‘The Satanist’s Apprentice’ takes the Legends somewhere they’ve never been before. Into two dimensions. Literal two-dimensional as this semi-animated episode brings some classic cartoon magic to the Legends formula.
We finally get to see what Astra’s been up to while the Legends have been dealing with the aliens of the week. Human life, turns out, is a rough adjustment after being the ruler of hell. Doubly so because she had no money, John’s old house is falling apart and the whole going to hell as a child, returning as an adult thing can’t really be explained on a resume when applying for a job. It doesn’t help that her roommate is never there and when he is he’s too caught up with himself to be of any help.
Also, her neighbor is racist and his entire purpose seemed to be existing to offend Astra. All in all, life ‘topside’ isn’t treating Astra well. With Constantine being useless she gets the idea to sell some of the things in the house. While searching through the attic she finds an old journal of her mother’s with songs in it, one being labeled ‘for John’. Sadly she never learned to read music, but just having her mother’s journal seems to have improved her mood.
She also finds a painting with Aleister Crowley trapped inside. Crowley knows Astra’s struggling and Constantine has been no help. He offers to teach her magic. Astra’s dubious about his intentions but accepts the offer, desperate for any help at this point.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the cosmos, the topknot introduces himself to Sara as Bishop. He offers her an antidote to the Amelia Earhart venom, claiming he’s going to save humanity. Sara still passes out, weak from the poison but she wakes, restrained the next morning, with a Nurse Ava hovering around her. She’s hooked up to several IVs that Ava claims are medicine. Bishop comes in, giddy with excitement and with a presentation for Sara. As it turns out, we’ve encountered his work before. He is the creator of the AVA clone.
He presents a version of the future where humanity has perished and he’s the only survivor. He has a grand plan to save humanity, by turning it into a hybrid race combining human DNA with alien material to produce the ‘ultimate survivor’. These new humans will need to learn to fight and survive, which is where Sara comes in. Bishop wants her to teach them, after all, who better than the woman who’s defied death multiple times.
Bishop thinks their meeting is fate, treating Sara like a guest. The fact Sara’s in love with an Ava clone only makes their meeting all the more predestined in his eyes. He leaves Sara to think about his offer (but at least he leaves her watching Wynonna Earp to fill the time).
When Nurse Ava comes in to check on her again Sara finds an opportunity to take her hostage. She threatens Ava to take her out of there, but this Ava is a far cry from our Ava. She’ll happily let herself be killed, knowing there’s another Ava ready to take her place. Sara can’t go through with it, trying to appeal to Ava instead. She tells Ava she’s as much a human as anyone else and is more than a disposable servant. Sara implores her help and her words seem to leave an impression.
Back on Earth, Crowley’s been showing Astra a simple transformation spell. Conveniently, this spell can also be used to transfer his soul out of the painting if there’s a body to exchange him with. Astra smells the trap but when Constantine shows up and immediately takes a condescending stance about Astra learning magic from Crowley she’s had enough. She switches them, allowing Crowley to take over Constantine’s body.
She gives Crowley twelve hours to teach her magic and then she’s switching them back. Crowley is strangely agreeable to the time limit. He does teach her simple spells, how to turn trash into treasure, one to fancy up their clothes and keep the lights on, but the effects are all temporary, beginner magic not strong enough to make anything permanent. But he offers to help her make an amulet that will increase her magical power.
While she’s preparing the potion they need the rest of the Legends portal in after stopping world war three. They immediately make themselves at home and proceed to ask about John and annoy Astra until she changes them into household objects. Ava’s a binder, Zari is a cell phone and affronted that it’s of the flip phone variety. Nate, a cheese wheel, and Behrad a candlestick. Oh and Spooner is a fork.
Astra hides the Legends from Crowley so they can make the amulet. Crowley failed the mention this spell needs a fresh human soul to be complete. Astra knows exactly which soul to use and invites the neighbor who pissed her off earlier.
The Legends try to embody the best Disney sidekick energy and convince Astra not to do it. She locks them in a cupboard but she can’t go through with it. Unfortunately, Crowley can. He steals the neighbor’s soul and takes the amulet for himself. With the amulet on, the spell to switch him and John back no longer works. Crowley betrays Astra, turning her and everything around them into a cartoon. Yes, there are obligatory princess songs.
Unable to stop Crowley on her own, she releases the Legends who immediately attack, never mind the fact they’re still all household objects. They gain the upper hand, but only for a moment, Crowley using his magic to bind them. He locks Astra in the attic but fails to notice he didn’t trap Spooner the fork with the rest of the Legends.
Constantine, who is still a painting, speaks with Astra. He’s realized Crowley’s betrayed her since they’re in a cartoon. He knows Astra’s mother created a spell that can cleanse all the magic from space and he suspects it’s among her things. She created it in case John ever went too far with his magic. Astra just so happened to find that song earlier, realizing now it’s the spell. At first, she’s worried she won’t be able to use it if she can’t read music, but she’s a cartoon princess now and every cartoon princess can sing.
Spooner, the fork picks the lock, freeing Astra from the attic. The next sequence is a magical battle with a princess’ magic song vs an evil sorcerer. Like any good cartoon, the princess wins and they’re all transformed back to normal. With Crowley back in the painting, Constantine returns him to the attic. He tries one last time to bargain, knowing Astra’s spell would have rid Constantine of his magic too. He claims to know of a source of alien magic, the fountain of imperium. John covers him but Astra overheard that John’s now without his magic.
He knew the spell would strip his powers and he accepts the consequences, knowing Astra wouldn’t have turned to Crowley in the first place if he’d been here for her from the beginning. He’ll build up his magic again, offering to show Astra magic along the way.
Meanwhile, back with Sara, Nurse Ava returns to her, staying she wants to help her escape. She’s stolen a power cell for Sara’s ship. Together they return to the ship, but it’s a trap so Bishop could get the alien DNA that was collected while they were in the pods and stored away. Seeing her chance, Sara takes down the Ava clones and kills Bishop, but she’s knocked out with a dart and wakes up in Bishop’s facility again, where he greets her like she didn’t just snap his neck.
Very few shows could randomly switch to an animated portion for part of an episode and make it work but Legends not only makes it work, it’s the most delightful part of the episode. And it puts a Disney-inspired magical animated sequence next to sci-fi heavy b-plot and yet those elements didn’t clash. Astra and Sara’s journeys in this episode might have been very different visually but tonally, both women are trying to achieve similar things, they’re both trying to survive.
Since her introduction, Astra has been a character I’ve loved getting to explore. There are so many layers there waiting to unfold. In just this episode we see how her relationship with power makes adjusting to mortal life so difficult and yet in spite of that, the goodness of her heart still shone through. Crowley might have turned her into a princess to mock that goodness but that was the very thing that allowed her to prevail. With the Legend’s making Constantine’s place their base of operations for a while I’m looking forward to seeing Astra in the fold more and for her learning magic with Constantine. Who knows, maybe her mom has more song spells we’ll get to see/hear.
Speaking of Constantine, he messed up and Legends wasn’t afraid to pull its punches with the consequences. After fighting so long and hard to save Astra he just left her high and dry, leaving her open to Crowley’s influence. It’s not that surprizing he didn’t see Astra needed help until she spelt it out for him, Constantine can be blind to things outside of his own problems at times. What was surprising was this costing him his magic. While there’s no doubt it’s going to be temporary, (who is Hellblazer without his magic, after all) this could lead to interesting dynamics of John leaning on the team more without his magic. Or it could all be set up for the McGuffin fountain Crowley spoke of.
The B-plot introduced the season’s big bad, Bishop. He’s very charismatic for a villain, which looking at past Legends of Tomorrow villains with similar styles, is not a bad thing (see Damien Darkh). While Darkh’s charisma came from charm and a layer of witty sarcasm, Bishop seems to lean on the geekier side. But there is a sinister undercurrent to him. The fact he created the AVA clones adds an interesting history between him Sara and Ava even though they’d never met before. With his plan to remake humanity, he screams ‘villain who doesn’t realize he’s the villain’. Those can be the most dangerous kind.
Only Legends Could
- How do I get to Earth-Prime so I can see those other eleven seasons of Wynonna Earp? And did Sara make it to season 4, episode 2? These are the important questions.
- I keep waiting for a true musical episode but I’m not going to complain about any musical moment we get, least of all a Legends take on the princess musical.
- Legends turned most of its cast into talking housewares/food.
- Ava as a binder is so on point.
- Nate had the Citizen Steel star on his side as a cheese wheel. And he steels up as a cheese wheel.
- Spooner is a fork.
- Binder!Ava making pew noises as she fires her pages at Crowley.
- Everyone was doing their own sound effects as cartoons. Legends of Tomorrow is impossible to explain sometimes but such a delight to witness.
Images courtesy of the CW
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