written by Kate Spencer
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
Let’s do the time warp agaaaaaaain!
…and again…and again…and again…
Okay, we all knew this was coming. Time loop stories have been a staple of fiction for ages. They’re fun to play around with and they’re ripe for humor. So it was inevitable that a time travel show like Legends Of Tomorrow would do one. We’re over forty episodes into the series – I’m amazed they’ve shown this much restraint. I think they were waiting for the perfect script, the perfect character interactions, and the perfect character to suffer the loop. They found all of those things.
The episode opens with Zari installing a new program into Gideon which will let her run simulations to see where exploitable loopholes exist in time. Gideon isn’t thrilled with the idea as she doubts she can run the program. Zari is from the school of “let’s try it anyway” engineering and activates the program as the other Legends return from a mission involving Mick stealing an anachronistic 8-track of “Waterloo” from Napoleon Bonaparte and the others performing in a ’70s disco band.
…did I skip an episode? Did I skip a really weird but really good episode?
Sara discovers that Gideon is broken and asks Zari what she did. Ray tries to calm her down like she’s about to Hulk out or something. Zari’s reveals her motives – she wants to fix her home timeline and save her brother, but Sara has had enough of her trying to hack history. The two bicker, and Sara says her “apathetic cool girl” attitude isn’t as cute as she thinks. I respectfully disagree. Zari brings up her temporary membership, Sara tells her she can leave any time, and Ray falls on his face because of his platform shoes. Zari tries to fix the ship, but gets sprayed with engine goo and then the ship explodes.
Wow, short episode and short season.
Zari finds herself arguing with Sara again and events play out like before. She wanders the ship, first asking Mick if he’s ever had déjà vu, then almost walking in on Nate and Amaya talking about a fling that nearly botched the last mission. Ray also hasn’t noticed anything weird. Zari attempts repairs again and runs into the same squirting engine goo and the ship explodes.
[Sonny and Cher intensifies]
This time, Sara nearly breaks Zari’s wrist when she tries to tell her something’s up, and Zari is taken to the med bay, thought crazy, and sedated. Ship explodes. Loop starts again, Zari calls everyone to the bridge to tell them about the exploding ship and, being the skeptical room full of time-traveling, super-science and magic-using superheroes (one of whom has died before), they think she’s crazy and take her to the med bay for sedation…about four times. On one loop, Zari develops a resistance to the sedative and explains her situation to Nate, who likens it to the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. The ship starts to explode, so Nate tells her to say “Groundhog Day” to him on the next loop. The loop begins again and Zari runs to Nate and says the words “Hedgehog Day”. Yeah, that’s a little over a month after Beebo Day, right? He eventually figures out what she means and offers to help because they’re friends. Zari replies, “We’re friends?” Oh you precious angel from an awful dystopian future, people need to hug you more.
With Gideon down, the jump ship is locked into the docking bay, so they can’t escape. The explosion probably came from inside the ship, so someone on board had to have triggered it. They see Mick doing laundry, so they jump to the conclusion that he’s acting suspicious. Look, I know Mick is dumb, but he’s not “creates a catastrophic explosion because he didn’t separate his whites” dumb…or maybe he is, I don’t know. Mick has the song “Waterloo” stuck in his head, so he uses the memory flasher to erase the memory of it. Wow, that’s a gross misuse of power. Amaya takes the memory flasher – a little too eagerly – so Nate follows her to find out what’s up. She wants to erase their memories of their fling so it doesn’t happen again. Nate takes that as an easy way to have sex with no regrets. Zari overhears moaning, Nate steeling up, and Amaya summoning an animal spirit. Zari gags “kill me now,” and the ship complies.
Next loop, Nate asks why he and Amaya would flash each other after they have sex. Oh my god I love this episode. They follow Mick next and find a mystery box in his room, but Nate steps in a bear trap on the way over. Next loop he’s electrocuted trying to open the box. Next loop they disarm all the traps but get sprayed by ink. Mick’s got a typewriter and he’s writing a sci-fi romance novel. In the following loop, Ray spills the beans that Constantine told him to kill Sara if Mallus takes control of her again.
Suspecting a Mallus-possessed Sara, Ray and Zari shrink down and spy on the captain as she enters the jump ship for a private call to Ava Sharpe. (Awwwwwww.) They are so cute in their secret conversation, chatting about Sara’s day. It’s a really good scene where Sara expresses her frustration over Zari as well as her own reluctance to find loopholes, because she would be tempted to try to save her sister. I like the way this relationship is evolving. Yes, I predicted hate-fucking several episodes ago, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how Sara and Ava have developed a mutual respect, admiration, and finally infatuation with each other. I think it’s something Sara needs right now – a friend who isn’t part of her team, someone she’s not responsible for. Someone she can confide in like this. Zari is observant as the rest of us and realizes that Ava has a crush, but when she and Ray discuss it, Sara thinks she hears a fly and swats the two with a newspaper.
Zari is getting exhausted. On one loop, Nate suggests having fun since the loop resets every hour and there are no consequences for her actions. Cue the montage of pigging out on whipped cream, throwing snowballs at Mick, trying on a variety of costumes (including Nate’s armor and Kendra’s helmet), reading Mick’s romance novel while cramming a doughnut in her mouth Bill Murray-style, catching Ray during one of his falls, learning to play the violin, and holding up cue cards behind Ray and Mick while they have a conversation. That last one is where I lost it. Zari’s look just shows how 110% done with this nonsense she is. On the next loop, she’s had it.
NATE: “Did you do the–?”
ZARI: “Fun montage? Yeah.”
She’s had enough though, and she thanks Nate for being a friend, but the fun is over. Oh shit… She walks to the bridge, picks up a flintlock pistol and attempts the one thing she hasn’t tried. The pistol is a dud though, and she breaks down in front of Sara and Nate. “I try so hard but I can never save any of you.” This convinces Sara to help, and that lifts Zari’s spirits while they formulate a plan. In previous loops, Zari checked every room, but she didn’t check the trash compactor. That’s where they find Agent Gary, who tried to portal onto the bridge but didn’t account for drift. Mick searches his pockets and finds a device which he promptly smashes because he thinks it’s a bomb. Actually, it was the piece of tech which was causing the loops to give the Legends more time to stop the explosion. Gary found out the Waverider was going to explode at 4:20.
…what? I did the “nice” joke last week.
Gary says the bomb originated in the ’70s during their last mission and they check the discarded 8-track tape. Sure enough, “Waterloo” is the bomb and with all of the doors and the jump ship sealed, they couldn’t escape if they wanted to. Eh? Eh? Good thing Napoleon didn’t hold onto that or he’d be Blownapart. Zari takes the bomb inside Rip’s old office and activates a force field to keep the others out while she says a tearful goodbye. She encourages Mick to keep writing since she really liked his book. She tells Nate and Amaya that they’re good friends and they have something special. “Just don’t have sex on missions.” Ray asks her what she’s doing and she says it’s what he would do, that he’s always nice and the world would be a better place if there were more people like him, but he should tell Sara why he’s afraid of her. Lastly she calls Sara the tough and fearless soul of the ship, but she needs to ask Ava out already. Then she surrounds herself with a wind gust to contain the explosion and tells her team she loves them as the bomb ticks down to zero.
…and she finds herself alone on the bridge with no bomb. A clapping woman we recognize as the human form of Gideon tells her while she hasn’t technically been dreaming, she’s not awake. Zari has been in the med bay since she was sprayed by a highly volatile substance (the engine goo). Gideon uploaded her mind into her own matrix and ran Zari through the program she created, living out a scenario she could only solve by growing closer to the team. Zari’s own program had predicted that she would leave the ship after her fight with Sara, so Gideon had to take matters into her own virtual hands, since the only way to fix Zari’s future and also to stop Mallus is for Zari to stay with the Legends. Everything in the simulation was extrapolated from data Gideon already had on the team – including the assumption that Nate and Amaya would end up “dinky-tickling” after Amaya rejoined the team. Yeah, think I’m going to use that phrase every now and then. Thanks, Gideon. Oh, and why was Agent Gary in the simulation at all if he was just going to be stuck in the trash compactor the whole time? Gideon thought it would be funny.
Zari wakes up and of course the others don’t believe her story, not that Gideon’s denial helps. Zari proves it by getting Ray to tell Sara what Constantine said. Sara thinks it’s a good idea – they should kill her if Mallus takes over, and they’re going to need a lot of help. Somehow I don’t think she’s talking about any kind of supernatural power she would have if she were possessed. Sara is kind of a badass. Over coffee, Sara offers to help save Zari’s brother since the future is an open road, even if it is Zari’s past. Zari tells the real Sara what she told simulation-Sara: ask Ava out already!
Zari then tells Amaya and Nate to work out their problems without memory erasure. Then she makes one last stop to encourage Mick to change the end of his story and have his protagonist embrace his new family. Aww. Finally, she plays the violin over a montage of Nate and Amaya fooling around, Mick rewriting the ending to his book, and Sara calling Ava.
There’s a rather jarring cut to another ending that shows Wally West meditating in China. He’s approached by Rip Hunter, who needs his help saving the universe.
This episode is wonderful. It has the humor and the hijinks you would expect both from a Legends episode and a time loop story, but also a few gut punches, especially towards the end. Tala Ashe has been wonderful this season as Zari, but she really got to shine in this episode. From the more prickly side of her character at the start to the (frankly heartbreaking) goodbye before the simulation ended, we got to see many faces of Zari this episode and Ashe played them all perfectly. Speaking of playing, she confirmed on Twitter that she does in fact play the violin, so that didn’t just come out of left field.
Everyone else does an excellent job, too, from Caity Lotz showing Sara struggling to keep her team in line and taking some downtime to chat with Ava, to Nick Zano’s Nate being Zari’s constant companion throughout the loops. I also need to mention Amy Pemberton, who plays Gideon. The scripts don’t always give her a lot to work with, but she always runs with it so well. I love expressive A.I. characters who have their own personalities far beyond their programming. Gideon is an intriguing character who’s underused, and the two episodes where Pemberton has gotten to play Gideon in human form have added a lot to the character through her physical performance. She does a lot with only Gideon’s voice, but she adds so much more with her mannerisms and expressions. Whatever excuses they find to put her on screen more, I’m all for them.
As I said, time loop stories are nothing new. I’ve seen them done in Xena, the aforementioned Groundhog Day, and a really excellent episode of Stargate SG-1 titled “Window of Opportunity”. “Here I Go Again” pays homage to the ones that have come before, but also does its own thing and ends up being one of the best episodes of Legends Of Tomorrow to date. I laughed, I teared up, and I couldn’t wait to write this review. I may actually watch the episode again before next week because I enjoyed it that much.
Legends Of Tomorrow airs (temporarily) Mondays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.