Legends of Tomorrow recap: 'I, Ava'
Wow! Talk about an Ava-load! Get it? Like an overload but with Avas…anyone?
Anyway, looks like someone on thewriting staff really liked I, Robot. (Or maybe Ex Machina, if we’re to take Ava’s name at face value…?) I’m not mad about it; this is a perfect example of the type of bonkers twist only Legends can pull off. Yeah, it was an easy, inexpensive way for production to craft a storyline about the “future” without dressing Vancouver up much at all, and yeah, the notion that humanity in future has created the perfect woman to police society — or… just Canada? — was absolutely absurd, but that’s what makes this time-travel show special. Don’t get me wrong: I like the other time-travel shows on air, but this might be the only series that can make its lead confront her emotional, romantic turmoil by literally making it impossible for her to escape her ex. What other show could pull that off? And don’t say Supernatural. That’s got a whole 10 seasons on Legends.
That’s all to say that I sincerely liked this hour’s goofiness, but my mileage on the rest, well, varies. After all, this was a bumpy ride — much of the episode felt like writers putting plot before character and simply moving everybody into place so they’re where they need to be for the finale. That began with sidelining Sara, who’s never been one to take a breather from her duties, but here, shaken after her breakup with Ava, she’s trying to get off the ship so she can have a break. Ray and Nate rightly remind her that now is not the time for the Legends’ captain to be taking off, especially as they’re so close to getting all of the totems, but she refuses to stay, instead appointing Amaya as captain in the interim. But then, when Gary portals on board, everything changes: He reports that Ava has gone missing, and Sara responds that she’ll, along with Ray, help him find her.
That mission means the Atom and White Canary are unavailable for the bigger, mythology-related story in the episode, leaving Amaya, Nate, and Wally to handle it in their stead. (Zari and Mick would help, but Amaya’s told Zari, who’s fasting while observing Ramadan, to train Mick in wielding his totem in the meantime.) In the library, Amaya learns from the boys that Mari McCabe, her granddaughter, has been hurt in Detroit in a fire. Mari, who’s the present-day Vixen, must not have had her powers, because Amaya lost her totem, changing her family’s history.
Amaya wants to go to Detroit right away to check on Mari, but Nate reminds her she could cause temporal chaos if she were to get in touch with her non-time-travel-corrupted granddaughter. In her place, Nate and Wally travel to Detroit, where they find Mari’s adoptive parents at the hospital and learn that she’ll do just fine. If they can protect her, that is: Out of the corner of his eye, Nate spots Kuasa prowling a hospital hallway, so he sends Wally to track her down and explain herself. And she does have a good explanation: Kuasa tells them she’s not there to hurt her sister, but to protect her.
Plus, she and these two Legends could help each other. After leading them to Mari’s outpost in Detroit, Kuasa explains that even though she resented her sister for being given the totem over her, she still cares for her, and would much rather the spirit totem go to Mari than stay around Nora’s desk. And so, Nate and Wally make a deal with Kuasa, to work together against the Darhks and get the totem back. The only condition? They’ll have to play by Kuasa’s rules.
Which turn out to be using Nate as bait to lure Damien and Nora to them. They send Wally away to keep an eye on Amaya — Nate doesn’t want Amaya getting involved because she could potentially wipe her family out of existence, and because he’s not keen on letting Kuasa in on the fact that they’re in love, seeing as Kuasa’s grandfather wasn’t him. (Even so, the move to keep Amaya out of things makes very little sense. Mari’s already safe in the hospital… why not bring in more firepower? It just makes it seem like it’s all about making sure only some members of the team are around at once.)
The plan, like most plans on Legends, works at first. Kuasa has tied Nate up and plays the role of kidnapper well when Damien and Nora show up, but after Nora casually hands over Amaya’s totem — she points out that Mallus now flows through her, so she no longer needs the “trinket” — Kuasa reveals that she’s been playing Nate the whole time. She knows that he loves Amaya back and this way, she can ensure that Amaya eventually furthers the family with her grandfather. “When you kill him,” she tells Damien, “do it slowly.”
He would, if he didn’t have a ton of other things on his mind. Damien Darhk has become a lot less menacing since the first time we met him on Arrow; now, he’s a doting father who’s finally learning how bad of an idea it was to sell his daughter to the devil. Mallus is growing stronger and has taken over Nora almost completely — just look at her face! — and Daddy Darhkest doesn’t really know what to do. In all his anxiety, he can barely enjoy torturing Nate with a cattle prod, and before he knows it, he’s telling Nate about his feelings instead of hurting him. Soon enough, the two are just play-acting torture, and when Nora walks back in, she flings her father aside out of anger. Mallus doesn’t have time for games.
Or for more Legends. While Wally was on the Waverider with Amaya, they ran into Kuasa, who must have trickled her way onto the ship through vents or something. (Water powers are cool like that.) Kuasa gives Amaya the totem she retrieved as “a peace offering,” but when she reveals that she gave Nate in exchange for it, Wally spills the details of their ill-advised plan. Amaya then chides Kuasa for not being more like Mari and for being selfish — uhh, maybe look at your own choices, Amaya — before going to head off Mallus with Wally.
And Mallus, of course, isn’t pleased. Through Nora, he uses Wally’s speed against him and makes Amaya’s totem malfunction when she attempts to summon its power. As Nora explains, she’s still governing Amaya’s totem, but Amaya’s strong and takes it over herself. Kuasa also shows up just in time, releasing Nate and proving to Amaya that she’s more than just a lackey for a demon, but just as Amaya is finally feeling proud of her granddaughter, Mallus grabs onto Kuasa. He punishes her for her disloyalty by taking back the totem, effectively killing her. Kuasa then falls and dies in Amaya’s arms — before Wally quickly ushers all of them out of Mallus’s range. (Next: You say you want an Ava-lution…)
The adventures at the Time Bureau go very differently. Snooping around Ava’s office for clues, Sara finds a birthday card in the trash from Ava’s parents, with a return address in Fresno, California, while Ray discovers that Ava’s personnel file has been deleted. And so, Sara, Ray, and Gary all head to Fresno, where they meet Pam and Randy Sharpe, a picture-perfect couple whose stories about Ava immediately make Sara suspicious. She catches them in the act of making an anecdote up and draws a knife to Pam’s throat — only for the two to quickly explain that they were actors hired to play the part of Ava’s parents every time she visited.
The trio’s baffled and only become more so when they return to the Bureau and find Ava, in sunglasses, lying about how she’d just been visiting her parents, so like, you know, nothing’s wrong at all, what are you guys doing here? Sara, thinking fast, swipes Ava’s Time Courier off her wrist, so they can investigate where she’s been.
And to their surprise, there’s nothing out of the ordinary to Ava’s log — except for a visit to Vancouver in 2213, which is considered a no-fly zone, according to Gary. Sara, though, cares little for rules like those, so she commandeers the Bureau’s mothership and flies off to the one location deemed untouchable by the all-knowing Time Bureau.
They quickly find out why. There, they’ve found Ava — along with countless more Avas, because Ava, it turns out, is just the name of a line of clones manufactured to police the world. It’s not clear whether Legends considers this to be a utopia or dystopia — Gary certainly thinks it’s paradise to see his boss everywhere, while Sara considers it hell — but either way, it makes for a…unique journey.
Inside the headquarters of the Ava clone, Ray accidentally activates one, which immediately proceeds to attack them because they’re in a restricted section. Not sure of how to deactivate this Ava — can you deactivate a clone that’s not a robot, an “it”? — they knock her out and tie her up. Having done that, they finally understand what happened. The Ava Sharpe they’ve come to know must be an anachronism, who’s been trying to keep her true origin under wraps.
Or not. When their Ava shows up and takes one look at a clone, she faints. So…yeah, Ava had no clue, and when she wakes up, she’s already wiped that reveal from her memory. Ray and Sara decide not to tell her, but when they realize they tied-up Ava’s run away, they find that the only thing they can do is let Ava in on the secret of her true self, if only because they wind up standing in front of rows and rows of copies. Ava, though, doesn’t notice until after she tells them everything about where she’s been — and as it turns out, she hasn’t been doing anything wrong. She’s just been taking a break, like Sara had wanted, because the breakup also affected her deeply. She’s even made an Upswipes profile!
When she finally turns around to see the army of Avas, though, she freaks out, going through a massive existential crisis while also trying to figure out how to get all of them out there safely. Ava begins spiraling over questions of who she really is, but Sara sweetly steps in to remind her that she’s a badass human being, not a mindless clone. And it works: Ava effectively acts like one of her clones to help “escort” Ray, Sara, and Gary out, but just as they’re about to make it to safety, the Ava that had escaped shows up to instruct the other Avas to take them out. Fists start flying, but with every punch, Ava becomes more confident. And when they’ve finished taking out every last clone, Ava smiles and tells Sara she was right. “I’ll never be a mindless clone,” she says, “but I’m keeping the suit.”
Back on the Waverider, Ava tells Gary never to share her story with anyone else — and though Gary doesn’t seem up for it, Ray’s able to erase his memory with the flash device. Sara and Ava then talk, with Sara helping Ava piece together her past. She explains that whoever recruited her for the Bureau — as in, Rip — must have wiped her file and put 2213 Vancouver off limits. But why? Well, Sara promises they’ll find out.
On the other side of the ship, a similarly deep conversation is happening: Throughout the episode, Zari had been trying to remain patient as she coached an insolent Mick into handling his totem, but finally loses it when he repeatedly (and offensively) offers her pork and calls her a “bitch” for trying to help him. She traps him in a tornado using her own totem, but stops when she — and he — feel their totems react to Kuasa’s death. Saddened by what happened, they finally stop arguing and instead work together to make the same meal Zari’s mother used to make to break fast after Ramadan. Zari says that she can’t stop thinking about Kuasa and Amaya’s family, and tells Mick about how she’s learned how much tradition, family, and community truly matter above everything else. He listens — or at least appears to — until he once more unthinkingly offers her a sandwich with pork in it. Sigh.
And finally, in yet another corner of the ship, one last difficult conversation is happening: Nate, feeling guilty over coming up with the plan that resulted in Kuasa’s death, tries to apologize for his actions, but Amaya won’t hear it. She explains that she was the one who got her granddaughter killed, because she had so harshly goaded Kuasa into acting more like Mari, and Kuasa was only doing her best to prove Amaya wrong. They argue about their guilt, until Amaya admits that she sometimes wishes she never set foot on the Waverider, and instead lived a linear life that led to her original fate in Zambesi. Nate wonders if that’s what she really wants, and she says she doesn’t know.
But by the end of the episode, it appears that she does. Amaya heads into a jump ship and instructs Gideon to take her to 1992 Zambesi. That’s a time and place that’s out-of-bounds for Amaya — she could really wipe out her own history and hurt time by going there — but Amaya’s mind is made. She tells Gideon she has to save her family at any cost, and that no one will stop her. She sets the coordinates, Gideon takes her away, and off she goes…potentially to ruin the fabric of time and space. No animal spirit’s going to fix those holes in time, Amaya! Come back!