Sara’s trip to Mallus-induced purgatory was rougher on her teammates than on her — until the very end, that is. See, I didn’t expect the inevitable Possessed Sara Episode to deliver such an emotional wallop; I thought at most we’d be treated to maybe a few more Constantine scenes, and then a showdown that would feature Caity Lotz letting loose like never before.
Then again, maybe they’re saving that for the finale, because this episode confined most of the action to the ship and kept the fighting to a minimum. It was a psychological journey from the start, with Sara waking up from a nightmare of a little girl taunting her aboard the ship. Ava, sleeping beside her, helps calm her down, and the two banter like old marrieds as Sara mentions Constantine and their hookup three weeks earlier, in, well, 1969. Though maybe “old marrieds” is too far: When Sara calls Ava her girlfriend, Ava looks surprised — in a good way! — and adorably accepts their relationship’s new definition.
Just then, Gideon interrupts them, and Sara and Ava go back to work. The anachronisms have gotten worse, and now that Mallus’ team is doubling down on causing chaos across history, the Legends must do the same. Sara instructs the team to pair up and go fix separate anachronisms (I was tickled by the idea of Sara rescuing Einstein from the Ice Age), but before anyone can set off on their missions, Sara gets a headache.
It’s the Death Totem calling out to her, and she knows it. When she asks to call Constantine, Gideon responds that everyone’s favorite warlock doesn’t have a phone, so poor Sara is left to deal with the Death Totem’s tricks herself. And the first trick Mallus wields is actually herself — as the Black Canary, the version that died way back when on Arrow. That version of her tells her to control the Death Totem, to wield its power and resurrect those who have died, and Sara relents, getting possessed by Mallus, who immediately sends her on a mission to destroy the rest of the Legends.
Evil Sara begins by attacking Ray, which prompts the rest of the team to confront her, but she nearly kills them — until Wally shows up and saves them all. By then, Sara has locked down the ship, and Ava, appearing via hologram, realizes something is off. The team advises Ava to get in touch with Constantine, and unfortunately for the Legends, their first plan — for Wally to knock out Sara and tie her up — fails when Mallus creates an apparition of Jesse. Wally tells her that he’s changed, that he’s found inner peace, so he’s glad she broke his heart. But before he can make his move, the apparition fades, and Sara knocks Wally out.
Good thing Ava is already on her way to picking up Constantine. In present-day New York, Constantine chases a chicken around a table to help a client’s son get married — even warlocks have to do weird things to survive in this economy — which doesn’t leave the best first impression in Ava’s eyes. It also doesn’t help that Constantine immediately guesses that she’s there about Sara and knows more about the Death Totem and its history as the relic of the lost sixth tribe of Zambesi. (It’s lost because it sided with Mallus, of course.) So now that Sara’s soul is trapped, they’ll have to enlist some Egyptian ferrymen of the dead. But as soon as he (and Ava, who insisted on working together, because she also has a deep “connection” with Sara — shut up, Gary!) starts chanting, Mallus shouts back at them and denies entry.
Back onboard the Waverider, the Legends have come up with another plan. Nate goes to retrieve Wally, while Zari sets out to find a way to override the lockdown and let them off the ship. Nate finds Wally in the bridge, but Zari’s confronted by Evil Sara, who this time poses as Zari’s dead little brother. Though Zari knows he’s not real, she cries as she turns from him, saying goodbye. And as she begins to smash the ship, Sara appears beside her, grabbing her and choking her, until the Sara trapped inside Mallus’ void pushes back hard enough to hold Mallus off for a few seconds. Nora Darhk, though, just grins as she watches Sara struggle. “No one can fight Mallus forever,” she warns, as Sara fails to keep Mallus from nearly killing Zari.
Back in New York, Team Constantine is also working on another strategy. This time, Gary of all people comes up with the plan: Because of his expertise in Dungeons & Dragons (don’t laugh!), he understands how the Legends operate, especially in this scenario. He had played a game just like this one, with basically the same players: There’s a monk (Wally), a druid (Amaya), a rogue (Mick), a bard (Nate), “a cheerful gnome who was also an accomplished wizard” (Ray), and a missing sorceress (Zari), who are all fighting Xanathar the Unburnt and his death sword (Sara/Mallus and the Death Totem). The solution to a conundrum like this one? Fight the totem with something equally powerful: another totem.
With Ray, Wally, and Zari out cold, and Amaya out of commission for wielding another totem, Nate decides to find the Earth Totem and manifest its power — he’s a much better person than the pirate queen, so he should be fine — but just when he picks it up, he spots Sara. Run, Nate, Run! (Next: This Mick is on fiiiiire….)
Shortly afterward, Nate spots a ghost, the ghost of his grandfather, Henry, a.k.a. the original Commander Steel. He knows it’s an apparition but still succumbs to blows from Evil Sara, who hits him over and over, yelling at him about he doesn’t deserve Amaya’s blood and toying with him over his guilt for not changing Henry’s fate.
At the same time, the real Sara struggles to defend herself to Nora, who’s eager to remind Sara of how much darkness has always been in her. Like a classic villain, she draws comparisons between the two of them, telling Sara that she’s always been a killer. Right on cue, a vision of Sara’s worst kill appears before her eyes, and she watches as her former assassin self murdered a man in front of his daughter. “Once a killer,” Nora teases, “always a killer.”
Evil Sara nearly puts more red in Sara’s ledger, but luckily for her (and for Nate), Team Constantine has arrived after using magic to locate the Death Totem and therefore the Waverider. (Gary came up with the plan and it earned him a kiss — from Constantine. Aww.) Constantine begins chanting and tossing holy water onto Evil Sara, but her body just starts floating and Mallus take over completely. He speaks to John, tosses Ava and Gary aside, and then sports the voice of Astra Logue, a girl whose failed exorcism still haunts Constantine. Mallus offers to bring her back from Hell in exchange for Sara, but Constantine just plays along to get close enough to try to stop Mallus himself. He nearly fails as Mallus begins choking him — but then Mallus realizes he has a bigger threat to handle first.
That threat, it turns out, is the Fire Totem. Ray — and Mick, who didn’t want to go on a mission to save the dog Laika — began the cold fusion process to reactivate the totem earlier in the episode, and by the time the remaining Legends are searching for another totem to stop the Death Totem, it’s ready for use. Of course, the only person remaining to wield a totem is also the perfect choice: Mick, bearer of the heat gun and the alias Heat Wave, wears the “necklace” and begins holding fire in the palm of his hand. When Sara arrives in the lab, he tosses fireballs at her body until one knocks her out.
Ava rushes to Sara’s side and tells her to come home — and she does, but the fight from inside the void wasn’t easy. There, Nora had questioned how much Sara will tell Ava about who she really is, and even though Sara determinedly rejects Nora’s offer to join Team Mallus and live a life free of pain and regret, she can’t shake Nora’s words about the “half life” she’s living as a Legend. Nora told her she can’t erase her past, she can only embrace it — but is there any way to live in between?
For now, Ava’s helped bring her back. It’s a climax that felt too rushed to me and made Sara’s choice feel less powerful than it should have been. (I mean, Mallus just disappears without saying another word? Maybe John Noble needed a day off.) It’s nice, therefore, to see Sara reflect on everything that’s happened in a series of quiet scenes afterward. When she speaks to Constantine, she admits she’s afraid of hurting Ava. When she speaks to her team, she apologizes on Mallus’ behalf for toying with their hearts and their deepest secrets.
And most importantly, she speaks to Ava. As much as Ava wants the relationship to work and as much as Sara cares for her, Sara says they can’t work as a couple, that Sara’s past and all her damage means she’ll let Ava down somehow, because Ava deserves someone better. Caity Lotz and Jes Macallan sell the scene beautifully — but again, the development feels a little too rushed. Captain and Mrs. Captain have always seemed capable of facing any trouble, and it’s a little hard to believe that Sara remembering her past would make her want to ruin her own future, especially when she’s said she has never been this happy before. Maybe that look she has as she reads Ava’s note left under her pillow — “The spot reserved for the girlfriend of Sara Lance” — is more than just sadness, but regret.
But anyway…the episode ends on a delightful tag with Gary beginning a new game (round?) of Dungeons & Dragons, dramatically explaining to a new player, Constantine, that “the true battle was only just beginning.” Thanks, Gary! We could always use an ominous warning from the Time Bureau’s most chipper dude.