Following up on the surprises at the end of “The Get Away,” things aren’t off to a great start for the team in “Séance and Sensibility.” The title is a fairly obvious pun, giving a hint of what’s to come. There are a lot of strange things in this episode, including a funeral, a musical number, some interesting dreams, and the usual utterly random divisions of the team into smaller groups that make no real sense.
The episode opens as the team arrive for the wake for Hank Heywood, Nate’s father and notional boss of the Time Bureau, and even more notionally of the Legends themselves. Ray is guilt-ridden that Nora Darhk, the one he keeps speaking up for, is apparently the cause of Hank’s death. Nate and Zari have a scene showing how awkward her pretending to be his girlfriend is starting to get, and Nate’s mother makes a request of him he really doesn’t agree with.
Ray tries to hide by the coffin, off in a side room, where Constantine startles him. The team’s resident warlock makes some observations that do nothing to help Ray’s state of mind, and he exits at high speed, literally running into Nate. Avoiding one soap operatic plot, Nate doesn’t blame Ray for anything, so the best friends relationship on the team is still going strong. Ray tries to compose himself in the bathroom, and can’t even get that much peace, as Nora uses a spell to get in touch and plead her case.
Back aboard the Waverider, Charlie and Mona talk about changes in diet and outlook. Mona’s t-shirt gives a hint that something is wrong, and Gideon confirms a moment later with a new warning about a temporal shift that affects Mona’s idol, Jane Austen. I will say that a lot of the time, some of the team’s suddenly discovered interests come out of left field and don’t really make a lot of sense (Constantine is a wrestling fan???). Mona’s attachment to Austen is completely in character and fits perfectly. The team is alerted, and Nate encourages them to go. For reasons that are never explained, Constantine and Mick Rory stay behind. I can see not wanting to bring Rory to the Regency period, where manners are so important, but leaving John behind when going after a magical creature makes little to no sense.
So, Ray decides to go hide in his room, prompting the question from Sara: “Is he acting weirder than usual?” Everyone agrees, and it’s left to the women of the team to go to Bath, England, in 1802. Mona queries Zari about smelling Nate on her, and an embarrassed Zari jokes about not passing the Bechdel Test. She gets conflicting advice from everyone, but then Sara, Mona, and Charlie are very different people.
Just about as soon as they arrive in historic England, Zari almost gets run over by a coach. The coachman is striking, and seems to get everyone all a-flutter. Going in to the nearby church for a wedding, the team meets up with Miss Austen, leaving Mona star-struck. The ceremony doesn’t go at all according to plan, and some very strange behavior breaks out. Both what people do and the attendance of certain people there are historically way off, and the magical disruption doesn’t explain it all. Then again, it’s not exactly a historically accurate show, since no one questions the team being there, and let’s face it, only one of the ladies looks like she belongs in “polite” company in Regency England.
Ray is just starting to get details from Nora about what actually happened when Charlie returns and leaps to the wrong conclusion about what Ray’s been doing when he manages to hide Nora. Once again, the ship’s supposedly all-knowing AI doesn’t tell anyone that a suspected murderer is on board. I really wonder if Gideon takes vacations at times, and is off doing something else. Or maybe that’s when she’s playing the Gideon in Flash’s Time Vault. Charlie is back on the ship apparently to embarrass Ray, since there’s no other reason for her to be there. Mona and Sara go to visit Jane Austen and Zari checks out the coachman… on several levels. Mona’s meeting with her idol goes badly and she just barely manages to keep her new beast under control.
As Zari finds her quarry, Rory pigs out at the wake and Nate worries about the toast his mother wants him to give. Rory gives him the blunt, straight-forward advice you’d expect from the thief/arsonist. Nate agrees with Rory, which is never a good sign, and Constantine gets a hint about some of what’s wrong in the house. Sara and Mona get a clue from some giggling women at the church, and Zari finds out the truth of the coachman. They capture the coachman, or really Zari handles it just fine alone, but this doesn’t resolve the issue of Austen’s writing. There’s some bad comedy with Ray sharing his room with Nora, as both the superhero and the sorceress prove to be rather skittish about, well, everything.
Constantine tells Nate what he’s learned, but the young hero isn’t going along with it and storms off, leaving some bad horror movie effects in his wake. The team’s prisoner makes mischief by blowing a magical powder into the vents (once again, thanks for the heads up, Gideon) that starts affecting everyone’s dreams. Zari gets the best line, with a rare, breaking the fourth wall direct address to the camera. The ladies compare notes on the dreams, and Mona isn’t happy with hers. This degenerates into an argument between Mona and Zari, which leads to Mona shifting, Charlie getting cold-cocked, and Mona going after the one she blames for her romantic ideals: Jane Austen. That leads to a small chase, a weird discussion, and Jane learning the world is stranger than she knew.
Zari and the prisoner argue about love and what it means to them and in their times. The prisoner reveals more about who and what he actually is, and Zari makes a very rash decision. Nate gives a somewhat awkward and short toast at the wake, leaving his mother to step up. She tells a story that seems remarkably out of character about Hank. Jane and the more or less calmed down Mona have a chat about Jane’s writing, love, respect, and control. I guess this is what changes Jane’s mind about writing, since it’s never really addressed again. Zari, even further out of control now, makes an outlandish suggestion. This is about when things take a turn for the bizarre, even for this show, and it becomes a big Bollywood number. Where they got a bunch of sarees from in Regency England I have no idea, but the show does seem to lean towards random costume changes of late.
As an aside, here’s a bit of irony for you: John Constantine consistently refuses to join the team in their efforts to blend in with whatever era they are visiting. He staunchly sticks by his trench coat, loosened red tie, and shirt. Of all the Legends, John’s the closes to his comic book counterpart visually (of the ones that have such counterparts), and he never loses the look. So one could argue he’s actually the only Legend who is always “in costume.”
At any rate, the magic music spreads, and ensnares Sara and Charlie as well. For reasons unknown, Gideon begins to broadcast the music on the ship and manages to infect Ray and Nora as well. So Gideon is not only not helping, she’s now creating problems. Seriously, does this ship need therapy, or a reprogramming, or both? Mona, last on scene, becomes the (singing) voice of reason and snaps everyone out of it. They lead the prisoner away, leaving behind some misdressed and very confused citizens of Bath.
John holds a séance and gets to the bottom of what the lingering spirit had to say. As he does this, Nate finds a secret door, leading to a hidden office of his father’s. What he finds there seems to be to be a desperate, last minute attempt to rehab Hank Heywood’s character that comes out of left field, makes no sense, and really doesn’t absolve him of the blame for what he’s done. John then gets a terrible shock when a different supernatural entity drops by to tell him a few things I’m sure he didn’t want to know.
What I liked: I do have a fondness for both musicals and breaking the fourth wall, if either are done well. I’ll give points for those tonight, and for more exploration of Zari’s character, who has mostly been lurking in the background this season. I’m glad John finally knows what’s going on in some circles, and hope Ray and Nora’s big step forward in this episode doesn’t take a major step back when the magic music stops.
What I didn’t: So many plotholes and oddnesses. I’m guessing the ship does something to stop the natives of whatever time to not comment on the racially diverse crew, which only really works in modern times. The division of who goes where on these missions seems utterly random. Gideon is going from a help to a hindrance. Leaving Constantine behind while going after one of their magical creatures makes no sense. The last minute attempt to make Hank into not such a bad guy after all was weak and felt tacked on.
Even with some fun things, this wasn’t a great episode. I generally enjoy this silliness of this show. This time around, the Legends get a 2.5 out of 5 from me. I hope things pick up as they head towards the season finale.