The character relationships among the Waverider’s ensemble are what make Legends continue to be a gem of the Arrowverse, but the characters need forward momentum. This episode focuses too much on its characters without doing anything to move the story forward.
“The Need for Speed”
A TICKET TO RIDE — While the Legends contemplate how to get to New York City, Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) discovers Hoover has train tickets to DC and Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ava (Jes Macallan) come up with a plan. With the help of Gary (Adam Tsekham), Nate (Nick Zano) will have to impersonate Hoover, but he soon learns it is harder being Hoover than he expected. Since Zari (Tala Ashe) is stuck without the internet, she is forced to take a digital detox and becomes obsessed with figuring out who blew up the Waverider. Meanwhile, Astra (Olivia Swann) and Spooner (Lisseth Chavez) have stayed behind in Texas and are dealing with the aftermath of Astra’s special spell.
Legends loves having its actors play more than one character, and Tala Ashe’s character Zari is no different. We have two Zaris, Flannel Zari and Fancy Zari. I ultimately like Flannel Zari better, but Ashe plays the characters so differently that it doesn’t feel like the show has lost anything.
Watching Fancy Zari try to cope with everything she’s gone through has been compelling. It reaches toward the absurd as she tries Behrad’s coping method–weed, of course–to work through it before finding her own way to handle it. The moment she plucks the magically duplicated whisky bottle from the fridge sends her on a quest to figure out who was piloting the other Waverider, listing off everyone from Vandal Savage and Damien Darhk to just “robots” as she considers it.
Ashe makes the whole thing funny without being slapstick, and even positive as she uses her quest to get a grip on herself, inspiring Ava to regain her own focus.
Meanwhile, Nate goes the other way. In defending himself, Nate killed J. Edgar Hoover, doing by accident the one thing no time traveler should ever do: change the timeline. As a lover and protector of history, this eats at him, sending him down a pretty dark path, and it feels really authentic to the character. With Hoover dead, Nate feels obligated to try to impersonate him on the train they board, and gets carried away–J. Edgar Hoover was a piece of crap– doing so before realizing that he might be doing more damage than good by doing so.
I didn’t immediately like Nate when he joined–he seemed pretty directionless at the beginning; a dope that ends up on the Waverider with little to offer. And he kind of was, but the show has done such a good job of making the Waverider a home for him that it has given him direction. While Rory was the oldest member of the team along with Sara, he always worked hard to isolate himself from the team. Nate is a team player. He’s not a co-captain the same way Ava and Sara are, but he’s something like a first mate, adding knowledge to every mission.
Lack of Momentum
As far as forwarding the plot goes, this episode does very little. It feels like it’s really Nate and Zari character hour. Spooner and Astra get the anthropomorphized Gideon to finally start talking, and the crew discovers that there is at least one Terminator-style flesh-covered robot following them, but we’re no closer to finding Gwyn Davies (Matt Ryan’s new character) or understanding what happened with the Waverider.
The episode is enjoyable thanks to those performances. With the blissfully short seasons that Legends runs, though, episodes that do nothing to forward the plot feel wasted. For these time travelers, time is precious; I want every episode to count, but this one feels like it could’ve been mostly cut out–even if I still liked it.