Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Legends of Tomorrow, click here.
Given Legends of Tomorrow’s willingness to embrace the comic (and comic book) possibilities of its central time-travelling superheroes premise, it’s perhaps a little surprising that it’s taken them this long to get around to doing a Groundhog Day trapped-in-a-time-loop episode. Thankfully, it’s worth the wait, as Here I Go Again delivers big laughs and some surprisingly deep emotion, while ably fulfilling its ostensible purpose of cementing Zari’s position on the team.
The episode begins with Zari attempting to persuade a reluctant Gideon to let her attach some sort of simulator that will allow her to hack history or something. Gideon’s not happy about it, but they’re interrupted by the rest of the team, dressed in fabulous 70s disco gear, returning from a mission that we sadly don’t get to see, involving Napoleon Bonaparte interrupting a performance of Abba’s Waterloo, or something (hence the clever episode title). Anyway, Sara lectures Zari about hacking history (pointing out that she let the whole Helen of Troy / Themyscira thing slide) and the pair get into an argument, with Zari stropping off, saying that her membership on the team was only ever temporary anyway. She then goes to remove her simulator thingy and gets covered in green goo, at which point the Waverider explodes, killing everyone on board. Ruh roh!
Except, it doesn’t. Instead, Zari wakes up back in the bridge, just before her argument with Sara starts. At first she’s confused and distracted, but she quickly works out that she’s re-living the same hour over and over again and, at the end of it, the ship will explode, unless she can somehow stop it. Things might move a little quicker if Zari had seen Groundhog Day, but she hasn’t. Fortunately though, Nate has, and when Zari explains what’s going on, he quickly understands and asks her to say “Groundhog Day” to him next time round, so he’ll get it straight away. This leads to one of the episode’s best jokes, when Zari rushes up to Nate on her next go round and shouts “Hedgehog Day!”
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Nate and Zari arrive at the conclusion that the bomb that destroys the ship is due to a traitor somewhere on the team, so they set about shadowing everyone, revealing various secrets along the way. Chief among these are the fact that Nate and Amaya can’t keep their hands off each other and keep almost sabotaging missions because they’re off having sex somewhere and then using the mind-zapper to forget it happened. Nate: “Why would we flash each other after having sex?” (There are a LOT of sex jokes in this episode, including a very funny one where Zari listens, appalled, to Nate and Amaya having sex behind a door and you hear screeches as Amaya uses her animal totem and the sound of Nate, ahem, steeling up.) They also learn that Sara is nervous about asking Ava out, Ray is fretting over the fact that Constantine told him he might have to kill Sara, and Mick… is secretly writing a sci-fi romance novel.
That could have been a simple throwaway joke, but it’s a testament to how much this show cares about its characters that Mick’s novel is used to convey both character development and genuine emotion. After the initial discovery, Zari goes back to the novel and reads it, realising that it represents Mick’s own feelings about his place on the team (and thus mirrors her own). At the end of the episode, she gives him heartfelt feedback about how to finish it and it’s a beautiful moment.
But that’s jumping ahead a bit. After realising that none of the team are responsible for the bomb, Zari starts to lose hope and gets depressed (it’s established that she has now been doing this a very long time). Being intimately familiar with Groundhog Day, Nate suggests she take a bit of time off for some no consequences fun. This leads to the highlight of the episode, a beautifully edited montage where Zari eats whipped cream out of a spray can, tries on her teammates’ costumes (including Hawkgirl’s, in a nice callback), throws snowballs at Mick, tries out his fire gun, learns to play the violin, finishes Mick’s novel and holds up big signs with Mick and Ray’s dialogue on it as they say the words, ending with “Ship goes boom”.
One of the great things about Groundhog Day is that it pays close attention to the different emotional stages of the situation, so Bill Murray / Phil Connors goes through confusion, consequence-free abandon, desperation and suicidal depression, before finally accepting his situation and using it to better himself. And one of the great things about this episode is that it closely follows that structure (even going as far as giving Zari a suicidal moment), before heading into the rather unexpected conclusion.
So, after Zari tires of the fun montage (Nate: “Have you already done the fun montage?”), they search the ship for the bomb (begging the question why they didn’t do this earlier, but never mind) and find nerdy Agent Gary trapped in the trash compactor. He says he’s responsible for the time loop, having used his chrono-repeater to create it because he knew the ship was going to blow up. Unfortunately, Mick destroys the chrono-repeater, so now the ship will blow up in five minutes, with no do-overs. However, Zari has now spent enough time getting to know each member of the team that she knows what to do. She takes the bomb (hidden in Damian Darhk’s recorder thingy) and seals herself in a force field, creating a whirlwind with her totem to somehow absorb the blast. Before she does, she tells everyone to share what they’ve been hiding: Nate and Amaya should be honest with everyone, and each other, about their relationship; Ray should tell Sara that Constantine told him to kill her if Mallus took control again; Sara should ask Ava out already; and Mick should finish his novel and be proud of it. And then the bomb goes off.
Except, it doesn’t. In a clever twist, it turns out that Zari got knocked out by the toxic green goop (“time sludge”) and the entire time loop thing has been orchestrated in her head by Gideon, who needed to persuade Zari to stay on the team because they’ll need her in the fight against Mallus. Gideon’s human form (Amy Pemberton) pops up to explain all this, while also confirming that Zari’s time simulator thingy works. Zari: “One last thing – why even have Gary in the simulation if he was just going to be trapped in the trash compactor the whole time?” Gideon: “Thought it would be funny”.
After Zari is revived, she gets Ray to tell Sara about what Constantine said, encourages Mick to finish his novel and then has a heart-to-heart with Sara, during which the pair resolve their issues. The episode closes with Zari playing “Winter” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on the violin, which would have been a lovely final note, but they ruin it by including a teaser for next week, in which Rip tracks down Wally West / Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) in a Himalayan retreat and persuades him to join the Legends.
All in all, this is a terrific episode for actress Tala Ashe (Zari), who gets to show off her funny side as well as deliver some heartfelt emotional material (her speech to Sara, about how she’s a pain in the ass because she has to be and is also the soul of the team is properly moving). You could argue that she’s been under-used on the show so far and perhaps hasn’t connected with either the audience or the other characters up until this point, and this episode cleverly course-corrects on both those fronts (her interactions with Nate are particularly enjoyable). If there’s a complaint, it’s only that there maybe isn’t quite enough build-up of Zari feeling apart from the team (or at least resenting Sara’s leadership) in previous episodes. Still, this is a highly entertaining episode and a great example of what Legends is capable of when it’s firing on all cylinders. Tune in next time for an episode inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean. Yarrr!
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– There were many great moments this week, but one little throwaway gag deserves singling out. At one point, Zari finishes Ray’s sentence of “A happy captain makes a happy ship” (because she’s heard it hundreds of times already) and he’s delighted because he thinks it means that his catchphrase has apparently caught on in the future.
– In a very sweet Twitter post, actress Tala Ashe confirmed that yes, that really is her playing the violin at the end.
– It was noted last week that Gideon’s increased sassiness probably meant we were due for another physical appearance from Amy Pemberton, but we didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.
– Mick Rory line of the week: “My beer is in there!”, when Zari force fields herself in the room she’s about to blow up.
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