All the CW/DC Comics shows tend to adjust their introductory voice-overs as needed. It’s a nice little touch I enjoy. This week’s is done by Rip Hunter, and, to me, it worked a bit better than a lot of the others have this season. It was a decent lead in to “The Return of the Mack.”
The show opens in London, 1895. A woman moves down an alley, clearly wary, and pulls a knife. She shrieks when she finds a body, and then help arrives in the unexpected form of Rip Hunter. Rip does a series of very Holmes-like deductions, with an aside about Vincent Price. It’s an unexpected start to the newest adventure.
Aboard the Waverider, Jax and Ray are talking about their new project- how to separate Firestorm so Professor Stein can be with his family and retire from time-traveling superheroics. They comment on the difficulties because, among other things, the bond is both physical and psychic. To protect their secret, Ray gives Jax something to take, but there are going to be some side effects. I’m not sure how good an idea this is, but what do I know? I’d also point out that Stein wouldn’t HAVE the daughter he wants to go spend time with if it wasn’t for his time on the Waverider.
At breakfast, Zari is hugely impressed by the Waverider galley being able to create any kind of food. That makes sense, given the conditions she was living in when they found her. She brings up the idea of going back to 2041 and saving her family. The team looks grave and tells her they can’t change history, only correct it. When Zari gets upset about this, Sara tells her about Laurel’s death.
Bizarrely, Mick is wearing reading glasses and is deep in the novel of Dracula. The man is a constant stream of surprises, and not all of them involve fire, greed, or violence. Nate is on a serious coffee high and has been working on his own project. He’s been studying the anachronisms, and has discovered a pattern that covers most of them. On the one hand, it makes sense that a historian would be the most focused on this, but on the other, it seems really unlikely that he’s managed to create this high-tech map. He has also discovered a few outliers, including when Kuasa went after Zari, and what appears to be a vampire in London. The team is very divided about the concept of vampires, but Sara decides they’re going to go investigate.
Mick has draped himself in garlic and is still engrossed in Dracula, warning everyone against spoilers. Jax is having issues as some of the side effects Ray warned him about start kicking in. The team gets to the coroner, and Mick takes some rather dramatic action. They and the coroner have something of a standoff until the scene is disrupted by music playing that really doesn’t fit the era. It turns out to be coming from a Palmer-tech 2016 smart watch. Not something you’d expect in Victorian London. After getting some clues, they mind-wipe the coroner and go to see what they can find out.
Their task of finding an unmarked grave in a large cemetery gets easier when they find a freshly dug up grave. They get a series of surprises when something comes out of the grave. It’s not a vampire, it’s Rip, who is glad to see them, asks for their help, and says the Time Bureau doesn’t know he’s there. That’s a lot of weird at once from Rip.
Back on the ship, Rip is surprised to see Amaya back with the team. Then Jax starts having problems again, and Ray does his best to cover for him. Stein follows them, but his planned confrontation is interrupted when Lilly calls on the time-radio he gave her. Stein wanders off singing a lullaby for his grandchild, once again showing off Victor Garber’s talented singing voice.
Amaya and Zari chat about misperceptions and things that connect them. Rip and a good bit of the rest of the team fence back and forth about them helping him. He says he’s on a quest after Mallus, a great evil even the Time Masters were afraid of. There’s a very entertaining series of comparisons between Rip wanting their help and a bad break up. They reach a cautious agreement to help each other.
They come up with a great plan to use Nate for bait for this vampire, and Mick gets in a few digs about Twilight. Lamps go out and Nate gets grabbed. There’s an unlikely scene with Sara moving faster than a horse-drawn wagon, but the bad guys get away with Nate. Why they had a decoy rigged up is unclear.
Nate wakes up strapped to a table and, in the bad excuse of the week, whatever they drugged him with is preventing him from using his powers. He gets a big surprise when he sees who one of the members of this strange cult is. Somehow or other, Nate can talk to the team but they can’t trace his com signal. Just to up the ante, that night is supposed to be the night of the blood moon, a big occult event.
As some of the team goes in and infiltrates the party, Ray and Jax work on the watch. For some reason, even Ray, the creator of the tech, can’t get into the GPS tech, so they have to rely on prints. They find two of interest. One they can’t identify and one belonging to Oliver Queen of all people. While Nate gets worried about his immediate future, Sara and Rip find him to break him out.
The psychic at the party, the witch we’ve seen before, calls to ancestor spirits, and gives Zari a big surprise with what she reveals. Sara and Rip manage to free Nate, and learn the secret behind the “vampire” attacks. Meanwhile, Ray and Jax put in a call to Curtis Holt, Mr. Terrific of Team Arrow. Again in a bit that doesn’t make sense, Curtis can identify the print they can’t, and it’s a big surprise.
The team does some more questionable stuff when they rescue Nate but leave behind the body of a powerful mystic the cult is trying to resurrect. Why would they do that? While a disappointed Mick grouses about not killing vampires, Rip and Sara argue about the best course of action. Amaya checks on Zari after her unsettling visit with the sorceress.
Stein learns what Jax and Ray have been up to, and isn’t pleased about them working without telling him. Stein storms off and runs into Rip in the cargo hold, which seems to be where people go to brood. How much cargo does the Waverider ever end up carrying, anyway? Rip asks Stein to give his apologies to Captain Lance, and screws the team over with yet more hidden command codes in Gideon’s programming. No one is pleased by this.
As the team gets betrayed, Zari has snuck away to go see the psychic again. Falling for a really old trick, she gives her totem to the witch, who immediately begins using it better than Zari ever has. Sara gets partial control of the Waverider back, and they take off to prevent an even bigger disaster.
Zari, learning she made a mistake a bit too late, is chained up by the cult. Rip shows up and attacks, using portals to bring in lots of Time Bureau agents. Things go remarkably badly, and the powerful mystic is resurrected after Rip gets taunted by Mallus. As Mick races to finish Dracula, Sara orders a desperate, and questionable, tactic to free them from the Waverider. Is there a reason Jax and Stein didn’t just merge and use Firestorm’s power to get then out in a much more controlled, and less destructive, manner?
In yet another questionable move, with the Legends free, they send only Sara and Amaya to rescue Zari? Again, where’s Firestorm? ATOM? Mick? Zari gets her amulet back in a surprising development, and we learn the connection between the psychic and the just-brought- back-to-life mystic. It’s going to be a lot of trouble for the Legends.
In various wrap up scenes, Jax and Stein make up and plot their future. Zari and Amaya have a good friendship moment. Sara makes a deal that gets the traitorous Rip out of their hair and wins them grudging freedom from the Time Bureau. Rip gets out a last dire warning before being dragged off.
What I liked: I liked seeing Rip again, at least at first. The team gave Zari some good reasons not to try and alter her own history. The returned mystic is someone who I enjoy, even if he’s a major bad guy, so seeing him again is fun. It was nice to get the Curtis cameo, even if it didn’t make a lot of sense. Hopefully, all this means the team is out from under the Time Bureau for a while.
What I didn’t: Rip is just a bit too obsessive. Great that he sees what other people miss, but he manages to betray everyone along the way with his crusades. There were a lot of things that made no sense in this episode, from Nate’s suddenly cutting out powers to the small rescue team to leaving the body behind to get brought back. And, as usual, no explanation for the absence of Firestorm. Zari was so amazingly foolish, giving away her amulet the way she did. They spend a lot of time on Mick’s reading Dracula… and there’s no payoff. Did he like it? Did he finish? We never find out.
This episode had a lot of flaws and they outweighed the enjoyment, much as I hate to say it. I’m giving this one a low 2.5 out of 5 and that might be generous.