Legends of Tomorrow: 4.02 Witch Hunt
So, Constantine is now on board and part of the crew - except he goes to great lengths to inform everyone that he’s not part of the crew and he definitely won’t be wearing any costumes. Getting John on the ship was always going to be the awkward bump to get past in the new set up, he’s pretty much a grimy, lone character. The way he’s bobbed about the DC universe popping up in the Berlanti shows has actually served him very well. I think, the premise that he is literally hiding in in the time from litteral Demons from the literal past is as solid a set up as any to get him on the ship and it does, maybe, give him that slight edge of untrustworthiness that Rip had. Constantine is helping the Legends for his own, selfish reasons.
Despite Constantine insisting that real witches would’t be bought anywhere near the Salem Witch-trials (similar to Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and his constant insistence that demons hate Hallowe’en), Team Legs do, indeed find a witch at the Salem witch trails… obviously… sort of. They stumble across a witch trial and witness what seems to be a young girl freeing her mother from a witch burning. On closer inspection its discovered that she is, in fact, not the source of the power but is in fact being protected by a Disney-esque fairy godmother.
This is another very Constantine, very Legends of Tomorrow take on the classic fairy godmother trope. I like to see Constantine repeatedly reducing every magical creature down to the core description of demon and the playful spoofing of Disney fairy godmothers, along with prerequisite song (Ray loves the song) is funny while still keeping that playful edge of dread.
The darker underside of the story does’t sell quite so well in this episode. Zari finds herself effected by the all too familiar persecution of women but somehow this does’t feel as strong as when the show has previously dealt with issues such as historical racism or sexual equality. Its a tricky one, because Salem, and America as a whole, was not a great place at the time. While the essence of the story is highlighting the prejudice, inequality and controlling way that society treated - and still treats - women (with Zari telling the young Salem girl things don’t actually get much better) it never quite hits with the same punch as with some of the previous, weightier issues tackled by the show.
Perhaps its because the Salem witch trials is so familiar as a kind of hokey, 70’s Horror setting that its hard to create a real feeling Salem that can then be deconstructed within a 42 minute timeframe? The work here is good, with a cruel, male village elder shouting “Witch!” whenever he feels threatened but it lacks a certain satirical bite.
The side story this week involves Nate, who is skint because, you know, none of the Legends actually have jobs, giving Ava a hand in the office with a funding presentation, to earn himself some bucks - and impress his dad! This affords some good comedy moments (bit too much Gary) and its a good way of keeping Ava in the loop of the storyline while she does't have a lot to do. Seeing the more mundane side of how the Time Bureau operates is fun and the idea that now time is fixed they need to secure further funding to fight magic, is suitably silly.
Nate panics about giving the presentation when he realises his father is the government big-wig who controls their funding line and backs out, stepping back up at the last minute and using Ray - who has been turned into a pig (its a whole thing) - to prove magic exists and his father wrong. Off the back of his success, Ava offers him a permanent role at the Bureau As this development was unfolding I was already feeling that this would be a good setting for Nate, with him and Ava as the kind of HQ leaders for the team and could focus his actions a bit more. Also, less people on the Waverider means less people inexplicably not going on the missions… seriously, guys, why does someone always just hang about eating crisps each episode?
This was another fun episode, perhaps lacking the sharpness it needed but as a re-jiggle of the status quo, repositioning Constantine and Nate in the group, it moves things smoothly along. I did find myself getting to the end of the episode and once again missing Victor Garber. His presence at the Salem witch trials or last week’s Woodstock would have been great fun to watch! Gone but not forgotten, Vic. Gone but not forgotten.