Legends of Tomorrow: 3.02 Freakshow
Oh Legends of Tomorrow, I forgot how much I loved you while you were gone!
When it started I was worried that the sheer goofiness of Legends of Tomorrow might have killed it, especially when we consider that, in many ways, it feels more like a specific Arrow spin off than the other DC/Berlanti shows. Arrow is so dour and gloomy compared to it's siblings that Legends of Tomorrow might have alienated some Arrow fans, who may have just found it too silly. Likewise, non Berlanti or comics fans coming in cold might have found it too outlandish.
However, it's third season is the greatest statement of intent the show has made yet! Arrow, by all accounts, went dark for its third season. The Flash, while still staying fun, went dark for its third season. Supergirl has just started its third season and, yep, it's all pretty dark. Legends of Tomorrow, on the other hand, is more zany, bright and silly than ever before with this week's episode set around a circus! It couldn't get more bright and zany than the circus unless you literally added a guy whose name has 'zane' in it. Enter, Billy Zane as Barnum.
Team Legs are trying to show Rip (now a kind of detached father figure?) that they can be good time agents, so they pick a random anomaly to fix, a turn of the century circus, having decided against The Titanic after Stein’s protestations. Victor Garber is a great actor, with a long career of interesting and worthy roles. Yet no one calls him "Godspell" or "Daddy Warbucks" or "the sleazy lawyer from Legally Blonde". No one even calls him "the butler from that one episode of Frasier". What almost everyone I've ever met does call him is; "the guy who built the Titanic". To hear him refuse to step foot on the ship, condemning whoever built the thing, is a gag probably worth the existence of the series itself.
As always, Team Legs make things worse - thanks to Ray's shrink-ray (that he doesn't want people to call a shrink ray) accidentally turning a time-displaced Saber Tooth tiger giant size. Oh Ray!
Like a lot of the best episodes of Legends of Tomorrow, the initial problem they go to fix becomes a side plot as they try to fix the greater damage they've caused, usually because of some personal issue one or other of the team are dealing with. Everyone is pretty cool at the moment with life going okay, Nate is our 'guy with issues'. After Amaya is recruited to help out the team one last time - cos've her tiger talking powers - Nate gets pretty sulky, leading to Barnum kidnapping him, Ray and Jax to exploit their powers in his freak show.
Now I'm pretty sure Barnum was a bit of a shyster but I'm not sure if he casually kidnapped people and trapped them in cages. This is pretty heinous behavior for anyone but here, it seems fairly casually brushed off by the end of the episode? Perhaps it's just because Billy Zane is awesome. He's one of those actors who, whilst never quite making it to he A list, still feels like a Movie Star. He's also part of the gang having played the Phantom in the not-as-bad-as-you-think-you-remember movie. Having him in this episode really elevates it and makes the show feel expensive! To paraphrase Hansel "Billy Zane, he's a really cool guy".
The ongoing narrative that gets tackled here is Nate and Amaya. Amaya, it seems, walked out of Nate's life pretty unceremoniously - just disappearing one morning when he popped out to get donuts. Amaya was a hard character to like in season two and she's still pretty unlikable. Nate is the slightly more likeable of the two but only slightly. Nate is the biggest problem Team Legs have at the moment. The total lack of toss he gives caused last episode's problems and as well as this week's. He has a childlike disregard for anything other than himself and while this could be attributed to being dumped he was pretty much the same last season. He is a liability and the rest of the team have to clean up after him.
The finale is fun. Rory, obviously, hates clowns so beats up some clowns and Stein for some reason dons full clown costume and make up just to cause a diversion - a diversion he could have caused just by running into the ring and grabbing Jax but, oh well. Sara and the Angry Time Lady we met last week get stuck on the Waverider, after doing some mutual butt kicking, with the saber tooth for some shenanigans as well. The fact the saber tooth looks about as realistic as Scooby Doo (I love Scooby Doo) just adds to the charm. We get a few more hints at the Big Bad to come but I’m quite enjoying just bedding in this season before we get a proper villain reveal.
This was a great episode, played almost entirely for laughs with an engaging guest star and some cool set pieces - plus, the team get to wear hats. They love wearing hats. Keep doing what you’re doing Legends.