Alright, so Jack the Ripper, Black Caesar, and Henry VIII walk into a hotel. What? No, this isn’t the start of a joke, it’s a story beat in an episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The heroes are pursuing the last piece of the Loom of Fate, and they’re working double-time now that one of their own is down. Oh, and they’re literally being hunted by the Greek fate Atropos, whose role is to decide when every mortal will die. John has a lead, but it puts him and one of the other Legends in the same room as some of history’s most infamous murderers. Spoilers follow for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 10, “The Great British Fake-Off.”
“The Great British Fake-Off”
When we rejoin our heroes, we’re in ancient Egypt, and only Charlie is there. This is backstory. Charlie is telling the Legends how she got rid of the third piece of the Loom of Fate. It turns out she handed it to one of DC Comics’ most powerful and least-interestingly named characters, Enchantress. Enchantress disappears the ring, and we’re thousands of years in the future where Zari is still mourning Behrad’s death. When John says that it might take months or years to find the loom, Zari takes that talk-to-the-manger-of-magic tone and tells him to speed things up.
The team ends up at John’s mansion where John has an idea of what to do. First, though, Sarah hallucinates herself pouring a drink just before she does it. When one of her teammates inquires, she lies and then doubles down on the lie, as every character who hallucinates in stories about magic and science fiction tends to do. The team forms a magic circle to try to locate the loom piece, and just before they can, Sarah once again hallucinates–or fortells?–Ava running. Then she faints. The circle breaks, and John and Zari are pulled in.
Sara hasn’t traditionally been superpowered; she’s just an extraordinarily well-trained fighter. But last week, we saw her get blasted by Atropos and survive. This week, she’s seeing what appear to be premonitions. Did Sara’s experience during the Crisis on Infinite Earths or her near-death experience imbue her with powers? I like that right now it’s just something weird and scary; I’m curious to see what it is, and it feels like a natural progression for a character who is constantly exposed to the supernatural and all manner of weird science.
As for John-o and Zari, they end up back in John’s house, but long before John ever lived in it. The mansion was apparently a boarding house at one point, and shortly after John and Zari arrive, first one and then a half-dozen more Encores arrive, kicking off both of the big stories this week.
John and Zari quickly find themselves in a house full of immortal murderers with weapons that can unmake even someone as powerful as Damien Darhk. With Sara out, the rest of the crew is trying to figure out what happened to John and Zari, and they figure out that a bunch of these Encores are converging on a single point in time and space and decide to head to Hell to confront Astra, because you can just decide to go to Hell now.
Clash of the Titans
On the John and Zari side, we get to see the fun dynamic of these two ultra-confident characters clashing. John thinks he knows what’s possible and is ready to give up at a moment’s notice. Zari is a successful woman who won’t accept failure, especially where it concerns her brother’s safety. The two continually underestimate each other. John sees Zari as a wilting flower; she’s a social media queen which, in his mind, means she offers nothing. And to Zari, all of John’s power doesn’t mean much of he lets his nihilistic outlook guide him.
It turns out that a social media queen is used to tense interpersonal situations, and she’s able to walk into just about any room and make people listen to her, even if just for the few minutes it takes to save John’s life and concoct a new plan.
Together, the two face off against encores like Henry VII, Bonnie & Clyde, Brutus, the pirate Black Ceasar–the writers don’t miss the chance to highlight the humor in that pairing–and Jack the Ripper.
A Love Triangle I don’t hate
Through this misadventure, the two are forced to respect each other. When the crew visited Shakespeare in “Romeo v Juliet: Dawn of Justness,” the two ended up as the titular characters of Romeo and Juliet and had some serious chemistry there. That comes back as the two briefly have to pretend to be married, have to work together, and then fight for their lives together.
This sets up an interesting love triangle–three words I never thought I’d put together. Love triangles almost always suck. But here, you have a lot of valid feelings. Nate loved the old version of Zari. This Zari is the same Zari, but from a different timeline. But this Zari hasn’t had the history with Nate to be able to return those feelings. She seems to feel a certain pull, and the timestream confusion that caused her to wake up in his bed last week certainly doesn’t help.
Meanwhile, John Constantine and this Zari have had these encounters to organically develop their chemistry. Zari is caught between who is she is and a version of herself she’s only met in passing. Legends has done weird stuff with romance before, like Nate, Amaya, and Ray in first few seasons, but this triangle I’m actually curious to see play out.
Go to Hell
While all of this is going on, Ava grabs the hell blade they snatched from Genghis Khan and makes Gary take her and Mick Rory to hell. The trio quickly tracks down Astra and the four of them find out that while Astra hasn’t been sending encores, her mentor has. Her mentor, as we’ve suspected, is the third fate, Lachesis. Lachesis snatched up Astra’s coin collection and unleashed all those Encores on John and Zari so that she could get the last Loom piece before the Legends got their hands on it.
Atropos and Lachesis tempt Astra with an offer to become the third fate herself, but Astra ends up freeing the Legends and accompanying them to the Waverider as she puts her mother’s ultimate fate above the idea of ultimate power–a huge change from when we first met her and she put her success in Hell above all else.
Astra makes a Choice
We’ve talked before about how very few villains are evil just for the sake of evil. The Joker is possibly the closest, but you can trace a path even through his history. Legends is good at giving us villains and then exploring why they’re doing what they’re doing. Damien Darhk ultimately wants to provide the best world for his daughter. Nate Heywood’s father wanted to connect with his son after years of struggling. Astra is Batman-level angry about losing her mother. Instead of relentlessly training for two decades and putting on a mask to cope with it, she became a power broker in Hell so that she could benefit from what she sees as a broken universe.
With Legends of Tomorrow, there’s always another layer of complexity.
Now, I’m left wondering how her presence on the Waverider will change the group dynamic. I’m also wondering if Enchantress will return again or if this was a one-shot appearance. A character like her can take any form, so she could pop up anywhere as anyone.