written by Kate Danvers
Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar. I wonder if she’s feeling well. With a dreamy far-off look and her nose stuck in a book. What a puzzle to the rest of us is that…err…Astra!
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
Astra is having a bad day. She has no money, can’t buy food, can’t pay for a cab home, and her neighbor is a racist. She asks Constantine for help, but he’s busy dealing with the events of “Meat, the Legends.” It also seems like Constantine relies heavily on magic for things like laundry and Wi-Fi – magic that Astra no longer has. She’s also having trouble getting a job because she’s not an English citizen and her background check says she’s only fifteen because, y’know, she spent her childhood in Hell.
I don’t know why anyone on Earth-Prime would find that odd.
Astra grows more frustrated as the days go on. The sink breaks, the power gets cut off because no one is paying the bill, and Constantine keeps ducking out. I’m beginning to think there must be more than this provincial life. She goes to the attic to look for stuff to pawn and finds her mother’s old journal with some music written in it. She also finds a talking painting.
As much as I expected John Constantine to have his own Dorian Gray-style portrait in his attic (or the actual portrait of Dorian Gray), it’s actually Aleister Crowley, imprisoned in a painting by Constantine. He knows about Astra and her past. The two start comparing notes on being depowered and forgotten by Constantine, and Crowley offers to teach her a few spells.
We finally pick back up with Sara, who has just confronted the guy behind all of the alien abductions: a man named Bishop. She’s also dying from being poisoned by Alien Amelia Earhart, so Bishop offers her an antidote. She passes out after drinking it. When she wakes up, she’s being tended to by Nurse Ava. Bishop rolls in a projector to show off a presentation that A/V Ava made to explain his evil scheme.
He’s apparently human? After capitalism destroyed the planet (look, I’m just expanding the subtext here), Bishop was left the sole survivor of the planet. He’s also the creator of the Ava clones. His plan is to recreate humanity by making a bunch of human/alien hybrids. The kidnapped aliens were needed for DNA samples. Sara calls out the stupid plan and questions her place in it. Bishop says that he needs a partner and someone to train the alien/human hybrids.
Bishop also refers to Sara’s fiancée as “Bossy Ava” and says he programmed each Ava with unique affinities and weaknesses. Sara insists her Ava is human and is her own person. Hang on – Bossy Ava, Nurse Ava, A/V Ava…are Avas just Smurfs? While Sara is recovering from the poison and thinking over the proposition, Bishop and Nurse Ava set her in front of a TV to binge-watch Wynonna Earp.
Crowley teaches Astra a basic transmutation spell, which can also be used for transferring one thing to another…like, say, someone trapped in a painting into a new body. Which would be awfully convenient, because it would let Crowley teach Astra more stuff. They’re speedrunning the temptation of Astra here, but that’s so they have enough time for the payoff.
Constantine walks in and warns her about the dangers of both magic and trusting Crowley. He makes a point about how Astra’s mother Natalie gave up magic, but this just infuriates Astra more. While Constantine is holding the painting and arguing with Crowley, Astra uses the transference spell to put Crowley in Constantine’s body and Constantine in the painting.
Once she’s sure she can undo the spell at any time, Astra gives Crowley twelve hours to teach her magic, then he’s going back into the painting. He starts by setting out a pile of trash on the table. Kudos to the props department for working a can of Spotted Dick in there. It doesn’t appear to be an actual real-life brand but looks like it’s maybe supposed to look like an existing one, so I’m pretty confident in saying the props people just wanted the words “Spotted Dick” in the shot. In which case, fair play. Astra turns the garbage into a pile of money and jewelry.
Crowley teaches her more tricks, restoring the house’s power and giving them both new clothes. The money eventually changes back into trash, and Crowley points out that “beginner-level” magic is always temporary. Astra wants to level up.
Nurse Ava comes back to check on Sara and asks her how she’s enjoying Wynonna Earp.
SARA: “Oh yeah, I’m digging it. You were totally right about Season Two. They really figured out what the show was, and they went with it.”
The self-aware meta-commentary on this show really gets me sometimes.
Sara holds the battery cover of a remote control to Nurse Ava’s throat and demands to be taken to a power source she can use to fix Kayla’s ship. Nurse Ava doesn’t have a self-preservation instinct though, because she sees herself as a disposable clone. Sara sets aside her escape attempt for the moment and tries to convince Nurse Ava that she’s a human being who matters.
Constantine pleads with Astra to release him, telling her she doesn’t need magic because she can work her way up on her own. Coming from Mr. “Master of the Dark Arts,” this sounds a bit like a billionaire telling someone earning minimum wage that they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Astra reminds him that she’s been at the bottom before, and her bottom was a lot lower than most. She had to claw her way up through the ranks of Hell and she has no intention of going back to being nothing.
Crowley taunts Constantine about being powerless and makes his intentions known: He plans to find the Fountain of Imperium. Gosh, that sure sounds like a second-half-of-the-season MacGuffin. Crowley takes Constantine up to the attic just as the Legends arrive from their adventure in Cuba. Astra tries to get them to leave, but when that fails, she turns them all into household objects. Ava becomes a three-ring binder, Nate a wheel of cheese, Behrad a candlestick, Zari a flip phone, and Spooner a fork.
When Crowley returns, he helps Astra create a magical amulet. It needs a power source, though, and only a human soul will do. Astra has plenty of those! She still has the soul tokens from some of history’s worst villains, like Christopher Columbus. That’s not my joke; she actually name-drops Christopher Columbus. Crowley says only a soul harvested from a living person will do. Astra has just the racist neighbor for that!
No, wait. Stop. *yawn* Don’t do it.
She calls her neighbor over with an offer of an antique lamp. The Legends try to talk her out of it, but she locks them in a cupboard. Even though the neighbor continues making racist comments, Astra can’t bring herself to murder him. She tries to usher him out the door, but Crowley grabs the amulet and uses it to steal the neighbor’s soul for himself.
Astra has had enough of Crowley, so she tries to send him back to the painting. However, the amulet gives him enough power to overcome the spell. Crowley is disappointed in her, and weaves a spell that turns Astra and the entire house into a Disney cartoon.
Yes, yes, yes, FUCKING YES!
Astra can only talk in song now, but she isn’t alone! She unleashes the Legends upon Crowley, but they’re no match for him as household objects, and he quickly binds them with the intent to steal their souls. Astra is then locked in the attic with the painting of Constantine.
Constantine tells Astra that her mother created a powerful cleansing spell to remove all magic from an area. She made it for Constantine in case he ever went too far. Astra discovers the spell in her mother’s journal – it’s the song she saw earlier. She couldn’t read the music then, but she can now because…
CONSTANTINE: “Because every cartoon princess knows how to sing, love.”
I’m so happy!
Spooner has managed to get away from Crowley and picks the lock on the attic, freeing the pair. Astra begins to sing the spell, weakening Crowley. He attempts to break free, briefly turning into a giant monster before the spell strips him of his remaining magic and traps him in the painting once more, restoring Constantine to his body.
Constantine returns Crowley’s painting to the attic. Crowley tries to tempt him with the Fountain of Imperium because he “knows what that spell did” to Constantine. When Astra comes up to the attic, Constantine starts to lecture her about freeing Crowley, but then apologizes for being so absorbed in his own world that he didn’t help Astra himself. He also tells her that her mother’s spell was a little too effective – it stripped Crowley of his magic, but also rendered Constantine powerless. He offers to work with Astra so they can both learn magic again, and Astra accepts.
Nurse Ava returns to Sara, having thought over what she said about being a human. She’s also brought a fuel cell so the two of them can power Kayla’s ship and leave the planet. Sara takes her to the ship to connect the fuel cell, but Bishop and his Ava soldiers come in and surround them. It was a trick, the fuel cell is just a night light, and Sara has led Bishop to the ship with his alien samples.
Sara gloats, saying she ejected all of the aliens into space, but Bishop doesn’t need the aliens because the ship already has their DNA catalogued. Sara fights her way through the Ava clones, then snaps Bishop’s neck, killing him. She’s suddenly tranquilized by a dart and wakes up back in Bishop’s office with a very-much-alive Bishop. He tells her they’re “inseparable.”
I loved this episode so much. It was a very good episode for giving Astra the spotlight after she’s been missing for most of the season so far. The animated portion was just fantastic. The singing, the homages to both Beauty and the Beast and Fantasia, and the jokes like Astra being forced to talk like a princess were everything I wanted when this episode was revealed. I only wish it had been longer.
I say it so often with episodes like this, but this is one of those perfect examples of why I love this show. A serious, heartfelt story with stakes and consequences being told around some really silly plot elements. Legends of Tomorrow knows what it is, and it not only embraces the silliness and the camp, but it uses it to tell a good story along the way.
Next time: How’s that rescue mission going, Mick?
Legends of Tomorrow airs Sundays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate has no aspirations of being a Disney princess because she knows she’s too gay for that. Read the uncensored version of her “I Want” song on Twitter @WearyKatie