So, let’s get this monkey smoking….
*********SPOILERS LIKE GASOLINE IN YOUR MOUTHWASH**********
The SYNOPSIS from TVGuide.com
Season 2, Episode 4
November 3, 2016
The Legends discover a time aberration in 1863 and must fight for survival during the Civil War with Confederate soldiers who have been turned into zombies. With the Civil War outcome hanging in the balance, Jax participates in a daring mission by going to a slave plantation with Amaya. Meanwhile, Sara begins to feel the burden of the decisions she has to make as the leader; and Ray struggles to find his purpose on the team.
It dawned on me light a light from the heavens and it was wonderful.
Let me explain.
For the past 3 weeks, I have been reviewing Legends of Tomorrow in the scope of itself alone and not in relation to the rest of the CW Arrowverse. If I had, then surely some of my reservations and critiques of this show would have been different. You see, on the surface it appears Legends is plot centric as opposed to thematically driven like the other shows on this network based around DC Comics characters. But, because I was not reviewing Flash or Arrow this season I was not exploring the thematic drives as much and until I did I was confused.
The Arrowverse is bound together for the first time by just one theme and it is largely responsible for the cohesiveness of the universe. That theme is a character study in how the DCTVU deals with change and while I have explored that theme extensively in Supergirl, until I had noticed that this year all the shows are connected by this theme I was missing the greatness of this show. The theme is running parallel in every character on every show. It may well be the most comprehensive character study on a common theme ever undertaken. More than 40 characters all showing how they deal with change and not one them is the same. Ambitious and clever -not to mention fearless.
While my observations concerning time-travel being the series biggest star and guest stars being the hook, I was wrong about no theme and no emotional connection (though muted). The reason this is important is because once I was aware of the thematic connection I could see the genius in the new season of Legends of Tomorrow. You see the star (time travel) is thematically geared to periods of history that underwent the greatest changes. WWII, Feudal Japan and the Civil War all being showcased as catalysts of change and accommodating the plot to allow the characters to individually react to change. It is brilliant and shows the passion and commitment to detail.
The changes in Ray are dramatic and the revelation of the cold gun as his new weapon brings a promise of struggle to find his identity without his suit. Likewise, the change in Jax has made his relationship with the world and with Stein forever different because of their psychic link. White Canary is dealing with her new position as captain and Amaya is in a whole new reality trying to understand a mission she doesn’t comprehend and with people that she doesn’t trust. Mick is trying to deal with the loss of Snart and being alone for the first time since they met.
While these individual details are intriguing to watch, there is still a deep need to sell some emotional connection. But again, the focus on action for this show demands that some of the emotional crack be tempered with fight scene soda.
Legends of Tomorrow went a long way to finding it’s emotional voice and a long way to communicating what they want the series to be after episode 4. The emotional ties are strengthening and developing viewer connection is slower because the number of characters is larger. This slow setup is promising fantastic payoffs. Abominations filled holes, gave strength and nurtured the world it is connected to with the theme mirroring the other shows this season. The fearless genius of this alone makes the show worth watching. This is a very strong episode.
The sensitive material of the period, slavery, war and social upheaval, were handled brilliantly in the most classic of comic book fashion – using hope and perspective rather than graphic depiction (not a single n bomb was required to make the point) and adding zombies to the mix makes it a comic book on screen again this week. In fact, Legends is the most comic book pure of the shows in the sense that the plot devices, tropes and spirit that they were created in most resemble the printed medium.
I recommend Legends of Tomorrow as a great superhero romp through time but I still say of the four shows on CW watch it last.
Tell the monkey to crush his butt.