I’ll be one of the first to admit that Legends of Tomorrow is an uneven show. They do some weird stuff and have had their share of issues with some episodes. But they are a generally entertaining bunch of lunatics, and when they embrace that, you get a really entertaining episode. That’s what “Phone Home” was for me. Nothing stellar or earth-shaking, but it was a lot of fun.
Professor Stein does the voiceover this week, and I have to say, considering they’re focusing on them screwing up time, the bit about “don’t call us heroes; we’re legends” makes even less sense. After we get past that, it’s on to Ivy Town in 1988. Young Ray Palmer, who we saw last week, is running through some kind of government facility being chased by Men in Black. Things don’t look they’re going well for him.
In the present, if that means anything on a time ship that spends a lot of time in a weird green swirling limbo, Ray is trying to do a team building exercise with the Legends. Given the personalities involved, you can imagine how well that’s going. Surprisingly, he finally gets Mick of all people, to do a trust fall. Guess when the ripple effect from the past catches up? After Mick gets up from the floor, the team figures out Ray’s sudden disappearance is result of him suddenly having died back in 1988. On hearing Ray’s now dead, Mick grunts, “He better be.”
After they jump back to ‘88, a confused Ray reappears, and Zari has what might be the most amusing side effect to time travel so far. Ray is treating this like a field trip, and Zari is astounded by his optimism. She’s less impressed by the wardrobe of the 80’s. Once she’s actually outside, she’s a lot happier. The 1980’s are a lot more pleasant than her 2042, and she savors the difference.
The team scatters to keep an eye on young Ray. Adult Ray is stunned when the team reports that his younger self is stealing candy. Ray both doesn’t eat candy and has never stolen anything. Mick is impressed with the boy’s larceny. One of the more entertaining bits of their surveillance is Nate polishing a DeLorean in a Back to the Future nod, although where he got it, I’m not sure. As they wander through suburban paradise, Sara wonders if young Ray died of boredom.
The adult Ray spies on his younger self through the bedroom window (no, that’s not creepy at all) and gets a clue about his forthcoming death: ala ET, young Ray has befriended an alien. Unfortunately, it’s a young Dominator. Remember them from the big CW crossover last year? Funny they show up again as we get close to this year’s big event.
After Zari being surprised by aliens being real (her horizons are being expanded a lot), they give a very weird recap of the team up to her and work out why Ray doesn’t remember any of this– short version, the Dominator is one of the anachronisms they created. As all this goes on, the subplot of the week gets set up when Jax starts wondering what Stein is up to, and Mick feeds the paranoia.
Zari and Ray, suited up as Atom, go to Ray’s house, where Ray gets another shock as his younger self plays hooky to be with the alien, who he has dubbed “Gumball” for whatever reason. Zari hides under the bed and Ray, for lack of a better option, shrinks and gets placed among Ray’s action figures. Watching young Ray watch Singing in the Rain leads to a few interesting character moments, like Zari thinking the boy was lonely and Mick saying he likes Fiddler on the Roof better, which gets a lot of surprised looks from the rest of the team. Things get more confusing when Ray’s mom comes home and they have to distract her from angering Gumball by Nate and Amaya posing as animal control. Ray overhears some unpleasant things about his mother’s opinions of him and Nate flirts with her.
After hearing all this, young Ray decides to run away with Gumball, shoving the shrunken adult Ray into the backpack for the ride. Zari has to chase him down and is not enjoying her first mission with the team. Mick and Jax explore their idea about what Stein is up to, and they come up with some disturbing circumstantial evidence to back it up. While Nate and Amaya bicker, the team becomes aware there are Men In Black running around with detectors who know about Dominators. Gideon warns them that a new ship is coming in. Sara goes to greet it and gets a big surprise as to who it actually is.
While Mick and Jax chase down their current obsession, Zari catches up with young Ray. After some entertaining exchanges between them, their meeting gets broken up by the unfortunate arrival of more of the MIB, who I guess are some kind of early ARGUS, although I’m not sure they’re ever actually identified. Whoever they are, they’re very knowledgeable about Dominators and their capabilities.
Sara and her new not-so-much friend have a brief exchange, followed by the resolution of the Jax/Mick/Stein plot. Jax and Mick were wrong, but their guess was understandable. Stein tells them what’s actually going on, and it makes perfect sense. In true Legends chaotic style, the upshot is Jax, Stein, and Mick “borrow” the Waverider, leaving the others to fend for themselves.
Zari’s “cell” makes me think that either she doesn’t have a lot of experience escaping from places or she’s content to stay where she is. Eventually, she gets out, and she and both Rays go on the run through the base. Ray has a talk with his younger self about some rough truths, and even Zari seems to have gotten used to the idea of helping the kid. Once again, we see the “hero with mask running around without the mask” as Ray takes off his helmet for part of this.
Sara recovers and warns the team about her “guest,” giving Nate one of the better lines of the show. Nate returns to the Palmer home and gets an unexpected greeting, where things are not as they seem. Amaya comes in a bit later, spouting another classic 80’s movie line, although she’s probably never seen the movie. In the ensuing fight, Nate once again seems to forget he has powers. The fight moves outside where they wow some kids with their “costumes.”
Atom, Zari, and the kid have a run in with the MIB’s, and then Gumball gets involved. For all the nasty powers a Dominator has, what he chooses to do is fairly benign and kind of amusing. This leads to the good guys fleeing on bikes and recreating yet another classic 80’s scene. Finally, there’s a reunion and the alien issue is dealt with.
Jax and Stein make up for their misunderstanding. Mrs. Palmer gets the new Legends mind-wipe and the timeline is restored, anachronism dealt with. Young Ray goes trick or treating and gets a really special treat, in which we also get to see Zari’s approximation of a more famous costume. There’s an amusing scene between Zari and Ray to end it, and then Jax finds Ray for a more serious conversation that might have serious repercussions later.
What I liked: This was just a fun, goofy episode. It about as many homages to the 80’s as Pysch did during its run. Mick’s line about Fiddler on the roof was really entertaining. I liked seeing Zari in costume. Young Ray was entertaining. The Mrs. Palmer/Nate stuff was sort of funny. It was nice getting a break from the Time Bureau. It was nice seeing Zari start to find her place on the team, and I liked her side effect.
What I didn’t: Once again, the two most powerful members of the team never really show up (united Firestorm and powered-up Nate). This is an ongoing issue I think I should just copy and paste for these reviews. I’m not sure who the MIB’s were, and how they know so much about the Dominators if their arrival during the team up seemed to catch so many people by surprise.
This was what the Legends to best: goofy fun. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5.