Legends of Tomorrow: 5.10 The Great British Fake Off
We get to spend some time with Zari and Constantine this week, plus a motley collection of Encores, as the Legends of Tomorrow get closer to the Loom of Fate.
We open on a fun sequence in ancient Egypt as Charlie recounts when gave a piece of the Loom of Fate to an Enchantress, who they realise has now made that piece impossible to find. Zari is getting very angry with Constantine, demanding he find the piece to bring Behrad back, I like new Zari getting a bit tougher and slightly more like old Zari. She also has a little heart to heart with Nate about meeting her older version self in the totem. I don’t feel like this Zari and Nate are going to get together… but I could be wrong?
Constantine hatches a plan to use the Legends in a magic circle to summon the ring, so they all head to his house where, of course, the spell goes wrong. Sara is being all weird since last week, having odd wobbles and flashes of images in her mind. Half way through Constantine’s spell, just before the loom piece (a ring) materialises, Sara has a big wobble and the spell is broken, causing Zari and Constantine, who both grabbed for the ring, to disappear through the floor. This is where the episode picks up and gets good and Legendsy; Zari and Constantine are still in the house but in the past, when it was used as a creepy boarding house. Obviously they check in and decide to look for the ring.
Straight off the bat they encounter an Encore, of course! The episode has a nice feel to it, a lot of recent episodes seem to seem to be taking place in and around Constantine’s home. While some of them feel a little arbitrary, for anything with actual magic or time travel like this, it feels like a good setting and the show has a nice atmosphere this week. The first Encore, a very creepy doctor, who turns out to be Jack the Ripper, is well performed and nicely done. After distracting Dr White (Jack the Ripper) by pretending to be ill so Constantine can search his room for the ring, Zari gets creeped out and then nearly killed but Constantine saves the day and we get a little bit of classic they hate each other but like each other from Zari and Constantine. They almost go their separate ways, before realising a whole host of eclectic Encores have entered the boarding house.
On the Waverider, with Sara out of action, Ava takes control and with Gary’s help, she Rory and Gary go to Hell to ask Astra for her help rescuing Constantine. I feel like Gary has settled down a little this season; when he first popped up the character worked as a kind of background, idiot-stooge but I think most people would agree he’s been over-used and over-saturated at times. This season, he seems to have eased back and everyone’s mild irritation with him works nicely to keep him in check. I enjoy the hellscape they’ve created for the show; its maybe a little generic but its got a nice, practical feel and I like a show that can have its characters pop to Hell, the past, the future and everywhere in between with such ease.
So, with a gaggle of Encores turning up also looking for the ring, Constantine decides to pretend to be Jack the Ripper and join them all for dinner to try and figure out how to get rid of them; cue a dinner party with Henry VIII, Bonnie & Clyde, Brutus and the pirate Black Caesar. Things pretty quickly go south, with Bonnie & Clyde ready to just kill everyone with their hell weapons – luckily, Zari turns up pretending to be Cleopatra and defuses the situation before Constantine gets killed. The stuff with the Encores is fun and silly and we watch as the various villains sneak around looking for the ring while topping each other. I’m enjoying the Zari/Constantine dynamic; in a few earlier episodes they teamed Constantine up with Charlie which made some narrative sense but the two characetsr were a bit similar, so there wasn’t much of a dynamic. Likewise, I think Constantine and old Zari shared too many qualities (sarcastic, less willing to go Full Legend Dress Up etc) to generate a sparkling dynamic but the slightly frothier but confident Valley Girl Zari works really well against his angry, bitterness.
Astra seems relatively easy to deal with and almost opens up to Ava and the gang but things go awry when she finds her soul coins (the Encores now at dinner with Zari and Constantine) have been stolen, including her coin for Constantine. This all results in Rory, Gary and Ava being double crossed and tied up in Astra’s offcie, with Rory's biggest concern being that he'll miss his daughter's football game. Aww, Mick, such a good dad. Gary, obviously, fluffed the spell and only he will return to Earth when the spell runs out, unless the others are touching him.
Eventually though, Astra realises she’s being taken for a ride by the Fates and releases the Legends so they can go and help Constantine and ultimately, get her mother back. Its been clear that Astra would be redeemed in this show, possibly even joining the team and that cranks up a notch here when Ava convinces Astra to go with them and take control of her own destiny. I think from the get go, Astra has been a slightly soft villain. Her motivation was good and earlier on I really enjoyed her kind of crime boss out of her depth, petty demon taking on the big guys vibe, especially with the arc that she’d had to learn to survive after Constantine let her down. But as the season has progressed, she has felt a little passive and not much of a threat, with the emphasis shifting away from her and onto the Fates, I’m hoping things can kick up a bit in the villain stakes.
Things finish up neatly for Zari and Constantine; After figuring out that the enchantress has hidden the ring so people can only find it if they’re not looking for it, they decide the best thing to do is get drunk so they forget about the ring and find it by accident. Very good logic… Eventually Bonnie & Clyde find the real Jack the Ripper and they confront Zari and Constantine. We get a pretty good Mexican Stand off scene that results in Zari unleashing her totem powers then straight up killing a load of people. After the excitement of all this, she and Constantine almost get smoochy which is the distraction they needed to find the ring.
Before heading back to the Waverider, Constantine thanks the owner of the boarding house… who turns out to have been the Enchantress the whole time! Say whaaaaat? There is some back and fourth about not making it too easy and Constantine obviously has a good relationship with this Enchantress – but I’m not totally convinced, if he knew all along, he wouldn’t have tried to strong arm her into giving up the ring? Still, all’s well that ends well. Constantine is a little uneasy to see Astra is now there to help with the Loom construction but everyone seems on the same page for once.
This is a fun episode, the gag of interupting Charlie and Nate clearly discussing if he ever uses his steel powers during sex is a highlight - but while it doesn’t exactly feel like filler, as it progresses the story in different areas quite a bit, it does feel a little loose, its entertaining and does some good character work but like a lot of this season it just feels a little disparate, perhaps due to the lack of a strongly defined villain? The title is good fun though, especially since it’s riffing on a show title that isn’t even used in the US. I’m just hoping next week we can bring the characters back together a little more!