DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow takes direct inspiration from classic movies for its stories, and this season has had episodes riffing on E.T., Apocalypse Now, Predator, The Exorcist, and Groundhog Day. Putting a superhero twist on established material isn’t the most original way to construct a narrative, but it’s a formula that works for a series that constantly jumps into the past. These previous works provide a stylistic template for the show’s creative team, giving each episode a distinct point of view that makes it function better as a standalone chapter. I’d be fine with this series consisting entirely of superhero homages, because this week’s Pirates Of The Caribbean-inspired “The Curse Of The Earth Totem” continues to deliver fun, exciting superhero action with engaging character dynamics.
Written by Grainne Godfree & Ubah Mohamed, tonight’s episode sends the Legends (sans Sara) to the Bahamas in 1717 to retrieve the Earth Totem, last seen with the notorious pirate Blackbeard. Amaya, Nate, Mick, and Ray disguise themselves to gain Blackbeard’s favor, and Amaya taps into her tough side by posing as the dread pirate Jiwe. Weighed down by the pressure of her future history, Amaya doesn’t know how to move forward without making a decision that will have a negative consequence. She wants to help Kuasa, but she doesn’t want to derail her other granddaughter’s heroic destiny as the present-day Vixen. She can’t be with Nate long-term because she needs to eventually return to her original time and marry someone else in order to make sure her granddaughter’s exist.
Amaya feels trapped, but she’s freed by her role as pirate queen. She works out all her frustrations by beating people up without abandon, and this episode doesn’t skimp on the swashbuckling. The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies don’t feature very many women in action roles, but the main fighters in this episode are female. There’s Amaya, who saves herself, Mick, and Blackbeard from execution. The Earth Totem is in the body of an undead pirate queen, who can tap into the forces of nature to smack people around. When Blackbeard hops on board the Waverider, Sara and Ava team up for a pirate beatdown, and the scoundrel admits that they’re the best fighters he’s ever seen. Director Chris Tammaro does strong work with the action sequences, and compared to the last two episode, there’s a higher level of spectacle achieved by “Curse Of The Earth Totem.”
Damien and Nora Darhk ambush the Legends with the help of the royal fleet, and they walk away from this episode with their hands full. They acquire both the Earth Totem and Amaya’s Spirit Totem, but they also gain Ray, who returns to the past to heal Nora after shooting her with his nanite gun. Damien is still a pretty boring villain, but his relationship with Nora makes him more interesting this season because now there’s someone he actually cares about. This relationship hasn’t gotten much attention, but the moment where Damien quickly agrees to trade Amaya’s totem for Nora’s life reveals a personal connection that could be exploited to hurt him.
While the Legends are on a pirate adventure, their old captain starts the Arrowverse’s next great bromance in the present. Rip Hunter enlists the help of Wally West to steal Gary’s time courier and Rip’s trenchcoat, and the two men have a delightful drunken bonding session. Wally has been hiding out in China trying to forget his ex-girlfriend through meditation, and Rip is a man abandoned by his bureau and his old team, desperate for companionship. They get wasted on Cisco’s special speedster hooch and end up in 1992 Tokyo singing George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” at karaoke, and this lighthearted subplot allows Arthur Darville and Keiynan Lonsdale to relax and let their charisma take over. Rip suggests that Wally go join the Legends if he’s looking for direction in his life, and it would be very helpful to have a speedster on the team.
Sara and Ava finally act on their attraction by going on a date in Star City, but their attempt at being a normal couple fails when work calls. Sara gets a message from Gideon telling her that the other have taken the Waverider back in time, and Gary shows up at the restaurant to tell Ava about Rip and Wally robbing him. The date ends badly, but their fight against Blackbeard’s accomplices smooths over the tension, helping them realize that there’s no use in trying to be normal when their jobs are so crazy. After months of sexual tension, the two of them finally make out (and probably more once they head back to Sara’s quarters), but this coupling now has me very nervous about Ava’s future on this series. Sara’s had a pretty tragic love life, and I can easily see Ava becoming a target now that she’s shacking up with the Legends’ leader.
- After getting the spotlight last week, Zari is pushed to the sidelines in tonight’s episode. She does have a new hairdo, though!
- This episode really whizzes past that mission in Detroit. Some stuff happens off screen to take up time before the crew heads to pirate land.
- I like the characterization of Blackbeard as a total coward. He reminds me of Captain Hook.
- “I look at everyone’s phone. Helps pass the time.”
- “Your playlist consists of a rather amazing number of repetitions of George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper.’”
- Wally: “Right now I’m living my life, one quarter mile at a time.” Rip: “Is that a Buddhist koan?” Wally: “Dom Toretto, The Fast & The Furious.”
- “A speedster stole my time courier...and pantsed me.”
- “No, Gary!”
- Sara: “I don’t know who looks more ridiculous. You guys in your pirate britches or me in this stupid dress.” Zari: “Definitely them.”
- “Hey, you guys!”