Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Legends of Tomorrow, click here.
Say what you like about Legends of Tomorrow, but they certainly get a lot of use out of that time machine. After last episode’s visit to Victorian England, the Legends head to 1937 Hollywood for a delightful episode that fires on all cylinders. After some trial and error over the first two seasons, the show has hit upon exactly the right tone for its blend of superhero silliness, resulting in one of the best episodes to date.
It begins with Helen of Troy (Bar Paly) walking through a Hollywood studio and causing havoc, as men drop everything to stare open-mouthed. (Initially, it seems like she might have Enchantress-like super-powers, but the episode makes no mention of this, if so.) That sets off the Legends’ Time Anomaly Alert, so they head to Hollywood and discover that Helen’s legendary beauty has sparked an actual studio war, with studio bosses sending minions to gun each other down. Helen’s pretty annoyed, as she had enough of men starting wars over her in Troy, thank you very much, and she’s in no hurry to return. Also, her agent turns out to be none other than – gasp, etc. – Damien Darhk, although what he wants with her, we never quite find out.
Meanwhile, before the Legends touch down in Hollywood, Ray attempts the first stage of separating Martin and Jax, only for something to go wrong and the pair of them to end up in each other’s bodies, Freaky Friday-style. This results in a hilarious Stein impersonation from Franz Drameh, as he brilliantly mimics Victor Garber’s spluttering staccato delivery, comfortably nabbing the episode’s biggest laughs in the process. (Sample line: “I don’t enjoy being inside you anymore than you enjoy being inside me”). Garber doesn’t do quite the same stellar job, but he does have his share of funny moments, including giggling at the line above.
Anyway, Jax-as-Martin struggles to adjust to Martin’s tired, old body, so Martin-as-Jax heads out with the rest of the team on the hunt for Helen that gives the episode its tongue-in-cheek title (complete with an old school silent movie title card, instead of the usual Legends ident – a nice touch). At a Hollywood party, the Legends encounter both Helen and Damien, as well as Damien’s daughter, Eleanor (now going by Nora), and Kuasa, who gives Amaya a guilt-trip about turning her back on Zambesi. More importantly, Martin-as-Jax bumps into actress-slash-genius Hedy Lamarr (Celia Massingham), who’s always been his (Martin’s) number one crush. He even reveals that his wife has given him a “hall pass” for Hedy, although that was presumably before she knew he could travel in time.
Unfortunately, Helen’s appearance in Hollywood has deprived Hedy of her big break, as she’s cast in the film that would have made Hedy a star. Hedy vows to leave Hollywood, which causes the Waverider to malfunction, since the real-life Hedy invented a radio guidance system that paved the way for today’s wireless technology and the Waverider needs that tech to function properly. So it’s up to Martin-as-Jax to persuade Hedy to return to her Hollywood career. (Commendably, the episode completely ignores the racism of the time and just lets Jax interact with Hedy without any comment.)
With Hedy having been pinched by a rival studio boss, Sara, Amaya and Zari pull a Trojan Horse-type ruse and infiltrate his mansion grounds in order to rescue her. Once Helen is aboard the Waverider, Amaya is attacked by Kuasa, who reveals that she’s Amaya’s grand-daughter, in a nice tie-in to the Vixen animated series. However, Helen stabs Kuasa, before she can explain in more detail, and Kuasa turns to water and disappears.
Back at the studio, Martin-as-Jax and Hedy run into Damien and Nora. Jax attempts to fight, but gets caught in a Darhk Death Grip. Luckily, the rest of the Legends arrive just in time, allowing Sara and Damien to have a proper old-school swashbuckling fight, with swords and swinging on ropes and everything. (Every episode needs a kick-ass Sara Lance moment and this delivers nicely in that department.) Meanwhile, Hedy’s super-genius solves the problem of Jax and Martin’s body-swap by – duh – getting them to merge into Firestorm. The body-swap means that we get to see Firestorm in Martin’s body (or Firestein, as he’s been dubbed on the Internets), which makes a nice change and serves as a nice little send-off for Garber, seeing as his time on the show is coming to an end. It’s a shame the effects aren’t quite up to it, though – it looks really weird.
Anyway, Firestorm joining the battle scares off Damien and Nora, who teleport to safety, presumably stopping to pick up a Kuasa-shaped puddle along the way. With everyone back aboard the Waverider (which is working again, now that Hedy’s career is back on track), Ray confesses to Amaya that he had fought Kuasa before (in the second season of Vixen) and that he knew she was her grand-daughter, but he wasn’t sure it was his place to tell her.
Meanwhile, Zari has been tasked with returning Helen to her place in the timeline, but after spending most of the episode bonding with her, she takes pity on her and drops her off somewhere where there are “no boys allowed” and she’ll finally have some peace and quiet. In a charming nod to Wonder Woman, that turns out to be the island of Themyscira in 1253 B.C., the reveal of which serves as the episode’s final shot (it’s not exactly a cliffhanger). It’s doubtful that Wonder Woman herself will ever actually show up in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow, but it’s nice to have it confirmed that she’s out there in the Arrowverse, all the same. And who knows? Maybe there’ll be an episode set on Themyscira itself next season?
Helen’s experiences with the Legends (as well as her time spent in Hollywood) also allow for a very timely central message about female empowerment and women not being responsible for the awful things men do in their name, something that’s explicitly discussed by Helen and Zari in the closing scene, with Helen marvelling that the three women on the team are such inspirational heroes. She’s not wrong, and the message couldn’t have come at a better time, what with the recent suspension of Arrowverse producer Andrew Kreisberg.
All in all, this is a hugely entertaining episode that pulls off the usual blend of superhero action, character comedy, comic-book silliness and emotion, with a strong central message and a little bit of history thrown in for good measure. Tune in next time, when the Legends head to Vietnam and come face to face with… Gorilla Grodd! Yes, that’s right, it’s Apocalypse Grodd.
Footnotes of tomorrow
– As well as being one of the world’s most beautiful women, Hedy Lamarr really was a genius inventor. If you’ve never heard of her, you owe it to yourself to visit her Wikipedia page.
– Line of the week goes to Ray for his delivery of “Oh, pancakes”, when the body-swap thing happens. That may or may not be a reference to one of the Freaky Friday movies, but either way, the way he says it is just perfection. If the show wants to turn that into Ray’s catchphrase, we are totally okay with that.
– Second place for line of the week is a toss-up between Sara’s awesome comeback to Damien’s threat (“That’s what Oliver Queen said just before he killed you”) and Jax-as-Martin teasing Martin-as-Jax about wanting to “do the nasty in the past-y” with Hedy.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 is available on Sky 1 every Wednesday, within a week of its US broadcast. 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 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.