Legends of Tomorrow recap: 'Helen Hunt'
A trip to Tinseltown eventually takes the Legends to an even more wonder-ful setting
Oh, Legends, you’re too clever. An episode about Hollywood with an identity switch, a Wonder Woman Easter egg, and a title named after an actress? You’re making me, ahem, mad about you. (Too bad Helen Hunt couldn’t actually make an appearance. Maybe next time, Helen?)
In a season around anachronisms, this was inevitable, and I was wondering how long it would take for the show to take things straight to Tinseltown. All it needed was an anachronism to anchor it all, and it found the perfect one in Helen of Troy, who winds up misplaced in the setting where she’s most likely to thrive.
Her face may have launched a thousand ships, but in Hollywoodland, it launches a bloody war between studios that attracts the Legends to 1937, where they find Helen easily enough. Unfortunately, they’re already making a mess; Ray has attempted to separate Stein and Jax, but after his equipment overheats, the two switch bodies instead. At least it’s good news for Stein, who finally gets to enjoy being young again while being trapped in Jax’s body, even joining in the mission on the ground as one of the men at the studio party Helen attends. There, he even gets a chance to chat with his celebrity crush, Hedy Lamarr, an actress who moonlighted as an inventor and helped develop the patent that would lead to the creation of Wi-Fi, among other achievements.
Hedy makes for great conversation with Jax-as-Stein, but the rest of the Legends are having no such luck with Helen. She’s reluctant to return to her home of Troy, where men treat women with barely a fraction of the respect and adulation she gets in Hollywood. And so, the beauty runs away from Sara, instead asking for help from her agent, who turns out to be…Damien Darhk, who’s brought his daughter and water witch Kuasa along.
Darhk senses an opportunity and tries to talk Sara into retreating. He points out how her team makes a mess of things too easily, and while she’s dismayed to see that her male teammates have created chaos out of nothing just because of Helen, she tells them she won’t back down. Aboard the Waverider, she assures them that they’ll fight Darhk; as Mick points out, even if they do retreat quietly, Darhk will probably just send assassins after them and kill them anyway.
So what’s a wayward team to do? Sara chooses to lead the team to save Helen of Troy with only her female teammates, and they do so smoothly enough, helping to disarm the men from the rival studios while smuggling Helen of Troy out of her new home.
Unfortunately, they quickly run into a new snag when they return to the Waverider: The comms are down, and so are many of the other operations on board the ship. Stein realizes that with Hedy Lamarr no longer a movie star, her inventions fail to come to fruition, therefore shutting down half of the ship’s technology. Uh oh. (Next: Defense Against the Darhk Arts)
Stein-as-Jax convinces Hedy to leave her new position behind the scenes at Warner Bros., but Darhk and his daughter have arrived just in time to stop them both. Just as Darhk’s about to snap the poor professor/Jax’s neck, the rest of the Legends cavalry arrives in full uniform.
Sara steps up to confront Darhk for the umpteenth time, telling him they’ll duel without magic, just the way they liked it back with the League of Assassins. Hedy, meanwhile, advises Jax-as-Stein and Stein-as-Jax on a way to return their minds to their bodies: All they have to do is to merge again, and the ensuing nuclear reaction could help their atoms align again. Or, uhh, something like that. (Listen, I’m not Hedy Lamarr. If only…)
With that in mind, the pair merge, forming Firestorm — this time in Stein’s body — just in time to force Darhk and his daughter to stop torturing Sara, knocking them far enough away that it convinces the Darhk pair to disappear again in the middle of the action. By the time Firestorm cools and the two separate, it turns out Hedy was right: The reaction let the two men finally return to their original bodies.
Still, they can’t breathe easy just yet. A similar battle happens on the Waverider, as Kuasa sneaks on board while Zari tries to secure the doors. Just as she tries to take out Zari, Amaya arrives with her totem, fighting Kuasa before Kuasa ultimately tells her the truth. The water totem-bearing villain reveals that Amaya is her grandmother, and that she has a complicated history during which she was wronged and passed over for her totem. But before she can explain more, Helen sneaks up behind Kuasa and stabs her with the dagger Amaya had gifted her earlier to help her stay safe.
At least it all ends on a relatively happy ending: Hedy leaves her new desk job, gets cast as the lead in a new film, and even kisses Stein goodbye on the cheek. Ray explains to Amaya why he couldn’t tell her the truth about Kuasa, whose lineage he knew, and she accepts, knowing that she would do the same thing in a situation like this one. And finally, Helen of Troy appears to have a new interest in self-defense, practicing her moves (like dagger) so much even Zari notices. She’s no longer enamored with Hollywood and its lifestyle, and so, the newest member of the team flies Helen away and takes advantage of a loophole in history that fails to keep track of Helen’s movements by dropping her off in 1253 B.C. at the island of Themyscira, a.k.a. the home of Wonder Woman and all the warrior women Helen could dream of fighting alongside.
It’s a thrilling final image — and an uplifting one, as Zari explains how, well, wonderful life will be for Helen to live in peace and quiet among inspiring women, no boys allowed. It’s a dream scenario, and a great high note to end on for a solid episode about women finding their agency in male-dominated worlds. Of course, the episode was also about a pair of superheroes un-Freaky-Friday-ing themselves — a story line played to perfection by Victor Garber and Franz Drameh, by the way — but still: Thematically, most of the characters’ arcs made sense, with Sara taking the reins, Zari striking out on her own, Amaya finding out the truth to Kuasa, Hedy providing the biggest assist the team needed, and Helen landing where she belongs. And as for the wonder woman of the Legends team? As Gideon reveals, Sara’s going to be in a coma for a few days, so here’s hoping the Legends don’t get in trouble before their captain fully recovers. Otherwise, they should probably just leave Sara out in Themyscira as well.