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Television

Legends of Tomorrow Slays with the Best of the 80s

The ’80s gave us the height of Slasher films. It’s also the decade that gave us some of the most well-known high school teen comedies and coming of age stories. So, naturally, when Legends dips its toes into the ’80s we’re treated to the best and tropiest things those classic 80’s movies could offer. This week’s Encore is an Earth-Prime original, a serial killer dubbed the ‘Prom Night Killer’, Freddy Meyers (yes that name comes from exactly where you think it comes from).

We start at Freddy’s execution in 2004, but with our experience with the previous Encores, we know the death isn’t going to stick. The Legends get the alert history changed with a report on the death of Freddy’s coroner and his body missing. Ava’s ecstatic, she just featured Freddy on ‘Stab Cast’ her podcast dedicated to serial killers. From the lack of excitement on anyone else’s faces, she can tell none of the team listens to it.  It just so happens Freddy’s return is on the eve of his 15-year high school reunion. It’s too good an opportunity to pass up, returning to the scene of the crime and finish the job he couldn’t in 1989, killing the final girl, Tiffany. The Legends head off to 2004 to crash the reunion.

Constantine’s MIA for this mission because he set off alone (with Gary) looking for a solution to the Astra problem. He heads to his old home, but it isn’t as abandoned as he thought. Another him is squatting in the place; i.e. actually Charlie pretending to be him.

In 2004 Mick realizes the high school is his old school. Sara impresses this is why team meetings are important. Mick’s too busy running from a classmate who recognises him and Ava’s too busy being serial killer star struck. Ray and Nate discover a dead cop, realizing their killer is on the scene. Inside, the reunion is disrupted when Tiffany’s body is discovered and all the doors are suddenly locked. The Prom Night Slasher came back from Hell with some telekinetic upgrades. Trapped in the school with Ava and Mick, Sara sends the rest of the team to enact a Hail Mary plan Ray suggested earlier, reform the Encore when he was a kid.

If this were an actual horror movie it’s at this point I’d be screaming don’t look under the sheet.

Traveling back to 1989, Nate and Ray pose as teachers. When they see him get asked out by Tiffany, the most popular girl in school they’re sure they’re watching the first phase of a prank that’s sure to end in Freddy’s murderous origin story.  They try to convince Freddy to skip prom night. They only succeed in appearing like very suspicious adults. Fairy Godmother Nora gets summoned to Freddy because he’s the kid with the strongest needs. Ray, always able to find the ‘proble-tunity’, thinks it’s perfect. She can help him have the prom night he always wanted, stopping him from becoming a killer. Nora worries that a killer just got a nuclear bomb.

But the kid’s first wish is for a new suit, which couldn’t make Nora happier. He seems like he really just wants a great night. Nora hooks him up with stylish treads and a cool ride (that is definitely not a pony). All in all, their plan seems to be working, not a hint of a murderous glint in Freddy’s eyes. Nora even asks Ray to the prom. He is, of course, delighted, and must make it a throuple with his best bud Nate.

Nothing’s better than your girl on arm and your bff on the other.

Meanwhile Zari’s sort of a prisoner on the ship. Nate hoped being on the ship would jump-start her memories and Behrad is worried she’ll tell the truth to their parents. The siblings can’t find their common ground. Behrad has always been their parents favourite in Zari’s eyes, while for Behrad, Zari’s the one who set the unobtainable level of success.

Back in 2004, Mick’s guarding the guests when he spots the classmate who recognised him earlier, Ali, trying to sneak out. He offers to help her, along the way asking if she has a boyfriend or a girlfriend (because if being around Sara Lance has taught him anything it’s not to assume). But the killer gets to her before anything more can happen.

In 1989, the team realizes the bullies plan to dump garbage on Freddy, but before they intervene Tiffany guides him away from the trap. The bullies cut into their dance, dumping punch on Freddy instead. He runs out, Nora following.

He seems like he’s on the edge, but Nora stops him from going off on his own. She knows what’s he’s going through. She knows what it’s like to look your demons in the face and let them consume you. She knows. And she doesn’t want that for him. He should be able to be who he is, regardless of what any bullies think. So she asks him if he had to show everyone who it really was, what would his wish be?

Her best magic has nothing to do with her wand.

In the gym, the lights go out and the music stops. Ray and Nate have just enough time to be worried before Freddy gets on stage… and starts dancing. To Supersonic. The bullies try to ruin the performance, but his fairy godmother makes sure the performance goes perfect. Freddy wins over the crowd and gets the girl.

Zari in trying to check her feed through the ship’s computer gets a flash of her previous life and hacks the doors open. Leaving the ship, she mistakes Freddy’s limo for her ride. The rest of the Legends are ready to call this mission closed, but the killer hasn’t vanished from 2004.

Mick attacks with his gun, but the flames get turned back on him, burning him alive. The Prom Night Killer’s mask melts off revealing the true killer to Ava and Sara. Kathy Meyers. Freddy’s mom. Freddy was never the killer. Kathy, unable to bear her son growing up and apart from her, dawned the mask and went after his friends. When he learned what she’d done, he took the fall for her murders. But Kathy died of a heart attack after watching her son get executed.

In 1989, Kathy attacks the kids and Zari, but Zari fends her off long enough for Behrad to swoop in, using the air totem to subdue Kathy. Not a moment too soon before Sara and Ava met the grimmer end for final girls.

In the aftermath, Nora checks in with Freddy, making sure he’s okay. She says the words she probably needed most when she was kid, ‘dysfunction doesn’t get to choose who you are, you do’. The team reconvenes in 2004, enjoying the dance. Freddy’s here now and married to Tiffany.  Sara and Ava argue who’s the final girl. Mick hooks up with Ali. Nate and Behrad drag everyone to the photo booth. All set to ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’. Classic Legends happy ending.

Best. Prom. Night. Ever.

But we’re not done just yet. In 2020 Charlie corners Constantine, finding out what this house means to him and why he’s back. He folds, sharing he used to live there with the Newcastle crew and he’s back because there’s a portal to a witch he needs to talk to. The catch, because there’s always a catch, is the witch is Astra’s dead mother. Charlies says she’d take any chance to solve the problems from her past. Constantine finds the resolve to open the doorway and step through.

Review

It’s episodes like this that got Legends on our best of the year and best of the decade lists. They could throw around all the giant Beebo’s, dragons and evil nipples they wanted, but at the end of the day, that alone would make this show hallow. Just a pretty package, albeit extravagantly and insanely so. Beebo worked because it was the truest form of love and light and bunch misfits could think up under pressure. Dragons worked because the Legends needed people in fantasy. ‘Slay Anything’ works because Legends doesn’t just carelessly borrow those 80’s tropes for an episode. It makes them mean something. Freddy’s cheesy teen romance ending wasn’t about him winning the girl’s heart and defeating bullies. It was about him finding himself. The confidence to be himself. The confidence to grow and experience life in a way his mother never let him before.

The twist of who the killer was something I didn’t see coming, but looking back it makes perfect sense. Everything was laid out so precisely that once the reveal happened, part of the surprise was how inevitable it felt now that we had all the pieces. The scenes with Freddy and his mother felt at first like Norma with Norman Bates. But it was Pamela Voorhees with Jason. Freddy’s wishes weren’t from a kid before he broke. They were just the earnest wants of a kid who wanted to be liked.

The twist worked to defy another trope, one that had been simmering with worry at the back of mind. Freddy could have, all too easily, become just another example of the media excusing hyper-violent acts with a sympathy earning backstory, like any amount of bullying could equate to taking someone’s life. But that wasn’t the case here. Nor did they try to redeem Kathy after her reveal. Her son’s words about knowing who he is didn’t spark a change of heart. They knowledged she needed help, not the kind of help one uplifting speech could give.

But, since we’re on the topic of uplifting speeches, did Nora ever give her share of them this episode. This was a great first episode of the season for the character. She was at her best here, with Freddy as a mirror of the kid she was once was. Her words coming from any other Legend wouldn’t have had half the weight.

Only Legends Could

  • Ray and Nora continue to be goals.
  • Zari’s frenemies with Blue Ivy??? Maybe.
  • Ava’s true crime fascination rises again! Her recording her monologue while searching the school for the killer was amazing.
  • Does Charlie walking out in a robe with two people of seemingly different genders count as pansexual Charlie confirmed? I’m going to say pansexual Charlie confirmed.
  • Mick’s got a crush and I’m here for it.
  • “Technically, you’ve died more than three times so just give me this one babe,”
  • They really gave us a killer named after Freddy Kruger and Mike Meyers, added in a dash of Norman Bates misdirect then pulled the Friday the 13th twist.
  • No magic of the fluid ingesting kind this time for John. Just some plain ole palm cutting.
Images courtesy of the CW
Written By

Proud Trinidadian. Writer, poet and game writer when she isn't busy dissecting fictional worlds or galavanting through the latest video game.

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