Legends of Tomorrow: 3.06 Helen Hunt
First off, this episode simply has the best title of anything ever. Helen Hunt is a brilliant gag and comes complete with awesome, 1930’s style title card. Secondly…
IT’S A BODY SWAP EPISODE!
I’m amazed (or impressed) it's taken Legends of Tomorrow so long to do a body swap episode but they handle it here with their usual subtlety and style, name dropping Freaky Friday within minutes of discovering the swap.
The main focus of this weeks episode is a really good one and I enjoyed this episode a lot; Helen of Troy has popped up in 1930’s Hollywood (that’s right guys, they get to wear hats) and has taken the movie world by storm, with not only men but entire studios fighting over her. Her sudden arrival leads to Hedy Lamarr not getting a key film role not becoming famous and not completing inventions that impact on modern technology.
The main problem caused – Lamarr never develops her frequency-hopping system which means future tech, including Gideon, ceases to function so history is at risk – is a nice one. Lamarr’s inventor status is a good piece of pub quiz knowledge and its used well her as a genuine and (in Legends of Tomorrow script writing at least) believable threat to the future. With so much emphasis on Helen’s beauty it’s nice that the counterpoint to that is a brilliant, intelligent woman and her importance beyond her looks.
The show does try to make some strong points about the value and objectification of women. When Nate is describing all the problems Helen’s beauty caused in ancient Greece, Zari chastises him as making it sound like its Helen’s fault (that men fought mighty battles over her), which is a nice angle and Helen, who is the antagonist of the episode, simply wants to stay in Hollywood because men aren’t trying to kill each other over her. It maybe could have dug a little deeper into the concepts of victim blaming and to be fair, when Nate is told off for making Helen sound responsible for the war in Troy, he didn’t sound especially accusatory – I would have liked to see him be more blaming.
So Helen has an almost magical effect on men (but not, interestingly, women. Not even Sara) that at first just leads to her snagging all the god film roles but does eventually lead to rival studio bosses trying to kill each other. Meanwhile, Hedy Lamarr has gone back to being a receptionist. Team Legs need to take Helen away so Hedy can become a star and invent wi fi. However, dum, dum, dum… Damien Darhk is on the scene, as Helen’s sleazy agent, which is a nice touch. He doesn’t do much other than stoke the fire but its always fun to have Darhk in an episode.
While all this is going on, Jax and Stein have to deal with an hilarious body swap! As part of the ongoing attempt to separate Firestorm, they accidentally switch bodies. This leads to some genuinely funny body swap gags and excellent performances form both actors; Franz Drameh especially, as he has most of the plot to carry. He runs around trying to rescue and inspire Hedy Lamarr who – it turns out – is his Free Pass. When he and his wife picked their famous person free passes, he chose Hedy Lamarr as he felt the exercise was silly and he would, of course, never meet her... Stein, even in Jax’s younger body, though, is a gentleman of course, so nothing untoward ever happens.
Eventually they fix everything; Thanks to Hedy’s suggestion, Stein and Jax merge and then unmerge in the correct bodies, they send Darhk and his boring daughter packing (for now) and they persuade Helen to go back to her own time in order to fix the time line, for the greater good. Helen’s reluctance and her frustration and being perceived as nothing more than a trophy to be fought over really is a nice take on the Helen of Troy character and while the show deals with the issues with its usual fun and frivolous way, it was nice to see it tackle gender politics, even if just a little bit. The production design and music are fantastic this episode and we even get a "Ready for my close up Mr DeMille" gag. Oh, Amaya finds out the very obvious fact that the water woman is her granddaughter too but I really didn't care much.
And that was the end of the episode… EXCEPT IT WASN’T! Legends of Tomorrow has and ability, in the midst of all its silliness, to make me geek out and air punch like none of the other Berlanti shows can. At the very end of the ep, we see Zari has snuck Helen away, explaining that historically speaking, Helen of Troy disappeared half way though the Trojan war. So Zari has brought her to another place in the same time period… an island inhabited entirely by women. As Zari reassures Helen that there will be no men around causing trouble, we pan out to see a beautiful island with a sumptuous city and the caption pops up on screen: The Island of Themyscira.
Soooo much cooler than Oliver Queen mentioning Bruce Wayne.