The Legends keep running into people connected to them in the past: younger versions of themselves, ancestors, and, the just-won’t-stay-dead Damian Darhk. That trend continues in “Welcome to the Jungle,” which lands the team in 1967 Viet Nam, during the war. That was dangerous enough on its own, but you know that if the team goes there, it’s worse than it seems.
After a scene where American GI’s function as Star Trek red shirts, they shift to the Waverider. Sara has still not recovered from the Darhks’ whammy, and Stein is grasping at straws to find a way to wake her. Jax comes by, and Stein says he has some promising leads to finding a way to split them that will leave all of Firestorm’s power with Jax, which would make them both happy.
Amaya is beating up on a punching bag, working out some frustrations with what she learned about their foe Kuasa last episode, and not really appreciating Nate’s efforts to get her to talk about it. The team convenes and decides they can’t let Sara wake up and find them doing nothing, so they pick an anachronism at random, which, of course, leads them back to that opening era in Viet Nam. Mick refuses to go, with even less of an explanation than he usually offers.
Zari, Ray, and Amaya pose as reporters and manage to find Brian Sanders, sole survivor of the attack in the opening scene. He doesn’t want to talk about it, and gets pushed by Ray. Finally, he says whatever is out there is pure evil, and that it has a message for everyone: stay out of the jungle. So, of course, Mick and Nate are IN the jungle, and find the slaughtered troops. Zari notices a woman who has been staring at them as they use their reporter cover, and offers to show them what’s going on out in the wilds. Speaking of out there, Mick gets badgered into telling Nate why he hates this place so much: his father served here. Naturally, they run into him almost before the words get out of Mick’s mouth. I really hope they explain what’s going on with that this season, and soon.
While Mick and Nate negotiate a sort of working alliance with Papa Dick Rory, and Nate learns some of Mick’s history, Jax makes one of those really annoying discoveries you do from time to time with communal living. Tracking down a pie thief, he finds Stein conferring with some histories greatest geniuses about a big problem: he and Jax can split, but there won’t be a Firestorm anymore. Once again, the show draws on genius from the past who shouldn’t even grasp nuclear physics, let alone metahuman biology. This is getting to be an annoying trend. Jax isn’t happy to hear Stein’s been lying to him.
Ray tries to get Amaya to talk about what’s bothering her, and the annoyed woman wonders when men started talking about their feelings so much. She is from the 40’s, after all. They debate with Anh Ly, their guide, about whether the being in the jungle is a monster or a new god, which gets DC Comics fans wondering exactly what’s out here. Then, their compass spins wildly and their comms go out. Is this Viet Nam or the Bermuda Triangle?
Mick and Nate talk, away from Dick and his team. Mick’s home life was fairly ugly, but that takes a back seat when more soldiers show up. They’re working for the creature in the jungle, and a fire fight starts. Literally, as a taste for flamethrowers seems to run in the Rory family. Dick saves Mick’s life during the fight, which seems to just piss Mick off.
Team Amaya finally finds what’s causing the rumble in the jungle. As they are brought to the center of the camp, they are greeted by a thunderous roar and a snarled, “Welcome to my Kingdom.” As a few fans likely figured out by now, it’s Grodd. Zari checks to make sure the others are seeing what she is: a gorilla that speaks better English than Mick. Ahn Ly explains Grodd has gotten soldiers from both sides to work together and stop fighting. Amaya wants a clean shot with Ray’s shrink ray, a name he still hates. And why is 40’s woman using advanced tech the guy standing next to her invented in the first place?
Mick gets some insight into his father as they talk, which gets even him thinking. Jax makes a confession to the comatose Sara. Ray fills in Zari about Grodd, who was in an ARGUS prison last he knew. This makes Zari identify with him a little, seeing him as another persecuted metahuman, like her family. Nate runs into Mick, who is having a weird reaction to what he’s learning about Dick.
The comms clear when Zari breaks the jamming device. The team confers on what to do, Nate saying they’ve gone from Predator to Apocalypse Now. The movie references as summations amuse me, and make me think of a lot of the people I game with. That to one side, the anachronism gets worse according to Gideon’s readouts, and we find out why: Grodd is pushing for full scale nuclear war between Russia and America. Amaya’s attempt to shrink Grodd fails spectacularly, and she is treated to a demonstration of some of his power.
Zari is looking through some of Grodd’s plans when she and Anh Ly have another confrontation. They argue about the way to peace, which Zari loses, although in a non-peaceful way. After learning that one of the key changes in the new history is President Johnson’s death in Viet Nam, Jax suits up as an MP to go save him. The excuse for not using Firestorm this week is Jax wants to prove he can still be part of the team without powers. Nate and Mick get a few surprises from Dick’s team as they near Grodd’s camp.
Zari, Amaya, and Ray are all prisoners now. Zari and Amaya try and talk Grodd down, sympathizing with him and offering ways to give him a better place to live. This makes him curious enough to turn his telepathy on them, and learn about time travel. That can’t be good. Amaya almost manages to reach him through channeling her Totem when Dick’s team shows up, shooting at everything and everyone. This turns everything to chaos, although Mick pays back Dick for saving his life, while a less than thrilled Stein finds out Grodd is heading his way. Me, I’d have just told Gideon to take the Waverider up to about a thousand feet. Grodd is dangerous and can do many things, but he can’t fly.
While all this goes on, Jax gets to LBJ just a bit too late to foil the ambush, but time enough to get really clever and save the President’s life, and prove he can do great things on his own. In a really weird twist, Mick talks someone out of being violent, but then, afterwards, puts his own spin on things.
Grodd gets to the ship and uses an indirect attack to come at Stein. It was clever as far as it went, but Stein gets saved by one of his borrowed geniuses. Then Grodd tries to batter his way inside, but Stein flies the ship into the air-strike Dick ordered when he saw Grodd. The killer ape then vanishes.
The wrap up scenes include Zari and Ayn talking about the future of Viet Nam, Mick making a sort of peace with Dick, Amaya making an admission to Ray and sharing a decision she made about Kuasa, and Sara finally waking up, although confused about why Sir Isaac Newton is on the ship. Jax and Stein talk about Jax’s future and a special reward Jax got for saving the President. We also see what happened to Grodd, and it bodes ill for the Legends.
What I liked: I’ve always liked Grodd as a character, and he’s even more dangerous in some ways in this version. He’s not human, so he doesn’t think like us, and he has a legitimate grievance against humans. The Mick and Dick scenes were interesting. I’m glad they didn’t drag out Sara’s coma.
What I didn’t: We keep getting lame reasons for the Legends to be non-powered. Nate never uses his Steel powers, and Ray apparently left his suit on the ship, even though we’ve seen him carry it shrunk in a pocket before. This is an ongoing, sloppy trend in the writing that needs to stop. I don’t think Zari used her powers, either.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. It would have been lower without Grodd and Mick’s scenes. On to the big crossover next!