The writers of Legends of Tomorrow have a special talent that seemingly no other show in the Arrowverse can replicate; over and over, it manages to be utterly silly and yet offer meaningful character development and good emotional beats. It does this over and over. I know by this point that it’s not a fluke. This week, the Time Idiots eat cake and find out that Marie Antoinette looks suspiciously like one of their team members. Spoilers follow for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 4, “A Head of Her Time.”
“A Head of Her Time”
This week, Legends focuses on Ava–who we’ve finally been learning about this season–and this weird new Zari we’ve been getting used to. Caity Lotz, who plays Sara Lance, was apparently prepping to direct next week’s episode, so the episode makes an excuse to put Sara on the backburner. That means that Ava is interim Captain. While she’s the newest full-time member of the team, she’s also the one with the most leadership experience. Most of her experience comes from the order of bureaucracy rather than trying to wrangle defiant children.
Ava is rightfully nervous as Sara disappears, and she sets about figuring out how to be a Cool Boss. Her first instinct, of course, is to get out her protocol binder. It goes about as well as you’d imagine on a ship where Mick Rory is in residence. Thankfully, though, Gideon finds the team a time anomaly to deal with in France, 1793. The latest “Encore” has shown herself: Marie Antoinette is back from the dead, reunited with her head, and ready to party.
Zari, whose spying let her in on Ava’s insecurities, easily manipulates the interim Captain into letting her tag along. Immediately, she starts to make herself an asset to the team. She knows how rich people and popular people party, even if it’s becoming apparent that she doesn’t particularly like being popular.
Those costumes tho
The costume work this week is next-level for a CW show. These shows are carefully budgeted. While I’m sure the actors are well-paid, they’re not making that Big Bang Theory bank. When a show takes a step to go above and beyond the normal bounds, it’s worth noting. The whole Marie Antoinette set is carefully contained, but there are countless extras in costumes you could call period-accurate at a glance.
Legends of Tomorrow does an amazing job of working with what’s available in general, but this week’s episode is truly impressive. Zari and Marie Antoinette look great, and the countless extras give them plenty of backdrop to work with. It feels like they’ve actually gone somewhere, much more so than usual.
The Legends quickly find Marie Antionette, played by Courtney Ford, the actress who plays Nora Darhk.
I love this, too. We’ve had a glut of doubles on Supergirl, The Flash, Batwoman, and Supergirl again since the Crisis on Infinite Earths ended. Apparently every writers’ room asked the question “What would be crazy after the Crisis?”And then every writers’ room answered “doppelgangers and evil twins!”
Legends, meanwhile, isn’t doing some complex story about how Marie Antoinette is Nora’s Great-Great-Great-Great something or other, and she’s not some remnant from another world. She just happens to look like Nora. Only Ray seems to notice it, though, and the show never explains it. They mine this for a few good jokes but mostly Ford is just fun as Antoinette.
It’s here that we learn this new Zari’s superpower. The old Zari hacked computers, this new Zari hacks people. She easily navigates the upper crust simply through confidence and body language.
Zari bonds with Marie, proves herself to Ava, and it’s not long before they have the Encore back on the Waverider.
It’s Zari’s Party and She’ll Cause Riots if She Wants To
But as I said, Zari isn’t particularly happy with who she is as a person. As easily as she navigates social structures, she doesn’t feel at home in them. She clues into the fact that Marie doesn’t have a power. Like Bugsy Seigel, she has a magic item (and, you know, immortality): her perfume keeps people interested in her to the point that they’d rather die than leave her side.
The super-smart but super-insecure Zari, upon finding out that her just-launching perfume is going to land her in hot water, wants an edge and steals Marie’s perfume for her big party event. Things quickly go sideways when Zari’s boyfriend, a DJ who wears a s’more helmet, spills her perfume all over her and causes a riot. Ava, Behrad, and Nate save Zari; the bond she’s built with Ava allows Zari to trust her Captain enough to jump into a fountain with her, dissipating the perfume in the process.
Meanwhile, Ray and Mick are chasing Marie’s beheaded body around the Waverider; it went nuts when Zari stole Marie’s perfume. Eventually, Marie’s body gets its hands on Mick’s flamethrower in what might be my favorite visual of the season so far.
Soon, everything is taken care of and Zari is back on the Waverider and filled with regret about her decision. She’s so distraught that she accepts a donut–her first in nearly five years. This Zari looks a lot more like our Zari: clad in flannel and eating a pastry. As she did when she sat at the computer, Zari has another moment where she flashes to the other Zari’s memories.
Sara checks in on the group, and they support Ava’s turn as captain, giving her a big confidence boost.
John does stuff, too
In the background of all this, John Constantine, Gary, and Charlie are trying to figure out how to save Astra while Astra works to put a stop to John before he can wreck any more of her plans. The end up wandering through John’s memories where he’s forced for once to confront his past directly instead of walking away like he has something more important to do. John learns that an item called the Loom of Fate, which he’d thought fictional, can save Astra. Then we find out that Charlie scattered the pieces of the Loom around the multiverse–which was destroyed in the Crisis.
Does that mean the Loom doesn’t exist, or that its pieces are suddenly much closer together than Charlie had planned? We don’t get to find out, because Astra pushes John’s cigarette-induced lung cancer forward a few years, causing him to collapse in a fit of bloody coughs. The actually bloody kind, not the British bloody kind.
John is largely disconnected from the Legends at the moment, and it seems the show is trying to give him the closure his canceled show never allowed.
The least reliable characters, the most reliable show
I like the way Legends of Tomorrow picks on one or two cast members and makes them the center of the episode. Then it builds a story around them. Zari and Ava are insecure but in different ways. Ava needs someone to show her that she can be a confident and respected leader, while Zari needs simply to be accepted and allowed to screw up. They both give that to each other. Ava for a long time was somewhat of a cardboard cutout. Not just because she’s literally a clone, but because the show used her either as a Mean Boss or a Worried Girlfriend. Now she’s a podcaster, a singer, and a leader. She’s making friends on the Waverider. She’s turning into a person.
And that’s good because we only have a couple of episodes with Ray Palmer and Nora Darhk left. I’m deeply sad they’re leaving, but it’s tough to miss the fact that Ray has little room to grow as a character and that Nora’s arc is basically done, too.
Legends is consistently the most genuine, heartfelt show in the Arrowverse, and it’s I’m glad it’s the last Arrowverse show each season and week; I can end the week on a positive note almost every week.