Legends of Tomorrow S03E01 "The Virgin Gary" Review

"It would be good for our ratings."

The premiere of season four of "Legends of Tomorrow" wastes no time jumping into the fun and whimsy that makes it stand out so far above the other DC properties adapted for the CW network. From cameos of famous musicians from the Woodstock era, a killer unicorn, to a brand new Big-Bad threat that the Legends will spend the season hunting for, it's quite impressive just how much has been packed into a single episode.

After an opening adventure involving the Beatles and Paul Revere, the Legends drop off into a slump, emotionally speaking. They're bored of the same old patterns in their adventures to save the universe and episode writers Phil Klemmer and Grainne Godfree seize this opportunity to incorporate some meta humour and references, including Mick Rory complaining about "four years doing the same old crap." It's a clever way to re-energise the story and inform the audience that the creatives in charge have not lost their touch for keeping things fresh.

"Good spotting, pretty."

The calm before the storm comes in the form of a surprise party. The Time Bureau wants to congratulate the Legends on finally putting an end to the anachronisms in the timeline (Paul Revere had the been the last one). Ava and Sara not only flirt with each other but with the idea of being able to settle down together and enjoy a more quiet relationship of domestic bliss. But not everyone is so keen on the idea of calming things down.

Mick and Nate sneak out to engage in the petty crime of breaking and entering. Nate coaches Mick on how to be more suave in his criminal approach, and picks the house to steal from - which ends up belonging to Nate's parents. A hilariously awkward family reunion ensues which offers comedic gold as Nate's mother and Mick end up getting along swimmingly, and a greater insight into Nate's family history and upbringing. But it's the dynamic between Mick and Nate is an engaging addition to the show and exemplifies one of the strengths of the series. With so many interesting characters working together on the team, there is a wealth of material waiting to be brought to life by pairing of clustering different relationship-dynamics together. This doesn't solely refer to the notion of romantic relationships within the team, as things would get very awkward very quickly if everyone was constantly hooking up, but to see how such vastly different personalities play off one another makes for excellent character content in both the comedic and dramatic sense.

"Ava Sharpe, are you trying to make a kept woman out of me?"

Throughout the episode, the relationship between Sara and Ava is a joy to watch. With quality LGBT+ characters and romantic pairings in entertainment media being few and far between, the show's writers have built the Sara/Ava relationship to a beautifully non-cliched pinnacle. Their dynamic is far past the will-they/won't-they stage of a new flirtation. There's no insecurities or misconceptions regarding bisexuality, nor is there an archaic struggle to balance work and love. Though Ava had initially proposed the idea of settling into a calmer, more domestic relationship (why not move in together if there's nothing else the Legends need to fix?) there is never any question or conflict once a new threat arises. Of course Sara will lead her team to investigate this new darkness that's rising. Of course her relationship with Ava will still grow and develop. Sara doesn't have to choose between the two, and continues to be an iconic character that can inspire young women, especially bi-sexual women, who too rarely get to see such progressive and inspiring depictions to aspire to.

"The unicorn bit my nipple off!"

The entire adventure in Woodstock is bonkers, in the best way possible. As the show puts it, who would want to kill hippies at Woodstock? The best answer is of course, a demonic unicorn. Director Sanaa Hamri fully embraced the creative opportunities of the era, with hallucinogenic episodes that offer both comedic gold and character insight for the Legends that experience them. Even the coming-together of the Legends when they all arrive in initially separate groups to the time period was stylized to perfection.

This episode's central case is one that showcases the show's ability to run headfirst at the absurdity of its premise. It doesn't shy away from the extraordinary, instead embracing the opportunity to put together a wildly fantastical story that is funny, entertaining, and terrifically exciting to watch.

"Look at her, Ray. How could anyone be afraid of her?"

After the adrenaline of the action and the endorphins from the laughter, it's remarkable that the show manages to pack in some deeply emotional content that resonates with the audience in a most timely manner. Ray and Zari end up spending a decent amount of time with one another in this episode. Zari first offers Ray support in processing the messy matter of his having romantic feelings for Nora Darhk, whom he set free from ending up captured by the Time Bureau. As Ray Palmer is often the show's moral compass, in the most gentle manner, his attraction to the daughter of one of the team's greatest foes gives him a new texture that will be intriguing to see unfold over the course of the season. But what's even more touching is Ray's reciprocated support of Zari when she opens up about her mother and the terrible fate that lies in her mother's future. Zari is from the future, and the show's first Muslim-American character. Zari shows her mother and her younger self as they existed in 2018 and laments the impending trauma that will come from America's increased Islamophobia, a revelation that delivers a tremendous, grounded impact that will resonate with viewers who are in tune with the tumultuous sociopolitical climate of the real world. This plot development is truly touching, and exemplifies the show's ability to encapsulate depth and meaning even when so much of the running time has been spent on wacky comedic fun.

"Oh, bollocks."

In the final scene of season three, John Constantine arrived to bring news that Mallus was not the only demon that the Legends had released. It was an exciting teaser of what was to come for season four's larger arc. But the greater surprise came when it was announced that Matt Ryan would be reprising his role as a series regular on "Legends of Tomorrow". There's a reason why Matt Ryan's John Constantine is like a cat with nine lives with all his constant reappearances as the character following his show's cancellation; he's utterly divine in performing the role.

From the first scene in which he emerges in this episode, there's an undeniable energy that's added. It's further emphasised with the excellent scoring choice of incorporating harpsichord to further differentiate the flavour he brings to the show. He's rough around the edges and rejects the notion of being on a team, which is similar to Mick Rory's gruff aversion from the show's earliest stages. But what John Constantine brings that's unlike any of the others is the entirely new genre of horror. From his magical banishing ritual of the killer-unicorn to the truly excellent body horror that pays homage to the best possession imagery in the episode's closing scene, viewers are truly in for a treat with this addition to the Legends. Perhaps it's pre-emptive to suggest keeping Ryan on after just one episode of him as a series regular. But he's just so phenomenal that as long as the writers don't lose steam, why not make the most of such an excellent performer/character combination? Besides, it's been more than long enough of a wait from one guest appearance to another that viewers have more than earned a consistent source of Matt Ryan's John Constantine.

"Legends of Tomorrow" airs on Mondays on the CW at 9/8c.


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