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The Ups and Downs of Riverdale 2A: Part 1

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Last winter Riverdale took the internet by storm, as a perfect mix of a teen soap and a gripping thriller mystery, with its vibrant visuals and cool soundtrack as the cherry on top. The creators were able to walk the line between cheesy and serious, using familiar tropes but having fun with them. Season 2, however, seemed to lose a little bit of that self-awareness; the show didn’t feel like it was “in on the joke” as much anymore. Still, there was plenty of things to enjoy in 2A, so let’s talk about it, shall we?

We start off right where we left in the Season 1 finale – with Fred Andrews fighting for his life after he was shot at Pop’s by the mysterious Black Hood. While Fred’s in the operating room, Archie struggles with the guilt of not being able to save his dad, and fear that the killer might come back. Jughead uses his newfound pals in his father’s gang, the Southside Serpents, to try and find out more about the shooting. Betty isn’t too happy about her boyfriend being this chummy with gang members, but Jughead assures her there’s nothing to worry about.

As it becomes more and more obvious the shooting wasn’t just a random robbery-gone-wrong, Veronica starts to suspect her parents might have something to do with it; after all, Fred refused to sell his shares of the company back to the Lodges, which is quite the inconvenience on their side. Ronnie confronts her mother about it, but Hermione is appalled by the accusations; she also makes it clear that Veronica’s father will hear about this won’t stand for this kind of disobedience.

At the same hospital Mr. Andrews is at, we meet Cheryl, whose mother suffered horrible burns in the fire at Thornhill, although Cheryl doesn’t mention to anyone she’s the one who started it. Instead, she tells a story of Penelope heroically coming back into the burning house to save her daughter, but later we find out she returned for a family portrait. Lovely.

“I see you, villain!”

After a series of feverish visions about missing all of his son’s major life milestones, Fred finally wakes up and is ready to go home for recovery. Archie makes it his mission to protect his dad at all costs this time, so he spends his nights guarding the door with a baseball bat, waiting for the Black Hood’s potential return. But Fred’s not the only dad who’s come home…Veronica’s father Hiram is back from prison! And oh boy, does he not seem happy his baby gained a moral compass.

While everyone deals with their home drama, in a town nearby we see a familiar face: everybody’s favorite child predator Ms. Grundy, grooming yet another teenage boy. She sends him home after a late night music lesson, and when left alone, she gets attacked and brutally murdered by none other than the Black Hood.

After Fred’s been shot there, Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe is struggling to get any business. Jughead is especially upset, but doesn’t really have the time to do anything about it since he has to be there for his father’s trial; Betty takes it upon herself to save the diner, with a help of Ronnie, who’ll do anything just to stay away from her parents.

The whole school finds out about Ms. Grundy’s murder and it makes Archie even more sure the Black Hood has it out for him personally. Additionally, the lack of sleep and stress because of his night vigils are starting to get to him. He comes for help to Reggie, football team captain, and now a local drug dealer I guess. Here we get the first mention of Jingle-Jangle – the new, “cool” drug that’s all the rage among the teens.

Betty and Veronica decide to throw a charity event to save Pop’s and Hiram offers his help as a proof he changed his ways, but Ronnie isn’t ready to forgive him that easily.

Meanwhile, Jughead is furious with his dad’s appointed lawyer, who insists on taking the deal that will put FP in prison for 20 years. Yet again he comes for help to the Serpents, who send him to their sketchy personal lawyer, known as the Snake Charmer. She suggests judge will be more inclined to ease the sentence if the victim’s family forgives him. Her payment for the legal advice? A favor from Jug, when the right time comes.

The girls find out Pop Tate decided to sell the diner to an anonymous buyer. This sounds all too familiar to Veronica, whose dad already used a similar tactic to buy the closing Drive-in last season. She confronts her parents straight on but Hiram denies any involvement.

At the same time, Betty and Jughead go to see Cheryl and her mom, asking to speak on FP’s behalf in court. Not surprisingly, Blossoms aren’t really inclined to help, so the couple leaves empty-handed. Betty, however, refuses to give up that easily, so she decides to blackmail Cheryl: if she won’t help FP’s case, Betty will release video of her father, Clifford Blossom, shooting her brother Jason. Cheryl begrudgingly agrees, but also kinda gives Betty props for “going there”. The next day in court Cheryl lies that her father made FP to do his dirty work by threatening to hurt Jughead. Judge releases FP until all the information about the case is re-evaluated. All is good and well until FP hears about Jug’s deal with the Snake Charmer; he forbids Jughead to do her any favors.

Later that evening, the event at Pop’s is a hit. Pop Tate announces the diner is gonna stay open and he especially thanks the Lodges for their generous donation. Hermione is quite surprised to hear about this, but Hiram reassures her that no, they’re not being, God forbid, charitable, he just straight bought the place; in secret, of course.

Later that night Archie meets up with Dilton Doiley, the local firearm enthusiast, to get a gun. Now, knowing he has the means to protect himself, Archie finally gets some sleep. Not getting sleep though? Archie’s classmates Moose and Midge, who were having a little jingle-jangle infused fun at the Lover’s Lane, only to be interrupted by the Black Hood, who shoots them up in an awesome (strictly cinematically speaking) Zodiac Killer homage.

Sweet Pea and Toni Topaz

In Episode 3, Jughead is finally starting his education at Southside High, where he meets one of the younger Serpents members, Toni Topaz. Her vocabulary is 85% pretentious pop culture references, so naturally, she and Jug get along just great. She gives him a tour around falling apart school, we get another shoutout to Jingle-Jangle (kids here are using it right in the school halls), and in the end, she introduces him to the rest of young Serpents, including their sort of leader, Sweet Pea. They invite him to hang, but Jughead refuses because he’s rebellious like that. Tony warns him that being alone can make him a target for their rivalry gang, the Ghoulies.

Betty’s mother Alice gets a letter from the Black Hood, where he lets Riverdale know that his attacks are a way to cleanse the town from its sinners. By the way, remember Betty’s sister Polly? Yeah, she’s still here. Except not for long, because she’s afraid that carrying her cousin’s babies – out of wedlock, mind you – might put her on top of the Black Hood’s sinners list. So she leaves town for the farm Jason and her planned to run away to in the first season.

Back at Southside High, with a blessing from an English teacher Mr. Phillips, Jughead re-opens school newspaper, with one condition: he can write about gangs and drugs, but he won’t participate in either. Toni congratulates Jug on “finding [his] safe space, snowflake”, reminding us this show is written by 40-year-olds. As his first story, Jughead tries to expose Ghoulies as a missing piece of Clifford Blossom’s drug pipeline; in return, the gang beats him mercilessly, which forces Jug to start hanging out with Serpents.

Archie continues spiraling, getting more and more paranoid about the Black Hood. Wanding to be more proactive, he creates a neighborhood watch of sorts: the Red Circle. Still, policing streets and giving out flyers doesn’t feel like enough for him, so with some subtle encouragement from Veronica’s dad the Red Circle decides to record a threatening video to the Black Hood; it goes viral overnight and puts the town in a full panic mode.

In a shocking turn of events, teenage boys deal with consequences of their actions, and when principal Weatherbee suspends the football team, they start backpedaling on this Red Circle stuff real fast. Everyone, except for Archie, who only gets more determined. After pointing out all the Black Hood’s victims are Northsiders, he’s convinced the killer must be from Southside, so he decides to go there and somehow draw him out.

The Red Circle

Meanwhile, following her mother, Betty gets a letter from the Black Hood. This one, however, is much more personal. In it, the killer confesses how Betty’s speech at Jubilee inspired him to take action and taking another page from the Zodiac’s book he attaches the cipher to the letter, the one that only Betty can solve. If not, another “sinner” will pay. Betty takes the cipher to her mom and Sheriff Keller but leaves the letter to herself. They decide to post the cipher in the paper, so the whole town can have a crack at it.

Archie goes ahead with his plan to provoke the Black Hood, but gets caught vandalizing Southside property by the Serpents. Sweet Pea isn’t impressed but doesn’t have a chance to do something about it, ‘cause our boy Archie brought a gun to a knife fight, so the Serpents scatter.

The next day sheriff Keller comes to search Archie’s locker because some witness saw the altercation. He doesn’t find anything because Archie has hidden the gun in a school bathroom and later that day he asks Veronica to bring it back to him. Ronnie is beyond angry with the reckless behavior Archie’s been displaying lately but his football teammates, however, are more than impressed and want to revive the Red Circle. The reunion is cut short when the Serpents turn out at Archie’s doorway, ready for round two. Both parties agree to a good old-fashioned group fight. It all goes as you would expect until Veronica decides she’s had enough and fires Archie’s gun, scaring the Serpents away. Later, she takes Archie to a bridge so he can throw away the gun for good, finally starting to regain his sanity.

The same evening, Mayor McCoy arranges an emergency town meeting to discuss the Black Hood, and the growing tension between the Northside and the Southside. Alice Cooper is determined to paint Southside as the ultimate bad guy, however, Fred Andrews points out that they should focus on the serial killer running around, not pit Riverdale residents against one another. Hiram Lodge, an alumnus of Littlefinger’s “Chaos is a ladder” university, no doubt, seems to be enjoying this divisiveness among townies; we’re not sure what his end-game is exactly, but everything clearly goes according to his plan.

At home, Betty finally realizes the key to solving Black Hood’s cipher is in the old Nancy Drew book she used to read a lot as a kid. Along with Jughead she solves the riddle and finds out where the Black Hood will attack next – the Town Hall when he first heard Betty’s speech. They get there in time and no one gets hurt, though Betty now has no chance but to come clean about the Black Hood’s letter. When she gets back home the Back Hood contacts her again, only this time by phone. He goes on about how he has some grand plans for her and makes it clear that he knows about Polly, and if Betty will tell police or Jughead about their calls, he will make her pay. He doesn’t say anything about Archie though, so Betty confines in him.

Meanwhile, at the Lodges residence, Veronica is given the chance to get more involved with the family business; her parents are hosting an open house for potential investors, and their biggest target is St. Clair family. Veronica used to be friends with their son Nick back at NY, so Hermione suggests Ronnie should help him see all the goods Riverdale has to offer, so he can pass it along to his father.

The tension between Southside and Northside keeps growing, but unlike Hanna Montana, Jughead can’t have the best of both worlds and is forced to choose a side. He decides to join the Serpents officially, to once and for all end speculations about his loyalty. To do so, he has to go through the hardcore initiation process, that includes taking care of the gang’s dog, remembering a bunch of the generic “one for all, all for one” type of laws and, at the end, getting beat up by the existing members.

Betty receives another call from the Black Hood. His first task is to expose Betty’s mother, who’s been dragging Southsiders through the dirt in her newspaper, as an ex-Southsider and a troublemaker herself – by publishing a picture of her mugshot from back in the days. In return, the Black Hood promises to answer one question about himself. Betty is resistant at first, but after a small quarrel with Alice, she goes ahead with the article.

The St. Clairs arrive in Riverdale and we finally get to meet Nick, and he’s everything you’d imagine…bratty, arrogant and condescending. Minutes after his introduction he does a line of cocaine, shamelessly flirts with Veronica in front of Archie and scorns the small town lifestyle.

The Black Hood sticks to his promise and lets Betty ask one question about himself. Betty asks if she would recognize the face behind the mask; the Black Hood says yes. His next assignment for Betty is to break her ties with all of her friends, starting with Veronica, or he will do it “his way”.

Nick throws a party at his hotel room, inviting all of Veronica’s friends, including Betty. The fun gets a little out of control when everyone, excluding Betty, takes Jingle-Jangle. She sees this as an opportunity and lashes out at Veronica, calling her shallow and spoiled, pointing out how quickly she returned to her old ways, as soon as Nick arrived. Veronica, justifiably hurt, kicks Betty out. After everyone else leaves, Nick makes a move at upset Veronica and when she rejects him, he, not surprisingly, can’t take a “no” for an answer. Ronnie slaps him instead and leaves.

The next day Betty comes clean to confused Archie about her real reasons behind yesterday’s behavior. She also says Jughead is next on her list of people to cut off. Archie, obviously, isn’t a big fan of her going along with the Black Hood’s games, but Betty points out he hasn’t hurt anyone since they’ve started talking, so she’s willing to continue to be a distraction of sorts. She also asks Archie to be the one to break the news to Jughead. He thinks it’s gonna be really hard until he comes to see Jug and realizes he’s one final task away from officially becoming a Serpent. They fight and Archie warns Jughead to stay away from Betty. Jug finishes the initiation, and later that evening lets emotions get the best of him and ends up making out with Toni.

In the meantime, Lodges’ open house party is in full swing. Alice shows up looking like an absolute boss, embracing her Southside roots, at least for today.

Definition of YASS QUEEN!

Nick apologizes to Veronica, sighting addiction struggles as the reason for his unacceptable behavior. They both agree to move on and Nick moves on, all right: on Cheryl. While acting all charming he spikes her drink and takes her back to his hotel room Thankfully, Veronica, Josie, and The Pussycats get there in time, saving Cheryl and beating the shit out of Nick.

The Black Hood calls Betty to make sure she did as he demanded. He then sends her to an abandoned house in the woods, where she supposedly will find a clue to his identity. When Betty gets there, she finds a box with a black hood in it. On the phone, the Black Hood makes her wear it and look in the mirror, implying they’re one and the same. Betty hears some noises and runs away. On her way, she gets a call from Archie who tells her what happened with Cheryl.

When Betty gets home, the Black Hood calls again and states that he knows she’s been talking to Archie about him all this time. He threatens to kill Polly as a punishment unless Betty gives him another name. After a moment of consideration, she names Nick St. Clair.

Finishing thoughts

Overall, Season 2 of Riverdale had a strong beginning, but started declining pretty fast in the middle.

I can’t exactly pinpoint what went wrong there: maybe it was the sheer amount of subplots, or maybe, it was just their poor quality. Between the mess that was the Red Circle, undercooked St. Clair drama, Jughead almost starring in a spinoff, and whatever-the-fuck Lodges’ plot is, the show felt unfocused – managing to be kinda boring but overwhelming at the same time.

There was one shining beacon of greatness, though: Lili Reinheart’s acting. No doubt the strongest actor from the younger cast, she’s been pulling some serious weight this season. She was especially phenomenal in episode 5 “When A Stranger Calls”, where Betty was forced to deal with the Black Hood’s demands; you could feel the agony and exhaustion through the screen.

On a bright side, I do feel like Episode 7 is where the show really starts getting back on track so hold tight, people! We’re almost out of the woods!


Images courtesy of CW

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Away In A Manger: Black Lightning 2×09, “Gift of Magi”

Sarah

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Black Lightning, Anissa, and Jennifer with the phrase Get Lit

Well, my friends, we’re nearing the end of Black Lightning S2, and I think it’s time to declare a sophomore slump. Anyone here with me? Let’s get into this week’s episode and discuss.

Jen and Kahlil are still on the run, but Kahlil was cut with one of Cutter’s Special aka Poison knives, so he’s quickly succumbing. The pair find a barn, where there’s a lot of soft lantern light and Kahlil can curl up in the hay. At first they swap cute-funny stories about when they first met, but soon Kahlil can’t manage talking let alone breathing well, so Jen goes out to steal some antibiotics from a hospital. (They don’t yet know that it’s poison, they assume his wound is infected). Jen is getting really good not only at controlling her powers, but using them for specific tasks, and I’m here for it although I really wish it wasn’t in the context of this storyline.

Manger

She manages to get the antibiotics and injects Kahlil with it, but it doesn’t work. She grows increasingly desperate, and as Kahlil’s death seems imminent, she goes outside for some air and a good cry. That’s when she goes back to her brain-salon, where she sees Perenna (her brain-version of Perenna, not the real one) and a twin version of herself. Mind-Perenna tells Jen that she already has everything she needs inside of her; it’s very Inside Out. Together with her brain creations she figures out that Cutter is actually *right there* watching them through binoculars. She manages to capture her and tie her up, tasering her with her hands as a form of torture in order to get her to tell her what she did to Kahlil. It’s not long before she figures out it was a poison knife, and cuts Cutter with it so that she’ll be forced to show Jen where on her person the antidote is. Turns out, it’s in that very obvious vial on her necklace!

Twins

Jen goes to a dark place when she’s torturing Cutter, which is kind of hard to watch. Again, I’d be more interested if this whole thing didn’t revolve around Kahlil. Anyway, Jen gives both Kahlil and Cutter the antidote and they’re on their way again. But only after they declare their undying love for each other.

I’m happy to report that no one left Kahlil’s aunt for dead in her house, as Black Lightning, Thunder, and Gambi have set up camp there to help her recover from what turned out to be one of Kahlil’s pain pills and try to figure out how to find Jen. They know Kahlil is hurt so they check hospitals, and end up being in the same hospital as Jen at the same time!

So close, yet so far

Jefferson and Anissa figure out Jen was there because she left a trail aka scorch mark in her path, but the fact that she keep eluding them is driving Jefferson to be irrational and reckless. Gambi and Anissa manage to keep him under control, but Lynn is losing it too. When she’s not crying in the wreckage of Jen’s room that she destroyed, she’s trying to get Kahlil’s mom, and then his dad, to give her clues as to where they might be.

Of course neither of them can help, but along the way she grabs a gun from the Inner Sanctum aka Gambi’s basement so that’s concerning, considering her emotional state.

My heart breaks for this heartbreak

In a parallel storyline, Tobias has set his sights on a kid named Todd, an academic prodigy who has just been rejected for a research grant in favor of the white kid whose rich dad just funded a new wing of the university. It’s unclear what Tobias wants Todd to do, and Todd seems dubious at best until Tobias deposits $100,000 into his bank account. Money is the root of all evil, amirite? I mean, capitalism is. But that’s a discussion for another place.

An invitation I hope to never get

Lastly, this episode ends with a scene in which a mysterious someone murders everyone in a bar in Texas before getting a phone call from his boss telling him that his next job is in Freeland. I feel like we’re about to meet a bigger bad than Tobias, but time will tell! Just someone end this Kahlil-Jen nonsense and give us our family back kthanks.

What do you think is in store for the final episodes? Are you happy with this season so far? Black Lightning is going on hiatus until the end of January, so I’ll be back then to see where we’re at. Enjoy what’s left of the year, friends!


Images courtesy of The CW

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Winter Hiatus Blues

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Even in December with the broadcast networks hiatus for scripted series starting, and pilot season underway, there’s so much to discuss!

The continuing behind the scenes drama of Les Moonves’ ouster from CBS, ABC’s entertainment president Channing Dungey stepping down, NBC’s Greenblatt moving on, and FOX setting up for its new leadership once the merger goes through…every big 4 network has a lot to deal with between now and the TCAs in early February. The exec panels will sure be a time… Especially if ratings come up at all.

Ratings Race

As of this Tuesday, and as always, I’m talking about scripted ratings: FOX is number 1 with a 1.13 average followed by NBC, ABC, and CBS. CW of course is last with .35. Last month, four of the five networks had six shows at or above their overall average.

Now, ABC has eight shows, the CW has five, and the rest have six.

Across the five networks, only a third of new shows are performing above the average on their network. The Connors (considered a new show), FBI, The NeighborhoodLast Man StandingNew Amsterdam, and Manifest. The highest rated new show on The CW, Legacies hovers right below the network’s average.

Interestingly, across the board, long running shows are still high rating performers (or what’s high now) for the networks. The exception to this is SVU at a tenth below the average.

Their “success” indicates that we probably won’t lose any of the longest running shows anytime soon. Still, the network with the largest average season length (including shows yet to premiere) is FOX at 5.3 followed by CBS at 4.5. Removing the shows already cancelled and predicted as canceled doesn’t make an impact because of The Simpsons‘ whopping thirty seasons! (Unrelated but with the announcement for Crisis on Infinite Earths, DCTV isn’t going anywhere either.)

Of course some of this will shift when the rest of the new slate premieres begin in January. I do not envy the folks in charge of scheduling spring shows, especially as more time slots are lost to winter reality or competition shows.

Scheduling Shenanigans

You can put whatever new show after strong shows and still have a dud in the ratings race.

On The CW, ableist In The Dark has had zero promotion beyond the scheduling announcement that it starts after Supernatural. Their other new show Roswell: New Mexico or Roswell: TVD received the coveted post Flash slot plus actual promo. Except for The 100, their other spring shows already received cancellations, so ratings definitely don’t matter.

FOX  only has two newbies to premiere, with The Passage starting after The Resident and Proven Innocent taking the 9PM slot after Cool Kids. I don’t know that people watching an hour of comedy will stick around for a procedural, but anything can happen these days.

ABC on Wednesday revealed that in a vote of confidence (or in hopes to increase viewers or to get Whiskey Cavalier onto the schedule earlier) is moving the last bit of A Million Little Things behind Grey’s leaving current slot holder Station 19 off the schedule until March. Considering AMLT  hit a .7 last week… The Fix is the only other newbie to get a spring slot, starting in March in The Good Doctor‘s place. Grand Hotel is now a summer show. ABC what are you doing?!

NBC and CBS have yet to fully unveil their new schedules so more on that in January! However, pilot development is in full swing and reboots (and spin-offs) continue to rule the pack.

Pilot Predictions

Predicting what pilots will make it to series this early is silly, but I do think that a chunk of the reboots in development will definitely make it to air. If they’ll get renewed is another question. Even though this year, only Charmed received a back 9 order (Last Man Standing was ordered with 22 episodes). Last year, all the shows that received fewer than 9 episodes in the fall except for Good Doctor were cancelled. So now in May, that trend continues, or the new trend is that any back order indicates a renewal.

Which is why even though I think it’s silly to bank on so many reboots in development, I know that networks are still going to do it. I won’t list all of the shows in development because there are a lot and many will die by January. The CW has three alone! And NBC already has a series order for Law and Order: Hate Crimes or as my friend calls it, “SVU but grittier” making it the seventh L&O series.

By late January, early February, the big entertainment sites will have lists of all the pilots in contention and then we can really get into the details. Until then, what shows are y’all waiting to see for the first time (or again)?


 

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‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ Cranks the Insanity up to Eleven

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It’s that time year of again. The Arrowverse crossover, but the Legends misplaced their invites. While Kara, Barry, and Oliver were getting acquainted with Batwoman and dealing with body switching, the Legends were dealing with their own alternate reality issues. Or should I say the Custodians were dealing with their own issues. Or, should that be the Sirens? Or the Puppets?

Yep, this was one of those kinds of episodes. ‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ didn’t just surpass the insanity of every other episode this season. It multiplied it, as Charlie and Constantine broke the timeline more with each attempt to fix it.

At first, Charlie hits the town on her own, going to Las Vegas to stretch her newly returned powers. Going out as Marilyn Monroe, she runs into a prison buddy, a leprechaun. She barely has the chance to warn him about faulting his powers when Mick, Nate, and Ray strut in dressed like they just walked out of an 80’s action show. Which they did, apparently, as they introduce themselves as the Custodians of the Chronology and we get ‘A-Team’ style opening credits. They kill the leprechaun without hesitation, which is a big clue for Charlie that not everything is right.

Legends already planning their own spin offs.

She returns to the Waverider with cat-Zari to figure out why the team is suddenly so murder-happy. She transforms into Sara, planning on just ordering them to stop. But it doesn’t work because in this timeline, without help from Constantine, Sara was killed by the unicorn at Woodstock. The team attacks her, recognizing her as a shapeshifter. Charlie makes a quick retreat from the ship, taking cat-Zari along to find John.

He’s being kept imprisoned at the Time Bureau. Because he was the epicentre of the timeline shift, he has memories from both timelines and his brain isn’t keeping up very well. When they find him, John turns Zari back into a human. Only to turn her right back when she’s against his and Charlie’s idea to save Sara instead of fixing their alteration. Charlie breaks John out, with some help from Mona and a very emo Ava. Some of the Lege- Custodians die in their fight out, but everything will be fine once they save Sara. At least that’s what Charlie and John tell themselves.

They travel to Woodstock, blasting the unicorn into rainbow gloop before it can gore anyone. But this time, when they return to their time Nate, Ray, and Mick are the ones with the memorial plaques. Plus, without the guys around, Sara, Ava, and an android?Gideon have formed a Charlie’s Angels style team that assassinates fugitives. Charlie attempts to infiltrate the team as Amaya, but her cover is blown almost instantly. She does learn the boys were killed by the Fairy Godmother. The fairy is also the reason Zari’s a cat.

I’d watch this show.

John and Charlie go to Salem for their next patch job. Charlie transforms into the Fairy Godmother to trick Prudence into releasing the fairy before she can kill the boys. It seems to go off without a hitch until she returns to the jumpship. Good news, Zari is no longer a cat. Bad news, she’s now a puppet.

So is the entire team, as John learns when he boards the Waverider. They aren’t just puppets. They’re puppets that sing their own intro and have a historical figure of the day. Since the Fairy Godmother didn’t kill Mick, he became her new charge. She turned the team into puppets before Mick took her along on a crime spree.

Charlie and John keep trying to Band-Aid the timeline, but each fix ends with someone else dead in the new timeline. Yet, even when they get to a point where no one has died, John’s mind has so many timelines clashing in his mind he collapses from the strain.

He finally agrees with Zari that they need to fix the timeline properly and stop Dez from leaving. When Charlie refuses to help they leave her behind, but she’s not giving up without a fight. She transforms into Ava, heading to the Waverider to clue the team in on the magical ongoings in New Orleans. But there’s something still wrong with this timeline. All the Legends are alive. No one is made of cloth. But they still have a ‘shoot first ask questions never’ policy when it comes the fugitives. Gideon picks up on the three Constantines at that point in time. The team assumes the extras are shapeshifters, sending Mick and Ray to blast them.

Charlie finally realizes it wasn’t just John’s absence from the team that caused the changes. It was her absence. Without her, the Legends don’t learn fugitives aren’t all unicorns with a taste for hearts or Fairy Godmothers that sing about murder.

…And with true love’s kiss, the curse was broken.

In New Orleans, this-episode’s-John stops Desmond after last-episode’s-Constantine broke up with him. He tells him he’s sorry for all the pain he’s going to cause him and wipes his memory just before still-in-a-relationship John can return. As Mick and Ray fire on this-episode-John, past-John and Desmond share a kiss which becomes the point from which the timeline fixes itself. Reality is right once again, where the only puppet person is the possessed Professor Stein and the Legends aren’t mythical creature murders. Ava and Mick even heal their rift from the last episode, finding some common ground.

John comes clean to Sara about their misadventure. He even tells her about Neron. Sara promises to help him take down his demon. So all’s well that ends well. Except, there’s no word on what happens to Mona after she met the business of the Kaupe’s claws. Nor is Hank happy the Kaupe escaped, which he learns about in the middle of a golf game with someone… something wearing Desmond’s face.

Analysis

Was this the strongest’s episode of Legends? Probably not. It sacrificed some substance for the sake of 80’s spoofs and sing-alongs. But that’s not to say this episode wasn’t good. Far from it. The alternate timelines were laugh out loud funny and the Puppets of Tomorrow song is going to be stuck in my head. They were so good I’m willing to overlook characters like Ray, Nate, Sara, and Ava feeling so drastically different in their respective spoof realities. I’ll chalk up to the discrepancies in their characterizations to time being so broken.

It could have easily become frustrating watching John and Charlie patch broke timeline after broken timeline while they ignored the obvious answer. But it never got to that point because every step of the way you knew John was doing this to keep Desmond alive. John Constantine, always the tortured soul, willing to let his mind be torn apart by multiple timelines before he gives up on his love again. It’s a tragedy the timeline being fixed has to come at the cost of Dez’s soul. But maybe it isn’t lost forever.

The scene between John and Desmond pulled at the heartstrings. As did the moment when Charlie finally realized she was the missing the link for the Legends. It’s always a good moment when a Legend finds their place on this mismatched, rag-tag team. It’s hard not to compare this episode to ‘Here I Go Again’, when Zari found her place on the team. Which is a glowing compliment when that episode is one of the best of Legends entire run.

The brief callbacks to the earlier episodes was a nice way to tie off the first half of the season as well. The Unicorn was only eight episodes ago. Yet, monsters, magic, and pure insanity feel like they’re always been a part of Legends of Tomorrow. Well, pure insanity has been a fundamental part of Legends since season two.

It just shows how this series isn’t afraid to shake up its own formula. Thus far it’s worked every time, with each season being better than the last. It’s still early to call season’s four place for certain. Season’s three back half had some heavy ringers, but so far this season is on the right tracks to be the most memorable one yet. They’re sure to come back strong when they return in April.

Only Legends Could

  • “You missed calls from Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, and Kara Zor-El,”
    “Sounds like the annual crossover,”
    “Yeah, that’s going to be a hard pass,”
    This whole exchange is amazing. Easily wins favorite lines of the episode.
  • You can tick off Sara Lance’s annual dalliance with death. Sara dying, almost dying, or faking dying should be a running gag at this point, but for some reason, I can never find it funny.
  • Everyone just understands cat-Zari. No explanation needed. Much like when Nate understood pig-Ray.
  • The CW tradition of bad wigs continues with emo Ava. (Kate Kane, by some miracle, avoided the curse.)
  • In the Siren’s reality, Sara’s wielding Mick’s gun and Gideon has Rip’s.
  • I want more of DC’s Puppets of Tomorrow.
  • There’s a timeline where Nate and Hank die from a Garden Gnome.
  • Why yes, Legends did give us the true love’s kiss fixes everything. And yes, it was a kiss for a mlm couple. Legends never ceases to amaze.
  • I got a flirty vibe from Charlie and Zari at the end. Time will tell where that goes.

Images courtesy of the CW

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