What happens with you mix horror movie satire, 90’s humor and some magically de-aged antics? You get one ‘Wet Hot American Bummer,’ that’s what.
During some Netflix and Chill (actual chill and actual Earth-1 version of Netflix), Sara and Ava are watching Swamp Thaaaang a movie neither of them has encountered before, based on events neither of them has heard of. A call from Gideon confirms their suspicions, there’s a magical fugitive taking kids from a summer camp in 1995.
Their evening interrupted, Sara invites Ava to join the mission, convincing her summer camp will be fun. Ray, an enthusiastic camp veteran himself, and Constantine join as well. Sara even manages to wrangle John into one of the camp councillor outfits.
Their first day, they meet the camp Director Paula, who’s far too abrasive to have any job that deals with children, and the walking epitome of 90’s dude-bro, Chad with-the-perfect-smile. They also to get to know their campers. Well, Sara and Ray get to know their campers. Ava sees making friends as getting in the way and John’s slipping away to place a protection spell.
Unfortunately, protections spells are great at keeping monsters out but not so great at great keeping kids in. Two kids go missing during the night. Paula isn’t too concerned about their vanished charges. The Legends turn their efforts to the kids, knowing one of them will know where the others went. Ray tries meditation and sharing time, which Constantine instantly hi-jacks in favor of hypnotizing the kids. Their boys are blissfully ignorant unfortunately and Ava’s drill sergeant tactics are getting no-where fast with the girls.
Meanwhile, back on the Waverider, Zari and Mick keep an eye on Charlie. After a daring but ultimately unsuccessful escape attempt, Charlie and Mick bond over their time in prison and some booze.
Another night at camp leads to another two kids going missing. Sara has Ray and Constantine search the woods for the missing kids while she and Ava try to get information from the girls again. Sara’s plan this time is to approach the girls like one of them. Literally. Constantine whipped up a potion that turn her and Ava into kids.
Ava’s reaction to this plan isn’t great. Her own insecurities about being a clone and having manufactured memories flare up and she walks away from Sara. When Sara tracks her down, Ava offers an ‘I’m sorry’ bracelet she confiscated from a camper. Sara reassures her they’ll be together the whole time they’re kids.
One potion and a magical light show later, tween-aged Sara and Ava are in their cabin bonding with the girls over pranks and dares. Ray and Constantine, meanwhile find evidence that their fugitive is a Shtriga, a witch that feeds off children. They find some ripped clothing from one of the missing kids and Constantine uses a spell to lead them to the kids. They find them comatose and close to death.
After getting the campers to reveal where the missing kids were sneaking out to, Ava and Sara go to investigate. On the Waverider, Zari goes to Charlie for information about the Shtriga. In exchange for Mick letting her out, Charlie reveals the Shtriga she was locked up with was a handsome guy. Sara and Ava learn this just as Chad-with-the-perfect-smile finds them.
Constantine and Ray cast a spell that transfers the vitality Chad stole back to the kids while Sara and Ava kick him right to hell, while they’re still twelve years old. But one of the kids doesn’t wake up. Constantine transfers some of his own vitality to bring the child back, but at the cost of his own life depleting. There’s nothing Gideon can do medically. To save John, they’ll need magical intervention. They only person they know with the power to help vanished to unknown time and place after Ray helped her escape.
Cut to Nora Darkh working at a Ren Fair working as a fake witch.
Ray’s comments about sticking to the buddy system may have been played for laughed during the episode, but it’s something that has always served Legends well. This week the buddy system worked to bring Ray and Constantine’s diametrically oppositional personalities together. Constantine can’t stand to be around someone like Ray because the Rays of the world get hurt when he’s around. His course nature having a touch of caring under it all gives depth to John’s personality and his history.
Mick and Charlie’s bonding time was another bit of great character work this episode gave us. Mick’s checkered past makes him the perfect choice to ease Charlie into the team. Now that she’s part of the team, does this mean Mick has a crime buddy again? No offense to Nate, who was a perfectly swell crime buddy.
It continues to be a joy to watch Sara and Ava’s relationship develop. After Ava walks away because of her insecurities creeping up, the next scene they’re both apologizing, admitting the faults they made, and Ava’s opening up about why she’s hesitant to become a child. This is so outside the usual standard of TV couples unnecessarily hiding their problems for half a season before it comes out as dramatically and messily as possible. Turning into kids was also a natural way to re-broach Ava’s clone storyline. It organically shows processing her identity as one isn’t linear, nor are they just forgetting the storyline.
Speaking of the kids, the actors who played young Sara and Ava were pitch perfect in their portrayal. I wouldn’t mind more kid-based shenanigans in the future if it means they get to return for a repeat performance.
The Shtriga itself took more of a backseat to the character work this episode. The twist of it being Chad would have landed better if there hadn’t been only two real suspects. Chad had a smile that was too perfect anyway. Overall the episode was a fun romp, especially when it leaned on the buddy system.
Only Legends Could…
- Swamp Thaaaang has four ‘A’s because it’s the fourth movie in the series. I don’t know if I’m surprised or disappointed no real-world series has used a similar naming tactic.
- The review for Swamp Thaaaang was actually taken from an AV club review of a Legends episode.
- Constantine knows the Swamp Thing. It’s probably not the same Swamp Thing who’s appearing on the DC universe soon. Probably.
- Camp councillor Ray makes his own lanyards. Never change Raymond.
- So, did Sara and Ava just leave the camp director passed out in the middle of the woods after they knocked her out thinking she was the Shtriga?
- Let’s take a moment to appreciate Sara and Ava got the ‘end of the movie’ kiss amidst magical lighting.
- Best lines of the week – “Why would they sneak out?” “To make out, duh.”