The Halloween vibe continued this week as the Legends reunited with Rip Hunter in London, 1895, to hunt a vampire. But the real monsters they faced were the literal and metaphorical ghosts of the past.
1. Opening credits spoilers
OK, whose idea was it to list Neal McDonough at the start? Way to spoil the mystery over the killer’s identity. Granted the episode rules out the possibility of an actual vampire early on, with Stein explaining the societal context for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but there are vampires in DC Comics who could’ve shown up. Instead I spent the hour waiting for the Frankenstein homage.
2. Big Ben
The Legends spent so much time looking for a vampire they overlooked the fact the Houses of Parliament are missing from the establishing shot of London: the production team put in Big Ben but not the rest of Westminster Palace. I get it’s hard to do Victorian London, but it is surprising how a period piece episode like this apparently spends so much money on costuming instead of rendering a CG model, or say, Nate’s superpowers, which the writers completely forgot by the way.
A lot of this episode is restricted to a backlot and the Waverider set, which granted did mean time well spent on Zari’s survivor’s guilt, Sara and Rip’s tense relationship, and the touching moments setting up Stein and Jax’s future. I felt Rip and Zari’s idiotic actions also dovetailed together rather well in illustrating our heroes feeling emotionally compromised.
I’m glad the episode didn’t spend too much time on mockney accents (of course Nate would be the one to do that), with Sara claiming they were sent over by the NYPD instead. (I imagine the many British actors on the show appreciated it as well.) It was a shame to not hear Franz Drameh have more than one line in his own voice though.
On that note, it was a lot of fun seeing Victor Garber play Stein’s ancestor, Sir Henry Stein, whose appearance and interest in spiritualism appear based on Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I hope we bump into more ancestors of the Legends, and we also get the budget for them to interact with each other next time. Granted, Doyle’s interests hardly got as fiendish as what transpires here, but you know who would’ve fit right in? Aleister Crowley, who was 19 at the time.
4. The song
So why is the episode named after Mark Morrison’s one-hit wonder from 1996? Turns out Damien Darhk just really likes “Return of the Mack.” His massacre set to the song was delightful: we’ve been treated to various cool superhero moments set to classic music ever since the opening sequence of X2 in 2003, but never had one for a supervillain until now. The moment Rip freezes time, complete with floating blood, was sublime too.
Also, the song is about a man betrayed by the woman he loved, a metaphor for Rip and the Legends which was laid on thickly to the point Sara had him arrested by his own bureau. So the surprise twist of the week was that Rip was the Mack all along.
5. John Noble
How do you get viewers excited for Mallus, whom no one has ever heard of? Simple, you get Denethor from The Lord of the Rings to voice him. Noble excels at portraying primordial evil, like Unicron in Transformers Prime and Brainiac in Superman Unbound, so he’s perfect as Mallus. I hope we’ll see him too, unlike when it emerged Tony Todd was pulling a James Earl Jones as Zoom on The Flash.
– The lens flares when Sara took control of the Waverider were very cinematic.
– Tala Ashe knows how to perform playing games properly.
Next week: Helen of Troy.