miraculously, the water dilutes the magical perfume and breaks the spell, causing the crowd to come to their senses. S'more announces he wants a divorce (even though they were never married), and the reporters think Zari's fountain stunt was a desperate attempt at getting attention.

Back on the Waverider, Zari 2.0 realizes she's ruined. She takes a bite of a donut (her first in years) and experiences a flood of her original timeline memories. She apologizes to Sharpe for stealing the perfume and ruining the mission. She says she has millions of followers, but no friends. Sharpe tells her she has one.

Elsewhere, Constantine and Natalie see a vision of themselves as children, making their own little version of the Loom Of Fate out of yarn. Constantine says the real Loom is just a legend, but Natalie says it's a real magical artifact. She leaves Charlie's body, and she morphs back into herself.

Constantine asks Charlie what she knows about the Loom Of Fate. She confirms it's real, and says she destroyed it, hiding the pieces across the Multiverse.

In Hell, The Coinmaker opens up Constantine's coin, revealing it's filled with clockwork gears. She looks at it and says Constantine's not scheduled to die from lung cancer for another ten years. Astra says she wants her to speed things up.

The Coinmaker agrees, but says someday she'll want something in return. She turns a screw in the coin, speeding up Constantine's demise.

In the real world, Constantine begins coughing up blood and collapses on the floor. 

• Canary is AWOL for most of this episode, showing up for a few seconds at the beginning and in the tag scene. Generally when this happens, it means the actor is off filming a crossover with another Arrowverse show.

I don't think that's what's happening here though. Supposedly actress Caity Lotz, aka Canary, is directing next week's episode. So I'm betting she took some time off this week to prep for her big directorial debut.

That's right, Legends has officially entered that point. See, whenever a TV series reaches its fifth or sixth season, the actors begin complaining that they're "bored." In an effort to shut 'em up and keep them from jumping ship, the producers will give them the chance to direct an episode or two (whether they show any talent in that area or not). 

I vividly remember this happening over on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where virtually every main cast member ended up directing at least one episode. That's apparently where Legends is right now.

• In Hell we see Astra playing poker, using various "soul chits" or coins as money.

I like this concept! It makes a certain kind of sense for souls to be used as currency in the Netherworld, as Earthly money would likely be worthless there. It's a nice little bit of world building on the part of the writers. Well done!

• I have nothing important to say about this character— I was just impressed by his makeup. Legends doesn't exactly push the envelope when it comes to elaborate prosthetics (see any scene with Konane or Wolfie yikes!), so when they do manage to come up with an impressive looking character, I want to give 'em a shoutout. Well done!

• Astra automatically blames Constantine for her string of Encore failures, and decides to kill him for his interference. Um... I think she's a bit confused as who's actually to blame here.

Rasputin, the first Encore, was exploded from within by Atom. And even then he hasn't been officially destroyed— he's currently chilling in a series of jars in the Waverider Galley. Next up was slasher Kathy Meyers, who was retconned out of existence (I think?) when her son Freddy changed the past in the 1980s with some help from Nora Darhk. Constantine had absolutely nothing to do with the demises of either of these Encores.

The only Encore that Constantine actually killed was Bugsy Siegel, when he vaporized the gangster with his own Hell Gun. So I'm not sure why Astra thinks Constantine's solely to blame for the failure of her plan.

• So how exactly does magic work in the Arrowverse? There doesn't seem to be any consistency. Most of the time Constantine will use some supernatural substance (like the remains of Rasputin or the blood of Bugsy Siegel) to fuel his spells. Other times she simply chants a few words and magic happens. 

To muddy things even further, in this episode we see Gary actually mouthing magical spells and they work (well, sort of). So... can ANYONE do that? If Gary Green can perform a spell, I'm gonna say that yeah, anyone can.

• Sharpe tells Zari 2.0 to hand in her cell phone, as Rule #2 states there's no social media allowed on the ship. She never gives a reason for this seemingly arbitrary rule though.

Is it because the Legends are rarely in the present, and she doesn't want them tweeting potentially timeline-altering info from the future?

• After Sharpe's left in charge of the ship, she calls a meeting and passes out binders outlining her "A.L.O.H.A." method of conduct in the field.

I dunno... creating rules, regulations and especially binders seems like Atom's forte. I wonder... given the fact that actor Brandon Routh is being forced off the show, are the writers attempting to replace his bright-eyed, goofy eagerness with Sharpe? If so, it ain't gonna work.

• This isn't a dig at Legends in particular, but all the Arrowverse shows in general. Tune in any of the various series and you'll see this exact same scene— in which the characters line up in formation as they listen to exposition.

They did it on Arrow, and they're still doing it on The Flash, Supergirl and yes, Legends. No matter the show, they do this same shot over and over. It's almost like the actors are in a play, and are arranging themselves on stage so the live audience can see them all.

• Sharpe swipes Canary's "thing" in this episode, sending the team off on a mission with a witty quip.

When Gideon says a timequake in 1793 has disrupted the French Revolution, Sharpe turns on her heel and says, "Well, looks like we have a mission, so everybody stop looking so Les Miserables because we are going to France!"

• SJWs aren't gonna like this observation, but whatever. When the Legends enter the palace in 1793 Versailles, it's appears to be a surprisingly... inclusive place. There are peasants of every ethnicity milling around, and the palace guards are quite diverse as well. Who knew?

Yeah, this is a load of hooey. As with most European countries of that time, France was not a racially diverse place. The vast majority of citizens were white and Catholic. Apparently the Legends producers chose to ignore that fact when they cast this episode.

So that's apparently where we are today— inclusivity trumps historical accuracy. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not smart enough to say. For the record I don't have a problem with representation and diversity. But I do believe that people are dumb enough already without deliberately misinforming them about the past.

I put the blame for this phenomenon squarely on things like Hamilton. Thanks a lot, Lin-Manuel Miranda!

 Eventually the Legends figure out that Marie Antoinette is the Encore, and is armed with a bottle of mood-altering perfume. For no good reason, Marie looks exactly like Nora Darhk. Even more odd, we're never given an explanation for this uncanny resemblance. 

 By the way, I love actress Courtney Ford, but the less said about her outrageous French accent, the better. Was she deliberately affecting a terrible accent, or is that really the best she can do?

 Supposedly the Encores represent "the worst souls Hell has to offer." I dunno... does that really describe Marie Antoinette? She definitely wasn't a nice person, and she was an even worse ruler who lead her country to ruin. But that's nowhere near as bad as being a serial killer or a murdering gangster. 

She was ultimately executed for "depletion of the national treasury, conspiracy against the State and high treason." Do those sound like the actions of one of Hell's worst souls? Heck, we've got living politicians who've done worse than that right now! She just feels out of place being lumped in with the rest of the Encores.

 At Marie Antoinette's ball, Zari 2.0 is shocked to see her brother Behrad start to take a drink of alcohol. When she calls him on it, he snaps out of his trance and is horrified to find he almost drank booze.

I assume he's a teetotaler because he's a Muslim. All well and good, but apparently his religious restrictions don't extend to pot, as we've seen him smokin' away in his room!

 Sharpe wants to take Marie Antoinette into custody, but Zari 2.0 tells her she needs to change her look if she expects the ex-monarch to pay any attention to her. 

A bit later we see Zari's given Sharpe a complete makeover, complete with a fancy ballgown, professional makeup and an elaborate hairdo. So how the hell did Zari 2.0 accomplish all this? Did she pull a dress off a dead partyer and hand it to Sharpe? Or did they run back to the ship while we weren't looking, so Zari could spruce up Sharpe there?

 At one point we see a flashback of Constantine in his punk rock days, complete with a faux hawk. Wait, what? A punk rocker? That movement started in England in the mid-1970s! Was Constantine really in his teens or twenties back then? Just how old is he supposed to be, anyway?

In the comics, John Constantine was one of the few characters who actually aged in real time instead of being perpetually 30. According to his own book, he was born in 1953. This would make him around 20 years old when punk began. Unfortunately that would make him 67 here in 2020. Obviously he's not supposed to be that old on Legends

According to the Arrowverse wiki, Constantine was born in 1982, which would currently make him 38. That actually sounds a bit young to me, but I guess we gotta go with it. Obviously Constantine discovered punk lonnnnnnng after it died out— probably around 2000!

I can see why they fudged Arrowverse Constantine's birthday, since they didn't want a near 70 year old tromping around on the Waverider. But there was really no need to do so. He could have been born in 1953, just like the comic book version. All they had to do is say he's been using magic to preserve himself for the past few decades!

• During Natalie's trip down memory lane, she causes a convenient radio to begin playing a song from Constantine's old punk band, Mucous Membrane.

That's a reference from the comic, as it was the name of his band there as well. The band was founded by Constantine and his best friend GARY Lester (!). 

Note that the Gary in the comics was a heroin addict, and nothing like the nebbishy Gary Green here on the show. Still, it's interesting to note that Constantine has a friend name Gary in both mediums.

 So Natalie's ghost wants Constantine to save her daughter Astra, and rescue her from Hell. Instead of just straight up telling him that though, she spends the entire episode farting around and being cryptic, forcing him to guess what she wants. Got it.

 Zari 2.0 has Gideon give her a glimpse into 2045, to see how her perfume rollout was received. We then see a newscaster reporting on Zari's popularity. A couple things here.

First of all, I love Zari's brand logo! It incorporates the dragon theme that seems to dominate her life, and everything about it just works. Best of all, it looks like an actual product logo! Kudos to whoever designed it.

Secondly, the newscaster apparently works for Channel 5. Yeah, I don't think so. Streaming is already pushing broadcast TV out of the picture here in 2020. It seems unlikely that over the air TV will still be a thing twenty five years from now. Even if it does hang on that long, I doubt a trendy show that reports on perfume rollouts would be caught dead on a lowly TV Channel.

Maybe Channel 5 is on a streaming service, and not a TV network?

 Zari 2.0's "boyfriend" is a celebrity figure called DJ S'more Money, who wears a ridiculous oversized mascot mask on his head at all times.

As you may have guessed, DJ S'more Money is based on real-world "celebrity" and professional hanger-on DJ Marshmello. I have to admit I feel stupider for even knowing that.

 It's the triumphant return of the red flannel shirt! Huzzah!

 I think Zari 2.0 needs to give Astra a makeover! That green lipstick ain't doing her any favors.

• Astra decides to use Constantine's coin to kill him. She takes it to The Coinmaker, and asks her to speed up Constantine's death. She opens the coin and turns a screw inside it, instantly shortening his life. I have many questions here...

First of all, I thought the idea of the coins is that they house the souls of the Damned in Hell. So why does Constantine have a coin when he's still alive? A coin that can control his life on Earth? Is he pre-Damned?

Speaking of The Coinmaker, who the hell is she? She says she created all the coins in Hell, as well as Constantine's. She can even use the coins to control the length of a person's life. That's a lot of power for one entity to have. Is... is she a god?

Lastly, The Coinmaker agrees to use the coin to kill Constantine, but warns Astra that she owes her big time for doing so. She then simply pops the coin open, takes a screwdriver and tightens a screw inside, eliminating ten years from his life. Well that was easy! I thought it'd be some intricate and delicate operation, but it required all the skill and finesse of tightening a squeaky cabinet door. Astra could have done that herself!

 The Coinmaker says Constantine wasn't due to die from lung cancer for ten years, but she tampers with his coin and makes it happen now

So it looks like they're gonna be doing the Dangerous Habits, the most famous storyline from Constantine's Hellblazer comic. 

The arc ran from Issue #41 to #46, way back in 1991. Long story short, Constantine discovers he has lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking. Before he dies, he secretly sells his soul to three different demons. When he eventually dies & goes to Hell, they all show up to claim it. None of the demons want to back down or start a war, so they heal him & send him back to Earth. There's more to it of course, but that's the condensed version.

I doubt they're gonna follow that storyline very closely (if at all!) on the show, since it has nothing to do with Astra or The Coinmaker. But I'm sure they'll hit the basic beats though, as Constantine figures out a way to cheat death and heal himself somehow.

This Week's Best Lines:
Zari 2.0: (to Behrad, after chatting with Sharpe) "Can your computer lady make me some cucumber water? I'm parched from that dry interaction."

(Heat Wave begins developing feelings for Ali, his old flame from the 1980s.)
Atom: "Mick, I think you're developing a crush."
Heat Wave: "Is that when you whiz and it hurts?"

Zari 2.0: "Eva, I can handle myself in the field. I once played capture the flag to raise awareness about feline OCD so..."Behrad: "So, my sister the superhero. Should I get Gideon to make you a cowl?"
Zari 2.0: "Mm, cowls are for middle-aged women who want to hide their necks."

Zari 2.0: "Listen, I know, you're gonna tell me how selfish I was for stealing the perfume and burning the team. You guys toil away in obscurity to save humanity from unknown baddies, and I just go and spray evil perfume all over New York City without a second thought. I'm jerk. I'm sorry."
Behrad: "I was just gonna ask if you wanted a doughnut."
Zari 2.0: "I haven't had a doughnut in 1,743 days."

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