Legends of Tomorrow: 5.04 Slay Anything
Oh Legends of Tomorrow, with this new season you’re really spoiling us. Slay Anything is one of my favourite episodes so far; an 80s slasher/high school drama parody using parallel time lines this story utilises all the characters well and weaves a really strong variation on some well worn tracks.
In 2004 Freddy Myers (subtlety has never been an issue with this show) is put to death for supposedly murdering his classmates on prom night back in the 80s. Cue the Encore of this vicious teenage killer on the loose and a high school reunion for the surviving class.
Ray comes up with a lovey-dovey idea to go back in time and reform Freddy before he kills anyone. Sara prefers the more direct approach and she, Ava and Rory crash the reunion but after the killer turns up and locks down the school. Ray, Nate and Nora head back in time to befriend the young Freddy before he actually kills anyone and try Ray’s plan after all. Nora quickly links to Freddy and becomes his fairy godmother – she links to the nearest child in the most pain until she has helped them get what they most need, when she can move on.
This is great conceit, with the narrative flipping between the two timeframes. The 80s is basically a John Hughes/She’s all That teen movie while the 00s are a revenge slasher movie (complete with a couple of really grissly deaths). This is by far one of he funniest episodes the show has done but also one of the sharpest. The gags are witty and insightful and they don’t just go for the low hanging fruit. It also has a lot of depth; the character of young Freddy is really well performed and is more interesting than just geek. You quite quickly want Freddy to be okay, to be saved and you don’t want him to turn bad and start killing people!
During the reunion Rory gets to reconnect with his old high school sweetheart (or prom date… or chick he used to hook up with, I don’t think they put a label on it). This provides a nice little bit of development for Rory and its genuinely sad when she gets got by the killer.
Nate and Ray posing as slightly weird, wannabe-cool teachers provides plenty of comedy and both timelines have a great energy to them. This episode also does a lot of work with Nora, in terms of her redemption and her new found purpose as someone who helps children;?. It’s a really nice turn around for her character and a fantastic way of making a bit of a gag – her turning into a fairy godmother – into an important and meaningful destiny for her. We also get some more insight in to her and Ray’s relationship. Despite Nora being quite involved last season, it feels like some of the big emotional steps in ray and Nora’s relationship happened off screen, so its nice to see them interacting and reinforcing what they have. And Brandon Routh wears glasses in this! I love it when Brandon Routh wears glasses.
Of course, its clear to the audience that Freddy isn’t/wasn’t the killer and its his Mum who murdered the teens. But even though it's obvious, it's still presented to us is a nicely subtle way. In the 80s the gang the stop him from being humiliated at prom and he has a genuinely satisfying moment where he stands up in front of his class and dances and doesn’t get Carrie-ed. We find out that when his Mum killed all the people she thought were bullying or getting between her and her boy; he took the blame and went to prison to protect her, it was after he was executed that his Mum killed herself, allowing her to be brought back to go Encore at the reunion. There is a fantastic finale scene where Ava and Sara realise they’re the Last Girl/s and their giddy excitement at being in a real life slasher movie is hilarious and oddly joyous and again - highlights just what a great team they are.
Ray’s plan in the past that saves the day, with some odd help from Zari. This is probably the one misstep of the episode; Zari has been on the ship not really understanding what’s gong on, she escapes in 1989 and thinks Freddy’s prom limo is her Uber, gets in and then get mixed up in the shenanigans. Its pretty cool that, when Killer mum tries to attack the kids, she literally just takes her out, but I’m not convinced she’s quite dumb enough or naive enough to just assume that the big car was her Uber. But it’s a small gripe in an otherwise excellent, goofy episode. Once things are fixed in ’89 everything changes in ’04 and no one is dead (including Rory’s girlfriend) and Freddy is happily married to his 80s prom date. It’s a mega-happy ending and I love it!
Constantine spends his part of the story this week at his stately home back in England, trying to get to the bottom of Charlie’s secret. Charlie has been disguised as Constantine and using his place to hide out and party for while. I really enjoy what they’re doing with Constantine; they’re getting a good level of darkness in a not especially dark show and I never feel like he’s been too watered down. But Charlie is terrible and it think Maisie Richardson-Sellers might just be a bad actor. Her line delivery is weirdly lilting and her London accent is appalling; this is a show that has done pretty well for its British accents over the years but somehow, despite being British, she delivers her lines like an American doing a bad accent with weird emphasis and odd impact. I wouldn’t mind if she went. Why not bring back Anjli Mohindra?
Legends of Tomorrow has had a pretty strong return so far this season. It’s a show I love and the more it grows into itself the more it manages to deliver. I think the complete eradication of any military/government involvement and no more Time/Government/Agency has improved things. Removing any kind of authoritative antagonist is for the better, in my view. The Legends are at their best when they’re just rocking around in time and space. They don’t need an actual representative of the system to rebel against. Ava now joining in with the fun stuff is great to see and she makes a good addition. It also feels like she (and Behrad) are being lined up to take over the role Ray plays in the team, with Ava taking the enthusiastic, child like positivity and geekiness and Behrad taking the best-bud-bro role with Nate.
This was another fun, well-constructed episode with a lot of heart and substance all wrapped up in some perfectly cheesy nonsense.