Legends of Tomorrow recap: 'No Country for Old Dads'
Ray must help the Darhks with some father-daughter issues — oh, and the founder of nuclear fusion, apparently
It’s too bad this episode’s titled after the wrong Best Picture nominee. (Sure, in the case of No Country for Old Men, it’s a “winner,” but you get what I mean.) Because, you know, “The Darhkest Hour” would have been perfect.
After all, this hour was devoted to the Darhks. It hadn’t occurred to me until this episode how much fun Legends of Tomorrow could have with a villainous father-daughter pairing, and I’m glad it finally gave Courtney Ford’s Nora Darhk a chance to shine, and to delve into what it’s like to have a supervillain be a doting dad on the side.
As it turns out, it sucks to be a villain with a kid. They’ve kidnapped Ray after he saved Nora’s life — after he nearly killed her with his nanite gun, of course — and after forcing him to send the Legends a message about how they really shouldn‘t come after him, they’re torn over what to do with their totems, including the Fire Totem that Damien stole from Detroit, and the Spirit Totem they snagged off of Amaya’s neck. Kuasa tells them they’ll never have total control of their totems until they fix them and truly become one with them (or something like that), so the pair decide to use Ray to figure something out.
Ray requests a lab, so they end up in Upswipz HQ, where Ray had been working before the Legends banded together again. Though the CEO was certainly overdue for his comeuppance, what Damien does is…overkill, as always. He toys with the man, tossing him left and right — and as Upswipz prefers, up and down — before cracking dad jokes with his daughter and frustrating her with all of his tomfoolery while she’s trying to focus on the mission at hand. He’s too casual, too smarmy, and Nora just wants them to find a way for her to use the totem properly.
So when Ray reports that they’ll need cold fusion to make it work, Damien reveals he had, in his past, assassinated the scientist who invented cold fusion, back in 1962 in East Berlin. And [insert “whoosh” sound from Lost] we revisit Younger Damien’s kill — and that killer (read: awful) hairdo — as he murders the scientist in the scientist’s bathroom.
Damien prepares to go — he finishes off the Upswipz CEO just because — but Nora stops him. She says that it would break the rules of time if the two Damiens were to see each other and demands to take Ray with her to save the scientist and get the formula for cold fusion. After a brief fight, Damien agrees — and tells her to use protection as he hands her a gun. Oookay, Dad.
Nora and Ray’s mission begins to fail pretty much immediately. Nora can’t help being aggressive and breaking character, and the scientist won’t leave without taking a doll that once belonged to his daughter with them. And so, after a series of diversions and shenanigans, Younger Damien arrives in time to chase Nora, Ray, and the scientist back into the bathroom, destroying Nora’s time stone in the process. Which is why, from there, the trio are forced to run and regroup far away from the safe house.
There, Ray convinces Nora that torturing the scientist isn’t the answer; after all, the scientist explains that he’s already lived through the worst thing anyone could experience, which is losing his family. And though Nora’s annoyed, she finally reveals what’s really bothering her: She feels like she’s failed and her father will only think even less of her than he does now. She wishes he respected her and treated her like an equal — and I can’t say I disagree, considering how she channels a demon and everything.
Ray, though, pitches an idea: Why not bring the scientist across the border as he wants and then get the formula in exchange? Nora reluctantly agrees, and the next thing they know, they’re forging papers and heading to the checkpoint and lying to make their way through — well, Nora is, because Ray sucks at lying — when present-day Damien shows up. See, Damien got antsy waiting by himself back in the present, and, worried over Nora, has used his own time stone to find her.
It’s a good thing he does, because just then, Younger Damien was about to shoot his own daughter. They manage to drive away just in time — and when they come to a stop back where they forged their papers, Damien and Nora start arguing. Nora can’t stand that Damien decided to step in on her mission and brings up the fact that he’s never cared, because a true father wouldn’t force his scared little girl to become one with a demon. Damien’s defense? Ray’s corrupted her with his kindness! That has to be it!
And so, just as Damien turns on Ray, Nora walks out — and right into Younger Damien, who’s followed them to their hiding place. (Next: Darhk matters…)
While his little girl’s getting kidnapped by his younger self, Damien sits and asks Ray — a man who is not a father and also his enemy — for advice. Ray tries his best, telling him that, hey, if you really care for Nora, you shouldn’t let her be a vessel for a demon. Good advice, Ray! Oh, and he also advises him to tell her how truly proud of her he is, because she has no idea.
Just then, Younger Damien calls present-day Damien, telling him that he has Nora, and if Damien wants her back, he’ll have to bring the scientist. And so, Damien ties Ray up, ignoring his request to help, before dashing off to save his daughter.
But he’s just simply not as good as himself at his prime, so his younger self begins to kick his own older butt very quickly. (That’s a confusing sentence that could only exist with a show like Legends.) Soon, he’s both fighting to save Nora from falling to her death after Younger Damien tossed her off the roof and fighting Younger Damien off of himself. Younger Damien, naive and relentless, says he would never allow himself to have a weakness like a daughter — and notes that magic looks pretty useful.
And then, just as all hope seems to be lost, Nora tells her father to let go, and after hesitating, Damien does — only to watch as she finally activates the totem and flies back onto the roof in time to defeat Younger Damien. At the same time, Ray spots his Atom suit, voice activates it, and makes his escape.
By the time he arrives on the roof, the poor scientist has been shot, and though Ray helps him up, he gets shot again. At least before he dies, he tells Ray that the formula for cold fusion is in the doll — that’s why he’s kept it all this time. Ray then tries to take the doll with him, but Nora uses the totem and manages to stop Ray from leaving. Instead of shooting her — he can’t, and she knows it — he blows up
a nearby building a chunk of the Berlin Wall (my bad!) causing a timequake that finally alerts the Legends to his location.
Not that they weren’t trying, of course. Ever since Sara, Zari, and Ava watched his message, they’ve been trying like crazy to track Ray down. He had mentioned that Damien wanted to take him to a Grateful Dead concert, so Mick and Nate have been attending every single one through history, hoping to catch them. Rip and Wally also arrived at the top of the episode, saying they want to join the hunt for Mallus — and soon, Sara’s commanded the team to get to work.
Amaya and Zari, with Wally’s help until he lets slip that he helped Nate try to get over Amaya, meditate and drink special tea to go into the ancestral world, where Amaya hopes they can track down her totem. But when they wake inside the world between worlds, it’s dark and dreary and nothing like the paradise Amaya remembers. When an ancestor appears, she tells Amaya that because a dark soul is wearing the totem, the totem is being corrupted — and more importantly, the Darhks are causing anachronisms to tear time apart, as the prison containing Mallus is fueled by time.
When Nora claims the totem’s power, the ancestor disappears, and Amaya and Zari return to report their findings. When the Ray-initiated timequake happens, Sara has the ship jump to East Berlin in 1962, where Wally uses his speed to both save Ray and to snatch the fire totem off of Damien. Back on board, the team reunites happily — until, during a briefing with Agent Bennett of the Time Bureau, Bennett is trampled and murdered by Gorilla Grodd. Ava, therefore, has become the leader of the Time Bureau, and she reinstates Rip as an agent.
She’s in shock, but soon enough, she heads back to the Bureau with Rip. Wally decides to remain with the Legends after Sara convinces him that they’re the “all-stars of bad first impressions,” while on the other side of the Waverider, Ray thanks Nate and praises Nora instead of criticizing her. Nate realizes that Ray may be into Nora, and though Ray denies it, he is a big softie, as Nate points out. Aww.
That said, I don’t have high hopes for a Ray/Nora relationship, not after this final scene. Damien checks on Nora, finally telling her he’s proud of her, and even bringing her hot chocolate — but when he leaves to get them some brandy so they can enjoy their beverages properly, she starts convulsing because of Mallus. He takes over her body, with her eyes glowing red, and then her face begins to crack, dark lines running all over her skin. When Damien checks on her, she turns around and grins. “I’m fine, Daddy,” she says. Yeah…Nora Darhk is absolutely not fine.
But this episode was. The tone, in true Legends fashion, veered wildly from broad comedy — Damien cracking dad jokes — to too-serious thriller (with a bad wig to boot) to sentimental family drama, inserted a clunky teaser with Rip Hunter telling Gideon to erase a file because “Sara can never find out the truth about Ava,” and also barely featured the historical era it chose for this week’s adventure. And yet, Neal McDonough, guys. He’s spent so many seasons in the Arrowverse chewing scenery, and when he gets the spotlight, he uses it. Sure, we’ve seen so much of Damien Darhk at this point we can practically write his lines for him, but it’s always a delight watching McDonough work. And hey, Wally West is now a Legend. That’s exciting enough for me.