One thing you can say about the Legends of Tomorrow is that they aren’t afraid to shake things up. Almost the entire original cast is gone, and the focus of the series has shifted over and over again. Now the team is trapped in 1925 with no ship, and the Waverider did a lot for them in terms of day to day needs. Also gone is John Constantine, whose magic could be used to overcome a variety of problems. Now the team faces a lot of new challenges as they try and figure out a way to at least get back to their own time (tricky when they are from at least two different eras), and minimize their impact on history while they’re stuck in the past. That’s already not going well, and things continue to get more complicated in “The Need for Speed.” Aside from being in a hurry and an easy Top Gun reference, I’m not sure why they chose that particular title.
Last episode ended with the unexpected death of J. Edgar Hoover, which is less than ideal for a group trying to not change history. Gary is looking green around the gills from eating the body per Ava’s suggestion, and Nate is sick at the very concept that he, a historian, may have altered the timeline forever. Usually the rock solid (even when he’s not made out living steel) dependable one, Nate is freaking out, and Sara is taken aback at the major shift in her unofficial first officer. A quick search of the car turns up a few useful things, and Sara forms a plan. Nate’s not a fan of this idea, but there doesn’t seem to be another option.
Part of this plan hinges on Gary, and it occurs to me Gary Green is a great symbol for how much the show changes as time goes by. Gary has been a bumbling Time Agent, an apprentice sorcerer, an undercover alien, and enthusiastic fan of Ava Sharpe. He’s gone from a walking joke to someone with at least a little depth, and he’s a rare male bi character. While he’s probably never going to be a favorite character of mine, he has a rich and complex back story and I like that he’s one of the few ongoing sources of optimism on the team.
There’s a new opening sequence that I really enjoy and is very in tune with the team’s new era. When that ends, Astra, Spooner, and Gloria (Spooner’s mom) are trying to deal with Gideon now suddenly being in human form and clearly not settling in well. The scene is an entertaining mix of Gideon trying to communicate in strange ways and Spooner trying to explain to her mother what a computer is.
Behrad gets their damaged car running (I had no idea he was a mechanic) and they take off to put Sara’s new plan in motion. They get where they need to be, but Gary needs more time for things to work. Never one to have a problem improvising, Sara uses their fame as the Bullet Blondes to cause enough of a distraction to get them aboard a train they need to catch. The level of adoration people have for Hoover outshines the bank robber fans we saw last week, and the team is able to talk their way into what they need with little difficulty. Ava makes a joke to Nate that was great, but I’m a bit surprised made it onto the show.
At least temporarily set up in their newest base of operations, Ava and Sara skip out using Constantine’s magic key (I thought Zari had that?) to go to the replica of the wizard’s home. Zari is there, has been indulging in Behrad’s gift from last episode, and is very much not herself. Ava and Sara sort of check in with her and then go upstairs, since they are sort of on their honeymoon, which evokes an amusing reaction from Zari.
Behrad, the more he learns about Hoover, is questioning this whole plan and Nate impersonating the man. As Sara observed, “Great man aren’t usually good guys.” Nate knows they don’t really have a choice, but isn’t thrilled with this either. They get another complication from an unexpected visit, which leads to Nate rushing things and Gary giving a warning just a bit too late. Their plan to stay out of sight doomed from the start, Nate, Gary, and Behrad venture forth into the casual racism of the period. One minor glitch: if the Bullet Blondes are so famous, you’d think the new visitor would at the very least ask to see them or wonder where they are, but it never comes up. Gideon is trying to find a way to communicate with Astra and Spooner, coming up with something creative but a bit abstract. Astra is clearly frustrated, bad temper radiating off her. Gideon takes a turn for the worse, leading the spellcaster to gripe, “Great, now she’s broken.” Sympathy was never Astra’s strong suit.
Ava takes a break from her festivities to get a snack and check on Zari, who is really not doing well at all. They have a rambling conversation, Zari embarrasses Ava a bit in a great way, and they discuss other options to help Zari cope with everything. Remember, in addition to losing John, her domain has always been social media and influencing, neither of which are really extant in 1925. Out in the real world, Nate tries to handle his cover as Hoover, dealing with female attention and a brief mystery to solve. They try to withdraw back to their compartment, and get yet another wrinkle in their plan. Gary does get a great line about “Hoover cosplay.”
Gloria is worried about Gideon, and points out that Astra’s lack of concern might not be a good idea. She also makes an observation that makes Astra actually physically recoil, which was entertaining to see. Everyone worries about the team, and there’s some very optimistic discussion about future room arrangements. On the train, Nate has a very different experience in his interviews than Gary and Behrad do in theirs. Their new “allies” bring them someone who circumstantially fits the bill of a possible suspect in the newest issue. Zari is starting to come back to herself, and embarks on a new project. She discovers a magic item that is so very unique to, and perfect for, Constantine. She starts to get an idea, but isn’t really all the way back yet mentally and explains badly to Ava. Where Sara is during all this, I’m not sure.
Nate is on the horns of a dilemma, stuck between keeping his cover and acting like the reprehensible version of Hoover that’s expected. Behrad isn’t helping, raising valid moral points that make things worse for Nate. Behrad tries to talk Nate up, but the historian gives a grim version of the facts as he sees them. Back on the farm, Gideon is still not able to communicate, and Spooner’s efforts don’t get anywhere. Astra loses her temper again, which sparks a reaction from Gideon that at least gives a clue that things aren’t as hopeless as they seem.
Her head much clearer now, Zari has embarked on a new project. Ava is dubious at first, but Zari has made some good progress, and impressed Ava by doing some background research. Ava ends up intrigued in spite of herself. Nate does his best to walk the line between playing his part and being able to live with himself, and hears more bad things about the man he’s pretending to be. Something gets pointed out to Nate, but it’s too little, too late. Hoover, while a dick (in a few senses) has made some of the right enemies, but some of them have a very long reach, and the team has a host of new complications to deal with now. At the worst possible time, Gary’s spell calls it quits, leading to new problems, and Nate, while talented, isn’t necessarily the best at improvising.
Zari and Ava’s plotting gets interrupted by some fairly odd communication from Behrad and Gary. Sara, reappearing finally, comes up with a new plan drawing heavily on a supply of alcohol they’ve lucked into. It’s a little strange that they deal with so many historical issues in this episode and Prohibition doesn’t even get a mention. Nate tells a partially true story and does some weird bonding with their new adversary. Sara’s plan once again draws on the notoriety of the Bullet Blondes, and they almost have things in hand when a new factor arrives, stunning everyone. Things turn violent, even for the Legends, and the team is surprised at the new developments. There is a very odd pattern to the newest foe’s attacks, but I’m not sure what it means yet. Sara finally leaps into action, and they get an additional surprise.
With the team on the run again, and the timeline no doubt starting to tie itself in knots behind them, Spooner and Astra make a more concerted effort to get through to Gideon. Finally, Spooner discovers that the lack of aliens (each season’s threat tends to disappear as the new season starts, which is sometimes explained and sometimes not) doesn’t mean she’s useless after all. Finally, there’s a breakthrough, but of course, that leads to dire news and a deadline, because nothing is ever easy.
What I liked: Nate’s being so shaken by the potential alterations to history make perfect sense given who he is. Having him that deeply concerned is a nice bit of characterization. The running joke of the Bullet Blondes is both entertaining and helping on a lot of fronts. Zari’s discovery at John’s place is so perfectly fitting for the departed warlock. I’m very intrigued by the reveal near the end of the show, and don’t have a theory for it yet, which is rare for me. Then again, the Legends have covered so much territory in their years together, the possibilities are nearly endless.
What I didn’t: As I mentioned above, you’d think Prohibition would at least get a mention here. I’m not sure about Spooner’s new ability and her conveniently retconned (or filled in might be more fair) past. Once again, a situation erupts where various people’s powers would be useful, and there’s apparently collective amnesia.
This was more silly fun with some good action and a few enjoyable bits of business. I’m looking forward to seeing more about that big reveal near the end. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5.