The Legends got a new member this week in Zari Adrianna Tomaz (Tala Ashe), a Muslim American superhero from the dystopian future of… 2030. Well, that escalated quickly.
Zari’s introduction couldn’t be more timely, and it was well overdue given there’s more than a few Muslim heroes at the Big Two nowadays. Being the sole Muslim on the Waverider may mean the character will have the burden of being all things to all people: for example, I could be critical that they made her a thief, or that her casting perpetuates the notion all Muslims are Middle Eastern (when about a third of Muslim Americans are black). But as it stands, Zari’s new origin as a resistance fighter in an authoritarian near future makes her a pretty powerful character. Tellingly, persecution of metahumans begins in 2021, the start of the next presidential term, a reminder that things can get worse if we’re not careful (again).
Zari goes by the alias Isis in the comics, an unfortunate name now though not DC Comics’s fault. She was married to Black Adam around the time of “52,” and is an odd choice for the CW to base their Muslim character around. Naturally her relationship to Black Adam is off-limits to the writers as Dwayne Johnson has earmarked that character for a movie for years now, but I wonder if she still has a thing for bad boys, and Mick in particular. (“I can handle heat,” she tells him.)
I was concerned about having two women with magic necklaces on the ship, but it was acknowledged by Amaya, and hopefully they’ll tie together the Shazam and Vixen worlds by way of the Egyptian and African gods. Amaya waking up on the ceiling as a spider was already a cool nod to Mari’s relationship with Anansi in Dwayne McDuffie and Ed Benes’s “Justice League of America” run.
3. Nate is fun now
I was not looking forward to more drama with Nate and Amaya, but I was gladly proven wrong with the vision quest storyline. While a hoary trope, and a classic example of cultural appropriation from Native Americans, it meant Nate got to be far more likable this week. I laughed when he hallucinated he was Scotty from Star Trek, as it brought to mind Robin Williams (RIP)’s routine about driving on marijuana. I’m also glad someone on TV likes broccoli.
4. Not today Sharp
Gary returned to many a groan. He literally says, “Jeez louise.” Jeez louise Gary, are you from the 50s? He’s utterly annoying and unfunny. Anyway, Agent Sharp showed up again in an enormous Romulan-looking ship and got into a completely contrived fight with Sara, undermining the progress in their relationship last week. It was this point I realised why I’m struggling to be interested in Sharp: she’s there as a proxy for Rip, so Arthur Darvill doesn’t have to be on the show full-time.
We end with a flashback to Ray in 1988, setting up next week’s episode, with a music cue that sounds an awfully lot like the score for E.T. I didn’t realise last week’s episode was capitalizing on the upcoming P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman (starring Hugh Jackman), but I’m keenly aware next week is cashing in on Stranger Things 2 (out Friday). I’m a bit perturbed realizing how cynical some of the show’s plotting choices are. It’s not like the CW can compete with Netflix, yet I’m hard-pressed to believe the showrunners only decided now was the time to do a Spielberg homage.
– Ray the pirate with a soul patch.
– “Prison Break?” Oh brother.
– What does a human transformed into water taste like, Ray? Sweat I imagine.