Legends of Tomorrow recap: Reality bites
Unicorns at Woodstock, minotaurs in Paris, giant octopi in Japan — Legends sells countless zany ideas to us every season, and for the most part, I buy them all at face value. The show’s built on wonky time-travel rules, and its greatest fantastical creation — Voltron’ed Beebo — remains the zenith of Legends‘ creativity. The show can do whatever it wants with timey-wimey nonsense; I’ll almost always be on board.
“Legends of To-Meow-Meow,” however, screwed with character rules. As fun as the spoofs were, each of the realities made too little sense and only came off as gimmicks in the end. Look at it this way: If Sara really were to lose three Legends in one fell swoop, would she — a character we’ve seen in times of grief — ever actually rally Gideon and Ava into joining her as leather-wearing, butt-kicking, Charlie’s Angels knockoffs? Or is this the show simply using the idea of bending realities as an excuse to force its characters into meme-able, gif-able situations?
I know it’s a cynical take, but I’m just disappointed: This episode had so much potential to be the “Here I Go Again” of season 4 for Charlie and Constantine, but squandered it all on a few visual gags. Those sequences must have been fun to film, but they did very little for the plot, and in fact, distracted from the emotional power of Charlie and Constantine’s growth.
Well, at least Zari the cat was adorable. (And “To-Meow-Meow” remains an impeccable pun.) Charlie thinks so, too, at the top of the episode, when she cuddles up to Zari and tells her they’re heading to somewhere fabulous, which turns out to be Las Vegas in 1962. Charlie shape-shifts into Marilyn Monroe (because why not) to warn her fellow escapee, a leprechaun, to hold back his magic and help her also stay off the Legends’ radar. Unfortunately, she’s too late: The Legends — or rather, only Ray, Mick, and Nate — arrive, guns drawn, and shoot the leprechaun immediately in the chest.
Charlie’s baffled by Ray’s trigger finger, and the episode fills in the blanks by playing the opening credits of Custodians of Chronology, a spoof of The A-Team, complete with Mick winking at the camera while standing across from Garima and Nate wielding a crossbow while trying to impress some ladies. Back on the Waverider, the trio learns from an upgraded, skimpily clothed Gideon that they’ve missed calls from Barry, Oliver, and Kara. “Sounds like the annual crossover,” Ray quips in what might be Legends‘ most meta moment ever.
Charlie and Zari return to the ship and learn that the Legends have now adopted a new policy of shooting magical beings on sight, so Charlie shape-shifts into Sara and tries to talk the team into reversing the rule. Sara, though, was the wrong choice: The boys reveal that Sara died and that they’re on the hunt for an elusive shapeshifter, and now they’ve got her. Garima stabs Charlie, but Charlie heals and manages to run away with Zari in time to use the jump ship and head to the Time Bureau to find Constantine and figure out what’s going on.
There, Charlie spots a memorial honoring Sara, who died by unicorn in Woodstock, before locating John in confinement, going slowly insane over being able to see the original reality and this new one at the same time. John transforms Zari back into her human form, and Zari explains that they have to return to New Orleans and undo whatever John did to make this happen. Charlie and John both refuse this idea: For Charlie, it would mean losing her powers again, and for John, it would mean un-saving Desmond. So the two transform Zari back into a cat and attempt a prison escape — only to run into Mona, now no longer bleeding from her kaupe attack.
Mona helps the trio escape, but when the Custodians arrive, they’re forced to hide in Ava’s office, where they find Ava in full mourning mode, with black hair and a black hoodie to match. They recruit Ava into helping them make their way out so they can save Sara, and soon, everyone’s fighting in the halls of the Time Bureau. John, Charlie, and Zari make it out, leaving chaos in their wake. “Did they really just all kill each other?” John wonders. “Don’t think about it,” Charlie replies.
It’s a good strategy, considering they’ve got many more calamities to get through before fixing reality. Their first attempt to fix things — by saving Sara in Woodstock — works to save Sara, but Zari remains a cat, and at the Bureau, there are now memorials for the men of the Legends. Now, only Sara has survived, and without Zari around, she’s convinced Ava and Gideon into joining her on missions, this time as part of a pose-happy girl gang called the “Sirens of Space-Time.” They report to Hank, have cool code names, and like firing guns. It’s Charlie’s Angels — only Legends‘ very own Charlie can’t seem to infiltrate them. She tries at first, but Gideon — sorry, “Hard Drive” — sees through the act, and just like the Custodians, the Sirens attempt to kill Charlie, no questions ask.
Charlie escapes, but not before learning that the men perished because of the fairy godmother in Salem. And so, she, John, and Zari head to 1692 and save the men — only to discover that Zari is now a puppet. Welp. See the pattern?
Next: Back to square one
As it turns out, stopping the fairy godmother didn’t change a thing. Severing her ties to Prudence only caused her to choose Mick as her next target, and Mick then chose to use his wish-granter to turn the fairy godmother into his new partner-in-crime, and the rest of the Legends into rhyming, singing puppets similar to the muppets of Fraggle Rock.
And so once again, John, Charlie, and Zari (this time as a puppet) head to the Time Bureau, where they discover that Ava’s the one who’s now dead. Charlie figures they’ll just have to keep fixing things until they get it right, and we see her returning again and again to the Time Bureau to double check. (Security at the Time Bureau’s super lax in every reality, it seems.) One iteration kills off Hank and Nate; another kills off Gary. Finally, Charlie returns to find the lobby empty of memorials entirely — a sign that perhaps things have gone back to normal.
Alas, nothing’s ever that easy, even if Zari’s human again as well. John’s nose begins to bleed just as Charlie reports the “good” news, and he passes out. Zari deduces that it’s because John’s brain can’t handle all the different versions of the timeline, and though John’s still torn about whether to save Desmond, he agrees with Zari to head to New Orleans and try to undo what he did.
Charlie, of course, doesn’t like this plan. If John fixes his mistake, she’ll lose her powers and become mortal again — and even though John says there could still be hope down the line for her and for Desmond, she doesn’t believe it. She ditches the pair, shape-shifts into Ava, and boards the Waverider on a mission to get the Legends to New Orleans so they can stop John’s mission.
They nearly do. In New Orleans, John watches as last episode’s John sneaks into younger John’s apartment with Desmond, then waits for last episode’s John to toss Desmond’s phone over the balcony. (Current John still has flashes of the other timeline, you see.) He intends to run into Desmond after last episode’s John breaks up with him so he can fix what he did.
Meanwhile, the Legends (and Charlie-as-Ava) have arrived as well, and they believe John to be several shape-shifters, which scares Charlie-as-Ava. Sara doesn’t believe John would time-travel — he didn’t join the Legends when she tried to recruit him, remember? — so she has the team grab their weapons and get ready to shoot the various versions. Charlie, though, can’t let John die on her account, so she transforms back into Amaya and tells them all to stop.
At the same time, Desmond runs straight into current John, who tries to convince him to stay with him anyway. John appeals to Desmond, and Charlie appeals to Sara, but neither conversations are going the right way: The former goes south because Desmond thinks John’s still playing games, while the latter results in Sara repeatedly attacking Charlie, only for Charlie to heal. Finally, John does the only move he has left: He uses the Legends’ memory eraser and makes Desmond forget about the breakup.
Even then, though, reality still isn’t completely repaired. On the ship, Charlie begs Sara to stop killing magical creatures, and as she speaks, she begins to realize that she’s the reason why the Legends chose not to hurt the creatures they hunt. Sure, John was the one who allowed them to send some back to hell, but her shape-shifting opened the Legends’ eyes to what they were doing to their targets. And with that, Charlie recognizes her importance to the team.
Too bad Sara’s decided to have Ray and Mick fire at John anyway. They do — but before their beams can reach the Johns, past John runs into Desmond and the two kiss. When they kiss, another time wave occurs, which reverses everything: The beams disappear, the medallion reappears in John’s hand, and Sara kicks Puppet Stein instead of Charlie. John returns to the jump ship without his headache, and Charlie’s also reappeared safely at the site, though without her powers.
When they return to the jump ship, they discover everything’s back to normal — even if Puppet Stein now houses the spirit of Mike the Spike. Sara picks up on their odd behavior, and John winds up telling her the full story and owning his part in it. Charlie apologizes to Zari for being selfish, which Zari forgives her. Ava even ends up bonding with Mick, having finally read his novel.
All seems well — but they’re not. Back on Earth, Hank has just learned that the kaupe has escaped and reports the setback to a man he’s playing golf with, a man who looks just like Desmond, only when he smiles, his eyes glow red. Uh oh…
- Mick offers Ava snickerdoodles. Aww.
- Mick writes under the nom de “plum” of “Rebecca Silver.” Hmm.
- Mick thinks having characters make love on the surface of the sun serves as a metaphor. Yikes.
- Custodian Ray plays “historical figure bingo” during their excursions. Regular Ray probably does the same, right?
- Nate, when he hears about the “annual crossover” with Barry, Oliver, and Kara: “That’s gonna be a hard pass.”
- I did enjoy all of the little notes on the memorial plaques about how characters died. Gary perishing in Mt. Vesuvius on a time courier mission gone wrong sound about right.
- Also, drunk John is right: Cat Zari is really cute. And I’m really glad Charlie and John could both understand her varying meows.
- Did the cast really sing their lines during the puppet sequence? Is this foreshadowing for a musical episode?
- So, is Mona okay after that kaupe attack? You know what, maybe I don’t want to know the answer…