Legends of Tomorrow Gave Us the Hellblazer We’ve Always Wanted

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It’s been an unusually long wait, but Legends of Tomorrow is back. While Supergirl is on break, Legends is taking over its Monday night time slot to finish out the rest of its third season. And if this episode is any indication, we’re in for a ride. This is a show that knows exactly what it wants to be. It’s easily the most fun and lighthearted of the Arrowverse shows, which allows it to go to unexpected, even sometimes ridiculous places. The kind of places you want a show about time-traveling superheroes to go. Especially when it brings an occult detective on board.

It’s been a while since we last saw the Legends, and even longer since we saw John Constantine. His series was sadly not on the CW, and cancelled after one season on NBC. It’s a shame because this is easily the best live-action Constantine of all. And I kind of like the Keanu Reeves version. Kind of. That’s why it’s refreshing to see him back in action in the opening moments of Legends of Tomorrow. While performing an exorcism on a demon, he hears it mention Sarah Lance’s name. He cuts the exorcism short and uses occult magic to find the Waverunner and we’re right where the midseason finale left us. As soon as he’s aboard the ship, it’s clear that Legends is already handling the character better than the NBC show did. While NBC was afraid to center a big-budget comic book show around a chain-smoking bisexual man, the CW is nowhere near as uptight. Right away, he’s hitting on Leonard Snart, who calmly says he’s spoken for. It’s not a lot, but it’s way truer adaptation of the character than anything NBC gave us.

Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel, Maisie Richardson- Sellers as Amaya Jiwe/Vixen, Matt Ryan as Constantine, Wentworth Miller as Leo – X/Citizen Cold, Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave and Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary (Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW)

Even with all the demonic stuff going on, it seems the spirit of Valentine’s Day has infected the Legends. Sara gets a call from Ava Sharpe that reveals absolutely nothing. She was unable to get any information on this mysterious Mallus character, and she isn’t even allowed to talk to Rip Hunter. Sharpe called for no reason. Snart immediately knows what’s up. Sharpe likes Sara. Sara denies it at first, but it’s clear where things are going. It’s all very cute and in line with the tone of the show. Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t focus on the romantic relationships as much as Arrow or The Flash, and it’s better for it. Relationships are allowed to build slowly over time in the background. They aren’t made out to be the driving force of the story. Instead, we get cute moments like this before moving onto the main plot.

The Legends go back to the hospital to check out Constantine’s exorcism patient. She is possessed by Mallus, and even more interesting; her real name is Nora Darhk. This is Damien Darhk’s daughter, after he was killed but before he recruited her into the villain family business. This episode got going fast. We instantly know what’s at stake here. Exorcise Mallus here, and ensure that she never becomes a villain. That should make future fights slightly easier. This battle is going to be anything but easy, though. Mallus takes over Nora’s body and pulls the Legends back in time to 1969. If that wasn’t bad enough, they can’t even contact the rest of the team. Their only hope is to leave messages on the back of paintings and hope no one changes them around for the next half-century. Oh, and fight the demon who brought them back in time in the first place. It’s easy. I will say the show is using its newest guest star to his full potential. We have indulgent shots of him lighting up cigarettes as if each one was a giant, cancer-causing middle finger to NBC. It also embraces the horror the character brings. Mallus is proving to be a legitimately frightening villain, thanks in part to some well-timed jump scares.

Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel and Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Amaya Jiwe/Vixen (Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW)

If that all wasn’t complicated enough, Kuasa’s here. She wants to make sure Nora becomes the villain we saw her as earlier this season. And since Kuasa’s here, that means a whole bunch of complicated feelings for Amaya. Grandmother and granddaughter fight in the hallway while Constantine and the rest of the Legends work on Nora. Nate tries to help, but he’s probably the dumbest genius on this show. He takes Captain Cold’s gun and freezes Kuasa. Did you want more Nate-Amaya relationship drama? Well, you got it anyway. I love so much about this show, but watching these two constantly bicker is not on the list. She refuses to believe her granddaughter is completely evil, while Nate argues that it doesn’t matter as she’s mostly evil. With all the arguing, nothing would ever get done if not for Rory’s desire to watch a live football game. He can be an effective leader when he wants everyone to leave him the hell alone. But Amaya unfreezes Kuasa anyway, to understand what happened. And like any good villain Kuasa has a good reason for how she turned out. When Zambesi was destroyed, her mother thought she was dead, fleeing only with Mari. That’s how Mari became Vixen, and Kuasa was left to seek power however she could get it. So she met Damien Darhk, who promised her the ability to go back to the day the bad men came. He offered her the chance to protect her village and save Amaya’s life. Well, that makes things more complicated.

In the past asylum, Sara, Constantine and Snart’s plan isn’t going so well. It seems mental health care wasn’t what it is today. When one of the nurses finds Snart carrying a note addressed to people in the future, she tries to lobotomize him. Sara and Constantine save him after a brief and charged fling, but it means they’ll have to find another path through time. And the only way to do that is for Constantine to possess Sara with Mallus. One the demon is inside her, she can bring them back to the present day. It turns out to be a good thing they’re doing this too. In the present, Mallus has once again taken over Nora’s body in the middle of The Flash’s favorite coffee shop. Sara’s actions allow Nora in the present to fight back against Mallus and regain control of her body. The solution comes a little too easily. Once Sara helps save Nora, there’s not much of a fight. She draws a symbol on the ground and the problem is solved. At least the fight scene that came before it was fantastic. Nora goes full-on demon, twisting her head backwards Exorcist-style and sending tables flying through the air. Does Legends of Tomorrow finally have a genuinely terrifying villain? It certainly looks like it.

Wentworth Miller as Leo – X/Citizen Cold (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

Sadly, it’s all for nothing. Damien Darhk shows up and convinces his daughter to accept Mallus and learn to bring him back to life. Everything we saw in the first half of the season will come to pass. Or will have already come to pass… you know what? Doesn’t matter. We knew the show wasn’t going to take one its villains off the board this early. That’s OK. It did a remarkable job of setting up the big bad of the season and giving the Legends a goal for this second half. When Zari grabbed the possessed Nora’s arm, Mallus got scared. He started burning and referred to Zari as “one of the six.” It seems the totems are the key to defeating Mallus. That means we’ll definitely be seeing more of Kuasa, and after this episode, that’s a good thing. I like the conflict she brought out in Amaya, and it’ll be interesting to watch the pair struggle with questions of the power and responsibility that comes with time travel. As long as Nate can go at least one episode without screwing everything up.

I only wish we got a better goodbye from Leonard Snart. Wentworth Miller is leaving the Arrowverse, and I was hoping he would get one last big hurrah before hanging up the cold gun for good. It’s always possible that he could come back, but his exit just felt tacked on at the end. It was a disappointing end to a character that’s brought so much to this universe. Even so, this was a triumphant return for Legends of Tomorrow. It had great action, an engaging story and finally, a fantastic original villain. Constantine also made for a great addition to the team. He played off Sara and Snart well, and allowed the series to explore a scarier tone than it’s been able to in the past. I was sad to see him leave the ship at the end, but I think we all know he’ll be back. He can’t be in every episode. He has a CW Seed animated series to be in, after all.

 

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