Legends of Tomorrow recap: 'Zari'
A new prison break, a new teammate, and a new...uhh...state of mind — but only for Nate
Sometimes when I’m watching Legends of Tomorrow, I’m struck by just how odd it is that a show like this even exists.
Not odd in that it’s groundbreaking television or anything — it’s one of, what, 37 superhero shows currently airing? — but in the fact that it can be so transparently meta and silly and fun even though its plots revolve around Serious Matters. It spent tonight’s episode introducing a character with a devastating backstory while having another one spend the hour high out of his mind. It turned time travel into both a perfunctory plot device and a nifty punchline. It has, just like the Legends, somehow continued to spin new ways of staying relevant in the face of pretty much everything.
Maybe that’s because it continues to veer in directions you simply wouldn’t expect, treating every episode as a completely different adventure from the last. This week does that well by not only expanding the mythology of the show but also exploring a cool new setting in Seattle in 2042. (Plus, it’s an hour packed with jokes.) The city has become a militarized one controlled by an out-of-control ARGUS, which, since 2021, has rounded up metahumans and incarcerated them. (Ah, DC, taking a page out of Marvel’s X-Men‘s playbook.) There, a woman named Zari is being transported to a prison when Kuasa, the water witch from last week’s tag, intercepts the vehicle and tries but fails to kill her.
The Legends get involved when they, too, make an interception. Gary, the quavering Time Bureau agent who got roughed up by Sara in the last episode, had sent a report back to headquarters about how his anachronism turned out to be a deadly metahuman. Sara hears this and leads the team to 2042, where they easily find Gary and use his intel to figure out a plan. It’s an easy one: Find Zari, and then use her as bait to capture Kuasa.
It sounds easy, anyway. When the Legends arrive at Zari’s hideout, she leaves them to deal with ARGUS while she hacks her way into ARGUS’ network and erases herself from their feeds. Luckily, Sara manages to lead the team as they take out the soldiers; unluckily for Mick, he doesn’t get to shoot a single one.
He gets a lot more to do soon enough. After learning that Zari is a criminal with a lengthy, impressive-to-Mick background who’s also being hunted because of her Muslim identity, Sara asks Mick to lead them to a place where a criminal trying to stay hidden would, well, hide. He takes them to a bar — but just as he begins to make conversation with his new crush, Zari catches sight of Kuasa, who’s arrived ready to fight. Sara, again, gets the rest of the team out of harm’s way: She fights Kuasa until Kuasa overpowers her, then has Mick start a brawl so the two of them can escape as well.
Zari’s grateful for the help and is astonished to find that her group of stalkers have turned out to be time travelers. (Gary spilled the beans. Do better, Gary.) But she offers them a trade for her use as bait: She needs the Legends to help her break her brother out of an ARGUS facility first. At this,
Dominic Purcell Mick perks up. “Prison break?!” he marvels. “I’m in.” Like I said, this show likes to get way meta — even if it’s a trick they’ve pulled before.
Inside the facility, Zari finds the room number of her brother, and Ray and Jax almost release him when Jax notices that the facility is actually experimenting on metahumans, not just trapping them. Angry at the metahumans’ mistreatment, Jax ends up unlocking all of the prison’s doors, and as a riot breaks out, the Legends lose sight of Zari, who has run off to a storage room where she finds an amulet. When she returns to the Legends, she admits she duped them into helping her pull of a heist that would allow her to have her brother’s treasured possession again — and as she explains this, the necklace begins to glow — just as Amaya’s does, too, on board the Waverider. (Next: A mystical malfunction)
Earlier in the episode, Amaya’s totem took so much control over her that she ended up sleepwalking — or rather, sleep-wall-crawling as a spider. Concerned, Stein runs some tests, hoping that science will solve the mystical problem. The strategy doesn’t work, but eventually, Nate comes up with a solution…sort of. He’s read up on a hallucinogen Amaya’s people take for vision quests, and he’s managed to have Gideon make some on the ship. Both of them take it, partly because Nate’s already tried some of it to ensure it works, and they sit down and wait, only to be interrupted by Amaya’s totem glowing at the same time Zari’s does.
In trouble, the Legends call to Nate for help, but seeing as he’s high and unable to understand his depth of field or operate his own legs, he fails to operate the ship. Gideon ends up steering them to the Legends, who managed to catch up to Zari only to see her disappear in a pink puff of smoke thanks to her amulet. Ray follows her closely — er, not too closely — while the rest of the Legends return to the ship.
There, they debate whether they should follow Gary and the Time Bureau’s instructions to bring Zari and the metahumans back to prison, or to help them get justice against ARGUS. Before Sara can think it all through, she discovers that Nate is on drugs. It’s another moment of levity that gets played juuuust long enough not to grow old. (And of course, lines like “Quiet, the marshmallows are talking” and “I like broccoli!” — the latter of which mimics Stein’s cadence — are perfect for the cartoonishly high Nate to deliver.)
The entire subplot also doesn’t overshadow Amaya’s journey. Under the influence of the drugs and of the totem’s sudden glow, Amaya has arrived at “the world between worlds,” according to a woman who tells her that she is Amaya’s “blood,” the ones who have come before her. She advises Amaya not to resist her totem’s growing power, but to trust it and embrace it, because it is only growing stronger to prepare for the harsher threats that Amaya will be facing. She also tells Amaya to find “the girl,” someone who needs Amaya’s protection.
But before anybody can act, Ray has found Zari mourning the fact that her brother was killed by ARGUS and her family hasn’t met her at their rendezvous point — and Kuasa, in turn, has caught up to them. The Waverider also gets in trouble, as the Time Bureau arrives under Agent Sharpe’s command, and they insist on taking over the mission.
Sara steers the ship away from the Time Bureau’s, but the Waverider can’t outpace the larger ship. They’re nearly taken out by all the firepower, but at the last moment, Sara turns the ship around and plays a game of high-tech chicken that ends in the Time Bureau jumping their ship away at the last moment. Free of Sharpe’s condescension, Sara is able to take the team to Ray’s location, where Kuasa nearly drowned Ray only to be distracted by Zari and her trinket. Just in time, Jax, Mick, and Amaya arrive as backup — and Amaya, thinking of her ancestor’s words, confidently steps forward and controls her totem enough to take Kuasa down. Kuasa, though, has one last card to play: “I could kill you,” she says, showing Amaya a stone with an engraving, “but I’d just be killing myself.”
Crisis averted, Sharpe can do nothing but warn Sara that their Rip-mandated leniency is over, and Nate and Amaya manage to have a friendly conversation in which Amaya thanks Nate for his help, and Nate relays the news that they’re going to drop off Zari back at Seattle 2042. Hearing this, Amaya joins the landing party and tells Zari that she should join the team, because no matter what, their fates are intertwined. Zari’s amulet isn’t an amulet, she explains; it’s a totem, just like hers. Zari agrees to an adventure and joins the rest. Welcome to the team, Zari! You’re in for a messy, crazy time.
The hour ends by rewinding time back to Ivy Town, 1988, where a young boy on a bike is furiously riding to avoid a bunch of bullies unoriginally calling him a nerd. He cowers inside a tunnel to avoid them, but then hears something moving behind him. All we see is a pair of sinister eyes, but the little boy isn’t scared: He reaches out and introduces himself. “What’s your name?” he asks. “Mine’s Ray Palmer.” Oh no, Ray. You may have your nose stuck in a textbook all the time, but every now and then, you really should pick up some Stephen King! What a nerd.