Legends of Tomorrow Season Three – a review

The third season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premiered on October 10, 2017, and concluded on April 9, 2018 with 18 episodes. To date it is tied with Supergirl as the fourth-highest rated show on the CW.

Allison Keene of the website Collider did an excellent summary of this season’s Legends of Tomorrow. You can read it here: http://collider.com/legends-of-tomorrow-season-3-finale-explained/ but I will share it in full below. Thank you, Allison and Collider for allowing me to share it.

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It’s not every TV show that can pull off a Wild West showdown in a temporal blindspot that includes pirates, a Roman legion, a gigantic Beebo, a death demon, Jonah Hex, Leif Erikson’s sister, and a Themyscira-trained Helen of Troy, but by golly Legends of Tomorrow can and did. It was a marvelous way to tie together the show’s many adventures this season and recycle some costumes to save on a budget so we could enjoy a major CG battle between a cuddle bear and a hell demon (“Malice, you idiots!”). But in true Legends form, it was also surprisingly emotional, juggling several heavy narrative storylines with its trademark joy while never becoming glib. It’s an extremely fine line to walk, but Legends landed beautifully. For those who thought nothing could top “Beebo the God of War,” “The Good, The Bad, and the Cuddly” was a real treat.

Legends of Tomorrow is (as I have written about before) the only Arrowverse show to get better with each season. The series has never been afraid to change up its focus or its cast to better suit the story. Every crew member on the Waverider plays an important part, and each role is distinct. As Captain Cold, Jax, and Stein, and the Hawks exited, the crew only became stronger with the advent of Zari, Wally, Nate, and now Constantine. Even Ava and Gary have been welcome additions from the Time Bureau rather than Rip, who never quite worked with the levity and tone the series has cultivated.

Rip has left the show before only to return, and since we didn’t actually see him perish in “The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly”  I’m not sure that he’s really and truly gone. But if he did lay down his life for the Legends then and there, it was the right time. There wasn’t much build-up to it, but then again, there didn’t need to be. Rip hadn’t been a major part of the show in a long time, but that short line — “I would very much like to see my wife and son again” — packed enough emotional punch to make the moment land. It’s that kind of narrative work the Legends does so well; because it lays the groundwork for these moments episodes and sometimes seasons in advance, it doesn’t need to force a storyline or a mini-arc to explain a particular plot point it needs to get to. It happens naturally.

The same was true of the quick death of Damien Darhk, which was almost lost in this battle-intense finale. But it was a noble death for a character that Legends single-handedly redeemed through the Legion of Doom and in his alliance with his daughter and Mallus this year. Again, the emotional build-up to that moment happened in the episodes prior to it, where it was clear that Damien cared more about his daughter than any potential power grabs, especially after her death. I have a suspicion that we haven’t seen the last of the now-alive Nora Darhk (who in real life is married to Brandon Routh!) and that’s a good thing. She and her father were responsible for a great villain arc this year, and provided us with one of the best TV moments of the year with that fight sequence set to “Return of the Mack.”

The sacrificial deaths really were overshadowed though by a few key reunions, including an alive-and-well Kuasa (in Vixen gear) and the return of Jax. While the Legends have been cruising through time, 5 years have passed for the former half of Firestorm, who is now married and has a daughter (who, for all we know, could be the mystery girl from The Flash). It was really nice to incorporate him in the finale along with almost every character we’ve met along the way this year; it was not only suitably epic, but thematically relevant for a show about a motley crew of heroes. It was a reunion, truly, of the good, the bad, and the cuddly, and if you hadn’t guessed that the team would be creating a Beebo gollum once they introduced that possibility, then you haven’t been paying attention.

And yet.

The fact that the true break-out star of Season 3, Beebo — the purest good — would reappear as a kind of ninja warrior Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who is both hungry and really wants a hug, ultimately exploding (and killing Mallus) in a blue heart-shaped nuclear cloud went above and beyond all expectations. It was the marquee moment of this crazy season, and a thematically on-point, perfect way to wrap things up. Love wins, so kill ‘em with kindness!

The Aruba-set epilogue then took us back to the beginning, where everything kicked off this year, and instead of Julius Caesar it included a Constantine trolling by Gary (the set and the lighting was so distracting here, but I’ll forgive every cost-saving measure because of that Beebo fight). Sara and Ava are still working things out, Wally is fitting in great (and finally getting to use his powers the way a speedster should as part of a team), and Zari has a weird crush on Jonah Hex that is somehow adorable. But Nate also said goodbye to Amaya (and looks like the show is as well), in a way that — like with Damien’s departure — capped off many episodes’ worth of personal struggle. We didn’t need to see a drawn-out farewell from these two, because they’ve spent most of the season fighting their feelings, acknowledging them, and coming to the realization that they can’t have a future together. It was sad, but not maudlin — perfect for Legends.

So after an episode full of amazing references to Voltron, the “chicken people,” Wonder Woman, Vietnam, Blackbeard, and just about every throwaway line from the season (not to mention the sweetness of Mick remembering Ray’s song, and the hilarity of High Nate), we got a new setup for the season to come. “We broke time!” is now “We let out all the demons,” according to Constantine, and the hunt to put them back into the same realm Mallus came from is the right way for Legends to move forward. But what Legends proves above all is that drama can just as potently come from joy, triumph, and friendship as it can from sadness, violence, and death. Legends includes both sides exceptionally well, but regardless, it choose to stay optimistic — an important and crucial distinction that sets it apart from its Arrowverse brethren. Ultimately, the show’s exceptionally fun yet also narratively complex third season was a cuddly explosion of love conquering death. It was, fittingly, legendary.

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She liked Season 3 better than I did. I liked it, and frankly it is (so far) more satisfying than the other three CW shows (Supergirl, Flash and Arrow; it is unfair to compare Black Lightning, in its inaugural season, to the others). I’ve come to accept that this show is of a sillier bent than the rest; I don’t like it but I accept it.

But I liked this season – at times it is the best season of the show so far! Highlights included:

The return of Constantine.

The shorter season forces the conclusion of the season-long story arc from continuing long past its expiration date (which has plagued all of the other three CW shows this season as well as last year’s Flash and the past two seasons of Arrow.

The return of Constantine.

After a season full of episode after episode of Damien Darhke and the eye-rollingly overused trope of his snatching defeat from the jaws of victory from the Legends; we are finally shown another side in the season’s last episodes – just as he was turning into the Agent-of-Shield’s-Ward of the CW-line (every week for three years being constantly reminded he is the unredeemable and undefeatable villain) he does something unexpected and (more importantly) un-telegraphed (compared to, say, Marlize DeVoe ‘s inevitable redemption on this season’s Flash).

The return of … well, you get the idea…

Themyscira exists in the CW-verse. Is Wonder Woman (or perhaps Donna Troy) a possibility?

The return of Matt Ryan (see how I sneaked that in there?).

The Elvis episode was one of the best DC/CW shows to air so far.

Constantine playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Kid Flash joins the cast. Last season Eobard Thawne snatched victory away from the Legends every week. Every. Week. Now it’s the good guys’ turn. Not overdone, but Kid Flash was only in the later episodes. But beware: it could be as overused a crutch as it was for the Legion of Doom last season.

John Noble’s return as Denethor (it makes up for the shameful Tolkien “homage” of last season)!

I didn’t much like the ET homage episode, but the Legends trick-or-treating with a young Ray was a fun scene!

Did I mention Constantine?

Legends has been renewed and I look forward to its new direction. Join me in watching!

Michael G Curry

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Constantine to Join Legends as Series Regular

From Scoop:

“While a fourth season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has yet to be confirmed, Matt Ryan’s John Constantine has already been announced as a series regular. Warner Bros. Television press release didn’t offer too many details, except to say that Constantine would join the main team aboard the Waverider.

Created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben, Constantine was first introduced in The Saga of Swamp Thing. The character went on to star in 300 issues of DC’s Hellblazer series.

Ryan previously portrayed Constantine for a short-lived TV series on NBC between 2014 to 2015. He later reprised his role as the cult classic character on a season four episode of Arrow entitled “Haunted.” While this was a one-time Arrow appearance, Ryan has since made a few appearances during the current season of Legends of Tomorrow.

Along with appearing in the season finale, and possible fourth season, Ryan will voice Constantine in the upcoming Constantine series. This animated series will debut this March 24, 2018 on The CW Seed.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs on Monday nights at 7:00 pm (Central) on The CW.”

This article originally published on Scoop:

©2018 Gemstone Publishing, Inc. and/or Diamond International Galleries. All other material ©2018 respective copyright holders. All rights reserved. Scoop is published weekly by: Gemstone Publishing Inc., Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, Diamond International Galleries and FAN, the Fandom Advisory Network, 1940 Greenspring Drive, Suite I, Timonium, MD 21093, 443-318-8467. Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., 10150 York Road, Suite 300, Hunt Valley, MD 21030.

My thanks for allowing me to reprint it here.

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DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — “Daddy Darhkest” — Image Number: LGN310a_0366b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine and Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

What exciting news! Read my news and reviews of “Constantine” and “Legends of Tomorrow” by using the search engine on my home page.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

A review of the CW’s Arrow (part two)

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup

Wednesday: Arrow

Part Two

Read Part One here

Arrow the television show and Arrow the character are the Batman of their CW Universe: the flagship, the one the other shows and characters look to for inspiration, guidance and training (willingly and unwillingly for both parties).

Hell of a thing to say for a big Superman fan like me, eh? Like it or not, up until 25 or so years ago I would have said that Superman was the iconic flagship, and would have been correct; but the apparent dislike of the Man of Steel by the editors and writers at DC since have lowered his esteem – at one point making him as laughable as Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter were. But that is a whole other blog rant.

When Flash faced his Big Bad Season-Ending supervillain on his own show, the Big Bad taunted him for coming alone. “Who said I was alone?” Flash said. Arrow jumped from the background to stand beside his friend and protégé.

Chills. This is going to be a cool fight! (It didn’t disappoint!)

 

Arrow/Green Arrow was the perfect DC hero for a television drama: a little-known character (but popular in the comic book world) with a simple origin and not a lot of background to burden a program developer.

Millionaire playboy trapped on an island where he learned to shoot arrows. In the early 1970s the character loses his fortune and becomes a social, as well as a crime, crusader.

Quite likely because of the movie franchise, the Batman character was unavailable. In retrospect, it was a good move to go with Green Arrow. Giving Batman the Berlanti treatment would have been fun to watch, but it would not have worked as well.

Let’s face it; Batman’s origins and character are too firmly entrenched. The show would be too burdened by its past (although Gotham – now in its third season – does a great job in re-imagining that past; and is very good in its way, that take on the Caped Crusader would NOT fit in with the DC-CW stable).

 

Being in its fifth season, Arrow shows cracks that are not yet visible in Flash, let alone the sophomore Supergirl or Legends. The cracks are particularly apparent while binge-watching.

The formula (which can quickly become formulaic) for the DC-CW shows started in Arrow:

  1. The uber-baddie that lurks throughout the season culminating in a season-finale final battle. Granted the show does it well: it’s not one long storyline with zero progression {kaff-last-season’s-Agents-of-Shield-kaff}. Other villains show up during the season – some you think MIGHT be the season-finale uber-villain. A viewer can go several weeks without hearing the Big Bad mentioned. This is good.

The show sometimes even makes fun of this: at one point at the Season Three finale, Quentin Lance said (I paraphrase), “a super-villain is threatening to destroy all of Star City? It must be May!” In my opinion that line should proudly stand alongside “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” and “I saw it in the window and I couldn’t resist it” in TV history.

  1. The mcguffin syndrome that occasionally plagues Flash began with Arrow: bad guy shows himself. Arrow fights bad guy and gets whipped. Arrow’s team finds a flaw and creates a special Arrow to beat bad guy. In between we have scenes advancing the various sub-plots.
  2. The sub-plots: Characters die. They come back. Characters hate Arrow for various reasons (most often of the “I can never trust you again” type) but also come back into “Team Arrow”. (I cringe when I hear or read that term). Quentin Lance seems to hate Arrow in odd-numbered seasons and be his ally in even-numbered seasons.

 

That being said, I LOVE the show! It’s full of comic book Easter eggs (although not as much as Flash) to keep this old viewer happy.

Although even that is not without its faults. Introducing characters like Roy Harper and calling Arrow’s sister by her nickname Speedy pretty much give away their inevitable roles in the show. Their introduction and use of Black Canary was a nice surprise twist, though.

 

By not being tied to a popular back story ala Superman, Batman or Spider-Man, the creators of Arrow can introduce “new” characters: we meet his mother, his father, his sister (I love Willa Holland as Thea Queen – the character grows from self-centered rich girl to a very three-dimensional woman!), Diggle and of course Felicity.

Dave Ramsey as Diggle provides the muscle and back-up when needed and is a great character.

And of course how could I not love she-geek Felicity Smoak played by Emily Bett Rickards?

 

The villains are a mixed breed of one or two-shot baddies to the Big Bad that is finally fought in the season finale. The Big Bads are drawn from DC comics. When John Barrowman was introduced as Malcolm Merlin, we old-time readers knew he was up to no good. Same with Slade Wilson, Brother Blood and Damien Darhk (played by Neal McDonough, who also played Dum Dum in Captain America: The First Avenger movie).

The most surprising Big Bad was Batman villain Ra’s Al Ghul, confirming Arrow’s status as this world’s Batman. Excellently played by Matt Nable; he steals every scene.

For the new season the Big Bad is modern-era villain Prometheus. In the comics he fought the Justice League to a standstill and mutilated Red Arrow/Arsenal.

Uh-oh … once again being a comic book reader may have spoiled part of a future storyline…

 

I’m saving Stephen Arnell for last. The actor who plays Arrow excels at the role even five seasons in – he is serious, but not too Batman-like (read sociopathic) level. Sometimes he even smiles.

 

Oh and by the way, Arrow had Amanda Waller & the Suicide Squad before it was cool. Find those episodes.

 

We likely only have another two or three seasons of Arrow left. Enjoy them.

 

 

 

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).