Asylums are a common location for superhero stories, typically used by creators who want to explore the darker mental implications of being a vigilante/supervillain or having superhuman abilities. Arkham Asylum is a key element of the Batman mythos and regular setting in the Gotham TV series, Legion’s first season spent a lot of time in the Clockworks Mental Institution, and the trailer for the upcoming The New Mutants film revealed that it would be set in a sinister psychiatric hospital. It feels like the creative team of “Daddy Darhkest” saw that trailer and thought, “We could do that, too,” especially that bit with the bodies trying to break through a rubbery wall.
With the arrival of guest star John Constantine, Legends moves in a horror-inspired direction as the team learns more about the season’s demonic big bad, Mallus. When Constantine’s first attempt to exorcise a demon from a young girl directs him to Sara Lance, she and Leo accompany him to Sumner Asylum, where they find a teenage Nora Darhk being used as a vessel for Mallus. In the middle of their rescue operation, the trio of heroes is sent back in time to 1969 without any way to communicate with their teammates, and they need to find a way to get back and save Nora.
As the person who restored Sara’s soul after she was revived by the Lazarus Pit, Constantine has a deep connection to the Legends’ leader, and this episode reinforces their bond as they get to know each other emotionally and physically during their time in the past. “Daddy Darkhest” is a great episode for bisexual visibility, spotlighting Sara and Constantine’s attraction to both men and women. Constantine hits on Leo as soon as he’s introduced to the team, and gets shut down because Leo’s already taken. Sara and Ava Sharpe’s mutual appreciation is emphasized at the start of the episode, with Leo trying to play matchmaker with the two beautiful blondes. But Constantine and Sara also have the hots for each other, and when they end up stuck in 1969, they escape their panic by having sex.
In order to get back to 2017, Sara needs to opens herself up to Mallus so she can channel his power and redraw the rune that sent them to the past. It’s a challenge of will as Sara has to maintain enough control that she can cast the spell, but if there’s one thing she has no shortage of, it’s willpower. She gets distracted during the casting because she can hear Nora crying out in the spirit plane, but Sara proves how great of a hero she is by saving Nora and completing the spell. Nora still ends up going to the dark side when her revived father shows up in 2017, but at least Sara, Leo, and Constantine aren’t trapped in 1969.
While Sara, Leo, and Constantine are in the past, Ray and Zari take Nora out of the asylum and try to make her feel like a normal girl by going to C.C. Jitters, which helps the production team save some money on this episode’s sets. The scene of them playing Heads Up! is exactly what I like to see in superhero team stories, and those moments when characters relax and get to know each other makes the overall group more cohesive. Unfortunately, this game is interrupted by Mallus, who takes over Nora’s body again and freaks out all the other customers before destroying the decor.
In the chaos, Zari learns that Mallus is actually frightened of her because she’s “one of the six,” suggesting that her mystical totem has the potential to hurt a heretofore untouchable foe. Three of the totems are already accounted for—Zari has air, Amaya has spirit, and Kuasa has water—but the fire and earth totems are still out there, as well as an unknown sixth. The team now has a mission that could help them stop Mallus, but first they’ll have to deal with a pressing matter regarding their old leader. Ava lets Sara know that Rip Hunter has escaped the Time Bureau and is currently on the run somewhere in time, probably off looking for a way to stop Mallus.
I’m really enjoying the addition of Kuasa to this series, and there’s a compelling dynamic between her and Amaya that is further explored this week. After being frozen by Leo’s cold gun, Kuasa is imprisoned in the Waverider, and Amaya won’t pass up this opportunity to speak to her granddaughter and find out what set her on this dark path. That information is directly tied to Amaya’s future fate, though, and to understand her granddaughter, she exposes herself to knowledge about her death and the demise of her tribe. Amaya is trying not to disturb her family’s timeline, and Kuasa resents her for that.
If she could travel through time, Kuasa would go back to Zambesi in 1992 and stop the men who murdered her grandmother and burned down her village, and Amaya recognizes the legitimacy of Kuasa’s desire and the pain from which it flows. She suffered extreme trauma as a child, and she would do anything to wipe it away, even if it means sacrificing her own existence so this younger version of herself could live free. The writers use the time travel aspect of this show to create a complicated relationship for these two characters, and it makes Kuasa a far more interesting antagonist than the vaguely defined Mallus.
- While it’s not explicit, this episode gives the impression that Mick’s masculinity is being threatened by Leo’s homosexuality. If this alternate version of his supposedly straight friend can be gay, is it possible there’s a gay Mick Rory out there too? Maybe there’s a world where Captain Cold and Heatwave are more than just partners in crime. Leo ends up leaving the team at the end of the episode, but I hope this isn’t the last we see of him or his soon-to-be fiancé Ray Terrill.
- It was only a matter of time before our time-travelling superhero series gave us a Groundhog Day-inspired episode, and it looks like it’s happening next week with some delightful disco costumes.
- In addition to the obvious The Exorcist homage, there’s also a shout-out to The Shining with Nora being kept in room 237. Any other horror callbacks I may have missed?
- Brandon Routh’s temples are graying, and now I’m thinking about what it would look like if Routh played Reed Richards in a Fantastic Four project. He would have to be more of a standoffish asshole than Ray, but I think he would bring a lot of charm to the character.
- Sara: “That was Rip. This is John Constantine.” Mick: “Skinny Brit in a trenchcoat. Same thing.”
- “Gay, not blind.”
- Ray: “You know, Mick, you’re really showing some management potential.” Mick: “Get out.”
- “We’re also from the future and spoiler alert, you don’t age well.”
- “And thanks for the shag, too. That was great.”
- “That guy’s cool.” I think Ray’s crushing on Constantine, too. Let’s just make everyone on this team bisexual.