Last week, Legends of Tomorrow gave us a singing fairy godmother. This week, we got an episode about a punk rock band (plus a music video!) and a musical reference. Can this show just give us a musical episode already? Well, while we wait for Legends to fulfill our dreams, let’s dive into the episode.
“Dancing Queen,” a surprisingly and charmingly Ray-centric outing, sees the team sans Nate travel to 1970s punk rock London to find a fugitive who changes the timeline by catapulting a no-name band called the Smell to fame. Sara, Zari, Mick, and Constantine are pretty jazzed about visiting the time period since they are the team’s rule-breakers, so they decide to leave Ray in the van while they investigate the Smell’s concert. But, as always, things don’t go as planned. Mick starts a fight with Constantine because he hates people who speak with accents and wear ties, which leads to a huge and very season 1-y bar brawl. In the confusion, the Smell flees the bar and make their getaway in Ray’s van.
Thus, Ray finds himself going undercover with the punk rock band, which is the last place he should be since, well, he’s Ray. He gains their trust-ish by saying his name is actually Rage because he hates disco, the queen, and timely shores (Jokes, coming from the guy who invented the Waverider’s chore wheel). Once inside, he follows Constantine’s advice and tries to test whether or not band member Declan is a leprechaun by throwing grain on the ground (apparently leprechauns can’t help but count it all). The test fails, which means they aren’t dealing with a leprechaun.
One thing leads to another again and Ray is forced to join the band on their mission to disrupt The System by stealing one of the Queen’s dogs. Being a criminal is not Ray’s strong suit, so it falls to Sara to help him steal the dog — and by help, I mean she takes out the Queen’s guards and intimidates the dog walker into giving him one of the corgis. With the dog in hand, Nate rushes back to the band and gains their trust. They even give him a tattoo to make things official. Alas, it’s not a tramp stamp, much to Zari’s dismay.
While Ray’s busy with the Smell, Sara sends Zari after Constantine, who stormed off after his tussle with Mick. Zari finds Constantine in a Liverpool bar where his mother works. It turns out this is the first time Constantine has ever met his mom because she died giving birth to him (his father never let him forget it and kept referring to him as killer). So, Constantine tries rewrite history by giving his father a very unorthodox and unpleasant mastectomy, but time won’t let that happen because a time paradox would occur. So, the only catharsis he gets out of this trip is being able to punch his father.
Of course, Zari can empathize with his desire to change his past, because it’s one that she has felt many times before (Remember her scene in the season premiere?). And thus, the two form a very unlikely friendship and another unexpected yet compelling Legends pairing is born.
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Speaking of interesting pairings: Ray bonds with Charlie, one of the band members, after she defends him when his credibility comes into question because the other bandmates found a newspaper with him and the other Legends in disco garb, a callback to the lost disco adventure in last season’s “Here I Go Again.” By this point, Ray knows Charlie is the fugitive, but he still listens to her tale of woe about being wrongfully imprisoned. He even opens up about how his crew lost their moral compass, a.k.a. Amaya. Ray’s compassion convinces Charlie to reveal that she’s a shape-shifter.
Ray decides that Charlie shouldn’t be sent to hell, but the Legends disagree and believe that Ray has been compromised; Zari, knowing what Ray did for Nora, is the deciding vote in the matter. So in the mission’s climactic sequence, it falls on Ray to talk the Legends out of sending Charlie, whom he believes deserves a second chance, to hell. In the process, he becomes the team’s new moral center, which feels rather fitting given what we know about this sweet, innocent character. Ray’s case is bolstered by the fact that Charlie engages in some emotional manipulation and transforms into all of them, including Amaya, which convinces the Legends not to send her down under. But Constantine won’t share a ship with a shapeshifter, so he casts a spell that removes her powers and traps her in the form of Amaya. And thus, Maisie Richardson-Sellers returns to the show as a completely new character.
Back on the Waverider, Ray still seems determined to prove that he’s not entirely good and reveals that he’s the one who let Nora Darhk escape, which is news to Captain Sara. Again, he makes the argument that they should give her a chance to be a good person, especially since most of the team received a second one, and so Sara acquiesces.
One of the things I loved about the episode is how it had a sense of history. There were so many callbacks to past episodes and events that made the entire episode incredibly richer. Not only did “Dancing Queen” allude to the lost disco adventure, but Ray also quoted Stein when he said “astonishing!” after seeing Charlie shapeshift for the first time, and the whole idea of Mick walking Nate through stealing the corgis felt like a callback to their brief partnership in season 2. Four seasons in, it’s good that the show recognizes that one of its greatest strengths is all of the history it has built up over the past few years.
While the Legends were off in punk rock London, Nate was busy getting used to life at the Time Bureau. Spoiler alert: It finds it quite boring and eventually lures Gary out on an adventure with the prospect of becoming of time bros. The mission doesn’t go as planned, and Gary ends up bringing back a Little Shop of Horrors-esque plant that terrorizes the entire office.
In the process, though, Nate realizes that he decided to stay at the bureau because it was hard to be on the Waverider without Amaya. He shares this epiphany with Sara right at the end of the episode, which convinces Sara to not tell him about Charlie and to suggest that he stay at the Bureau for a bit because she’s invested in his growth (which might the least convincing thing she’s ever said).
Wall of Weird:
- Ramona Young made her debut as Alaska Young Mona, who delivers lunch to the Time Bureau. Gary is forced to wipe her memory after she finds out about the Time Bureau’s existence on Taco Monday (#daretodefy).
- Apparently, Charlie-as-the Queen moons the crowd at a Smell concert. The Crown would never!
- “Are you being serious or racist?” “Both, love.” – Zari, to Constantine, after he assumes that the Irish-looking member of the Smell must be a leprechaun.
- In the episode, Constantine revealed that he used to perform with a band and that he has hurt plenty of people. That second revelation was paired with a flashback to his dramatic scene at the end of the premiere. This feels like the show is drawing on Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV’s run on Constantine: The Hellblazer, which executive producer Phil Klemmer recommended people read ahead of the season.
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