UK TV recap: Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 13 (No Country For Old Dads)
Double Damien Darhk9
Ray and Nora8.5
Matthew Turner | On 24, Mar 2018
Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Legends of Tomorrow, click here.
This episode of Legends of Tomorrow picks up immediately after last episode’s cliffhanger, with Ray abducted by Damien Darhk after saving Nora’s life. Accordingly, it’s a pleasingly Ray-centric episode, which feels entirely appropriate, seeing as he’s been sidelined for a few episodes in a row now. The set-up also means that we get to spend a lot more time with Damien and Nora, which pays off handsomely in terms of character development and makes both of them much more interesting going forwards.
The opening establishes that Damien has kept Ray alive because he needs his help restoring the Fire Totem. After a certain amount of threatening, Ray says that he might be able to fix it with cold fusion, but there’s a problem – back in the 1960s, Damien was a hitman who accepted a contract to kill Bernhard Vogal (Adrian Hough), the inventor of cold fusion. So Nora volunteers to go back to 1962 and stop her father from killing him, taking Ray with her because she’ll need “someone who speaks nerd”. There’s a wonderfully playful quality to the scene that establishes the tone, with Damien basically treating Nora and Ray like they’re about to go out on a date. That’s heightened by the fact that the scene randomly takes place at Upswipez HQ (remember that?), the dating app Ray was working for in the first episode of the season. There’s also a whole comedy subplot with Damien critiquing the app because he hasn’t had any success on it yet and the app’s developer – mid-way through being beaten up – suggests that he add a bit more detail to his profile. (“I enjoy destroying the world to remake it in my image. And I like trying new restaurants.”)
Anyway, Nora and Ray head to Berlin in 1962 and manage to save Bernhard, but that makes them a target for Young Damien, who sports a terrible Beatles-style haircut in clear homage to the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men, as indicated by the title. After some fun shenanigans, involving Ray and Nora trying to sneak past border control and Ray doing a quite amusing German accent, Damien gets bored and joins them in the past, only for Young Damien to kidnap Nora and offer to exchange her for Vogal.
This leads to an exciting rooftop sequence where Damien faces off against Younger Damien. Younger Damien throws Nora off a roof and Damien has to use his magic levitation powers to keep her in the air, meaning he can’t use them to beat up his younger self. After several moments of Damien having to let her fall (because Younger Damien is strangling him), Nora asks him to let her go, whereupon she accesses the power of Amaya’s stolen Spirit totem and saves herself. Ray, who had been tied up while this was happening, arrives in the Atom suit at that point (having freed himself by getting the Atom suit to remotely zap the rope around his hands) and gets the secret of cold fusion from Vogal, but Damien kills him anyway (“Well, I wasn’t going to let him spoil my perfect record”). There’s a fun bit where Nora uses the gorilla spirit to stop Ray from escaping and there’s a face-off between them where she knows he won’t shoot her. Instead, he shoots a hole in the Berlin Wall, creating an anachronism that brings Kid Flash speeding to his rescue. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
This is a great episode for all three of Damien, Ray and Nora and the character work is really strong. Ray being Ray, he sees the problems Damien and Nora are having and tries to help. He understands that Damien genuinely loves Nora, but that she, in turn, is resentful because he kept her in an asylum and let her be controlled by a cult that would eventually enable her to be possessed by a demon. You know, the usual daddy-daughter issues. Also, Damien isn’t too great at showing his emotions, which prompts one of the best lines of the episode from Ray: “She only knows what you say to her, Damien. Can I call you Damien?” At the same time, Ray is obviously falling for Nora, because, um, of that time they spent together when she was a teenager (credit to the show for not making that nearly as weird as it sounds). Anyway, Ray continually tries to break through to Nora, convinced that there is good in her, because he saw who she was when she was demon-free. Clearly the season finale is going to revolve around Nora either gaining redemption or rejecting Ray and turning evil in heart-breaking fashion. Either way, the idea of Ray falling for Nora (and possibly vice versa) is much more appealing than the half-hearted attempts the show has made to give Ray a love interest so far. (Case in point, Ray has decent chemistry with Zari, but the show doesn’t seem interested in taking that anywhere).
As for Nora and Damien, it’s notable that the show gives them the final scene. There’s a genuinely touching moment between them, where Damien brings Nora a hot chocolate from CC Jitters (a deliberate reminder of the time he gave her over to the cult-run asylum) and tells her he’s proud of her. Nora, in turn, seems to respond, but when Damien’s back is turned, she struggles for control, as Mallus takes over and the cliffhanger has Nora telling Damien she’s fine, only with dark veins showing on her forehead. That’s actually a strange choice – usually when a character is possessed but pretending otherwise, the audience knows but the characters don’t, but here, the possession is obvious. (We don’t get to see Damien’s reaction, though, so the impact is ambiguous.)
Meanwhile, back on the Waverider, at the beginning of the story, the rest of the team barely notice Ray’s gone. When they do, Damien sends them on a wild goose chase, making them believe they’re at a Grateful Dead concert, so Nate and Mick go to every Grateful Dead concert in history or something.
With all the focus on Ray, there’s only room for two small-ish subplots this week, but at least one of them significantly advances the main storyline for the season. Amaya is still seeking a way to help Kuasa, so she gets Zari to help her reach the ancestral plane through meditation. That lands both Amaya and Zari in the weird blue-lit demon realm we saw when Sara was possessed by Mallus (a very simple but very effective bit of production design). The implication is that Mallus has already corrupted Zambesi’s ancestral plane, perhaps through his alliance with Kuasa. Anyway, Amaya’s ancestor appears (Joy Richardson, literally credited as “Amaya’s ancestor” on the cast list) and finally reveals why Damien and Nora have been creating anachronisms this whole time. It turns out Mallus was imprisoned by the totem bearers (Aha! It all comes together!) centuries ago in a time prison, but the anachronisms are weakening the time barriers holding him in place. Amaya’s ancestor also tells her that she needs to get Kuasa back on side, because they will need each other in the final battle against Mallus. The season finale – which is currently only five episodes away – is shaping up pretty nicely.
The other subplot of note is Wally West’s (Keiynan Lonsdale) debut on board the Waverider. He and Rip show up and Rip makes the necessary introductions. Wally quickly gets off on the wrong foot (rather jarringly referring to Nate’s ex as a “basic bitch”, not realising he’s talking about Amaya), but Sara reassures him that the Legends screw up all the time and he’s basically among friends. Wally eventually proves his worth by speed-rescuing Ray after he creates the anachronism, and nabbing the cold fusion formula into the bargain. At the end of the episode, Rip decides to leave, but Wally tells him he’s going to stick around, which is what Rip was hoping for all along. So far, Wally’s a slightly awkward fit, but there’s a sweetness to his performance here that wasn’t present on The Flash and it will be interesting to see how his character develops when he’s variously paired with the other Legends.
Anyway, just when you think the episode is all wrapped up, the writers throw in another couple of twists. In the first, Rip works out that Sara and Ava are together and tells Gideon to delete “file 354Z”, adding cryptically that “Sara must never find out the truth about Ava”. What could it mean? Rip also mutters something about Ava being special, which could just be an indication of his own feelings for Ava, or it could be something else. Either way, colour us intrigued. The second twist is that, out of the blue, Ava becomes the Director of the Time Bureau when Gorilla Grodd murders the existing director during a Skype call to the Legends. (Ava: “Oh my God.” Rip: “It’s Grodd, actually.”) So… well, it’s not clear how this will affect things going forward, but it reminds us that Grodd is still out there doing bad things and will also have to be stopped before or during the season finale. That is a lot of balls in the air, finale-wise. No pressure, Legends.
All in all, this is an excellent episode, delivering the expected combination of action, humour and emotion, but also pulling off some strong character development and significantly advancing the main story. Needless to say, it’s also a terrific episode for Neal McDonough, who’s having an absolute ball, comfortably stealing all the best lines. Tune in next time for, um, an Elvis episode.
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– All the scenes set in Upswipez HQ are gold. Two particular highlights: Damien having a heart-to-heart with the Upswipez guy’s dead body (like the world’s most macabre psychoanalysis session) and the fact that Damien has just one match on Upswipez and it’s fellow Arrow villain Cupid, aka. Carrie Cutter (who probably swipes up on everyone anyway).
– As well as the Anton Chigurh haircut, there are also allusions to the Fargo TV show, with the episode’s use of split-screen, as well as some very stylish camerawork, particularly when Damien shoots through a door and the camera zooms in on him through the keyhole.
– So many great lines. Line of the week is a tie between Damien’s delivery of “I am gonna kick my ass” and Nate’s quiet advice to Wally, after Mick has stolen Jerry Garcia’s sunglasses: “We allow light to moderate theft on this ship. We call them souvenirs…”
– So many great Ray moments too. Three particular favourites: Ray telling Damien what he’s doing wrong with the knot as he’s getting tied up; the line delivery of his denial when Nate accuses him of having the hots for Nora Darhk; and the bizarre ‘Allo ‘Allo-style giggle he makes when he and Nora are speaking in German accents at border control. (Courtney Ford is also excellent – it’s easily her best episode so far.)
– One final great moment: The suggestion that Younger Damien’s encounter with his older self is what triggers his interest in magic in the first place. (“Huh. Magic. I should look into that…”) That’s possibly the only problem with the episode, that Young Damien doesn’t actually seem aware that he’s fighting his older self, or has no reaction one way or the other.
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, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.