There are but three episodes left in what could possibly be the final hoorah for DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. Our historic Legends are fighting for their futures at a crucial point in history. Their foes? Those dastardly psychotic robo-doppelgängers. The price of failure? The freedom of Captain Sara Lance. (There’s also a possibility for the Legends to finally return to the present, but Sara’s fate sounds more dire.) You’d think this was some kinda epic battle. In true Legends fashion, it’s more of a ruckus.
That’s right, “Rage Against The Machines” is the showdown that the series has been hinting at all season long. (Or maybe this was just the first round, you can never really tell with a time travel show.) There is romance! There is betrayal! A new Legend earns his bonafides! Ava gets shot (and recuperates off-screen so Jess Macallan can direct the episode unfettered by screen time)! It’s a wild hour of Legends, or at least it has every reason to be. So why does it feel like we’re still taking baby steps towards the finale?
Our Legends are where we left them last week, staring down the incoming rogue Waverider outside The Fixed Point, where Archduke Ferdinand is still alive, The Great War never happened, 20 millions lives have been saved, and drinks are on the house. Its patrons are feeling feisty and thanks to its generous bartender they’re just juiced enough to join the Legends in their final reckoning against Mean-Gideon and her Robo-Legends. That means: Nerdy Nate vs. Jacked-up Steel; Sara Lance vs. The White Canary; Behrad vs. Behrad In A Hat. “We really are our worst enemy,” Fancy Zari says. They really are.
Or, at least, they’re meant to be. (Also: R.I.P., Fixed Point patrons.) DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow has had its share of villainous clunkers: Vandal Savage, Mallus, Damien Darhk and Eobard Thawne’s doofy Legion Of Doom. Bishop. Pitting the Legends against the cracked-mirror versions of themselves is enough of a cliché that the original Star Trek series is giving the show side-eye. But when Legends set aside its seventh midseason premiere to properly establish the warped dichotomy of Mean-Gideon and her Robo-Kids, there was every reason to believe that—once they met up with their proper-timeline facsimiles—there’d be a chance to see some real emotional fireworks. (Or was I the only person who felt that Robo-Sara was primed to betray her programming once more?)
“Rage Against The Machines” is less intense than its title might imply, but that shouldn’t suggest that it isn’t still an adequately fun episode of Legends. As stated above, Ava takes a bullet thanks to the ’80s Action Star Behrad variant, the first bloody casualty in what turns out to be a wicked series of violent mishaps. Sara’s propensity for resurrection means we get to see her head twisted around like a broken Pez dispenser at least once, the Fixed Point patrons get absolutely slaughtered by the Robo-Legends (Robo-Spooner’s got a quota to meet, apparently), and even Eobard Thawne, once the marauding Reverse-Flash, got a knife slid between his ribs. (Let’s try not to reconcile what this means for The Flash.) Macallan might not have written this episode (the honors go to Mark Bruner and Mercedes Valle), but she certainly leans into the offbeat violence that has become a low-key trademark of latter-series Legends. Whenever Alien Gary licked his mandibles, I stood to attention, because anybody could get it this week. (So long as they weren’t actual Legends, mind you.)
That’s not to say Legends doesn’t put some thought into its brutality. Robo-Steel takes great relish in brutalizing a version of Sara that isn’t his moody leader, and the ensuing fracas triggers Dr. Gwyn Davies into a reverie of his terrible wartime past. Beyond the awful things he experienced in the Great War (did we get our first glance at his beloved Alun?) Gwyn also remembers the support he’s received from the Legends and the promise of a better tomorrow that comes with it. So he puts his brilliant mind to work: To beat the Robo-Legends, the Real-Legends have to outthink them. Strategy is the game. (It’s also much cheaper to shoot than an all-out war.)
Because Gwyn is the latest in this long line of Legends, “strategy” is just code for “fighting dirty.” In order to board the only Waverider available to them, the Legends must lure the Robos outside and deploy a spy inside. Gwyn’s choice? Behrad, not just because his Robo-variant’s husk is sprawled out on their mansion floor, but because Behrad is ready to assert himself in the face of destiny (more in the Stray Observations!). Tasked with taking out Mean-Gideon, Behrad’s path is… well, not clear, exactly, but easy enough to lay out: Unplug the rogue Gideon AI (thereby disorienting her Robo-Legends), and land the Waverider so the Legends can take it over and zoom off to the present. Simple! (Turns out it’s not so simple, and Behrad will need a ringer. We’ll get to that in a minute.)
As for Sara, Nate, and the rest of the Legends, they distract the Robo-Legends by kicking up a temporal ruckus. The ruckuses they come up with aren’t shrewd or inventive or even cunning, but at least they’re amusing: Nate and Sara whip up an offscreen Macarena frenzy in 1914 Sarajevo, they drop contextless spoilers for The Empire Strikes Back, they burden the poor people of history with our clunky-ass VR headsets, and, later, they unleash the power of… Big Mouth Billy Bass. The jokes are exhausted this week, it’s true. Anyway, back to Behrad.
“My agents warned me about playing villains,” Fancy Zari tells her brother, but she’s down with playing her psycho-robo variant. (Tala Ashe is, once again, quite versatile in playing different versions of the same character, and her interpretation of “Evil Zari” is one for the books.) Once Zari and Behrad are back onboard the Waverider, Behrad whips a wicked creatine mix for Robo-Astra and Dr. Sharpe (a wickedly effective laxative) and through a bit of keyhole magic Gary murders these foes by shoving them into Hell. (Legends!)
Alarmingly, the day is saved. (What are we doing for the finale?) Behrad christens the Legends as Team: Ruckus and he plants one on Astra. As for that Sara-might-be-trapped-in-time-forever tease? A tease is all it is. Heading into the finale of its seventh season, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow isn’t just enjoying its fake-outs, it’s being merciless with them. Take that final twist of the knife at the end of this episode: Gideon and her quasi-mother Astra have a heart-to-heart, then she’s literally stabbed in the back by Astra’s Hell-scorched variant. As Gideon drifts off into unconsciousness, the last thing she sees is a person she loves, staring Terminator hate into her eyes. We may not have any idea where this is supposed to be going, but at least Legends still knows how to leave our jaws on the floor.
- Episode’s MVP: Behrad! He briefly embraced his darker side and successfully boarded the Rogue Waverider, maneuvered around Robo-Spooner’s intensity (which, !!!), and finally planted a smooch on Astra in a moment of triumph—or did Astra plant one on him? Either way, Shayan Sobhian once again steps up to his leading man potential and knocks it out of the park.
- Still no Mick. Anybody else getting the feeling that Mick ain’t coming back ever, ever again?
- If Archduke Ferdinand’s continued existence was a problem, wouldn’t the Robo-Legends need to go just before the point where Sara disrupted the timeline to make sure he died? Legends!
- These are some of the jankier Waverider effects I’ve seen this season, in the few instances where we’ve actually seen the Waverider. Is the show stashing effect money for the finale?
- Jeez Louise, Steel’s arms are hairy.
- Matt Ryan made Shayan Sobhian blush, I saw it. Hell, he made me blush.
- Why is Spooner still a background character? If Sara and Ava leave this season, Captain Spooner for season eight, that’s what I say!
- Real Gary stood up to Astra on behalf of his best girl Gideon this week, which revealed an interesting (if undercooked) character moment: As Gideon’s technical mother (she did give her a human form, after all) Astra is worried she’ll get hurt, so he pulls rank and sidelines her technical-daughter. (Legends!) This week, Astra apologized for being so hard on her. It’s a small thing, but it works.
- So did “Rage Against The Machines” stir up rage-ly feelings in you, group? Was the Sara-leaving-Legends fakeout worth the subplot? Do you suppose the prop master got a bonus for making sure Steel’s arms resembled a yeti’s? Where will the Legends go with two episodes left in front of them? Get nervous with me in the comments below.