Saturday, March 21, 2020

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 7: Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, we get a bittersweet episode that may be the series' best yet. Bittersweet because we finally get the happy, long-awaited union of Atom and Nora Darhk, which brings us one episode closer to their idiotic and reluctant departure from the show.

The difference here though is in the details. The boyfriend's a superhero who can shrink to one inch tall, the fiance's a Fairy Godmother and the father's a dead evil mage who's been brought back from Hell!

There are probably few shows on TV (now or at any point in the history of the medium) that could make that premise work. But Legends does it brilliantly here, giving us one of the most emotional and satisfying episodes ever. 

I'm not gonna get into the ridiculous decision to write these two characters out of the show— I'll save that for their actual departure next week. I will say though that I think it's a huge mistake, and it's diminishing my enjoyment of the series somewhat.

I'll miss Atom and his boundless optimism of course, but I think I'll feel the absence of Nora Darhk just as much. Her redemption arc over the past two seasons has been one of the better things Legends has done. It doesn't hurt that actress Courtney Ford has brought her A game to the show, turning in a consistently amazing performance as Nora.

So of course it only makes sense for the producers to get rid of her. Idiots!

Over on The Flash, the show recently brought back Barry's archenemy Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash, yet again. I noted that Thawne is indeed that show's most compelling and interesting villain, but asked how many times the writers can drag him back to the series whenever they need someone to threaten Team Flash. 

I said no matter how good a Big Bad he is, eventually the writers are gonna make one too many trips to the Reverse-Flash well, and the audience is gonna become bored with him (and the show!).

That's why I audibly groaned when I saw that Legends had brought back Damien Darhk yet again. Jeebus, how many freakin' times can they resurrect this character? Enough already!

Fortunately Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac managed to change my mind about resurrecting Darhk one more time. He was the MVP of this episode, and Neal McDonough turned in a wonderful nuanced performance.

I think one reason Damien Darhk's return worked so much better than Thawne's is because he's a much more interesting villain. Darhk has grown a lot over the years, especially once Nora was introduced. Sure, he's a murdering magical psychopath, but he has a soft spot for his "Noral Doll," and would do anything for her.

He even came around and accepted Atom as his potential son in law, and realized the pain and heartache he caused White Canary. He's definitely had an interesting story arc for a bad guy— one I don't think we've seen in the Arrowverse before.

But with Nora leaving the show, I'm assuming this is Damien's final hurrah. Never say never on this series though!


The Plot:

Shortly after Beebo and Mallus fought to the death two years ago in The Good, The Bad And The Cuddly, Gary Green cleans up the remains of the battle. A lone figure approaches Gary, who screams and says it can't possibly be "him."

In the present on the Waverider, Constantine tells the others he needs the Loom Of Fate to save Astra's mother Natalie and give them both the life they never had. Charlie, who's actually Clotho, one of the three Fates, says she and her sisters used the Loom to determine the futures of everyone in the world. She destroyed the Loom, believing no one should have that much power. She refuses to help Constantine find it.

Just then Gideon detects an Encore in 1874 Salvation. White Canary orders the team to investigate, but discovers half of them are AWOL. She tries to get Heat Wave to help, but he won't leave his quarters because he's upset that someone's giving his Rebecca Silver novels bad reviews. Canary tells Zari 2.0 to deal with him.

Meanwhile, Atom, Steel and Behrad are at the House Of Mystery, er, Constantine's manor for some reason. Atom's preparing a huge meal for his date night with Nora Darhk. He shows Behrad the engagement ring he plans to give Nora, and hides it in a bowl of chocolate mousse. 

The doorbell rings, and Nora unexpectedly enters with Pippa. Nora's currently bound to Pippa as her Fairy Godmother, and will be until she figures out the kid's deepest desire. Nora's surprised but impressed with how Atom went overboard for their date night.

On the Waverider, Constantine's in the study, trying to figure out where to find the Loom. Steel enters and says a Professor Edward Shackleton believed a piece of it was buried beneath the South Pole. Constantine thanks him and takes off to look for it. "Steel" then morphs into Charlie, and we realize she's sending him on a wild goose chase.

Canary and Sharpe travel to Salvation in 1874, where they find Gary tied to a railroad track. They manage to rescue him just before a train roars by. They ask what he's doing here, and soon realize he's the Gary from 2018. Sharpe tells Gary to get back to the Time Bureau, but he says he can't, as "he" stole his time courier.

At the manor, Nora answers the door and we finally see who "he" is— her late father, Damien Darhk. She realizes he must have been resurrected as an Encore. He says he's been in Hell for two years, but once he was released by Astra he had to see his daughter before returning to his villainous ways.

Nora finds Atom and tells him that Damien's back. They both figure that if Canary finds out, she'll kill him with Genghis Khan's Hell Sword. Nora tells Atom to take Pippa to the Waverider and keep her occupied, while she figures out what to do with her father.

Meanwhile, Zari 2.0 tells Heat Wave not to pay any attention to online trolls. She sends the complainer a signed copy of a book, saying that'll make her a fan. Sometime later the troll posts an online video of her burning the book. This angers Zari 2.0, so she uses her instinctive hacking skills to track down the troll's address to Central City.

Heat Wave and Zari arrive at the troll's house, where a teen named Lita answers. Heat Wave asks her who she thinks she is, criticizing his work. Just then Ali— Heat Wave's high school sweetheart— appears, and asks what's going on. She sees Heat Wave and blurts out that Lita's his daughter. Heat Wave wobbles for a bit and then faints dead away.

Canary & Sharpe return to the Waverider. Canary vows to kill Damien, as he murdered her sister Laurel. Gideon says Canary has a call from a "wild dog," and Sharpe asks what that means. Canary blows it off, saying it's nothing. Gideon also says she's detecting Encore activity at the manor.

Meanwhile, Atom brings Pippa to the ship and plays her old tapes of his favorite kids' show, Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac. Pippa thinks it's stupid, but Atom gives her $20 to shut up and watch it. Steel & Behrad want to have a bachelor party for Atom at the manor, but he says they can't because Damien's there.

At the manor, Nora shows Damien around and tells him it's her house. Canary & Sharpe arrive with the Hell Sword, intent on killing Damien. Nora spots the two and pleads with them to let her handle her father her way. Canary reluctantly agrees. Nora then introduces Canary and Sharpe as her "henchwomen," much to their distress.

Canary & Sharpe cook an elaborate dinner. Gary says he can whip up a potion that'll strip Damien of his magic powers. Canary says if he can really do that and get Damien to drink it, she'll spare his life. Canary gets another call, ignores it and exits the kitchen. Sharpe sneaks a look at the phone, sees it's from Wild Dog (of Star City) and answers it.

Back on the ship, Constantine's preparing for an Antarctic expedition. Steels sees him and asks what's going on, and Constantine realizes Charlie duped him.

Constantine arrives at his manor and demands to know what's going on. He and Damien recognize one another and each begins blasting the other with magic. Nora steps between them and tells them to stop, pretending she's engaged to Constantine. Damien says he's happy she fell for such a powerful warlock.

On the Waverider, Pippa starts getting into the Mr. Parker show, and points out that Nora's hiding Atom from Damien. He denies that's what's happening, so Pippa summons Nora and asks her directly. Nora says of course she's hiding Atom, as she's trying to keep her father from killing anyone. She teleports back to the manor.

Meanwhile, Heat Wave wakes at Ali's house. She says she was going to tell him about Lita, but didn't because he was in jail. Zari 2.0 encourages Heat Wave to get to know his daughter, but Lita says she hates him. In frustration, Heat Wave memory wipes Ali and Lita and leaves.

Back at the manor, Damien & Constantine trade stories while Canary and Sharpe serve dinner. Constantine asks about the Loom, and Damien says you'd need a Fate to find it. Sharpe admits she snooped on Canary's phone, and knows that Wild Dog offered her a job in Star City. She demands to know why Canary didn't say anything about it. Canary says she hasn't made a decision yet. Meanwhile, Damien sits back and enjoys the fireworks.

On the ship, Atom tells Steel and Behrad that Nora's lying about him. They point out how this is wrong, and say they feel he's rushing into marriage. Suddenly Atom remembers putting the ring in the mousse. He travels to the manor, right as Gary serves the doctored desert to the guests.

Sharpe takes a bite of her mousse and almost chokes on the ring. Damien says he thinks the dish was put in front of the wrong person, and that Constantine's asking Nora to marry him. Constantine plays along and proposes to Nora. Damien can't hide his emotions and bursts into tears— until Nora speaks up and tells Constantine no.

Nora says she's done lying, and tells Damien everything. She says she's a Fairy Godmother and that Atom is her real boyfriend. Atom steps out of the shadows and tells Damien he loves Nora, and asks for his blessing. Just then Gary's potioned mousse begins fizzing, and Damien jumps to the conclusion that Atom brainwashed Nora and forced her to try and poison him.

Damien telekinetically begins choking Atom, Sharpe and Constantine. Canary grabs the Hell Sword and starts to stab Damien with it, but he chokes her as well. He sees the sword glow green, and realizes its true power.

On the Waverider, Steel and Behrad babysit Pippa. Charlie comes in and asks what they're doing, as the Encore alarm's going off at the manor. Pippa demands to go with them, forcing Nora has to grant her wish and bring them all to the house. Damien's still trying to kill everyone, so Pippa wishes them all into the Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac show.

We then see that within this altered show, Atom's become Mr. Parker. He enters his house and puts on his sweater and slippers as he spouts homilies at the viewers. Damien and Nora are in the show as well, and Atom suggests they discuss their problems. Constantine and Charlie are also there, as are puppet versions of Canary and Sharpe for some reason.

Puppet Canary says she considered taking the Star City job because she thought Puppet Sharpe wanted to settle down. Puppet Sharpe says she did, but is now having too much fun as a Legend. Puppet Canary says she won't take the job then. Problem solved through communication!

Charlie says she smashed the Loom so humanity can make their own decisions. Constantine says Charlie's sisters may be looking for the Loom as they speak, and will use it for their own ends. He says if Charlie finds it and lets him use it to fix Astra's life, he'll help her destroy it once and for all when he's done. She agrees. Another problem solved!

Elsewhere on the show, Atom, Damien and Nora discuss their problems. Damien thinks Atom's twisted Nora against him. Nora assures Damien that her life is her choice. She says she loves being a Fairy Godmother to kids, as it makes up for her own horrible demon cult childhood. She says she just wants Damien to be proud of her. He says he is and hugs her. Yet another problem solved through honesty and frank discussion!

Pippa watches all this on TV, realizes these people are way more screwed up than her own family and releases Nora. Everyone's restored back to the real world.

Nora then finds Atom's ring and accepts his proposal. She says they should get married immediately, before something else goes wrong.

Cut to the wedding, held in Constantine's manor. Steel is Atom's best man, and Damien walks Nora down the "aisle." Canary, as captain of the ship, performs the ceremony. The happy couple kisses and everyone celebrates.

Damien takes Atom aside and says he's glad Nora found someone to make her happy— something he could never do. He also says she can't do her Fairy Godmother job on the Waverider, and says they need to leave the Legends. Atom agrees for some reason. Damien then tells him to do the right thing by her, or he'll come back and kill him.

Zari 2.0 watches as Heat Wave stuffs his face with cake. He tells her Lita's better off without him in her life, and Zari asks if he's sure about that...

Damien starts to slip out of the manor, but Canary spots him. He offers his hand to Canary, but she can't bring herself to shake it. He says he doesn't blame her, as he can't forgive himself for all the things he's done either.

Damien leaves, as Canary watches. Suddenly she notices the Hell Sword is gone, and rushes out after him. She's just in time to see Damien stab himself with the Hell Sword and disintegrate.


• The episode opens with a flashback to two years ago, as Gary's cleaning up the furry blue remains of the giant Beebo conjured up by the Legends.

We see him putting the remains in a hazardous waste bag labeled "T.B.T.R.R." There's text below the initials that indicates what they mean, but unfortunately it's too small too read. Obviously the "T.B." stands for Time Bureau, but I have no idea what the rest of the letters mean. Something Refuse Reclamation maybe?

• After watching this episode, I'm very confused as to just how the Encores work. I thought the instant they entered Hell, Astra returned to the exact moment they died. So Rasputin was killed was resurrected in 1917, Bugsy Siegel in 1947 and so on.

Apparently that's not the case. 

Damien Darhk was killed during the Beebo/Mallus incident back in 2018, and his soul went to Hell. So far so good. 

But then in this episode, Damien arrives at the House Of Mystery and tells Nora "he's missed her so much." In fact he specifically says, "But after spending two years in Hell worrying about my little girl, I had to come and see you first."

Wait, what? So apparently Damien somehow spent two years in Hell, even though he was resurrected at the exact moment of his death. I don't see how both those things could be true.

The only way this makes any possible sense is if Damien really did spend the last two years in Hell, but when Astra made him and Encore he went back in time to 2018 when he died. That seems needlessly clunky and complicated. Not to mention stupid.

By the way, once Damien was resurrected, why'd he need to time travel to the present to see Nora? He just wants to see his daughter again, right? So why not pay a visit to the 2018 version of her? Whoops!

• After his lung cancer scare, Constantine's apparently given up smoking and has taken up chowing down on sunflower seeds.

His decision to cut out cigarettes is ironic, since we've never actually seen him smoke on the show. He talks about it all the time, and often has a cig tucked behind one ear, but that's as far as it ever goes. Any time he does light one up, Canary or someone else grabs it out of his mouth and tosses it away.

• One of the many plots in this episode concerns Heat Wave becoming angry with an online troll who trashes one of his Rebecca Silver novels.

Um... did the writers forget that Heat Wave stopped being Rebecca Silver and handed the mantle over to Mona? Why's he getting so defensive about people criticizing the books after he stopped writing them?

By the way, the book in question that's being trashed is called Heatwaves!

• There's apparently some sneaky time travel going on with the Heat Wave subplot. Zari 2.0 tells him to send the troll a free signed copy of one of his novels to win them over. Amazingly, a couple scenes later the two somehow watch an online video of the troll burning the novel she received.

How'd the troll get the novel and have time to film a reaction video in just a few minutes? Did Heat Wave take the Jump Ship into the past and place the book in the troll's mailbox? And if so, why?

• I totally called it! Back in Slay Anything, the Legends went to a Central City high school reunion in 2004. There, Heat Wave ran into his old flame Ali, and at the end of the episode the two had sex. In my review of that episode I said, "Heat Wave's totally gonna have a sixteen year old son when he gets back to 2020, isn't he?"

OK, so I got the gender wrong, but I was right about his offspring appearing. Honestly it wasn't too awfully hard to figure out. Especially when just a week earlier he had a conversation with Sharpe, and told her how awesome it was to have no kids or responsibilities. Foreshadowing!

• Funniest part of the episode, and maybe the entire season: When Heat Wave confronts his online troll, finds out she's the daughter he never knew he had and then actually faints dead away!

• I had to laugh when Heat Wave just straight up mind-wiped Ali and his newfound daughter Lita! Haw! I wouldn't worry about it too much though— I guarantee he'll return to their house and reintroduce himself to Lita, in an effort to try and get to know her.

• Charlie disguises herself as Steel, and convinces Constantine that a piece of the Loom Of Fate is hidden somewhere in the Antarctic. Next time we see Constantine, he's decked out in winter gear including Captain Cold's blue parka!

I dunno how much The CW spent on those parkas, but they were apparently pricey. They've popped up on the show at least three or four times since Cold died!

• Damien Darhk meets John Constantine for the first time! I never thought about it before, but you'd think these two would have run into one another before now.

• During the dinner party, Sharpe begins sniping at Canary over the job offer she's been keeping from her. As the argument escalates, I love how Nora just straight up grabs a bottle of wine and starts chugging it! Haw!

• The dinner party argument starts after Sharpe sees an incoming call from Wild Dog on Canary's phone, which makes her suspicious. She then answers the call, pretending to be Canary's secretary so she can find out what's going on.

WOW! That is a serious violation of privacy right there! One that would seem to indicate a massive lack of trust in the Canary/Sharpe relationship. And yet the incident is swept completely under the rung, never to be mentioned again. I get that there probably wasn't time to deal with this issue in an already packed episode, but damn, writers! You can't just let Sharpe get away with something that big.

• When Damien finds out Nora's been lying to him, he telekinetically pins her friends against the wall. Constantine attacks Damien, but he yells "BREXIT!" as he tosses him across the room!

I can't tell if "Brexit" was actually a short spell that Damien uttered, or he just said it to get under Constantine's skin as he magically hurled him away. Either way, it was pretty funny!

• As the evening becomes more and more chaotic, Pippa wishes everyone into an episode of Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac. Which of course is a thinly-disguised parody of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. And who better to play a mock Mr. Rogers than Ray Palmer, aka Atom?

• I can't review this episode without at least mentioning Gary, The Unspeakable Train Abomination.

• Once everyone resolves their problems inside the Mr. Parker show, Steel appears as a satisfied, anthropomorphic sun who giggles as he gently beams down on everyone. They're mixing their references here, as this is a callout to the 90s era kids' show Teletubbies.

• Pippa watches the Legends inside the Mr. Parker show and says, "I thought my family was messed up, but these guys are truly deranged!"

Kudos to young actress Madeline Hirvonen, who plays Pippa. She does an amazing job in this episode, and really sells the hell out of her part! 

In the previous episode, Constantine asks Atom what's on his bucket list. Atom replies, "Well, eventually I... plan on asking Nora to marry me." An excited Gary then asks, "Can I be your flower boy?" Atom says, "Oh, that's very sweet, Gary. Odd but very sweet."

Apparently Atom remembered his request, because sure enough, Gary's the flower boy at the wedding this week! Nice callback!

• If Atom and Nora's wedding seemed particularly authentic, that's probably because actors Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford are married in real life!

• After the wedding, Damien takes Atom aside and they have the following conversation:

Damien: "Yeah, but you make her happy. That's something that I ultimately failed at when I was the main man in her life."
Atom: "Well, you know, I... I think you're being too hard on yourself."
Damien: "I don't need a pep talk."

Holy cow! Are... are the writers actually reading my blog? I'm always making fun of these shows for what I call the Patented The CW Pep Talk®, in which the characters on the various shows are constantly encouraging and reassuring one another in the most maudlin way possible. Obviously the writing staff is aware of this overused trope, as they just had Damien make fun of it. Metahumor!

• At the end of the episode, a genuinely reformed Damien Darhk offers his hand to Canary, hoping she'll shake and forgive him. Alas, she can't bring herself to, and he says he doesn't blame her.

If you're not up on your Arrow and wonder why Canary hates Damien so much, it's because he murdered her sister Laurel several years back.

Despite the fact that Damien honestly seems to have changed and realized the pain he's caused her, I'm kind of glad Canary didn't shake his hand. Sure, it'd have been nice if she'd forgiven him, but it would have also been completely out of character for her. Some things just can't be forgiven.

• I've made it known numerous times that I think it's a huge mistake to write Atom out of the show, and it won't be the same without him. 

There's another reason it's a bad idea though. Atom was the resident "science guy" on the team. Over and over he's cooked up some scientific formula or device to get the Legends out of the jam of the week. Heck, if I remember right he even came up with the serum that gave Steel his powers, as well as helping to separate & stabilize Firestorm.

With him gone, who's gonna come up with some technobabble solution to each week's plot?

• Back in A Head Of Her Time, the Legends captured Encore Marie Antoinette and kept her locked up on the ship until they could figure out what to do with her.

Hmm... Marie was played by Courtney Ford, sporting a terrible French accent. Since Ford's being ushered off the show, I assume that means Canary will be killing Marie with the Hell Sword while we're not looking!

This Week's Best Lines:
Zari 2.0: (reading a particularly negative review of one of Heat Wave's novels) "Rebecca Silver knows as much about love as a teenage boy's sock drawer. Ha. Okay, bad reviews, they just come with celebrity. You should have heard what they said about my perfume when it made people bleed out their noses."

(Nora convinces Damien that she owns the House Of Mystery, and gives him a tour of the place.)
Damien: "Safe neighborhood?"
Nora: "Super safe. People just mostly keep to themselves."
Damien: "Good. You know what the worst kind of neighbors are?"
Nora: "Hmm?"
Damien: "Kids."
Nora: "Ooh, I hate kids."
Damien: "You know, all I've ever asked for are neighbors I don't have to kill."

(Pippa tells Atom that Nora's hiding him from Damien, and he worries she's ashamed of him.)
Atom: "But quick question. Um, are you hiding me?"
Nora: "Of course I am. I am telling him a thousand lies right now to make sure nobody gets killed."
Atom: "Oh, well, um, why not just tell him the truth?"
Nora: "Oh! Oh! Why not just tell him the truth? Um, okay. Why don't I just tell my megalomaniac dad that his little girl is a slave to the whims of children and is schtupping an Eagle Scout? That sounds amazing!"

Canary: (to Damien) "Mm, well, I hope you saved room for dessert."
Damien: (gasps) "Chocolate mousse!"
Everyone: "Mmm-mmm-mmm! Yum."
Sharpe: "Yeah, you should try it. Mmm."
Damien: "There's no chocolate in hell. Mousse."

Nora: (to Damien) "Dad, I am not a child! You can't just kill my friends anymore!"
(Steel and Behrad watch Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac with Pippa.)
Mr. Parker: (singing) "It's after 5:00 and I could use a cold one"
Behrad: "Is Mr. Parker getting tipsy?"
Steel: "I mean, the guy has done four thousand hours of children's television. He's earned it."

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