The Legends of Tomorrow is a lot of fun, and possibly one of the more outright enjoyable hero shows going right now. That said, sometimes they veer a bit too much into “shut off your brain and watch” territory. “Tender is the Nate,” in addition to being a play on a Jackson Browne song, is a wildly uneven episode with some great scenes and a few that leave you scratching your head saying, “Wait, what just happened?”
At the Time Bureau, after the bizarre events over Thanksgiving, Mona is starting her new job. Her very unique outlook on life clashes sharply with Ava’s no-nonsense approach, as we see throughout the tour. They end up at Nora’s cell, where Ms. Darhk delivers some snark to poor Mona, and Ava doesn’t miss the chance to say, “I told you so.”
Exhausted from trying to beat some sense (as she sees it) into Mona’s head, Ava goes back to her office. She gets a very unexpected birthday surprise from Sara Lance, which is interrupted by Hank Heywood showing up. The scene tips back and forth between a variation on a bureaucratic budget meeting and slapstick comedy as we see Sara put both her ninja and seductive skills in play. Heywood’s concerns make no sense, as most of the budget he’s fussing about is food and clothing. We’ve seen I don’t know how many times that Gideon creates both those things for the Legends. The Waverider has always been shown as self-sufficient, why it’s suddenly drawing on the Time Bureau’s budget, aside from “it’s a plot point this week, don’t think about it,” I have no idea. Hank then runs into Nate, who tries to defend the team, and we end up with the horrible idea of Hank tagging along with the Legends for a mission.
Sara and Ava see this disaster start to unfold, and are just too late to stop it. Sara coms the team to warn them that both their “boss” is coming and that they need to keep Nate away from Charlie, still shape-frozen as Amaya in a bit of silliness they need to stop in my humble opinion. Why they keep doing bad sit-com logic with keeping the Heywoods away from the lab where Charlie is instead of just interrupting her air guitar and having her go somewhere else escapes me. The tour doesn’t go well, low points including John Constantine doing naked yoga in the library, Hank questioning the numbers, and the start of a running joke about whether or not Gideon counts as part of the crew.
The game of dodge-Charlie fails, and Nate gets a few surprises in close order. Sara gets the bad idea of having Charlie and Nate fake that she’s Amaya, and then they realize they left their boss with the bad influences of Constantine, Mick Rory, and Zari. While Hank quibbles about Mick’s drinking, they get a magic alert. The team tries to explain what they are doing as the ship sets course for Paris in 1927. Hank does get called in a particularly sexist line by Sara, which is fun to watch.
The team, naturally, ends up in the bar where everyone famous is. Nate lectures about the Lost Generation, Hank ignores him, and then the team splits up to talk to Salvador Dali, who is babbling about a monster he saw, and Ernest Hemingway, who Hank is a huge fan of. As they try and sort all that out, Charlie tries to act like Amaya and fails horribly. Ray takes the jump ship to the Time Bureau, where Ava tells him he’s not allowed to see Nora. Mona, hopeless romantic, overhears and agrees to help smuggle in a love letter.
Hemingway overhears a few comments and invites himself along on the monster hunt, while Hank mocks Nate’s plan to do some research on what they might be fighting. What kind of leader is Hank supposed to be if he thinks tactics are unimportant? What soldier doesn’t want better intel? Nate slips away to do the important part while, as Sara sums it up so well, “Drunk hunting with Hemingway. What could go wrong?” Mick also expresses some envy for the valet concept.
Down in the famed Parisian catacombs, Hemingway opens a huge crate (how’d that get there? We don’t know.) and hands out rifles, admiring Mick’s “signature weapon.” Sara tries to plan and is ignored. Mona catches Nora reading the romance novel Nora was scorning earlier, and they debate Nora reading Ray’s letter at all. Ava misunderstands what’s going on and rushes in to make things worse, panicking Nora and triggering an energy blast that traps the three women in Nora’s room.
Nate and Charlie bicker on the street and then run into the Fitzgeralds (F. Scott and Zelda), who get some great lines. The crew in the catacombs finds the monster of the week, which oddly proves to be both bullet- and fire-proof, not something that’s part of its mythology. The Fitzgeralds have trouble interpreting Dali’s monster sketch (who can blame them?) but somehow Charlie gets it right off the bat and fills in some information about the creature.
The team regroups on the Waverider, treating Hank, who was injured in the first battle. Gideon helpfully tranqs him when he won’t stop babbling badly mangled Hemingway quotes. Mona is struck by the story of Nora and Ray and wants to hear more. She, too, has a birthday surprise for Ava, which doesn’t go well at all. Ava and Nora argue after learning more about Mona, and then Mona adds wine to the mix. There’s a lot of drinking this episode, which might explain the uneven writing.
Constantine and Nate between them manage to come with a good plan for the monster that even the usually disruptive Charlie approves of. Ava and Nora compare tragic back stories while Mona listens raptly. Hank mocks the Legends’ plan for the monster, although he doesn’t have a better one, and Nate tells him off. Sara surprises Hank by siding with Nate. The monster turns up in the celebrity bar in Paris, and all hell breaks loose, with some great comic relief provided by Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds. We finally learn why Nora has been resistant to reading the note from Ray, and there’s a development with Dr. Palmer that makes no sense at all, but is just a combination cheap sight gag and dues ex machina (ex envelope, I guess) to get the women out of the cell.
Nate finally remembers he has powers as they fight the monster, but then the writers forget how Nate’s powers actually work (I guess it’s been too long?). Hank takes unexpected action to help the Legends complete their plan. In a few different scenes, Mona, Nora, and Ava all show they’re a bit changed by the time locked in together. Well, Nora and Ava are, anyway. Hank finally sees the value of the Legends and goes home. Nate stops in for a pizza party, talks like he’s never coming back, and wishes Charlie well to end the episode.
What I liked: Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds were brilliantly cast and all delivered great performances. Sara’s hijinks in Ava’s office were fantastic. Ray’s concern for Nora is at least consistent, and Mona was amusing throughout the episode. Gideon’s joke about being part of the crew was amusing and possibly setting up for an issue down the road.
What I didn’t: This episode was a mess. From the Legends needing the Bureau’s budget to Nate’s power fail to the cheap gag with Ray, very little of this episode worked overall. There were great individual scenes, but as a whole, it didn’t hang together well at all.
As much as I liked some bits, this was just not one of their better, certainly not one of their more coherent, episodes. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5. The good bits, for me, were just dragged down by the bad.