In a surprisingly well-written hour, Legends successfully balances its main cast through four distinct storylines in a highly efficient way – just the way it should be.
Season 4, Episode 12: The Eggplant, The Witch & The Wardrobe
Directed by: Mairzee Almas
Written by: Morgan Faust & Daphne Miles
Starring: Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Tala Ashe, Jes Macallan, Courtney Ford, Amy Louise Pemberton, Ramona Young, Nick Zano, Dominic Purcell & Matt Ryan
I’ve pointed out over the past couple of weeks – and even in a rather scathing post about what it means to have a superhero TV programme – that Legends rather struggles with its large main cast. I mean, over the past two years, we have seen a very turbulent core Legends team – it’s hard to feel attached with the revolving door that’s going on here. Yet, this episode demonstrates the beautifully elegant and seamless way that a lovely balance of subplots and main action can hold a show together, especially when you have such a charismatic and well-developed cast. This episode’s main through-line is Sara’s (Caity Lotz) quest to save Ava (Jes Macallan) from Neron (Christian Keyes) with the help of Constantine (Matt Ryan) and Nora (Courtney Ford), who is conveniently roped in to the mission because she’s there and apparently we trust her now (kinda). The episode therefore subdivides:
Easily the most diverting part of the hour is Zari (Tala Ashe), who held down the entire episode last week, now being tasked with holding down the Waverider while Sara saves Ava. This involves pretty much keeping newer recruits Mona (Ramona Young) and Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), as well as preventing Mick (Dominic Purcell) from doing anything dangerous. Instead what comes to pass is that the trio proceed to help Zari in constructing a text to Nate (Nick Zano) for them to develop their “relationship”. While we start the episode with Zari sending a simple “Hey, what are you up to?”-style message (which is horrendously inappropriate considering his dad has just died), we culminate the episode with a nightmarish creation of emojis. Eventually, Zari decides to go with her heart and just message Nate with what she actually feels, though the message is ultimately destroyed when Nate’s phone breaks. Zari decides to let it drop, instead of explaining it in person, but something tells me that this storyline is far from over…
Nora and Constantine are conflicted about what to do with Neron, while Ray (Brandon Routh) helps Nate with his grief and dealing with the theme park that his father tried to create. Nate spends the hour oscillating between wanting to get rid of the theme park and to keep it, as well as dealing with the horrendous revelation that his father was, in fact, murdered. Nora plays the classic double-cross move, which plays out for just long enough to make us believe that she might actually have reverted to her old ways, before Constantine enters the fray and the motive becomes clear. Neron is pulled out of Desmond’s body, but Ray, concerned about Nora, bursts in, ruining the entire plan and allowing Neron to escape.
The main conflict of the hour comes in a very honest and frank relationship discussion between Sara and Ava that lasts nearly the entire episode. Sara finds Ava within purgatory, which resembles a large department store. Their first task is to construct a wardrobe together (they do say that the first milestone in a modern relationship is constructing flat pack furniture together, and – having been there – I am totally on board with this. We happened to nail it, by which I mean that I was observed constructing IKEA because that’s definitely the way that it works). They progress to the next stage of purgatory together when Ava concedes that the wardrobe they have created (ie. definitely their relationship) may not be perfect, but she can live with it. They progress to a mattress section and have to contemplate the longevity of their relationship as they stare at each other looking fifty years older. It’s an interesting question, especially since Sara has died before and lives a fairly dangerous life, and therefore likely has never considered even living longterm, let alone with somebody else. This stage of purgatory ends when they embrace each other on the ageing mattress, before being transported into a homeware section, complete with dirty dishes and a mountain of bills. Ava is adamant that she wants to settle down, but Sara does not feel that the time is right. It’s an important conversation to be having, before Sara is confronted with many Ava models, clearly demonstrating Ava’s insecurities about being a clone. Sara insists that they are not the same as her Ava, and the pair are reunited, before waking up, saved from purgatory.
I think we take for granted sometimes within Legends just how groundbreaking it is to have that sort of relationship representation on television. This sort of development in a lesbian relationship is less than what some programmes put into their core relationships. It’s great that we get to explore these two three-dimensional females and their hangups, as well as what it means to stay together and have a healthy relationship. What a wonderful example to be setting that we all have these insecurities, as well as getting to see that these are normal and understandable things in characters who we see and appreciate on a weekly basis. It would be unrealistic if it was all sunshine and rainbows and great to see two characters talking out these issues and communicating in a mostly positive way.
The ominous ending…
I suspected as soon as Ray burst his way into the room while Nora and Constantine were trying to finally rid themselves of Neron that it would all go awry. True to form, the episode ends with Ray ominously whistling the tune we’ve heard Neron whistling all episode. Curses.
The writers still have no idea what to do with poor Mick, do they? He gets relegated to sitting around and drinking every episode. Please do more with Mick. He needs exploration too, even if he has a gruff façade.
Charlie’s goading of Zari with, “you’re straight?” was brilliant. I totally ship it. But I ship pretty much everything, so that isn’t saying much.
It was great to see Mona fitting in so well with the team in this episode. She was kept so far apart from everybody else in the Time Bureau earlier in the season, it’s great to see the chemistry she has as part of the unit – and she’s certainly being less annoying this week.
It’s not only Sara and Ava who get great exploration this week. We also see follow-up to Zari’s insecurities that we saw last week, and we also see that there’s no magic fix on being able to let go and commit to something, as shown by her about-turn at the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Nate is going through some tough emotions about the relations concerning his father, Constantine comes face to face with the possessed body of his ex-boyfriend who he condemned to hell, who is then very terse to him upon being saved, and Nora has to endure the fact that pretty much all of the Legends hate her.
It’s nice to see Ray doing something purposeful this episode. His pairing with Nate was delightful, and him being possessed at the end was great. His simpering and following of Nora all season has dragged both characters down so it was nice to see the two separated for most of this episode.
Gary’s devotion to Ava is creepy, yet strangely endearing.
Please can we explore Charlie some more? She’s so great, and she’s electric in pretty much every scene she’s in.
I’m still conflicted as to whether this magical creature theme park is a good plan. It still seems pretty cruel to me, yet Nate seems to want to build it still. I hope that he finds a way to do it without it becoming literal slavery. Come on, Nate.
My prayers were answered this week: we saw loads of superpowers! Hooray! And even more next week!
The Eggplant, The Witch & The Wardrobe shows just how cohesive and seamless an episode that features the entire cast is, as well as the team remembering that they are actually superheroes – you’d think that they wouldn’t forget, but some episodes this season beg to differ. We actually got to see them use their powers and for a purpose. If the rest of the season is anything like this episode, then the rest of the Arrowverse had better look out: Legends is already counteracting half of the criticisms I held of its genre in my mammoth blog post about the topic. It managed to provide a diverting problem-of-the-week while also giving enough attention to its main enemy. And yet, if you had not watched other episodes and did not know who Neron was, you’d still be a lot more clued in than watching some of the other Arrowverse shows – at least Neron is a relatively recent villain, after all! Not too alienating for the casual viewer, for sure.
The trailer for next week shows Neron attempting to take control of Ray, plus shots of Zari in fancy clothes using her powers, as well as some fire throwing from Constantine. Only 4 episodes to go this season…