The silliness continues for the Legends of Tomorrow with “Wet Hot American Bummer.” The show opens with what seems like the classic horror movie set up, as a young couple start making out on a blanket in the woods near a lake. Could it get any more stereotypical? Well, that’s exactly what we were supposed to think, as the action freezes and we see that this is a horror movie Ava and Sara are watching. Sara is suspicious, being a horror movie fan and not recognizing this one. Sure enough, Gideon calls and tells them of a new alteration in the timeline. When Ava grouses about their evening being interrupted, Sara invites her along and introduces her to the concept of the pinky swear.
Nate and Gary are holding down the fort at the Time Bureau, which doesn’t seem like a great idea. Sara shows Ava their new prisoner, the shifter frozen as Amaya, Charlie. Ava leaps to the wrong conclusion about why Charlie is there, and Sara and Zari go with that. When they first get told they are going to a camp, Constantine assumes it’s a military base, and Ray reveals, to no one’s surprise, how much he loved camp. Sara mentions the movie, Swamp Thaaaaang, that led to the adventure, and John makes a veiled reference to DC’s Swamp Thing, the title Constantine himself first appeared in, many years ago. Gideon created camp counselor uniforms for the “away team” of Sara, Ava, Ray, and John. There are a few amusing bits as the team introduces themselves to camp director Paula Cooper and her assistant, cool dude Chad. There are several 90’s references, which is really the only way to establish when they are, since camps don’t really change much over time.
Ray and John very much make for an odd couple of counselors. I’m surprised their kids didn’t end up with whiplash from the two extremes. Sara and Ava are about the same, which seems a bit odd until you’re reminded that Ava, since we learned she was a clone, never really had a childhood, and has no idea how to deal with kids. This is a recurring theme throughout the episode, and shows that at least some of the writers are thinking about what makes each character unique. Constantine makes some preparations and leaves an awestruck and/or terrified kid in his wake. Sara and Ava talk about what summer camp means later that night, smug in the knowledge that no one will get into the camp with them there. Out, however…
Come morning, both sets of Legends realize they have missing kids. Dutifully, they report it to Paula, who clearly doesn’t care in the slightest. Ray is annoyed by this clear dereliction of duty to the kids, and Sara muses about ways to find things out. Ray gets all New Age trying to win some trust, but John takes a very effective shortcut. Sara is almost making progress when Drill Sergeant Ava disrupts that completely.
Back on the Waverider, Gideon warns Zari that the shifter is acting up. Zari falls for the oldest trick in the book, Charlie gets out, and Zari apparently forgets that she can call for help via coms or Gideon. Constantine and Sara compare notes while the resident pyromaniac brings the shifter’s dash for freedom to an end. We at least get to see his flamethrower, which he pretty much never uses anymore. Charlie and Mick get some banter as he escorts her back to her cell.
Ava gets set up with a prank that she doesn’t see coming because, again, she has no frame of reference for it. The team tries to follow up on a lead about the disappearances, but it goes nowhere good. Come morning, there are more missing campers and no useful answers. Ava and Sara start searching through the camp, while John and Ray comb the woods. Ray and John bicker a lot, but John sheds a bit of light on his irritable mood. They also find a clue, finally. Mick and Charlie bond over Russian gulag hooch, and there’s a passing reference to either the show’s past and/or Dominic Purcell’s (Mick Rory) other best known role.
Ava and Sara make up from an earlier quarrel and agree to try one of John’s potions to get some answers out of the girls. It’s a stretch to see how this is going to work, but it’s more about doing something for Ava than for wrapping up the mystery. There’s a lot of delay and then the special effects kick in, and we see the casting director has done a great job finding younger versions of Sara and Ava.
Mick and Charlie keep drinking and bonding. Sara checks in with John, and finds out something she’s really not happy about as far as the potion goes. Ray and John manage to somewhat work together, and John gives Ray a warning about something he’s been doing that no one thinks is a good idea. The kids, including Sara and Ava, play Truth or Dare while Ray and John make a disturbing discovery. Sara and Ava leap to an understandable, but wrong, conclusion, as Charlie finally shares some useful info, a bit too late. Sara and Ava do some impressive teamwork for their younger selves, and John shows he is still carrying some serious emotional baggage on a few fronts.
The episode ends with Sara and Ava making one more memory, John in need of some help that Gideon can’t give, a new direction for Charlie, and Ray’s suggestion of what they should try next. Elsewhere and elsewhen, we see someone’s new life isn’t everything they hoped for, and they have a very peculiar new job.
What I liked: As usual for this show, it was a fun, goofy adventure. Ava’s lack of childhood was handled well, and it’s clear Sara cares for her. It’s a bit cloying at times, but Ray is consistently the good-hearted optimist. I still think he plays better off Mick than John, though. The reveal of the monster’s identity was well done and vaguely Scooby Doo, which fit for the setting. I like the way they are setting up to use Charlie, although it seems like a cheap way to back-door bring back Amaya, or at least Maisie Richardson-Sellars, who played/plays her.
What I didn’t: Not enough Mick. He’s one of the best characters on the show and seems to be getting smaller and smaller parts. We get to see Sara kick ass almost every week, ditto John and his magic, but no one else gets to do their thing. When was the last time you Ray use science, or his suit? Rory steal or burn something? At times, it seems more like the Sara and John show, with the others relegated to “…and the rest,” like in the Gilligan’s Island theme song. Zari not having Gideon help her out, and falling for the trick in the first place, was just sloppy, either for the character or the writers.
It was a decent little adventure, and had some developments that will probably affect the rest of the season. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.