[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Writers: Keto Shimizu & Grainne Godfree
Stars: Victor Garber, Brandon Routh & Caity Lotz
The Legends attempt to solve an anachronism in which a sabre-tooth tiger is being shown off in a circus run by P.T. Barnum.
Billy Zane is a lot of fun as P.T. Barnum. He is the perfect amount of over the top that completely works. His amazement at super powers is an infectious joy.
The circus setting helps the show be more in line with its tone. The craziness of the circus allows the writers more room to be silly and wild which is when the show is at its best.
The heroes are unbelievably incompetent. A very simple problem is turned into a massive one and it is entirely the Legends’ fault. And then they keep making it worse. Ava is the most sympathetic character because she is the only one who seems to see things clearly. She even brings up that she isn’t sure why Rip didn’t have them join the Time Bureau, which is a good point. From an audience point of view, that would be a welcome change to the status quo. And it would force these characters to be more responsible
Vixen’s story is the main thing that kills the episode and is a great example of what is wrong with this show. Legends of Tomorrow wants, and needs, to be a Saturday morning cartoon. It is a live action version of Super Friends. And that would work if the writers owned that tone and went all the way with it. But they consistently try to add typical character drama that the audience is supposed to be legitimately invested in. The two tones don’t go together. Am I emotionally invested or am I just supposed to laugh? The 1966 Batman never went for pathos and character drama, but this show does. The show can’t be as silly as it wants because the writers want the audience to be invested in the story and characters. But the drama can’t be taken seriously because of the show’s tone, style and environment. It’s also boring and not well written.
This applies to the time travel rules. Ray explains the Time Bureau’s classifying method in terms of anachronisms, but only kind of. There’s a rating scale of 1-10 but we’re never told what that means. What does a level ten anachronism do to the timeline? The show can’t decide if wants to just have silly rules so that anything goes or if they want to be legitimate science fiction with actual rules and ideas
This is not a very good episode, but it’s better than the premiere. The circus allows the show to embrace its silliness a little more, which does help. But the show is still a confused mess with no real identity, bland and unlikable characters, and no real sense of investment or stakes.