Last week, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow traveled to the Golden Age of Hollywood (or crime, depending on who you ask) to handle famous mobster Bugsy Siegel (it was okay). This week, Legends takes a step back from real-life historical bad guys to deal with a fictional one: a high school serial killer. As the title suggests, “Slay Anything” is an homage to the ‘80s — specifically slasher films and high school movies. If there’s one thing I dislike in pop culture, it’s ‘80s nostalgia, but thankfully “Slay Anything” doesn’t feel like a simple nostalgia play. Not only that, but the show also puts a welcomed twist on a tired trope.
“Slay Anything” begins in 2004 at Iron Heights, where Freddy Meyers, who supposedly (this word is important) murdered several of his high school classmates on prom night in 1989, is being sentenced to death as his distraught mother watches on. Shortly afterward, the coroner’s van carrying Freddy crashes and it appears as though Freddy is responsible since he’s our latest Encore. Coincidentally, the Encore is resurrected on the same night as Central City High School’s 15-year reunion, where the surviving victims of the murder spree will be honored.
Once the Legends realize Freddyhas apparently come back from the dead, they go into action mode. Sara, Ava, and Mick crash the reunion to find and stop him from killing his classmates. This setup yields two very delightful twists. First, Mick went to this school and this is his class’ reunion. Second, Ava is very excited about the latest mission because she has a serial killer focused podcast called “Stabcast” and recently did an episode about Freddy, so she can’t help but geek out about returning to the scene of his crime. (Unsurprisingly, none of the Legends actually listened to the podcast.) I love how much Ava has come alive since being freed from the endearingly stuffy Time Bureau.
Freddy wastes no time in attacking his classmates. His first two victims are a cop stationed outside the high school and Tiffany, the final girl of his original murder spree. Not only that, but he’s trapped Sara, Ava, Mick, and everyone else inside of the school. That’s great-ish news for Mick, who finds time to reconnect with the prom date he stood up 15 years ago. Back then, he was in juvenile detention and planned on breaking out to attend but chickened out. Unfortunately, the killer murders Allie right after she and Mick sneak off together.
With their friends trapped inside the school, the rest of the Legends try plan B: travel back in time to 1989 and reform Freddy before he goes all stabby — which was Ray’s original idea. They all found success in steering Nora away from the dark side, so it makes sense he would believe they could help Freddy. Nora also comes along for the ride and ends up becoming Freddy’s fairy godmother, which is frightening because he’s a burgeoning serial killer. However, in another surprising twist, Freddy’s first wish is for a new suit so he can take Tiffany, a popular girl who asked him out, to prom. And Nora complies.
From there, Ray, Nate, and Nora accompany Freddy to prom. While Freddy and Nora dance, Nate notices that the popular kids plan on dumping trash on top of him, but Tiffany, who was part of the plan, has a change of heart and pulls away from the trap. Unfortunately, Tiffany’s douchy friends reveal her original role in the prank that didn’t happen and Freddy runs off in anger. Of course, Nora’s afraid this is going to send Freddy over the edge and lead him to misuse one of his wishes, so she tries to talk him down and urges him not to let his pain define him and drive him to do something he’ll regret. Obviously, she’s speaking from experience because that’s who she was for a long time, but this moment is a great reminder of how far she’s come and another sign of how smart the writers are when it comes plotting out stories and character arcs — like, of course, Nora’s first appearance is in this episode. Not only that, but Nora’s point also connects to Mick, who let his own darkness get the best of him, which is why he stood his date up all those years ago and now realizes he made a mistake.
Nora’s words get through to Freddy and so he uses his next wish for something even more awesome: An endearingly cheesy dance performance in front of his classmates. To his bully’s dismay, everyone in the auditorium is charmed by it and joins in. Thus, the team manages to stop Freddy from flying off the handle and killing his classmates, but for some reason that doesn’t help Sara, Ava, and Mick, who are still trapped in the school in the present and being terrorized by an Encore.
Mick tries roasting the Encore with his flamethrower, but it does nothing and she turns the fire back on him and kills him. However, the fire also reveals who is under the mask: It’s actually Freddy’s mother Kathy, who had a heart attack at the same time her son died. Kathy explains that she was the one who attacked all of Freddy’s classmates 15 years ago because they were trying to take him away from her, but Freddy loved her so much that he took the fall for the murders.
The Kathy twist is Friday the 13th-ish, but I love it because it helps the show avoid a boring trope. Going into the “Let’s travel back in time to reform Freddy” storyline, I was worried Legends of Tomorrow was going to tell a story about a straight white male who grows violent after being bullied. You know, a story like Joker. The last thing we needed is another white male rage story. Thankfully, Legends is too smart for that and does something different, revealing that Freddy wasn’t even a murderer to begin with. Thus, it manages to make necessary points about compassion and not letting your anger get the best of you.
Anyway, the 1989-set Legends defeat Kathy in the past, which then makes her disappear in 2004. Freddy wonders what he’ll do without his mother now and Nora leaves him with some great advice: “My upbringing was only disfunction, but dysfunction doesn’t get to choose who you are. You do.” With that handled, the Legends reunite in 2004 and have a blast at the reunion while Mick hooks up with Allie.
While all of this was going on, Zari and Behrad made some important headway in their relationship. Both of them thought their parents loved and respected the other more, but over the course of the episode, they realize that isn’t the case. Not only that, but Zari gets a chance to see what Behrad does as a Legend and develops a newfound appreciation for her brother and agrees to hang around.
Wall of Weird:
- All the way over in the episode’s C-plot: Constantine returns to the mansion he lived in when he was younger and is shocked to find Charlie there partying it up. After kicking out all of her friends, he reveals that he returned here so he can speak to Astra’s mother, whose spirit is locked inside one of the rooms. At the end of the episode, he finally musters up the courage to enter one of the rooms, which will obviously go well.
- While trapped on the Waverider, Zari suddenly remembers her hacking skills and is able to break out of Behrad’s room. Hopefully, this is just the start because I miss Zari 1.0. That being said, Tala Ashe continues to be hilarious in the role.
- “And order one of these mattresses using promo code ‘laceration,'” Nate, to Gideon, as he listens to Ava’s podcast for the first time. Love a podcast joke!
- “I never thought I’d say this but I think I lost my appetite for broccoli,” Ray, after finding one of Kathy’s victims.
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