written by Kate Danvers
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
Put on your blue suede shoes and book your reservation at the Heartbreak Hotel, because we’re headed to the ’50s for the sixth totem.
We begin in Memphis, 1950 where a young Elvis Presley buys his first guitar. The shopkeeper tells him that some say the instrument chooses the musician. Okay, Ollivander. The one calling to Elvis is an eeeeeevil guitar that the shop keeper is reluctant to sell because eeeeeevil. So why do you have a cursed guitar on display? Elvis starts to play and things go all Poltergeist in the shop, so the shopkeeper tells Elvis to take the guitar.
Zari gives Wally a tour of the ship and she’s annoyed by him speeding around completing chores and moving into his new room in the blink of an eye. Further annoyance comes when she discovers he’s beaten all of her Ms. Pac-Man scores. I love that Zari spends her free time eating junk food and playing video games. She’s making up for lost time, and also I can totally relate to eating junk food and gaming. Something is wrong with one game, though – Guitar Hero is now Trombone Hero, which I’d actually like to play.
That’s not the only problem: Mick’s rat isn’t named Axl anymore; it’s named Josh Groban and Nate’s hair is missing its product, which happens to be the same product Elvis used. An anachronism in 1954 has turned Memphis into a ghost town after a bout of mass hysteria. What, like dogs and cats living together? They figure out that the best place and time to find Elvis is at his uncle’s church on Sunday, but the Legends won’t go anywhere until Sara says a one-liner with pizzazz. Help, the show is becoming self-aware!
At the church, Elvis’ uncle preaches against the evils of rock and roll, then invites his nephew to play some godly music for the congregation. Zari’s totem reacts to the music and begins to glow, lifting her off the floor. When she and the other Legends are run out of the church for being “the devil” (I can relate), Zari tells them her totem was reacting to the presence of another totem. Elvis has the sixth totem.
Sara is “all shook up”, the others speculate about whether the totem is the totem of music, and Nate suggests having Elvis join the team as a superhero. I think Nate has a little crush. With little prompting, Wally speeds off and steals Elvis’ guitar (with the totem in the head). They fabricate a replica, then Nate and Amaya take it back to Elvis. Nate is excited for Amaya to hear Elvis because he thinks it will be a life-changing experience. The King struggles to play, though, and when asked he tells them that when he played the guitar before, he could feel the presence of his stillborn twin brother Jesse, but now he can’t.
On the Waverider, the totem is causing some weird paranormal phenomena, and the ghost of Jesse Garon Presley picks up the guitar to return it to Elvis. The Legends on the ship take turns getting their asses handed to them by a ghost and a floating guitar. In the chaos, Mick’s rat gets loose. After a quick call to Nate, Sara calls the ghost by name and Jesse calms down. Constantine sends them some research he’s been doing that identifies the totem as the “death totem”. But death metal won’t be invented until the ’80s. Argh, this timeline makes no sense! They need to give Elvis the guitar back for his first recording session to preserve the timeline, so Nate and Amaya supervise the recording session. Before the record can be sent to the local radio station, Elvis’ uncle barges in, takes the record, and has Elvis, Amaya, and Nate arrested. “Let’s see if a night in the jailhouse rocks some sense into you!”
I know what I’m getting into every time they do an episode like this, but I still groan at lines like that.
This plot is so absurd anyway. Everyone knows Dr. Sam Beckett recorded Elvis’ first song. Why isn’t he asking for help from his fellow time travelers? I don’t think Legends is respecting Quantum Leap continuity.
Nate calls in the problem, so Zari and Wally go after the record. Wally wants to speed in and steal it, but Zari convinces him to take a more personal approach by talking to people. They go to the church and Wally tells the reverend about his rocky start with his dad. Wally compares it to the reverend trying to relate to his nephew. He suggests that the music might be their common ground, which makes the reverend finally give up the record. Wally rushes it to the radio station and the radio in the church starts playing Jim Murphy’s “I’m Gone, Mama” because the show couldn’t get the rights to an actual Elvis song.
Wally and Zari join a dance party in the church, but ghosts from the nearby cemetery rise and invade. Wally and Zari dispatch several of the spirits, but they’re fighting a losing battle as they realize this is what drove everyone in Memphis crazy.
In jail, Nate tells Elvis he’ll eventually have to give up the totem. Come on Nate, don’t be cruel. He tries to convince Elvis that the ghost-raising music was inside him the whole time…or something. They’re freed by the deputy, who’s trying to hide from the ghosts in the cell. Elvis strums the guitar and makes one of the ghosts disappear, so they go to the church to put a stop to it, with Elvis staring down a ghost along the way.
On the ship, Mick’s rat Axl has died after consuming one of Ray’s science experiments, so Ray holds a funeral and delivers a eulogy. At the threat of Ray leading them in “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, Sara says a few words too. This is a cute scene…until the ghost of Axl rises, turns giant, then scurries off. Well, that was horrifying.
At the church, Elvis plays “Amazing Grace” on the totem guitar to lure all of the ghosts to the church and bring them peace. Back on the Waverider, Axl’s ghost visits Mick one last time before he, too, vanishes. Just before the final verse, Jesse appears and Elvis says this goodbye won’t be forever before seeing his brother off with “Thank you, Jesse. Thank you very much.” The scene is too touching for me to groan. Nate and Amaya find their “music moment” dancing to the song. Happy endings all around.
Elvis gives the death totem to the Legends, Ray locks it away safely in a box, and they celebrate their temporary victory knowing the Darhks and Mallus are still out there. Amaya shares a playlist with Nate – music from Zambesi. He’s not a fan, but she’s not really into rock and roll, so it evens out. In a dark room on the Waverider, the lock box with the death totem begins to stir. The episode closes with a remembrance montage for Axl.
All right, this one is goofy as hell, but at this point if you’re expecting anything else from Legends Of Tomorrow, you’re watching the wrong show. This is a series where Sara beds the queen of France, Stein punches out Albert Einstein, and George Lucas has a piece of the spear that pierced the side of Jesus – a ghost-summoning guitar isn’t that far out there. There are things to like in this episode: several Elvis song puns, the sibling-like interaction between Zari and Wally, Mick dealing with the constant changes on the ship through the loss of his rat, and Nate sharing his passion for rock and roll with Amaya, who doesn’t quite get it. Maybe she’s not quite ready for it, but her kids are going to love it.
Next time: Sara is the incarnation of death! …less figuratively this time.
Legends Of Tomorrow airs (temporarily) Mondays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.