The Legends have been through a lot in their years of adventuring, but in this episode they have several new challenges: fatal illness, one of history’s greatest conquerors, a big secret about someone who has been around for a while, and the directorial debut of Caity Lotz, AKA Sara Lance/White Canary. We get quite a few surprises in “Moral Khanbat.” It’s also pretty ironic that the team’s ninja/assassin isn’t really in the episode set in Hong Kong with lots of fighting.
Last episode ended with John Constantine being struck with magically advanced lung cancer, part of Astra’s ongoing intrigues against him. Now the team is doing what they can to keep him going, rushing him to the medbay for some advanced treatment from Gideon. Unfortunately, nothing in science seems likely to help the magical malady. After some snark from the ailing warlock, Gideon sedates him. Charlie flees the scene, has some interesting voice encounters, and then bumps into Behrad. They clearly have a more complicated history than we’re aware of, and he’s not happy with how she’s currently treating him. After Zari wanders in and talks about hallucinogenic donuts, Ava calls everyone to the bridge. Sara’s still away in Star City, and Ava’s taking being in charge seriously. So seriously that she’s displaying skills we’ve never seen before, as she creates the new device to detect Encores throughout history. Mick isn’t around for this unveiling, off dealing with something he’s not used to: feelings. Ava gets very frustrated when the rest of the team is a lot more impressed with Nate’s new scooter than her fancy machine.
Their newest alert brings them to 1997 Hong Kong, as there’s some new threat involving the Triads in the midst of the handoff of the government from English rule to Chinese. As Nate patrols the perimeter on his scooter, there’s trouble back on the ship. Constantine has recovered from sedation (I expect he’s got a pretty good tolerance for most drugs by now) and intends to leave to look into who is trying to kill him. Unable to stop him, Ray and Gary go with him back to his house. Back in Hong Kong, Nate’s historian skills show their usefulness once again as he identifies the new threat as soon as he arrives: Genghis Khan. Khan goes inside the tea shop the Legends have staked out, and a huge, John Woo style gunfight erupts, with an incidental nod to Charlie’s Angels. Ava works with the new cops, and, when they get in over their heads, it’s Nate to the rescue, for once remembering he has powers.
At Constantine’s home (which really should have some kind of cool name), Gary runs errands for the master of the dark arts while Ray tries to help him as best he can. Constantine passes out and has a weird encounter in Purgatory, learning who is after him. Desperate, Constantine tries to make a deal, which doesn’t work for once. He’s brought back to the real world by Ray’s CPR efforts. He shares what he’s learned, and vows to keep on fighting. Zari makes some snarky comments as the others return from their less-than-successful mission. Behrad expresses his preference for Bruce Lee, and then debates a particular use of his power with Charlie. Watching Charlie and Behrad interact, Nate deduces why they’re acting differently now, to Zari’s disgust and Ava’s utter cluelessness. Working to infiltrate the gang, Charlie and Behrad capture a guard and Charlie shapeshifts to take his place (Hey, someone else remembered they have powers!). Inside, Khan exerts some influence to learn something he needs from a prisoner.
Constantine’s efforts include making use of Nora’s Fairy Godmother wish powers, which doesn’t work. She and Ray get a fleeting moment together before she has to go. Behrad and Nate talk about personal relationships and get some amusing input from their prisoner, who they then manage to lose. Khan gets what he wants, reveals some of what he’s been up to for the past few centuries, and then demonstrates a powerful weapon. Comedy and chaos ensue as Charlie manages to bluff her way back out of the gang headquarters, scare the hell out of someone, and then almost get hit by a truck and end up in one those classic “land on each other moments” with Behrad.
Another magic user from their past tries to heal Constantine, and meets with no success. The warlock snaps out orders, and Gary, surprisingly, stages a minor revolt, telling Constantine he might need to face the end, and the conversation turns to bucket lists and farewells. The wizard has a predictable response to both suggestions. Charlie has a passing encounter with a captured Encore, and then Behrad forces her to tell him what’s going on. She’s really not kind with her responses. There’s some argument about Charlie leaving, and Nate gets the team back on track. Constantine has an odd conversation with a magical artefact that I’m sure there’s a story behind.
Gary and Ray worry about being helpless in the face of Constantine’s peril, and he actually comes in and apologizes to them, which is amazing. Ray has taken the time to prepare a fine meal (who’s stocking the kitchen if the house has been shut up for years?). Constantine regales them with some stories from his past as they sit at the table. In Hong Kong, there’s bad traffic and a surprising discovery of what Khan is up to, and the expected borrowed quote from Star Trek II. Things get chaotic as Prince Charles is captured, and the Legends are spread thin and shorthanded. We get brought in on a secret plan to protect the royalty, and see Mick’s one appearance this episode. I have no idea why the character and/or actor had such diminished screen time. The big fight ends with a move that was discussed earlier, some slick swordplay, and a Monty Python reference.
Back on the Waverider, the crew presses Charlie to cough up whatever big secret she’s been keeping. I thought all this came out of nowhere, and don’t know how long we’re supposed to believe this had been held back. It’s a big, surprising reveal, and some of the shift in what’s going on has to do with the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths (what doesn’t at this point?). The team is impressed with Charlie’s newly revealed history, but vows to stand by her. Sara finally returns, has an issue with new acquisitions all over the ship, and gets overwhelmed when she asks for a status report. Conversation at Constantine’s turns to something Ray has wanted to do, and Constantine is unexpectedly supportive. Ray has some reasons for hesitating, but gets encouraged to go for it. Lost in the shuffle, Constantine pulls a fast one and decides to face his fate on his own terms.
This brings him to another showdown with his tormentor. At first, the villain is boastful and triumphant, but Constantine once again manages to work his silver tongue and make the bad guy doubt themselves. Revived by hope and magic, Constantine wakes up again and is filled with new energy. He’s determined to make good on his newest deal, which I suspect is going to put him at odds with one of the other Legends.
What I liked: The action was great. Caity Lotz certainly knows how to do fight scenes well (she should by now). I liked this spin on Khan, and that several of the characters actually used their special abilities. This was also closer to the usual characterization of Constantine from the comics- grimly determined to survive no matter what and ruthless.
What I didn’t: When did Ava become an inventor? Were motorized scooters really that common back in 1997? The bad guy got persuaded awfully easily toward the end of the episode. Why was Mick’s role so reduced this time out?
Overall, another bit of enjoyable silliness from the Legends. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5.