Legends of Tomorrow: 4.01 The Virgin Gary
They’re back! While Supergirl is dealing with a dark masked figure killing aliens and The Flash is dealing with a dark masked figure killing metas, The Legends of Tomorrow are dealing with vampire unicorns at Woodstock. Its good to be back.
Picking up casually from the end of the last season, we join the legends as they attempt to fix an anomaly involving The Beatles and Paul Revere (the British are coming, get it?). This is a perfect opening to the latest season, with everyone doing what they do best in a suitably silly historical setting. As soon as this scene is done, we’re treated to a suitably meta moment of the Legends complaining about the fact they’ve been dong the same thing for four years, as well as Ray pointing out that if they start fighting demons and dragons it might help their ratings (with the Time Bureau, who keep ratings on their agents, of course). It’s the ease with which Legends can trip back and fourth from near fourth-wall breaking self reference to socially provocative historical commentary that makes it, probably, the best of the DC shows.
Without wasting any time, John Constantine turns up while Sara and Ava are celebrating he final time anomaly being fixed with some doom, gloom and magic finger bones, warning our Captain that she and her team have unleashed monsters untold throughout history… so a bit like previous seasons but this time with magic.
I’m a huge Constantine fan and while Legends can't help but be a slightly jolly, sanitised setting for him there is something nice about the way he just turns up, leaning against walls in the shadows, just as he should! Its great to see Matt Ryan get a proper opportunity to really play with the role. While true Scousers may cringe at his bastardised, US friendly version of a Liverpool accent at least it’s an authentically British bastardisation, and its better than have him sound like Ted "Theodore" Logan! His is a strong, witty interpretation of Constantine with just enough darkness to keep true to his roots. Its also nice that in this show (unlike his own failed but not bad show) we get to play with his bi-sexuality. Legends of Tomorrow may not give the character the opportunity to get as dark or as violent as you might want but it does afford him plenty of opportunity to get weird, silly and sexy.
We’re also introduced to Nate’s father this week, after Nate and Mick drunkenly go to rob a house – Mick being disappointed to find out he’s not really robbing anyone at all. Nate’s father is being played by Thomas F Wilson, who gives a great straight performance as his cold and distant dad. Big kudos to the show for not instantly doing a Back to the Future gag… but there’s plenty of time yet. Nate has grown on me a lot, especially when they kind of settled on him being an idiot. Meeting his folks is a nice addition to his back-story, since we actually didn’t know that much about his history outside his grandfather.
The plot itself takes us to Woodtsock (everyone gets to dress as hippies. Yes, some of the team wear hats) after history shows that Woodstock is known as the sight of a terrible massacre. A little investigation, people with their hearts ripped out, the usual thing - and the team witness a unicorn strolling up into Woodstock. I was really impressed with the visualization of the unicorn, butterfly and rainbow stars emanating from it. It made the inevitable twist (the unicorn skewering a well meaning hippy on its horn before eating out her heart) all the more funny.
The twist on the standard mythical creature felt very Constantine and I’m hopeful that, with Legends being the show it is, they’ll explore more ridiculous, cutesy creatures being evil. Part of the process to capture the unicorn involved using a virgin to lure it out – with there being no virgins at the festival of Free love, they recruit Gary. Gary was, when first introduced, a great joke but by the end of last season they’d spread the joke to thin. He’s obviously here to stay and there was probably a bit too much of him in this first episode back but its legitimately funny to use him as bait. The Legends aren’t cruel but you do feel like they’re a little more comfortable with putting Gary in potentially dangerous situations.
With the unicorn sent to Hell by Constantine (with some very nicely realised visuals) the team ask him to join them. He obviously declines – at least until next week. We get an end episode sting of Constantine being attacked by an invisible force. I like the idea of Constantine joining the team to try and run away from some demon that is chasing him down, apart from explaining why he might join a team like this it gives us an extra background threat that fits very nicely with the characters.
Its always fun to be back with this group of stupid, lovable, silly, heroic goofs. The free-wheeling, monster of the week structure of the series allows the show to jump right back in without having to do all the place setting and re-introductions that some of the other DC shows have to do in their first couple of episodes back each season. We very quickly get introduced to the idea of magic creatures scattered in time, with a possible Big Bad chasing Constantine. Knowing this show, they’ll find a way to turn it on its head and I’m looking forward to see just how weird they manage to go this season…