Legends of Tomorrow recap: 'Amazing Grace'
The Legends travel to the birthplace of rock & roll to save music and Elvis Presley
Legends of Tomorrow is my favorite Arrowverse show. It’s inventive (“Here I Go Again” might be one of the best things I’ve watched this year), delightfully lighthearted, and quite often very, very silly, but charmingly so. Unfortunately, “Amazing Grace” — which featured the Legends crossing paths with a young Elvis Presley — lacked most of the show’s trademark charm. Sure, it was silly, but in a bad way.
We begin in Memphis in 1950 with a young Elvis Presley entering a pawn shop in search of a guitar and leaving with an instrument that many believe is cursed. It doesn’t take long for us to find out why the shop’s owner was so freaked out about it. His purchase sends shockwaves through the time stream because apparently Memphis eventually becomes a literal ghost town and is destroyed before rock & roll can spread. And there being no rock & roll has severe side effects on the future: The name of Mick’s rat Axl changes to Josh Groban, Nate’s hair flattens, and Zari’s Guitar Hero video game becomes Trombone Hero. So the Legends make a beeline to Memphis to set history straight and save music.
When they arrive in Memphis, they head to church, where Elvis’ uncle, the church’s reverend, is preaching about how this newfangled thing called rock is the devil’s music. He calls his nephew up to the pulpit to play some hymns, and Zari’s totem starts acting up the moment Elvis starts playing, which can only mean one thing: His guitar contains a totem.
New Legend Wally thinks he can solve this situation quickly and just uses his super speed to steal Elvis’ guitar. Actually, he’s been doing that quite a bit since he joined the Legends, much to everyone’s annoyance, especially Zari (he also used his speed to beat all of her top scores on Pac-Man, which isn’t cool). However, Nate, who spends most of this episode speaking in clichés about the power of music like he’s Will Schuester on Glee, insists that their job here isn’t done because they still need to make Elvis records his first single or else rock & roll will never be a thing, which means Nate’s hair would forever remain flat! So the Legends come up with the idea to just switch out Elvis’ guitar with a totem-less one.
Nate and Amaya take the replica to Elvis, who is about to take the stage at a bar to play. Unfortunately, without the totem, Elvis bombs onstage. It turns out his actual guitar connected him with the spirit of his dead twin brother Jesse, and without him he can’t play. That’s when Nate and Amaya realize that his guitar contains the Death Totem (oooh, spooky) and call the rest of the team to warn them. However, they’re actually way ahead of Nate because the guitar started attacking them as it tried to escape the Waverider and return to Elvis. Sara manages to calm it down by calling out to Elvis’ brother. (Next: A thriller night)
Even though they now know what’s up with Elvis’ guitar, Nate begs them to let Elvis use it one more time to record his first single. Sara acquiesces. Nate and Amaya accompany Elvis to his recording session, which goes really well. His producer wants to deliver the cut of his song to the radio station immediately, but that doesn’t happen: Reverend-Uncle storms the studio, confiscates the recording, and sends Nate, Elvis, and Amaya to jail because rock & roll is the devil’s music.
Nate updates Wally and Zari on the situation and asks them to make sure the recording makes it to the radio station. Wally wants to use his speed again, but Zari tells him that time-traveling with the Legends means approaching time with scalpel and not with speedy hammer. So, Wally and Zari approach Reverend-Uncle and convince him to hand over the recording with their words. For a man who spent the entire episode raving about how evil rock is, he hands it over super easily after speaking to two complete strangers. With the recording in hand, Wally speedily delivers it to the radio, and within minutes it’s playing on the air and making everybody shake their tail feathers.
Meanwhile back on the ship, Mick’s rat Axl dies after ingesting something he shouldn’t have. Recognizing that Mick won’t mourn without a push, Ray holds a funeral for Axl — but the funeral goes sideways once Elvis’ single starts playing, because Axl rises from the dead and kind of goes crazy. And Axel isn’t the only thing that’s about to bump in the night. Back at the church, the reverend opens the doors and comes face to face with a bunch of newly risen ghosts who were awakened by the single, which was recorded by the Death Totem.
The Legends realize that the Death Totem gives Elvis control over the dead. So, Nate, Amaya, and Elvis break out of prison and rush to the church. Elvis grabs his guitar, gets on stage, and performs “Amazing Grace,” which ends up calming the ghosts down and gives Nate and Amaya the “musical moment” Nate had been looking for the entire episode. Isn’t music just the best thing in the world? Can you taste the cheese? Because I can.
Recognizing that he doesn’t want to rule the dead, Elvis hands the Death Totem over to Nate. Thus, the Legends now have three of the totems they need! But wasn’t this kind of a lame way to introduce the mysterious sixth totem? “Amazing Grace” lacked the energy of a typical Legends episode, especially one that actually ties into the main arc. The Legends just stumbled upon the mysterious sixth totem, which was lost for years, but there wasn’t any sense of excitement about this discovery even though the Death Totem is definitely one of the season’s more important MacGuffins. Perhaps the show was trying to save all of its energy for next week’s episode, which, based on the promo, seems rather intense.
While I was disappointed by most of this episode, I will say I did love everything having to do with Wally and Zari. As I alluded to, Zari initially finds Wally pretty annoying, but over the course of the episode, she teaches him about doing what the Legends do, and by the end of it, the two of them are dancing in the middle of the church together. I think “Amazing Grace” would have been better served if the main story had been about Wally’s growth instead of about Nate gushing about the power of music and trying to get Amaya to fall in love with rock & roll.