“I’m currently tracking Genghis Khan’s whereabouts via his license plate” is the best sentence I’ve heard this week and I’m glad, as usual, that Legends of Tomorrow continues to deliver its unique and special brand of bad-news-bears heart. Sara’s still out of town, so the rest of the Time Idiots continue to manage on their own. Thankfully, Charlie is back to add a little magic to the team while John and Ray are dealing with a bit of terminal lung cancer. Spoilers follow for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 5, “Mortal Khanbat.”
I love describing Legends episodes. So often with other Arrowverse shows, I’m left talking about hyper-serious moments while I try to resist mentioning the countless plotholes their dalliances with science cause. I know Legends is a good time travel series because like Bill & Ted and Back to the Future, the time travel serves the characters and their needs, and the story so silly that the plot holes hardly matter.
Such is the case when Genghis Khan shows up in Hong Kong 1997.
The show picks up right after John Constantine’s collapse. Astra has accelerated his latent lung cancer to the terminal stage, and John isn’t looking good. While the team tends to him, Charlie tries to run off as voices swirl around her. That’s new.
Ava calls the team to the main deck of the Waverider and includes Zari in that group. She’s genuinely thrilled to be part of the team. Her brother still seems unsure about that. Ava says she wants to clean up the timeline like Marie Kondo because she’s a huge nerd. She’s worked out a time map that shows where and when time disturbances from Encores are likely to occur, leaving the team fully unimpressed.
What does impress them is when Nate rides out on a scooter seconds later and explains that he’s named it Scoots McGoots. Other Arrowverse shows often struggle with humor, but Legends? Never. I still can’t believe this is the same show that I hate-watched in season 1. Despite having so many actors from that ultra-serious first season and the still-pretty-serious second season, the cast has adapted so well to the pacing that makes the show work.
Give a guy a gun and he becomes Superman
As is per protocol, a time disturbance crops up in Hong Kong, 1997. Ava, Behrad, Nate, and Charlie go to Hong Kong. Ray, meanwhile, accompanies John to his gorgeous gothic mansion as they try to figure out what to do aside from put him in hospice care. Oh, Gary’s there, too.
In Hong Kong, it doesn’t take the team long to find the source of the disturbance. Nate spots the armor and hair style and quickly realizes he’s looking at none other than Genghis Khan as Khan climbs off a motorcycle in a trenchcoat with a toothpick in his mouth. He walks into the teahouse as doves fly by in slow motion. A fight quickly breaks out, with every character possible wielding dual pistols.
Because the fight is on network television, it’s not nearly as bloody as a John Woo movie; it more nods at the notion of John Woo than it does emulate the master’s style in any real way. I was a little disappointed by this; no repeat cuts, no exploding squibs, nothing. We do get lots of slow motion, though, including a rare appearance of Nate’s rarely-used Steel form.
John’s time is ticking
John, meanwhile, has fainted in his summoning circle and has an encounter with Astra in which a countdown timer appears on his arm, telling him that his time is incredibly short.
Back aboard the Waverider, flirting between Zari and Charlie sets of Behrad, leading Nate to have to explain to Ava that Charlie and Behrad likely went to “the moan zone” together. They get back on the case and discover that there’s a good reason Khan appeared in Hong Kong 1997: it took him 700 years to dig out of his tomb. In 1997, Khan has been out long enough to understand how to use a motorcycle, and he has a magic sword that disappears people the same way that Bugsy’s gun did (but without the whole ammo part). This is a nice twist that lets the show play with a historical character that would be really difficult to place in his own time.
After infiltrating Khan’s gang long enough to figure out his plan, Charlie finds herself once again being chased by those voices, who are now picking at her chosen form and trying to distort it.
After finding out that even Nora Darhk, who can literally grant wishes, can’t save John, they try a Puca, cursing the Archangel’s name, and a spell involving an uncircumcised knight. John ends up conversing with the bulldog head on the end of his walking stick, who may or may not be the spirit of Winston Churchill.
In Hong Kong, Genghis Khan attacks Prince Charles’ motorcade on the eve of the Hong Kong handover from Great Britain to China, with his gang on scooters with machine guns. Because why not. Khan pioneered horses as a method of warfare. Why not scooters? After some close calls, Charlie stabs Khan with his own sword and then takes his tooth pick and puts it in her own mouth. Wow.
The show finishes things off by telling us that Charlie isn’t just a shapeshifter, but one of the Fates of Greek mythology, who grew tired of determining peoples lives for them. She scattered her Loom across the multiverse, but the crisis brought them back together. John convinces Astra to give him more time with the promise that he can save her mother.
There are all kinds of moments this week that I love. Mick telling Prince Charles to wait until he finishes his beer break. John kissing Gary when he finds out he’s going to live. Nate screaming “Khan” to the sky when he finds out that Genghis stole his scooter idea. This show is so dumb, and so full of love for all its characters.