Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 20, 2018)
With Season Three of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, we find more time-traveling adventures. This three-disc set includes 21 episodes, a run that also features crossover programs from other DC series. The plot synopses come from the package’s liner notes.
Aruba-Con: “Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) relieves the Legends of duty.”
How can I dislike a show in which Julius Caesar gets stuck in Aruba? This episode launches S3 in a highly satisfying manner, with plenty of action and comedy along the way.
Freakshow: “The Legends fix an anachronism at PT Barnum’s (Billy Zane) 1870s circus.”
Shades of The Greatest Showman! Barnum’s attempts to make the Legends part of his troupe add fun and overcome the semi-tedious romantic mopery between Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Nate (Nick Zano). The episode loses some points due to the terrible CG tiger it features, but overall, it’s another solid show.
Inside joke alert: at one point, Martin (Victor Garber) refuses to visit the Titanic and says its builder should be shot. The gag: Garber played the ship’s designer in the 1997 hit film. (Billy Zane also appeared in Titanic, but his casting here seems unconnected to the movie.)
Zari: “The Legends protect outlaw Zari Tomaz (Tala Ashe) from the Time Bureau.”
After trips to the past, “Zari” takes the Legends to the future. That’s less fun, honestly, and this feels like an expository episode, as it appears to exist mainly to bring the title character to the Legends. It’s still a decent show but it’s a dip in quality after the first two programs.
Inside joke alert: at one point, Rory (Dominic Purcell) throws out the term “prison break”. This isn’t what you’d call subtle, since Purcell remains best-known for his role on Prison Break.
Phone Home: “The Legends race to save Ray Palmer’s (Brandon Routh) life in 1988.”
As implied by the title, Legends embraces its inner ET via the super-80s tone of “Home”. The episode doesn’t overdo this, so the Spielbergian themes make it a fun ride.
Return of the Mack: “The Legends track a time-traveling vampire (John Noble) to London, 1897.”
How can a show about a time-traveling vampire go amiss? Answer: it can’t, and “Mack” largely lives up to the promise of its premise.
Helen Hunt: “The Legends find Helen of Troy (Bar Paly) in 1930s Hollywood.”
While the visit to classic Hollywood offers some fun moments, “Hunt” doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Still, it does enough to become a generally good show, if not a great one.
Welcome to the Jungle: “The Legends meets Gorilla Grodd in the Vietnam jungle.”
I never much liked Grodd as a character, so an episode with him at the center seems likely to leave me cold. That’s largely true, though I do like the interaction between Rory and his dad.
Crisis On Earth-X, Parts 1-4: “The gang comes together for Barry and Iris's wedding, but the ceremony is crashed by villains from Earth-X.”
“Crisis” spans four episodes, each from a different series. “Part 1” appears in this season of Supergirl, “Part 2” comes from Season 6 of Arrow, “Part 3” brings us to Season Four of Flash and “Part 4” stems from Legends.
That’s a pretty ambitious undertaking, and one that may bring minor spoilers for those of us who’ve not yet seen those other seasons, mainly via personal relationships. These don’t feel like egregious reveals, though.
In terms of story elements, “Crisis” tends toward the sloppy side of the street. It throws a ton at us and not all of it makes a bunch of sense.
Nonetheless, the “crossover event” manages a lot of good action, and it keeps us with it across the four episodes. While this doesn’t become a great package of shows, it offers pretty solid entertainment.
Beebo the God of War: “Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) thinks the Legends need help to fight Damien Darkh (Neal McDonough).”
With its callback to the “Tickle Me Elmo” craze, “War” manages a fun way to reset history. I’m not a huge fan of the Damien subplot, but this episode still offers more good than bad.
Daddy Darhkest: “John Constantine (Matt Ryan) helps the Legends.”
Have I suddenly decided I like the Damien side of things? No, but “Darkest” holds up pretty well anyway, as the use of Constantine brings pizzazz.
Here I Go Again: “Zari finds herself trapped in a time loop.”
Though the use of the Groundhog Day conceit doesn’t seem original, “Here” manages to explore it well. The twists and turns entertain and make this a fun show.
The Curse of the Earth Totem: “The Legends hunt for Blackbeard’s (Jonathan Cake) lost treasure in 1717.”
Hasn’t the series already done pirate shows? Maybe not – I’m too lazy to check – but the theme still seems stale. “Curse” milks it for some excitement but I just find it tough to get jazzed about a Blackbeard episode.
No Country for Old Dads: “Ray works with Nora Darkh (Courtney Ford) in 1960s East Germany to fix the totem.”
Hey – a good episode that revolves around Damien! McDonough seems especially spry here, and the various time travel elements work even better than usual.
Amazing Grace: “The Legends save music in 1950s Memphis.”
So if Elvis doesn’t succeed, there’s no rock ‘n’ roll? That seems like a stretch, but if I ignore this questionable historical assertion, “Grace” works pretty well. Luke Bilyk doesn’t create a convincing Elvis but the show still entertains.
By the way, there’s no Elvis song called “I’m Gone Mama”. Elvis’s actual debut was “That’s All Right”, and “Gone” offers a riff on it close enough to feel like it but not so close that anyone gets sued. I guess the series didn’t want to spring for the rights to “That’s All Right”!
Necromancing the Stone: “Mallus’ power over Sara resurfaces.”
Though Legends usually opts for fairly comedic fare, “Stone” goes down a more horror-oriented path. It’s not the best-executed tale but I appreciate the change of pace.
I, Ava: “Sara and Ray uncover a disturbing truth about Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan).”
That “truth” offers a pretty lively plot twist, even if it feels derivative of other sci-fi efforts. Still, it’s a fun show that works well overall.
Guest Starring John Noble: “The Legends must tackle two anachronisms at the same time.”
Inside gag misused: Noble’s presence here. He played Denethor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and this episode reflects that in a potentially cool manner, but it ends up being more of a throwaway. That minor disappointment aside, “Guest” manages to push us toward the season finale fairly well.
The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly: “The Legends face Mallus.”
Unlike many of the other DC series, Legends manages to pursue an overall narrative while it still gives us episodes that feel “standalone”. Recent seasons of Flash and Supergirl seemed to bury the viewer in the season’s arc, but S3 of Legends gives us programs that often see, “independent” even as they also progress the main theme.
That makes S3 a lot of fun and satisfying as well. “Cuddly” ties together a slew of topics and brings a strong year to a solid end.