[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 3×06: “Helen Hunt”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

*sigh*

Hollywood, 1937. A woman in ancient Greek dress walks onto the Warner Bros. Studio lot, causing many wacky pratfalls. See, in the old days, men lost all muscle control when they saw a beautiful woman. The woman walks onto a film shoot where an impatient director dumps Hedy Lamarr to recast the mysterious woman in the film. Her name? Helen of Troy. I suppose the 1930s were a little less strict on having a background and a first and last name. Oh well, Ms. of Troy, you’re hired!

Meanwhile, Ray is attempting to transfer the entire Firestorm Matrix to Jax, but an overload causes an explosion which leaves Jax in Stein’s body and Stein in Jax’s. Wacky hijinks! *jazz hands* Nate thinks it’s hilarious, while Sara comments that it “must be Tuesday” and Zari is just like “cool, whatever.” I’d call this out, but given their lives so far, this probably isn’t even the weirdest thing they’ve seen since breakfast. Sara and Nate call a meeting about the Hollywood anachronism which is causing two Hollywood studios to fight over Helen, leading to actual deaths. To the rescue!

They go undercover on the set and spot their target, but before they can investigate further, a fight breaks out on set between two crewmen over Helen’s attention. Nate realizes that only one woman in history could make men act like total barbaric jackasses – she must be Helen of Troy!

Really, Nate? You complained about the historical accuracy of Camelot but Helen of Troy is legitimate? Anyway, upon seeing the fight, Helen of Troy née of Sparta runs out of the studio, where she’s greeted by a lecherous executive from a rival studio who tells her to get in his car. She does and Nate compares it to Paris kidnapping Helen. Because that’s the thing you want to draw comparisons to right now.

All right, let’s pause the recap and discuss the elephant in the room for a minute. This episode was obviously written before the news broke about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein. You wouldn’t know that if you watched this episode not knowing when it was written and filmed, and with that knowledge it sort of feels like social commentary on the whole thing. It’s really really not though, and as such, Hollywood types falling all over a gorgeous woman and a scene of an executive coaxing her into his car with all the subtlety of a guy in a windowless van with “free candy” written on the side makes this episode a really uncomfortable watch. This episode has a lot of problems even divorced from all current events, but waking up to weeks of news about Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, and Andrew Kreisberg adds a deeper, sinister context to these scenes.

The Legends return to the Waverider to talk about their latest failed outing. We get more of Franz Drameh and Victor Garber playing the other’s character and it’s actually one of the more entertaining parts of the episode. They manage good impressions while playing it up just enough for humor that I’m surprised Garber didn’t slap Drameh after every take for making fun of him. The reactions of the others’ characters is great too – usually just staring at the two trying to wrap their head around what they’re hearing. Anyway, Stein is a movie buff and a fan of Hedy Lamarr, so naturally he’s got a personal stake in fixing the anachronism this time.

They head to a Hollywood party that Helen is attending. Ray is chatted up by Cecil B. DeMille, who asks if he’s been in pictures. Ray says not that he can recall. Stein spots Hedy Lamarr and chats her up – seems Marty has a little crush. Zari creates a subtle wind gust to spill a drink on Helen so she and Sara can confront her in her dressing room. Helen doesn’t want to go back to her time. They follow her back outside, but see that her agent is Damien Darhk, accompanied by Kuasa and Eleanor. Darhk tries to convince Sara to take the Legends and leave, saying that anachronisms are “good for business”. Kuasa reveals to Amaya that she’s from Zambesi and a totem bearer. The water totem is now part of her though, which explains some things. The team’s comms are down so Mick and Nate have to tell Ray in person to leave Helen…and the three get into a fight over her.

You think she’s a metahuman who produces pheromones? Subtle mind control? Is she actually the daughter of a god and has some supernatural magic ability to make men go crazy over her? Well, if she does, we never find out. Just getting that out there now – three members of the team started fighting each other and acting like complete fools because they were attracted to Helen of Troy. That’s it. That’s all that was happening in that scene.

I hate this episode.

Back on the ship, Sara scolds the three knuckledraggers and lays out Darhk’s offer. Amaya mentions what she learned about Kuasa, including her name, and Ray finally remembers her but doesn’t say anything. Sara works on a new plan, but this time she’s benching Ray, Mick, and Nate after their behavior at the party. Huh. Sara Lance is a good babysitter.

Jax and Stein try to figure out why the comms and other systems on the Waverider aren’t working. Jax thinks Stein was enjoying himself a little too much at the party, especially the company of Hedy Lamarr. Well, seems like Hedy Lamarr is Stein’s “hall pass” – Clarissa chose Jean Claude Van Damme, Stein chose Hedy Lamarr – both assuming they would never meet the celebrities in question given Stein’s is dead. Jax seems to be encouraging Stein to go through with it, which, given Stein is currently occupying Jax’s body…what the hell even is this episode?

Sara drives up to the studio exec’s house in a truck to deliver “Mr. Rothberg’s prized horse”. The security guard isn’t buying it, so he opens the back of the truck and finds Zari and Amaya, then exclaims “Oh, you mean his prized whores!”

Fuck this episode.

After punching out that jackass, they find Helen, who’s just not ready to leave. Hollywood isn’t perfect, but men aren’t killing each other in her name. Yeah, the way this episode is going I give it five…four…okay, they’re ahead of schedule. Yeah, the Warner Bros. guys show up with guns and have a shootout with the K&G Pictures guys. Because dames drive fellas crazy, am I right? Helen agrees to go with them and they save the idiots from themselves. But Sara gets to do a cute 1930s Hollywood accent when she makes a pithy parting comment to the execs.

The ship can’t fly because several systems are just not there anymore. Stein deduces that because Hedy Lamarr’s film career got off track, she never filed her patent. Scientific discoveries being cumulative (think the research tree in the Civilization games), eventually the stuff on the Waverider was never invented. Hedy, of course, patented a method of frequency-hopping signals. Helen talks to Zari, lamenting that she has to return to her time where she’s fought over and has no real agency in her life or opportunities to do what she wants like Zari, Sara, and Amaya.

Hedy is working as a switchboard operator for Warner Bros. When Stein finds her, she complains that there must be a better way of switching signals. Hah! Anyway, Stein tries to take her to the producer to get her old job back, but they’re stopped and chased by Darhk. The other Legends go after them in costume because what’s subtlety? Jax has to use the bathroom before they leave because old people go to the bathroom a lot, get it?! Mick needs to go too. Nate tells him not to “make it a deuce” and Ray tells him to flush if he does. Middle school humor, awesome.

Stein tells Hedy about Firestorm and the body switch. Mick, Nate and Ray fight Eleanor, but get their asses kicked. Sara challenges Darhk to a one-on-one duel and gets her life force drained or whatever at the end of the fight by Eleanor, who’s revealed to be Darhk’s daughter. Jax and Stein merge after some prompting by Hedy, and Stein, in his own body, becomes Firestorm with Jax as copilot. They’re able to stop Eleanor and Darhk and save Sara. The Darhks escape. Kuasa attacks Zari and Amaya on the ship, reveals she’s Amaya’s granddaughter, and gets stabbed by Helen for good measure before she turns into water and flees.

In the aftermath, Sara is put in a medically-induced coma to recover. Stein and Jax separate back into their correct bodies after their merge. Hedy gets her job back, which restores the Waverider’s tech. Ray apologizes to Amaya for not telling her about Kuasa. Amaya doesn’t want to know all the details about Kuasa. Lastly, Zari takes Helen in the jump ship back into the past, but doesn’t return her to Troy, instead taking her to an island “full of warrior women”. Waaaaaaait a minute…and the best part – no boys allowed. Wait wait wait, seriously?! As the camera zooms out on an island paradise, a caption appears: “Themyscira: 1253 B.C.”

While I love that ending, I didn’t like the rest of this episode at all. I’d even go as far as to say it was the worst one to date. Even removing the context of current events and viewing the episode completely in a vacuum, the story, themes, and the jokes are subpar. As I said before, Helen doesn’t exhibit any abnormal powers, which leads to the sad conclusion that the men in this episode are just being total buffoons because she’s pretty. We’re expected to believe that a woman can be so beautiful that she turns men against each other in a murderous rage. Not even the myth of Helen of Troy is that basic and idiotic. [EDITOR’S NOTE: To be fair, there were literally cults worshipping her afterwards. Greek myths are my jam.]

As if that weren’t bad enough, the only thing the setting really does is serve as a showcase for 1930s-style sexism. That would be all right, but they never challenge it in the same way they’ve challenged heavy topics in other episodes. The “prized whores” line is probably meant to evoke laughter from the audience and the only challenge to it is Amaya punching him out. The message of the episode, whether intended or not, is “men can’t control themselves around beautiful women” and “the best thing women can do is sequester themselves away from men” At the very least, you can say it’s insulting to everyone.

And here I thought the worst I could say about this episode was how groan-worthy the title was.

The good parts of the episode, while few, were decent. The acting was fine like always, and seeing Franz Drameh and Victor Garber act like each others’ characters is just a treat. They really nail the mannerisms and cadence of one another. For its historical follies, the episode did at least do something right by showing how brilliant Hedy Lamarr was. Lastly, the showdown between Amaya and Kuasa was nice and intense.

Next week: KNEEL BEFORE GRODD!

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

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