Legends of Tomorrow recap: Creativity strikes!!!
Oh, how I wish I could give this episode a straight A. It’s a Legends tribute to Ishirō Honda, complete with a giant evil octopus, a three-breasted heroine, and a goofy origin story for Godzilla! What more could you want? Four breasts?! (Even Total Recall can’t manage that! Also I hope Guillermo del Toro watches this show because this hour was practically made for him!)
Okay, okay, I’ll cool it with the exclamation points. As much as “Tagumo Attacks!!!” did what Legends does best — it made you invest in a nonsensical story — it faltered again with making the Time Bureau side of things interesting and worse, it underserved Ray’s arc just as it was warming up with Nora back in the picture. Maybe Legends is stretching itself a little thin. If you have to add a baba yaga and a chupacabra into some scenes to spice things up, maybe reconsider the point of those scenes entirely, you know what I mean?
That said, I’m critical because I care. This series remains my favorite of the Arrowverse, and the team’s adventures in 1951 Tokyo were bold and inventive and my favorite of this season so far. The campiness of the premise — director Ishirō Honda discovers a giant octopus monster while filming one day, and the Legends must stop it from eventually destroying Japan’s capital — meshed seamlessly with Legends‘ tone, and I loved that the team got reshuffled right away. At the top of the hour, Sara gives Ray the green light to track down Nora so they can save John, so she recruits (or rather, forces) Charlie into participating on their monster hunt.
Of course, they can’t hunt a monster if they don’t know what they’re up against. Zari and Mick pose as Hollywood producers in town to retrieve the footage, but when Honda lies about it, Sara and Charlie rummage around his office on their own and bring it back to the ship. On board, they discover that it’s a massive octopus, but curiously, Charlie can’t identify it, despite being their “fugitive expert,” as Zari puts it. It’s a slight Charlie doesn’t appreciate, and she and Zari are about to duke it out when Sara reins them in.
They head back to Honda’s set instead, planning to shrink the octopus and take care of it once it’s a manageable size. But before they can lure it out, they spot Honda tossing a book into the water instead. When they corner him, he finally tells the truth: He’d been found by (and bonded with) a magical Celtic-goddess-created book that turns dreams into reality. Honda, though, only has nightmares — he’d survived Hiroshima, but the trauma manifests itself every night in the form of Tagumo, the giant land octopus, and he’d drawn the story of Tagumo to try and cope. The book made Tagumo real, and unfortunately, Tagumo will continue to be real unless they can change the ending.
As it turns out, editing’s not allowed in magical journals; the Legends’ only hope of turning this one around is to have the book bond with someone new and creative enough to come up with a story that doesn’t end in Tokyo’s destruction.
Enter… Mick. Sure, he’s a man of few words, but as Zari discovered back in the excellent “Here I Go Again,” he’s a writer, and he definitely has a story to tell. Only trouble is, he’s not quite ready for everyone to know what his story is, so before they can put their new plan into action, the Legends are forced to face Tagumo, who’s squeezed through the sewers and come for Honda. Sara attempts to direct Charlie into serving as bait, but the shapeshifter runs off, leaving the reformed assassin on her own. And though she does well — it’s Sara, after all — she winds up trapped in the clutch of a tentacle until Charlie dashes back in to do what she was told. They battle Tagumo and manage to shrink him, only to lose him after he shrinks.
In other words, Tagumo’s still a problem. Honda apologizes for starting the mess and tells Mick and Zari that at least now that Tagumo’s come to fruition and is out there, he no longer fears what was in his head. At that, Mick realizes he shouldn’t be afraid either, and within seconds, he’s furiously scribbling a new story into the book’s pages. And the book accepts…
Next: Tagumo vs. Garima
If you’d told me, back when he first appeared on The Flash, that Mick Rory’s ideal woman would be a three-breasted, blue-skinned Amazon, I would have asked if you were okay. Now, after three seasons of Legends, I’m not surprised that Mick’s ultimate fictitious fantasy would be Garima (not Karima — my bad!), a woman who’s able to go toe-to-toe with (a still rather huge) Tagumo, destroy the octopus in the model city Honda had built for his film, and then make out with Mick in the rubble. (Of course, the show makes it clear that they do more than that — how risqué of The CW this side of Riverdale! — but I, like Sara, would rather not think about Mick like that.)
With Tagumo gone, Honda can finally move on. Mick generously plants the seed for his next film, as he tells him to try featuring lizards instead of octopi. “Lizards are king,” he tells Honda matter-of-factly, and Honda, well, Honda looks like he just got an idea…
Speaking of ideas, Ray’s belief that Nora would be able to help John turns out to be correct, though it takes a toll on Nora at first. She’d been avoiding magic entirely since Damien’s death, believing that if she used it at all, she’d be tempted to return to being the villain she was and backslide into dedicating her life to dark magic. But Ray, as a man of science, thinks of a different strategy to make the “magical transfusion” Nora recommends happen, and he creates a device that allows her to channel energy equivalent to the life force into John. John is grateful, though he’d also been prepared to see the other side; he’d known he’d likely die after giving his life force away, and when Nora had gotten ready to help, he’d advised her to only help him if she were certain she was doing it for herself and not anyone else.
All of it ultimately helps Nora make one more critical decision: After she saves Constantine (and does it without hurting herself), she chooses not to run away, even when Ray hands her the time stone again. Instead, she turns herself in to the Time Bureau, because “being free” — which is what Ray wants for her — means paying for her past. And besides, going back to the life she was leading at the slimy Renaissance fair would be no life at all.
Ray’s heart is clearly broken, but at least things are going better for the remaining Legends — or Legends-adjacent, that is. In present-day D.C., the Time Bureau’s holding magical creatures like baba yagas and keeping them sedated with elephant tranquilizers until they can set up a proper containment facility, but when Hank invites Ava to come to Thanksgiving dinner with him and Nate, Gary’s left alone to handle the menagerie.
Naturally, things go wrong, and what’s worse, Gary’s invited Mona to eat with him at the Time Bureau. After locking Mona in a closet (wow, Gary), Gary calls Ava and Nate, and Nate decides to bolt from his soon-to-be-chaotic family dinner to take care of the chaos at his workplace. There, he figures out that the tranquilizers must have worn off, and that the creatures are acting much like his younger relatives when they’re hangry — you know, hungry and angry — so they simply need to find the right food to feed them. Luckily, they’ve got Mona, who’s somehow escaped the closet on her own and joyfully takes on the task of providing a feast. (She’s a character who walked straight out of the School for Manic Pixie Dream Girls, but you know what, I don’t mind. Not yet, anyway.)
At the Heywood home, Ava tries her best to stall Hank from finding out that the Time Bureau is mired in a new emergency. (He’s technically their boss, remember?) She filibusters dinner with a seemingly endless list of things she’s grateful for but fails when Hank decides he’s had enough. At the Time Bureau, he and Ava are shocked to find Nate and Gary calmly watching the creatures eat, and Hank’s even impressed with Mona, who has a way with their furry guests. He’s so pleased he ends up granting the Bureau even more money to help with their containment plans.
That, though, might not be an altruistic gesture on Hank’s part: When Hank, Ava, and Nate return to Thanksgiving dinner, Hank ends up stepping away for a call. The show doesn’t reveal who’s on the other end of the line, but we hear everything Hank says. “These creatures are controllable, I’ve seen it,” he whispers nefariously into the phone. “I don’t care how much this costs, we are going to make it happen. Project Hades is a go.” Uh oh — guess we just met this season’s true Big Bad. Happy Thanksgiving?
- Of course, Biff had something up his sleeve this entire time. Hey Hank, why don’t you make like a tree and… get out of here! (Excellent reference, show. I hope Tom Wilson enjoyed it.)
- The Charlie-Zari dynamic’s interesting so far, especially now that Zari, who only joined last year, is suddenly one of the elder statesmen of the team after all the changes to the roster. If they’d met and joined the Legends at the same time last year, they’d probably have gotten along, which just helps to show how much Zari has developed in only a season.
- Speaking of Charlie, can all shapeshifters hold their liquor that well? Either way, glad to see Sara winning over yet another Legends recruit.
- I’m all in on the Ray and Nora ship — it helps that Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford are married in real-life — but again, I’m worried Ray’s arc isn’t getting explored enough. Is Nora now out of the picture?
- Also: Any theories on who that man was in John’s mind? He said it was “the past,” but knowing Constantine — and knowing that a demon’s been after him since the start of the season — I’d wager we’ll find out more soon…
- Imagine: Mallus vs. Tagumo vs. Beebo. Who’d win?
Led by White Canary, a band of superhero misfits defend the time stream with an assortment of wacky threats in the fourth Arrowverse series.