Legends of Tomorrow: 3.13 No Country for Old Dads
The title may be a nod to the Coen Brothers' movie but the likeness kind of ends there. Regardless, this is still a fun, 60’s set thriller*
*Legends of Tomorrow Style
So it turns out an East German scientist invented cold fusion in the mid sixties but no ones knows about it because oil companies paid the Damian Darhk of that time to assassinate him before he could defect. Very plausible premise. So Damien plans to go back and stop himself killing the scientist so he can harness cold fusion because I’ve lost track I don’t know... either way, Nora convinces him to let her and Ray go back instead. She chooses Ray, I think, because he speaks scientist I’m not sure... but yay Legends of Tomorrow!
The episode establishes itself well with a scene between the Darhk’s, Ray and Ray’s old boss at the Upswipz dating app. I love Alan, the app guy justifying his app while being tortured (though his death was pretty brutal!) and it gives a great base to show Damien acting like an embarrassing Dad with Nora.
There is some great close quarters fighting in this episode and some good hand to gun fighting, I’m also found Nora far more interesting as an irritated sidekick to Ray than as a bland sidekick to Damian and this is a really slickly directed episode over all. Brandon Routh is so good in this show but especially in this story. As he gets older I feel more and more disappointed that he never got a second crack at Superman.
Meanwhile, Zani, Amaya go on a vision quest to try and locate the missing totem and use it to find Ray. Not the worst plan ever but not necessarily the most practical? Wally and Rip are now hanging about the ship for no real reason and, eager to help, Wally offers his advice on mediation, having spent a bit of time on a mountain sporting a man bun. There is a gag moment when Wally, who has been chatting with Nate, mentions Nate was talking about his basic bitch ex. It should have been a nice awkward comedy moment when Amaya says that she’s the ex but instead it just has that same angry, unreasonable Amaya vibe and I’m left feeling, as always, that the character has just been clumsily mishandled somewhere along the line.
Zari and Amaya end up in Mallus’s weird dream dimension – the one that looks like a Sesame Street cut scene studio backdrop – and find out OH NO all of time is at risk! Turns out Darhk, working for Mallus, is trying to weaken time so Mallus can come back to our dimension. Heavy stuff.
Back with the Darhk’s and Damien is having a heart to heart with the dead Alan while Nora and Ray hatch a plan to smuggle the scientist out of the country. Darhk’s chat with Alan is great because it just highlights Damien’s deep, disturbing psychosis and I was surprised how much I felt sorry for Alan! Nora and Ray on the other hand get a fantastic forging documents montage – and I love that Ray references that The Legends love disguises, because they do, they do love disguises!
Of course Damien doesn’t trust Nora and Ray against his younger self, especially with his – justified – concern that Ray’s positivity and goodness will infect his daughter and goes after to help. Cue a slew of fun date night/curfew gags.
This episode cements Damien as a relentless killer in a way other episodes perhaps haven’t quite touched upon. There is something brutal about killing a benign support character during a comic moment that can make you stop and pay attention more effectively than a dramatic, season finale murder of a beloved member of the team. This season has perfectly positioned Damien in the role they were trying to create for Savage. With a Terminator style narrative of Damien fighting (and actively disliking) his younger self I was left feeling I'd like to see more Damien through the ages. Neal McDonough is an excellent, often unsung, actor who brings a great deal to whatever he’s in (he was after all sort of technically the first openly gay character in Star Trek almost-ish) and I’ve really enjoyed him as the villain last and this season, especially with the added string pulling of Mallus
This is ostensibly a father daughter narrative and despite being about merciless killers, it has several nuanced moments and an honestly touching finale.
There is a great fight scene between young Darhk and old Darhk while he keeps Nora floating in the air. The scene also gives the Darhk’s a level of depth missing in too many villains, as well as allowing Nora to harness the totem. Of course Ray gets rescued and we’re left with the sense there is a glimmer of hope for Nora.
In a great scene near the end we see the Time Bureau and its director wiped out by Grodd and Sara mumbles casual condolences to Ava “He was a good man, I think?”. Rip gets straight in there and gets his old job back before the guy’s body has even hit the ground! No hanging about for Rip! Wally decides to stay around for a while, adding him to the mix is a good call, even if only for the next few episodes? Also, for no reason at all there is a scene where Nate is lifting weights?
Just as I was thinking, oh, this is a bit of a waste if having Rip in the episode because he doesn’t do much, he goes full Rip at the very end and secretly asks Gideon to delete a file so that SARA NEVER FINDS OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT EVA Uh oh! Rips at it again, that slippery bastard!
A lot has happened in this season of Legends of Tomorrow so far and I feel more and more like this show has the flexibility and the balls to the wall-ness to represent actual comic book narratives. The way comics are drawn, its cost the same to draw a picture of a man drinking coffee as it does a giant gorilla fighting a dinosaur in space while young John Lennon and Einstein ride jet-bikes. Wider universe characters can pop up in a few panels for a exposition or Lex Luthor can have a business meeting with Bruce Wayne, this is the flexibility of comics.
Legends of Tomorrow actually gets close to that flexibility. With Darhk and Wally West and Grodd and Constantine, Jonah Hex, The Ray… Legends of Tomorrow actually has the confidence in its format to just chuck everything in the mix; not just the kitchen sink but the dishwasher and fridge as well. I can’t wait to see this show get bigger and better.
Highlight of the week; someone saying mollusk instead of Mallus.