Legends of Tomorrow: 5.06 Mortal Khanbat
This week's Legends of Tomorrow is an odd sort of an episode; in many ways its one of the best they’ve done whilst also being one of the worst. The best, is all the Constantine stuff. We spend some proper time with him while he dies and its dark, emotive and informs the character and the wider series story. The worst, is, well, everything else...
So far this season, Constantine and the rest of the team have been fairly separate in their stories. This hasn’t been a problem as the main team have been having great fun with Rasputin and teen slashers while Constantine has been looking to save Astra. You could argue that The Legends have been dealing with the ramifications of the main series plot while Constantine has been trying to progress it. This week, it switches and Constantine becomes the more focused, important aspect of the episode and the time travelling, fun bit is… less fun. Well, less defined perhaps.
The main story revolves around Genghis Khan returning to 90s Hong Kong and trying to take over the local crime syndicates. This strand of the story is really flat. Sara is off… somewhere and Rory is off… somewhere else? Nether are really explained properly but the upside is, they’re gone. Ray is focused on Constantine and so the main team is a little sparse.
I’m enjoying seeing Ava more involved with the team and Behrad has instantly proven a good addition to the show but this week just feels a bit empty, a bit B Team and the show doesn’t feel like it leans into that like you’d expect or want.
The Genghis Kahn storyline is mostly riffing on the 90s Hong Kong action genre but even here it falls down a little, never quite going full John Woo. A nice set up with motorised scooters is very Legends of Tomorrow but the pay off doesn’t have the oomph you’d expect and the martial arts elements are small and lacklustre in terms of what they can do budget wise. This isn’t a bad episode at all – for Constantine stuff, its one of the best – but the A plot feels like a B plot and not a very engaging one at that.
Constantine on the other hand provides some great stuff. We see some really true to character behaviour this week, in the face of his own death; he’s cruel, cowardly, slippery and cunning. He tries various different schemes to reverse his massive, aggressive lung cancer; bringing in magical creatures from previous episodes and recruiting Nora’s fairy godmother powers, all to no avail. Towards the end of the episode Constantine seems to show some sense of remorse for his actions and after a heart to heart with a talking dog walking stick (as you do) drinks poison, thus taking control of his fate and choosing when he dies.
This is a great double whammy dick move on his part; he gets to reclaim mastery of his fate and decide when he dies but also, it allows him to come face to face with Astra early and convince her to let him try one last time to fix everything. The past few episodes have positioned Constantine as a bit of a redeemed (or, at least in the process of being redeemed) hero, looking to atone for his sins but this week really cements that he’s actually a bit of a git. He feels far more like the shifty, sleazy Constantine in the comics. He manipulates everyone and the situation around him to save his own skin and while I would have liked his illness to last a few more episodes, I really like how he cheated his way out of it.
By the end of the episode, the team is basically back together with a new focus; find the Loom of Fate. Charlie, it turns out, is one of the ancient Greek muses who controlled the loom. She broke it up and scattered it across the Multiverse for safety. Now the Multiverse doesn’t exist anymore they can find the parts - I’m still super confused by this? All the Arrowverse shows think the Multiverse was destroyed but… it wasn’t? Surely this is going to come back in some way? Surely this Earth is just cut off from the Multiverse? Surely they’d all feel a bit more guilty about destroying a Multiverse to save their own world??? Anyway… The Legends now have a mission, to find the parts! Yay! McGuffin!
There was fun to be had this week – the team having to rescue Prince Charles from being assassinated by Genghis Khan during the return of Hong Kong was never not going to be fun - but the focus should, perhaps, have been shifted entirely onto Constantine. Give the rest of the team a break or maybe keep cutting back to them briefing and debriefing for an incredible, unseen adventure? The episode was really messy and unbalanced and I think that is in no small part because of the loss of Sara; she really is the focal lynchpin of the show and when she’s away the shows drifts slightly. It should be noted that Caity Lotz's directing of the epsiode is great and she really brings a feeling of fun to the action and strong performances from her co-stars but the over all story is lacking here.
Not a stinker but definitely the least good episode of this season of Legends of Tomorrow… however, it was a great episode of Constantine.