[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 3×07: “Welcome To the Jungle”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

Sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na kneel before Grodd!

After the events of last week’s episode, Jax asks Stein for a progress report on separating them. Stein has apparently been gathering great minds throughout history (Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, and Galileo Galilei) to help him with the project because while he can separate Firestorm, it would mean the powers would be gone rather than given solely to Jax. Nate tries talking to Amaya about Kuasa, suggesting maybe she’s just misguided, but Amaya is determined to stop her without letting emotion get in the way.

Jax calls a meeting to talk about Sara – who is still in a coma – and their next course of action. Mick lets it slip that Zari dropped off Helen of Troy on Themyscira and the Legends lecture her about setting history right. Not to beat a dead horse, but these are the guys who attacked the Pentagon with superheroes during the Cold War, completely screwed up the Apollo 13 mission (more), and overall have a “meh, close enough” view of getting history back on track. Zari proves herself right by showing that there’s no anachronism during the Trojan War era, proving that the war with no historical records of existing* was unaffected by the absence of the mythological Helen of Troy. I mean, there’s a Level 8 anachronism at the Labors of Hercules, a Level 6 from Paul Bunyan losing his axe, Level 9 from some dude messing with the steam engine John Henry beat, and someone stole Mickey Mouse’s pants which created a Level 10 – but Helen of Troy is all right!

Jax thinks they should start with Vietnam, 1967. What the fuck does anything have to do with Vietnam?! Oh, Level 8 anachronism where some creature in the jungle attacked American and Viet Cong soldiers. Amaya wants to do her duty to help American soldiers, but Nate and Zari give her the cliff notes on the war. “It was controversial and the reasons for getting involved were murky. Come to think about it, this team should be right at home.” Have I mentioned how much I like Zari?

Zari, Amaya, and Ray pose as journalists and question a survivor of one of the attacks. He just talks about something ambushing them with a clear message: stay out of the jungle. A woman has been watching them since they arrived and when she’s questioned, she offers to take them to the creature.

Nate and Mick search the site of the last attack, but Mick clearly doesn’t want to be there. His dad was in Vietnam and he’s worried about running into him. Nate bets him a six-pack they won’t run into his dad, but Nate is instantly proven wrong when Dick Rory (really?) and his squad sneak up on them. Dick is also looking for the creature, so Nate, posing as CIA, offers to team up with his partner “Officer Schwarzenegger”. They really need to work on their undercover names. Mick doesn’t want anything to do with his dad and after Nate tries to get him to talk about his daddy issues, Mick makes it clear he doesn’t have daddy issues. He doesn’t regret setting the fire or letting his dad burn to death and hints that Dick was abusive.

The actor they got to play Dick Rory mimics Mick’s mannerisms and speech patterns perfectly. He’s got the growling, the deep voice, the twitchiness and the stare. He even carries a flamethrower. It’s an understatement to say Mick takes after his dad – he’s practically a clone of him.

The other three are taken to a village where the former prisoners are working together under their leader – Gorilla Grodd! They must be brainwashed! The Legends have to stop Grodd immediately! He’s trying to end the war and unite both sides in peace!

…wait, what?

The previously kidnapped former Viet Cong and American soldiers attack and the Rorys use their flamethrowers to burn them. During a weird bonding moment that night, Dick shares with Mick a list of soldiers he’s lost under his command, written on the back of a photo of his girlfriend whom he’s going to marry when he gets home. Well, he’s a dead man. He’s also looking to start a family. Seriously, no one stand within fifty yards of this man; he is going to die. Mick is warming up to him though, thinking maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy. Nate later finds Mick using his lighter to burn his own skin. He thinks his dad is better than him and that he should have died in the fire, not Dick. Holy crap, we’re getting into some deep psychological stuff with Mick this episode.

Jax has a talk with the comatose Sara to get out his fears about losing the Firestorm powers. He reasons that Sara never needed powers to be the most kickass person he knows. Awww!

Ray and Zari disable the communications jammer in the village. Ray says they’ll probably take Grodd back to A.R.G.U.S., which Zari objects to a little too briefly. I’m glad they’re acknowledging that Zari’s entire tragic backstory is A.R.G.U.S.’ fault, but she should be less than okay with any deals made with A.R.G.U.S. in any time period. Maybe this will come up again in a later episode.

Nate calls and tells them about the Rory situation. Zari and Ray find it more than a little coincidental that recent anachronisms have involved young Ray, Stein’s ancestor, and Mick’s father. Oh well, that’s probably nothing. Let’s not bring it up any more this episode. The anachronism has escalated to a Level 10 with the U.S. nuking Russia at some point and starting World War III. Amaya tries to capture Grodd with the shrink ray, but he uses his telepathy to show her the horrors of war and the experimentation that was done on him. Grodd doesn’t want war, though; he wants peace…by killing President Johnson.

Wait, what? How does that make any sense?

Amaya tries to reason with Grodd, offering to take him to a time before humans so he can live in peace. She seems to get through to him, but then Dick leads his men in an attack on Grodd’s “kingdom”. Grodd runs for the Waverider, intending to steal it for his own purposes – to go back in time and remake the planet as a gorilla planet. A planet of the apes, if you will. Dick is about to execute the Legends and Grodd’s followers, but Mick stops him from doing something he’ll regret…and then punches him out because he always wanted to do that.

Jax leaves the Waverider, rejecting Stein’s offer to merge as Firestorm. He needs to prove to himself that he can get by without his powers if the separation ends Firestorm. He stops President Johnson’s motorcade from dying in a minefield and then slowly guides the president to safety. Grodd attacks the Waverider as Stein takes off to move it somewhere else. Sara appears on the bridge. Yay, she’s awake!…or she’s under Grodd’s control. She’s quickly knocked out by Isaac Newton, because head trauma is exactly what a coma patient needs. Grodd is shaken off the Waverider and dropped into a napalm bombing run.

Dick thanks Mick for saving innocent lives, including his own. Nate tries to give Mick his lighter back but Mick tells him he doesn’t need it anymore. Amaya’s experience with Grodd changes her mind about Kuasa – she’s going to try to appeal to her better nature. President Johnson rewards Jax with the recipe for Lady Bird Johnson’s pecan pie, which the Legends eat at…I guess Thanksgiving dinner? Was it Thanksgiving for them? Sara wakes up in time to join them.

Grodd falls through time and lands in 2017 next to Damien Darhk, who pulled him out of Vietnam before he fell into the napalm. Grodd wants to go back, but Darhk offers him a different means of time travel through magic.

This was an improvement over last week. It’s been a while since we had a good Mick episode and this one dug a little more into why he is the way he is. Presumably, Dick Rory changed after the war and became an abusive alcoholic. We know Mick set the fire which killed his parents, and we know he likes to play with fire and even run his hand across that lighter. That’s nothing new; but we’ve never seen him clearly using it for self-harm. Nate catches him holding the flame to his already heavily-burned arm, and while that was probably due to learning his dad wasn’t always the monster he knew, that’s probably not the first time Mick has done that. It’s already been said that burns cover half of Mick’s body, but now you have to wonder how much of that was accidental and how much was self-inflected. Mick is a troubled individual, but Legends often uses him as comic relief or to deliver a drunken comment during a team meeting. It’s good to see an episode that explores the character’s past and allows Dominic Purcell to use more of his talent.

Jax had a smaller but good side plot in this episode. It’s looking like separating him and Stein will leave both without powers, which puts Jax in the position Ray was in early last season. Jax, however, handles it differently. Instead of moping and questioning his place on the team, he has a brief “talk” with Sara and then sets out to prove to himself and to Stein that he will be okay without Firestorm and without Stein’s guidance. At the end of the episode we get a scene between Jax and Stein where both confirm that yeah, Jax is going to be okay no matter what happens.

The episode did kind of open a couple of cans of worms which weren’t dealt with. Zari got a hint that Ray and other heroes have had past dealings with A.R.G.U.S. and she worries that Grodd is just another tortured meta. What will she do when she finds out that her new allies and their allies back in 2017 regularly work with A.R.G.U.S. to contain metahuman threats? Second – yeah, them running into past selves and relatives on missions is kind of a big deal and needs to be addressed in a conversation which doesn’t end in “oh well”.

I also want to point out that the effects in this episode looked really good. Grodd has never looked better. I remember in his first appearance on The Flash it was like they were hiding him in shadow all the time because the effect wouldn’t look as good in the light, but here it looks great.

Next week: Crisis on Earth X!

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

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*EDITOR’S NOTE because Greek Myths, yo: Factual evidence of the Trojan War has not been discovered, mostly as the timeline hasn’t been nailed down – Troy VII is likely to be Homer’s Ilium, and archaeological digs have shown evidence of a war or wars around then, but considering that era’s numerous conflicts it’s equally likely they could have been from any number of wars with other city-states.

tl;dr – an actual Trojan War with Greece is absolutely within the realm of possibility, but it can’t be proven with any historical accuracy at the moment.

Greek mythology is rad as hell.

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