On Monday, The CW’s ensemble superhero show Legends of Tomorrow started off its fourth season strong with “The Virgin Gary.” The episode leans into all of the show’s best qualities: its wild and eccentric plots, its three-dimensional characters and its unapologetic dorkiness.
The episode follows the legends on their victory tour, having fixed the cracks in time that got them in trouble last season. After three seasons branding themselves with some variation of “Please, don’t call us heroes,” they finally feel comfortable identifying with the H-Word, but the team has hit a lull in their time-travel career. It’s been five months and they haven’t seen any of the supernatural action promised in the season three finale cliffhanger. The show uses this lull to explore character relationships, most notably the unlikely comradery between Nate (Nick Zano) and Rory (Dominic Purcell), the friendship between Zari (Tala Ashe) and Ray (Brandon Routh) and the finally-domestic romantic relationship between Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ava (newly-promoted series regular Jes Macallan).
Legends isn’t the type of show to keep a status quo for too long, though, and the episode quickly transforms into a romp through the fields of 1969 Woodstock that leads to a monster familiar to anyone who’s read Drink, Slay, Love — a unicorn with a tendency to stab people through the heart. It has everything I’ve come to expect from an episode of Legends: dysfunctional teamwork, a mystical drug trip and cameos from historical figures. However, it also adds some new elements, like the addition of Time Bureau agent Gary Green (Adam Tsekhman) to the team or the dark cliffhanger involving John Constantine (Matt Ryan) that felt like something out of Riverdale.
Looking back, Legends has changed a lot since its premiere in 2016. In its first season, it took itself way too seriously, throwing together a bunch of characters to try to stop the unfortunately-named Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from destroying history. The Vandal Savage storyline was a confusing and clunky narrative about Ancient Egypt, bird people and reincarnation, leading me to expect the show’s cancellation. Thankfully it wasn’t because the show hit its stride in the second season, feeling more like TNT’s The Librarians. The writers could clearly tell that camp and team dynamics resonated the most with their audiences because they suddenly leaned into it by episode nine, “Raiders of the Lost Art.” As the name might suggest, the heroes are tasked with convincing George Lucas to make Indiana Jones and Star Wars. The episode is packed with goofy, nerdy references, and this kind of “fanservice” has continued throughout the show. In the Season Four premiere, the show even confirms in a one-off joke that Ray and Nate are “brony bros.”
The only disappointment in The Virgin Gary was the sizable absence of two major characters. The first being that of Amaya Jiwe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), who left the team for the second time last season but is confirmed to make a return in a few episodes. The second was my personal favorite DC character, the speedster Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). On the season premiere of The Flash a couple of weeks ago, Wally told Team Flash that he was ready to go back to the Waverider and travel through time with his own team. However, this summer it was announced that Lonsdale would not be returning as a series regular and that Legends would have to find a way to explain the character’s sudden disappearance. True to the spirit of the series, the writers chose to poke fun at themselves, saying early on in the episode that Wally left to travel the world and find himself, a choice they also used to explain his disappearance from The Flash last year. Zari voices the fans’ concerns in the episode: “speaking of the same old crap, isn’t that what he did last year?” which softens the blow.
That isn’t the only time The Virgin Gary goes meta. When considering the possibility of fighting a dragon, Ray jokes, “Maybe the [Time] Bureau will up our ratings. People do love the Supernatural.” This doubles as a nod to the CW’s incredibly long-running show Supernatural, now in its 14th season. I can only hope that Legends, despite being excluded from the upcoming Arrowverse crossover Elseworlds, can survive as long.
Olivia Bono is sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.