Folks, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow has (finally) reached its destination: New York City! After being stranded in the culturally hostile 1925 for four episodes (one of them taking place almost entirely inside Gideon’s synthetic brain), the Legends have finally, finally darkened the doorway of Dr. Gwyn Davies, as played by former John Constantine, Matt Ryan. (Perhaps Matt didn’t show up for any of the other episodes this season because he needed more time to grow that beard?)
Dr. Davies, who strikes a close resemblance to a young Prof. Martin Stein (or a more hairy Mick Rory or maybe Dr. Ray Palmer, it depends on who you ask), has long held the key to the Legends’ continued survival in the timeline: the world’s first functioning time machine. Now that they have arrived at this season’s first major turning point, all the Legends need is a little more time... and a bit of luck.
And as luck would have it, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist” comes to play. Bigger (and more seamless) effects, amped-up drama, solid character work, it’s not a stretch to say “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad…” is the strongest episode of the season so far. And let’s not forget the catharsis that comes with finally seeing the entire Legends’ roster united with Ryan towards the end of the episode. (“There are a lot more of you than I thought there’d be,” Davies says. Oh, buddy. Same.)
Huddled together in a gigantic group hug, it’s clear that the Legends are stronger than ever. And they’ll have to be—those baby steps Sara keeps insisting upon has triggered a stampede of temporal messes that will need to get cleaned up sooner rather than later. (Their latest bit of time trouble that’ll need solving: Thomas Edison DIES!) Plus, there’s still the matter of that rogue Waverider continuing to dispatch flesh-covered murder-bots to wipe them from the timeline altogether. Legends!
Structure is the name of the game this week, namely finding something for each individual member of the crew to do that matches their worth without tripping up these high-wire hijinks along the way. It’s a tricky calculus, especially with a cast as large as Legends’, but this week pulls it off by splitting the Legendeers into three converging plotlines. And, for the most part, the episode runs smooth as clockwork: Sara, Behrad, Gary, and Ava attempt to intercept Davies’ time travel notes from the Edison Institute and, failing that, Davies himself; Nate and Zari hang back for some much-needed alone time… with the murderous Hoover-1000, who menacingly watches the sweetness unfold; then there’s Spooner, Astra, and Gideon’s arduous trek to New York, which becomes—quite literally out of nowhere!—a bonafide Cannonball Run.
Placing stress upon all of this mayhem is the episode’s ticking clock that races towards the explosive death of Sara, Ava, Gary, Behrad, Zari, Nate, and Davies (Gideon says they’ll blow up in Davies’ copper-lined time-trap), which would effectively strand Spooner, Astra, and Gideon in 1925 for the rest of time, or whenever a newly-manufactured Hoover-1000 finally tracks them down. (What is the robots’ protocol for Legends murder, anyway? Just blowing up in their general vicinity? Because so far it ain’t effective, mystery villain/probably Bishop.)
The latter two plotlines might not come together as neatly as the prime storyline, but it’s not like these are egregious storytelling flubs. There’s Astra’s made-up lucky rock arc, which is missing a crucial component to Gideon’s newfound belief in luck; Gideon being absent when Astra declares we make our own luck to Spooner kinda backfires in this regard. (Maybe next week?) Then there’s the ongoing Nate/Zari romantic complications, which come to a head after Zari Tomaz comes clean to Nate about her heart being pulled in two separate directions—her life inside the totem, we find out, has given her a family of her own, whatever that can possibly mean. (“It feels like home,” she says.)
This, of course, happens after Zari sees Hoover-1000 reject his new, Legends-friendly programming and as a result explodes in Thomas Edison’s face. (I suppose there is a connection, if you squint at it long enough.)
Still, it’s hard to get mad at DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow at this juncture. It is at long last altering its course towards an intriguing seasonal arc after a few episodes of putzing around in a cheaply-assembled period setting. (I’m chalking all of this up to COVID complications.) There has been much singing and drinking (so much drinking) and even more revelry along the way, and the Legends have adapted to their ever-shifting timeline kerfuffles with their typical... well, I won’t say grace. Ebullience?
- Episode’s MVP: Dr. Gwyn Davies. Matt Ryan’s jittery, borderline manic performance this week made the episode’s stakes feel more fraught—and how good is Caity and Matt together? The scene where Sara, out of sheer desperation to get Davies to calm down and understand the situation he’s in, is the best thing I’ve seen from Legends all season. Then, later: “I’m as mad as a hatter!” Oh, Matt Ryan, how I’ve missed you.
- Davies’ calming recitation comes from Invictus by William Ernest Henley: “Out of the night that covers me/Black as the Pit from pole to pole/I thank whatever gods may be/For my unconquerable soul.” Nice touch.
- Bishop Watch 2021: Again, nothing. Looks like that may change next week.
- Timeline Housecleaning: I flubbed up Sara & Ava’s whiskey source last week. The perils of recapping live television! Special thanks to those eagle-eyed Legends faithful who pointed it out to me. (You know who you are.)
- Gary, concerning Nate & Zari: “I’m not concerned. I’m just, you know, emotionally invested in their love story.” Gary is good, Non-Gary People. Calm down.
- Sara thinks Davies looks like a young Martin Stein, Gary thinks he… looks… like… Mick? Zari thinks he looks like Ray Palmer. I’m sure somebody will get it right sooner than later. Or maybe not. Legends!
- Gary: “This is the last time I sneak you train doughnuts.” Nate: “The hell you will, you’re my doughnut dealer!”
- Sara takes a long pull from Zari’s “Rip Hunter” bottle from a couple episodes back. Why am I getting the impression that it’s not saying “Rip” Hunter, but “R.I.P.” Hunter?
- I genuinely could not find evidence that cannonball runs existed in 1925, but then, I was working on deadline. Chalk Erwin George Baker’s sudden appearance to the show’s neverending contrivances, which I am now calling the Legends Bag O’ Luck.
- Gary, to everyone: “I love scavenger hunts! Because I love giving myself to all things — games...” Gary, to Nate: “People?” Zari, to Nate: “Did you and Gary hook up? I won’t be mad. I will be confused.”
- Every time Sara says “babe,” I’m reminded of Elaine’s mimbo boyfriend Tony from the fifth season episode of Seinfeld, “The Stall”.
- A spitting agreement? In this climate?
- Pretty sure that was a Wilhelm scream I heard when the Hoover-1000 explodes.
- Nate and Zari’s heart-to-heart, which occurs over the corpse of Thomas Edison, felt wrong in a couple ways. That may be Thomas Edison, but that’s still a human being lying dead at your feet, lovebirds! (Legends!)
- The way Astra fell into Spooner’s arms, amirite.
- Say! The director of this week’s episode, Andrew Kasch, was an editor on Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, a horror documentary that I quite enjoyed. It’s free to stream over on Shudder right now, seek it out.
- So what say you, group? Did “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist” do things for you as it clearly did things for me? How good is it to have Matt Ryan back? What could possibly possess the Legends writing team to throw the crew at Chernobyl next week? Let’s flip out in the comments below.