The Legends of Tomorrow manage to throw me off once again with their titles. “Amazing Grace,” had me wondering if were finally going to see some of the New Gods. One of Darkseid’s propaganda style agents is a woman with persuasive powers called, in fact, Amazing Grace. And that had nothing to do with anything in the episode.
Instead, it starts in 1950 Memphis. A young guy goes into a pawn shop and talks with the owner about buying a guitar. He finally settles on one allegedly owned by Robert Jones, a man who reportedly sold his soul to the devil for his music. The young guy plays the guitar, letting loose a lot of weird effects and freaking out the owner before finally leaving and introducing himself on the way out. Of course, this is a young Elvis Presley.
Aboard the Waverider, Wally gets a tour from Zari, and can’t resist showing off his powers a little bit. A few weird changes ripple around the ship (Trombone Hero? Really?) and the team meets on the bridge. Naturally, there’s an Anachronism forming in Memphis in 1950. The new history goes really badly for rock and roll in general and Elvis in particular. Nate, a rock and roll fan, comments that only the Darhks would be evil enough to kill rock and roll.
The team goes to a church run by Elvis’ uncle, Lucious. When Elvis starts playing traditional music, Nate grouses that they’re hearing Elvis play “grandma tunes.” As the uncle rants against rock and roll as devil’s music, Elvis makes the music more uptempo and Nate smiles. The concert gets interrupted when the totem on Elvis’ guitar (because of course, it can’t be a normal guitar) interacts with Zari’s, making her float, which leads to everyone thinking she’s possessed and the Legends beating a hasty retreat, Mick stealing one of the famous Elvis sandwiches on the way out.
They figure out Elvis has the sixth totem, and they try and figure out what it is. Theories range from a music totem to a sandwich totem. As the team debates what to do, Wally zips off and steals the guitar. Speedsters, acting rashly for decades. Anyway, they decide to swap it out for a regular guitar, an idea Nate really likes. He and Amaya take it to Beale Street, where Elvis goes to open mic night and things don’t go well. Nate and Amaya catch up with Elvis after and he and Amaya compare notes about objects connecting them to their ancestors.
On the ship, Sara tries to remove the totem from the guitar, which goes about as well as Elvis’ open mic night. The episode veers from a musical to Ghostbusters as we learn what the totem is, although they all amusingly insist at first that the guitar is haunted. After a (sadly off screen) consultation with Constantine, Sara gets a handle on the flying guitar. Nate makes an impassioned plea to let Elvis ‘borrow’ the guitar for his first recording session the next day that starts his career and rock and roll. Finally, against her better judgement, Sara agrees.
The studio session goes well, thrilling Nate and even impressing Amaya in spite of herself. Things are going great until Uncle Lucious pops up. He’s not a fan. Nate and Amaya don’t end up anywhere they thought they would after the session. Nate and the uncle argue about what Elvis and his music can do. Nate manages to contact the team, and Zari and Wally go to get Elvis’ demo record from his uncle, and Zari explains why Wally can’t rely on his speed for everything.
Mick has an emotional scene with his pet rat and starts cursing about all the changes on the ship. Nate has a talk with Elvis about needing his guitar, but how important music is. Ray does one of his ridiculously sweet things to try and cheer Mick up, and even cajoles Sara into playing along.
Zari and Wally talk to Uncle Lucious and sort of emotionally double team him. Wally talks instead of speeding, and gets the preacher to listen to him. Then, Wally actually gets to use his powers to get the record to the radio station in time to keep the start of Elvis’ career going. There are several people listening to the song, including the pawn shop owner from the start, and things go weird. The totem power kicks in again, and we’re back to Ghostbusters. Zari and Wally work together to safeguard the people in the church.
The Legends do well, but Elvis actually saves the day with some surprising insight. This makes Nate even more of an Elvis fan. Elvis and his uncle argue about music, and Elvis prevails. Things end with an impromptu concert (of course) and a few people make peace with their respective ghosts. Nate and Elvis have a final chat about music and his guitar as Elvis gets started recording for real. Back on the ship, they get the totem stored and Ray shows his plan for how to keep them safe. After a scene with different music between Nate and Amaya, we see Ray’s plan likely isn’t going to work.
What I liked: I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but this worked well. I did like the many positive things said about the power of music. They actually had a good reason to make Wally slow down, and it showed he’s more than just fast. Amaya’s consistent attitude toward rock and roll worked for her, and the uncle wasn’t some one dimensional bad guy like the preacher in Footloose.
What I didn’t: Maybe they’re running short on episode time, but they went from “We didn’t even know there was a sixth totem” to “Oh, here it is,” really quickly. For all Nate’s comments about them, the Darhk’s never even showed up. Nate’s getting paranoid. I know they are trying to balance a decent sized cast, but it seems like Ray gets shafted in a lot of episodes until they decide to focus on him for one or two.
It was another fun episode. I’ll give it a solid 3.5 out of 5. The hunt for the totems continues soon!