The Encores, villains of history returned from Hell, have been pretty firmly established as the big problems for the season. It’s hard to deal with immortal bad guys, and the first two were taken out in fairly unique ways that are hard to repeat. Now, we run across the first fictional Encore of the season, with nods to various movie tropes, and see some progress on the subplot with the timeline-shifted Zari, in “Slay Anything.”
The episode opens with an execution in Iron Heights Prison, a recurring setting on the Flash show, as a serial killer meets his end, his mother freaks out, and, a bit later, a coroner gets a nasty surprise. Back on the Waverider, Constantine tries to slip out and ends up with some banter with Sara and then Ray. They do make an interesting study in contrasts, John Constantine and Ray Palmer. The dark warlock and the upbeat scientist have some very different idea on how to approach the problem of the Encores. Nora finally returns from her Fairy Godmother gig, and is very frustrated with her job. Ray tries to do something nice for her which doesn’t quite work out.
In another part of the ship, Zari isn’t enjoying her time aboard the Waverider, which is understandable as she’s pretty much being held against her will. Her two big concerns seem to be getting back to the “Z Nation,” (her social media followers) and ratting out her brother Behrad to their parents about his secret life. Gideon calls everyone to the bridge, emphasizing Zari’s prisoner status, which I’m sure doesn’t help anything. Gideon tells them about the newest disturbance in history: a serial killer on the loose. This thrills Ava to no end, since she has an avid interest in serial killers. The briefing goes on with some amusing comments from Nate, who is apparently listening to Ava’s podcast about this particular killer, the Prom Night Slasher. This leads to the team going undercover at a high school reunion, and opening up all kinds of tropes from both slasher and high school movies. I do enjoy the series’ constant pop culture references. Things take a twist or two when one of the killer’s earlier victims shows up, a likely target, and we find out about a link between Mick and the current case.
After Mick gets scolded for missing team briefings, the team splits up, with Sara and Ava working the crowd and Ray and Nate out in the parking lot. I’m not sure where Berhad is in all this; I have the feeling the writers haven’t quite figured out how to integrate him into the team. Very quickly, it becomes apparent that the killer is at the reunion, and he didn’t come by to check up on old classmates. In Northumberland, Constantine goes home to do some research, dragging along his acolyte Gary, and, in the process, finding out where Charlie’s been since she ran off at the beginning of the season.
While I enjoy the show overall, one of the recurring issues with it is the writers seemingly forgetting that some of the characters have special powers or abilities. Case in point, the villain, now demonstrating telekinetic powers, seals the doors to the school, locking Ray and Nate out. Ray should be able to shrink under/around them, and Nate should be able to punch the doors down, or at least go through the wall, but neither of these options ever so much as get mentioned. I really think the Legends would work better as a team of skilled normals, although I don’t really want to lose the powered characters.
Trying a different approach, Ray and Nate jump back to the killer’s past. The killer, Freddie Myers (a hybrid of movie killers Freddie Kreuger and Michael Myers), does not have a good high school experience from what we see, and Nate and Ray’s good-hearted attempts to change things don’t go smoothly. You can see a lot of bad stuff coming Freddie’s way, and it’s with the sick feeling of knowing there’s nothing to be done about it. Ahead in ’04, Ava narrates another episode of her podcast as they hunt the killer, much to Sara’s annoyance. The killer attacks again and there’s more vicious blood-splatter. The team tries to regroup, and Nora feels a call she can’t resist. It’s a tense scene at first, but gives some good insight into who Freddie is, and things aren’t really lining up with what we know of him in the future. Finally getting to the prom, there are a few sweet moments and some classic set up from a famed movie and book.
Back on the ship, Zari and Behrad clash again over her being there. Mick has a rare moment of something good from his past, which predictably doesn’t last. The prom moves along, Nora actually enjoying herself a bit, before things take a turn. The cruelty of high school kids is feared for a reason, and, as Nate puts it, things go from John Hughes to John Carpenter. In ‘04 an enraged Mick actually talks about his past with Sara and Ava as they hunt the killer. Back in the past of that timeline, Freddie rants about how he’s been treated, which is fair enough. Nora has an emotional scene with him, talking about her own demons, and it shows how far she’s come since we first saw her as a villain and devoted follower of her father. She offers him a special wish, and we go from horror movie to music video, complete with backup dancers.
Trapped on the ship, Zari chats with Gideon, although she won’t call the AI by name. Messing around with the computer, Zari gets some flashbacks from the original timeline, and demonstrates some surprising skills. Back at the prom, Freddie’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better, and he shows he’s actually a pretty great kid, surprising Nora. It should be a happy ending, but things take an unexpected turn, going especially badly for Mick. Zari somehow meets up with the group in the prom era, and things get ugly. There’s a lot of fighting in a few different eras, some surprising revelations, and an expected resolution as the killer gets stood up to and one of the Legends makes a heroic entrance.
In the aftermath, Nora gets a nice surprise for once. The lady has lived a rough life. Zari and Behrad have a good talk and she makes an important decision. The team, or most of them, reunite for some goofy fun at the prom. The show wraps with Constantine and Charlie at his place, talking about what the warlock needs to face next. He has some hard times ahead of him if he’s going to get a lead on how to stop Astra and her Encores.
What I liked: The show remains entertainingly goofy. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and the sense of fun comes through clearly. The pop culture references are entertaining, and work in nicely. I enjoy the nods to their own pasts, like the previous mention of Ava’s interest in serial killers coming back in this one. The scenes with Nora were unexpectedly powerful, and I’m glad she’s finally catching a few breaks. Charlie coming back was good, and I’m curious to see how she and Constantine together are going to proceed, no doubt “helped” by Gary. There were a few subtle references to Zari’s time as a cat in this episode, which were nice little nods to past stories. I liked what they did with Freddie and the twist on the killer, which I was wrong about.
What I didn’t: As I mentioned above, they keep forgetting about the characters’ special powers, most often Ray and Nate’s. They don’t seem like they know what to do with Behrad.
It was another amusing episode. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. This may be the most entertaining of the currently running hero shows.