[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 3×05: “Return Of the Mack”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

It’s a race against time as the Legends try to stop the inventor of macaroni and cheese from being erased from history…oh, return of the Mack. Well, then I have no idea what this episode is about.

Pip pip cheerio, we’re in jolly ol’ London of 1895, guv! A woman walks through a dark alley, pursued by Jack the Ripper. Actually, it’s Rip Hunter, and the two find a body! Rip starts examining it doing ye olde CSI and finds the body is exsanguinated with two puncture wounds on the neck. Vampires!

At breakfast on the Waverider, Zari asks her teammates if she can go back to her time in order to save her brother and the rest of her family. They tell her that they can correct the past, but they can’t change it because they might cause aberrations. We’re just going to ignore the whole premise of Season One then, are we? Okay. I guess when the Legends accidentally retcon a daughter into existence they all become preachy about altering past events. That reminds me, how did NASA react to Swigert not being on Apollo 13 when it splashed down?

Nate calls them up to the bridge because he’s stayed up all night doing math on the anachronisms and discovered a pattern to them. Because apparently historian, mathematician, quantum physicist, and podiatrist all blur together into “scientist” in fiction. There are two anachronisms which don’t fit the pattern: the incident in 2042 and one in 1895, which makes sense. Any anachronism outside the pattern is not one related to the Legends breaking time, meaning any that remain are caused by something else like Kuasa or whoever/whatever Mallus is. Nate tells them about the vampire. Mick can’t wait – he’s even got his own stake.

They travel to 1895 and start at the coroner’s office where the latest victim is, posing as London and New York police because…not everyone could do a British accent, I guess? Mick stakes the body to be on the safe side and the coroner is suspicious, but his suspicions are put on hold when someone’s cell phone goes off, and its ringtone is Mark Morrison’s “Return Of the Mack”. Damn, even 1895 London gets better coverage than I do.

Turns out it’s not actually a cell phone ringing; it’s a Palmer Tech smart watch which the coroner got off a dead body that fell from the sky. After snagging the watch, the coroner buried the corpse. After that, the vampire killings started happening. He’s had that watch for more than a day and hasn’t had to charge it? Suspension of disbelief ruined.

MICK: “Because that corpse you buried was a vampire from the future, you idiot!

Nothing specific about that line; I just wanted to share it.

The grave has already been dug up and they find Rip Hunter climbing out of it. He’s gone rogue from the Time Bureau and needs the Legends’ help. Ray and Jax try to figure out who the watch belongs to while working on their other problem (more on that later). Amaya goes to Zari’s quarters to talk to her about not being able to change the past. Zari becomes upset saying she doesn’t want the totem and then…totem kiss.

Well, how else would you describe this?

Amaya says it means they’re connected, but hasn’t figured out what that means yet. She wants to figure it out with Zari. On the bridge, Rip tells the team he allowed them to keep doing what they do because the Time Bureau isn’t being proactive in going after Mallus. The Legends aren’t keen on bringing Rip back into the fold, but he bribes them with a promise to keep the Time Bureau off their tail. Sara agrees to those terms. Nate goes undercover as vampire bait and is immediately captured by a guy who looks an awful lot like Stein, but with a mustache. It’s Stein’s great-great-grandfather, who wants to steal Nate’s blood to revive his master. He’s able to call for help and the others track him down to Sir Stein’s party where Eleanor, a medium, is entertaining guests. During the show, the spirit of Zari’s brother seems to speak through Eleanor, accusing Zari of letting him die to save herself.

Jax and Ray scan the watch for fingerprints since the data on it is encrypted. There are four sets: Ray’s, the coroner’s, an unknown person’s, and Oliver Queen’s. Oh noooo. A doctor attacks Nate, wielding a two-pronged needle that he’s been using to drain blood for his master. There’s no vampire? I’m disappointed. Nate is rescued by Sara and Rip. Ray and Jax call Curtis Holt – a.k.a. Mr. Terrific – for help with the fourth fingerprint. Curtis identifies it just as the ground team opens the “master’s” glass coffin to reveal Damien Darhk. The others are drawing suspicion at the party, so the Legends retreat without taking Darhk’s body because Rip wants to use Darhk’s resurrection to catch Mallus. The Legends don’t like that and we get this awesome bit of loyalty from Nate:

NATE: “If Sara says kill Darhk or re-kill Darhk or prop him up in a convertible like Weekend At Bernie’s, that’s what we do, because she’s the captain.”

Sara pulls Rip into a private meeting to tell him she refuses to let them resurrect Darhk. Rip thinks her judgment is clouded, but Sara displays how much she’s grown by pointing out that she returned Darhk to the proper timeline even though she knew what it meant for Laurel. She also draws on her personal experience with resurrection, adding that it wasn’t an improvement. Rip seems to concede, but then leaves the ship and gives Gideon a command code to lock it down.

Zari had left the ship before the lockdown to see Eleanor for another reading. Eleanor requests an item which belonged to Zari’s brother to make contact. Zari hands over the totem and Eleanor mocks her for giving it up so easily. She then knocks Zari out and heads for Darhk’s resurrection ceremony. Rip and a bunch of Time Bureau agents storm the ceremony and Rip has a chat with Mallus, who is using Eleanor as…well, a medium. We see the moon (which is red because of some sort of eclipse) fire a Kamehameha Wave or something, I don’t know; just roll with it. It revives Darhk, who immediately uses his telekinesis to disarm the agents. It’s a terrifying scene which is then punctuated with Darhk asking who stole his watch. Yeah, okay. That was a good tension breaker.

Sara regains control of the Waverider, but they’re still stuck on the ship. She orders the Waverider’s missiles to target the ship’s own cargo bay door to free them. It works and the Legends head to the ceremony.

Remember the last scene ending with a good tension breaker? Well, we cut back to the ceremony where Darhk is casually sipping a drink and brutally murdering Time Bureau agents with telekinesis while the soundtrack plays “Return Of the Mack”.

Oof. We need to have words about this one. It’s fitting for the character and the type of villain Darhk is, sure. It’s even fitting for this show to have a silly scene like this. The problem comes in later, when the slaughter of these time agents has some very serious consequences and will likely shape at least one character’s path for the episodes to come. To treat it with the gravitas of a slapstick comedy scene just seems off in retrospect. Sure, I laughed and said “WTF?” at the scene when it played out, but looking back on it a second time in hindsight, it’s really unfitting. It would be like if “Poker Face” was playing during the scene in The Flash Season Two where Zoom snaps the necks of several cops. The tone has to fit the scene, and it’s fine if you’re going for a more humorous bent, but don’t apply a darker tone to the scene later on.

Rip uses a time-slowing gadget to freeze everyone in an attempt to kill Darhk, but Darhk manages to free himself and starts draining Rip’s life. Sara and Amaya swoop in to save Rip and I’m loving Sara’s new White Canary suit. Zari seems to call her totem back to her hand, and Darhk and Eleanor escape.

Back on the ship, Zari is catching up on a lifetime of no video games by playing Mortal Kombat II. Amaya stops by for a visit to see how she’s doing. Zari says she felt her brother’s presence when the totem returned to her. Amaya tells her what her spirit guide said about the totems growing in power to match the threats they have to face, but also adds she thinks that means they’re going to make a great team and become good friends. Aww.

Remember the consequences I mentioned for the “Return Of the Mack” slaughter? Yeah, Sara isn’t happy about the agents dying and calls Rip out on betraying the Legends and every other organization he’s ever belonged to. She can’t trust him anymore and she’s cutting him loose…or, more accurately, turning him over to the Time Bureau, who’s equally unhappy about their agents dying. They detain Rip for going rogue. Sara made a deal with the Bureau when handing over Rip, and Sharpe promises to let the Legends operate independently. Before he’s dragged off, Rip warns Sara that Mallus is growing stronger and a war is coming.

There was also a subplot in this episode involving Ray and Jax searching for a way to separate Firestorm, but they start by severing Jax’s psychic connection to Stein. This has the unfortunate side effect of giving Jax short-term memory loss. The connection is restored by episode’s end and Stein confesses that time away from his family has become more difficult now that he has a grandson. He agrees to help find a way to stabilize the Firestorm Matrix within Jax so the team can have Firestorm and Stein can go home.

Tonally, this episode was all over the place. It started with a vampire murder mystery, but swung around to the cult of Mallus story and a resurrection ceremony, then finally ended with a mass murder musical number which sets Rip on a different path and severs any remaining ties he had with the Legends. Elements of the episode when isolated on their own are great. I liked the Victorian era setting, the spookiness of the vampire plot, Zari’s subplot, and the Firestorm subplot, but…yeah, I’m sorry, the third act just killed it for me. Like most Legends episodes, the sum of its parts are still great, but a good third act usually brings it all together. In this case, a bizarre and nearly-slapstick slaughter of a bunch of redshirts brought the whole thing down.

I like Damien Darhk being back since we’re getting the full all-powerful mastermind from Arrow rather than the “just another League Of Assassins guy” villain of last season. I had a discussion with a friend about the character and she thinks that Darhk is at his most menacing when he’s got his magic – and really, I’ve got to agree with that. Neal McDonough gives Darhk a joyful irreverence which just fits someone with dark powers at their fingertips. For as ill-fitting as that scene was in its consequences, it was well-acted. The character sipped a drink, taunted the agents, and smiled, treating the whole thing like a game. That’s just how Darhk is, and in that regard, it works.

Now I have to go get that song out of my head.

Next week: body-switching hijinks!

Legends Of Tomorrow airs Tuesdays on the CW at 9 ET/8 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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