‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Season 3 Episodes 1-3: The Not-So-Great American Heroes

So, let’s start on a note of honesty here: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” isn’t the best superhero show on TV- but it’s not the worst, either. (That dishonor would likely go to either “Iron Fist” or “Inhumans” at the moment.) It is, however, a LOT of fun- see what I did there? That’s also about the level of the sense of humor of the show, for better or worse.

Oh, to be sure, it’s silly. On the latest episode, when one character mentioned a “prison break,” I think actor Dominic Purcell- who, in case you didn’t get it, used to star on the show of the same name- may have actually done a quadruple take of mugging.

On the episode before that, Victor Garber, with a decidedly straighter face, like the old pro that he is, referenced how the builder of the Titanic should be shot- a role he himself played in the movie of the same name. Shortly after that, fellow “Titanic” co-star Billy Zane showed up. You get the idea.

Sometimes the jokes are subtler, and of the “in-joke” variety, as when Gideon provided a photo for a fake account on a dating app with a picture of the actress who voices her, Amy Louise Pemberton, which you’d only know if you caught the one episode in which she appeared.

Also, the name of said episode is “Aruba-Con”- get it? As in “crossing the Rubicon,” a phrase associated with Caesar, who crossed the river of the same name, thus making war inevitable. In more modern times, it means an individual or group that “crosses the line” by engaging in risky behavior to get something radical done- seems about right for this motley crew.

But still, it’s all a bit on the goofy side, from Julius Caesar (Simon Merrells) showing up in Aruba and trying to recruit followers at a frat boy toga party on the beach- is that even a thing? – to, later on in the episode, one of said frat boys being confused for the real thing, and not just by the drunken Rory (Purcell).

That actually brings me to a new conceit this season, that of the newly-established “Time Bureau,” who were formed by former Waverider Captain Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) to replace the destroyed Time Master’s Council and “fix” the mistakes caused by the Legends’ meddling. Rip dubs these problems “anachronisms,” which include stuff like dinosaurs cropping up in modern times and well, the actual Caesar cropping up at toga-themed beach parties.

In addition, Rip disbands the LOT, deciding that they actually do more harm than good. After a brief intro that picks up where the last season left off, we flash-forward six months to find our former heroes floundering in dead-end jobs. Apparently, it’s hard out there for a retired superhero, where even bad-ass knife-throwing skills don’t impress the boss of a “Beds, Baths & Beyond”-type store where Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) now works.

Meanwhile, brilliant scientist Ray (Brandon Routh) has been reduced to working on phone apps, where his younger-looking boss won’t even give his “shrink ray” idea a listen. Dr. Stein (Garber) is basically retired and looking forward to the birth of his forthcoming grandchild, while Jefferson (Franz Drameh) is floundering, having dropped out of college in frustration.

All of this is a bit hard to swallow, save maybe the older Dr. Stein wanting to spend time with his family, least of all his daughter Lily (Christina Brucato), technically herself an anachronism, being as how she didn’t even exist until fairly recently. You’d think that would be a problem for the newly-douchey Hunter and his crew, but I guess he was enough of a softie to let that one go.

But easily the biggest issue I had, beyond Rip seeming like a completely different person (which is not the first time the show has gone that route, after all), was the fact that Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) up and left Nate (Nick Zano) out of nowhere, on his birthday, no less. I mean, seriously- she couldn’t have left a note, at least? Or called him?

I get that she wanted to check in on her granddaughter, Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke), but really, all she had to do was tell Nate and he would have surely been fine with it. Instead, she left him high and dry without explanation, and to add insult to injury, later went back to 1942 without saying goodbye, in order to appease the Time Bureau, as she herself was an aforementioned anachronism.

Not too cool, Amaya. But also, quite frankly, shabby conception on the part of the writers’ room almost across the board. I get that they wanted some drama up front, before getting the “band” back together, so to speak, but all this was the best they could come up with? Meh. Thankfully, it’s short-lived, as the LOT takes matters into their own hands and goes to snag Caesar and put him back where he belongs themselves.

Naturally, in time-honored tradition, things quickly go south, as Nate unwisely not only brings along a history of Rome book, but he lets Caesar get a hold of it, thus causing him to attempt to change history himself, screwing up even more than he has already. Like I said, dopey plotting all around, even if it was good for a few laughs, like the “Caesar selfie.”

Fortunately, this all gets rectified soon enough, and the crew moves on to their next issue, a problem that arises in P.T. Barnum’s time, with the Ringmaster played by Billy Zane, who manages to catch the anachronism in question- a saber-toothed tiger- and put it on display in his circus.

When the Legends come to fetch it, Barnum promptly kidnaps most of them to use as “freaks” in his “Freakshow”- also the title of the episode- until a newly-re-recruited Amaya uses her animal powers to free them and all hell breaks loose.

Eventually, the tiger is captured and the gang gets away, using Ray’s patented shrink ray (the name of which is a constant source of amusement to some of the crew because of course it is) to tame the tiger and the Bureau’s “Men in Black”-esque tool to make everyone forget what they just saw, as they did with the whole Caesar thing beforehand.

Both of these episodes are fun, but exceptionally lacking in the logic department, needless to say. Thankfully, the following episode, “Zari,” makes up for it by going back to the future- sorry, couldn’t resist… the show must be rubbing off on me. There, they seek to find and help the titular character, played by Tala Ashe (“American Odyssey”), who is being pursued by the mysterious metahuman Kuasa (Tracy Ifeachor, “The Originals”), who can transform into water and back.

Though much more serious than the previous episodes, “Zari” serves an important function in that it finally gives Amaya and Nate some closure on what went down with them, puts the out-of-whack for some time Amaya back on the right track, and provides both a new villain that may not be what she seems in Kuasa and a new recruit to the team in Zari herself. Note also that the necklace she wears is identical to the one worn by the superhero Isis in the old 1975 TV show “The Secrets of Isis,” likely a nod to what her persona will later be.

Like Amaya, Zari gets her powers through a connection to her ancestors via a “totem,” in both cases a sizable necklace that imbues the wearer with formidable strength and specific abilities. Remove the necklace, remove the power. One has to wonder, though- and I might be forgetting something here- why Amaya didn’t simply remove her necklace after somewhat accidentally killing all those people in trying to save her village.

I mean, I get that she needed to protect her village, so that might have been part of it, but why not remove it if she knew it was just going to cause problems, in the meantime? Zari didn’t seem to have problems taking hers off when needed. Maybe Amaya’s is harder to get off than Zari’s. It might actually be sort of fused to her, as it were.

Either way, she seems to have a hold on things by the end of the episode, thanks to a tribunal drug in the vein of Ayahuasca which Nate gives her- after testing it out on himself, leading to the episode’s funniest moments, as a drugged-out Nate stumbles about hallucinating and being a general menace to everyone for a few hours in his fractured state.

Other stuff worth mentioning: Ray, Sara and Rory are listed as metahumans in the registry, which would seem to indicate that they will become as such at some point in the near-future- perhaps literally. (As in it may happen in the actual future.)

Also, Rip and his right-hand woman Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan, “Mistresses”) discuss a new threat in Mollus, which may refer to the police state that is shown to be established in “Zari.” As per Wikipedia, Mollus might stand for Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, which “aided in maintaining the honor, integrity, and supremacy of the national movement” and was established after Lincoln was assassinated, in fear that it was part of a conspiracy to destroy the government altogether.

This could be a modern version of that, as partially represented by ARGUS, aka the “Advanced Research Group Uniting Super-Humans” or formerly, the “Advanced Research Group United Support.” Zari says that her future involves a “police state,” but it could also be military-run. Or Mollus could be the name of a new villain, a la Kuasa. We shall see.

All in all, the first few episodes of the show were fun, if a bit slight and lacking in good sense at times. Of course, I don’t think anyone expects perfect logic in a show so heavily involved in time travel, so it’s relatively easy to let it slide, given that LOT is such a good time overall.

But the show should nonetheless be wary of dubious plotting when it comes to such easy, obvious things as well, such as Amaya’s reasons for leaving Nate the way she did. That could have definitely been handled better, as could the Legends’ post-team jobs and the like, even if the latter provided fertile ground for some easy jokes.

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” remains a show that’s hard to actively dislike. The cast is solid and endearing, the jokes can be stupid but some are pretty amusing almost in spite of it, and the show is nothing if not heavily informed by geek culture and pop culture references up the wazoo, from in-jokes about “The Terminator” and “Back to the Future” to more on-the-nose ones about the “Man of Steel” and the like.

That makes it primo geek bait, and if you prefer your superhero stuff on the more light-hearted side, then this is clearly the show for you. If not, then you might want to stick with (most) of Netflix’s roster or stuff like “Arrow” or “Gotham,” which take themselves much more seriously.

But there is a place for this sort of thing, along with the likes of “Supergirl,” “The Flash” and big-screen ventures like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool,” so I’m glad it exists, dopey though “LOT” may be at times. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it- simple as that.

What did you think of the first few episodes of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”? Were you entertained or annoyed? Did you prefer the slightly more serious tone of “Zari” to the first two episodes? Or do you prefer the sillier side of the show? Speaking of Zari, do you like her as a new character? How about Ava? Or the newly-reformed, by-the-book Rip?

Sound off on this and more down below and join me in a few weeks for another update. Thanks for reading!