UK TV recap: Legends of Tomorrow, Season 3, Episode 16 (I, Ava)
Matthew Turner | On 14, Apr 2018
Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Legends of Tomorrow, click here.
A couple of episodes ago, Rip Hunter asked Gideon to delete a file from the Waverider and muttered ominously that “Sara must never discover the truth about Ava”. This week’s episode – tantalisingly entitled “I, Ava” – reveals that secret, but it’s not quite as earth-shattering as Rip made out. Worse, it’s difficult to see how it impacts the season-long story overall. But it’s still a lot of fun and it leads to both a terrific fight scene and an all-time great line from Ray, so we’ll let it slide.
Sara is still reeling from both her possession and her break-up with Ava, so she decides to take a break from being Captain and leaves Amaya in charge. However, she barely has time to pack a bag before Gary (hereafter known as Annoying Gary) shows up, worrying that Ava has disappeared and asking Sara to find her. Ray decides to tag along and the trio go to visit Ava’s parents in Fresno, hoping she has turned up there.
However, when they get there, Sara quickly catches Ava’s parents in a lie and pulls a knife on them (Ray’s reaction is priceless), demanding that they tell her what’s going on. It turns out that Ava’s parents are actors (“Do you know how hard it is to get an acting job in Fresno?”), hired by an anonymous third party to pose as Ava’s parents when required. Sara: confused.
Heading to Ava’s office for clues, the trio discover that Vancouver 2213 is officially designated a Time Bureau No-Fly Zone, so that’s their next destination. When they arrive, they’re astonished to discover dozens of Avas on the streets (in police uniforms, walking babies and so on) and a billboard reveals that AVA stands for Advanced Variant Automaton. But is she a robot or a clone?
In fact, the show doesn’t seem entirely sure. The title of the episode (a play on “I, Robot”, in case you missed that at the back there) strongly suggests robot, but everybody says clone. Basically, they’ve nicked the idea off another TV show, because when Sara, Ray and Annoying Gary arrive at the AVA Industries HQ, they find an Ava clone in mid-production and it’s almost identical to the procedure in HBO’s Westworld.
Anyway, the Ava clone attacks and with immaculate timing, the real Ava (hereafter referred to as Ava Prime) shows up and totally freaks out. It turns out she had no idea she was a clone, and, as you can probably imagine, the whole thing comes as a bit of a shock. Still, there’s no time for an existential crisis, because an army of Avas are waiting to attack them. The ensuing fight scene is a lot of fun, not least because it’s strongly implied that Sara is treating the whole thing (i.e. beating up multiple copies of her ex) as relationship therapy. It also leads to the line of the episode from Ray – “This is the second-worst attack of the clones I’ve seen” – and his obvious delight as he delivers the line is the icing on the cake.
In the end, Sara, Ava Prime, Ray and Annoying Gary defeat the clones and escape the facility. They figure out that Rip has known the truth all along and was probably also behind the hiring of Ava’s actor parents. But why? Is there some darker purpose behind Ava’s origins? Or did Rip just encounter the clone factory on a visit to 2213 and decide that one of them would make a handily replaceable Time Bureau agent? We’re going to have to wait for the answers, but something feels a little off and it lacks the emotional impact the episode was probably aiming for.
Though the whole clone business is the main focus of the episode, there’s an equally important secondary plot unfolding. Amaya discovers that time is solidifying around the loss of her totem and, as a result, present-day Vixen Mari McCabe (from both the animated Vixen series and her single appearance on Arrow) is in hospital. It turns out she’s still a vigilante, she’s just out there without powers, like Batman. Anyway, Amaya tasks Nate and Wally with persuading Mari to give up her vigilante lifestyle, but when they arrive at the hospital, they’re met by Kuasa, who is watching over her sister.
Rather than start a fight, Kuasa takes Nate and Wally to her superhero hideout, where they hatch a plan to take back Amaya’s totem from Damien and Nora / Mallus. However, it turns out to be a double cross – Kuasa gets the totem, but she betrays Nate (Wally has shot off back to the Waverider) and leaves him to the mercy of the Darhks, reasoning, not unreasonably, that Nate’s relationship with Amaya is a direct threat to her bloodline. Surely, if Mari’s totem has disappeared because Amaya no longer has her totem and the timeline is solidifying, then Kuasa should at least be slowly disappearing, like in Back to the Future? That seems like a missed opportunity on the show’s part, as a visible threat to Kuasa’s existence would have given her actions more urgency.
Kuasa’s betrayal leads to the other highlight of the episode, which is Damien Darhk fake-torturing Nate. The last few episodes have made clear that Damien is regretting his deal with Mallus, and he opens up to Nate, saying he hadn’t realised it would mean losing his daughter’s soul. Just as he’d previously softened towards Ray, Damien bonds with Nate – the fake-torturing is very funny – and it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s going to end up teaming up with the Legends to defeat Mallus and hopefully save Nora. As always, Neal McDonough is a delight to watch in his scenes and it’s impressive to see just how far the character has come since his initial appearance in Arrow. Damien’s love for his daughter has really humanised the character and it will be genuinely interesting to see what the writers have planned for him in the final two episodes.
Oh, right, the plot. In the end, Kuasa returns the spirit totem to Amaya, but Amaya guilt-shames Kuasa into rescuing Nate, telling her that she’s beyond redemption and that was why she gave Mari the totem in the first place. Moved by Amaya’s words, Kuasa saves Nate, but loses her life in the process when Norah / Mallus rips the water totem from her chest. It’s not entirely clear why that kills her – perhaps because Mallus brought her back from the dead in the first place? At any rate, she dies, but she dies a hero. Tracy Ifeachor has been a striking presence on the show this season and it will be a shame if this is the last we see of her. Here’s hoping the writers find a way to bring her back before the Zambesi saga comes to an end.
The third and final subplot has Amaya tasking Zari with training Mick to use his fire totem. It doesn’t actually look like Mick needs any help – he’s already using his new fire powers to make popcorn, heat hotdogs and self-light his own farts (thankfully offscreen) – so he more or less ignores Zari and her mounting frustration isn’t helped that she’s currently fasting because of Ramadan. She patiently explains this to a less-than-bothered Mick and, although she tells a touching story about how Ramadan brings Muslim families together, it still comes across like the show trying to give an R.E. lesson. Clearly, the writers’ intentions were good, but the execution is poorly handled, not least because Mick remains thunderingly insensitive throughout, even for him, continually offering her his self-heated pork products and largely ignoring the Iftar meal she shares with him.
The cliffhanger for the episode sets up the final two parts of the season, as Amaya decides it’s time to change her destiny and hops in the jump-ship, heading for her own murder – in Zambesi, 1992.
All in all, this is a busy, but fun episode that delivers the usual combination of superhero action, character humour and emotion, even if the latter elements (Ava’s secret, Kuasa’s redemption) don’t hit quite as hard as they should have. Come back next time for Gorilla Grodd vs Barack Obama! The tag-line? Make America Grodd Again.
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– The Legends winding Wally up about being “the second fastest man alive” has the potential to be a great running joke, pun intended.
– All the focus on present-day Vixen is rather hampered by the fact that Megalyn Echikunwoke is never available to reprise the role. That’s particularly obvious this episode, when we never even see her in hospital, and it means the emotional connection between Amaya and Mari is missing.
– Annoying Gary was already super-annoying but all the stuff about him “shipping” Ava and Sara, cos-playing as Ava and blurting out his Ava-related sex dreams is pushing the whole Gary thing way too far. Less Gary, please, Legends writers. (Unfortunately, he’s confirmed for next season, which means he doesn’t die in the finale. Shame.)
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 is available on Sky 1 every Wednesday. Don’t have Sky? You can stream it live or catch up on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 14-day free trial is available for new subscribers.