If last episode was a zany magical romp bolstered by character movements, then ‘Witch Hunt’ is an emotional character driven deep dive with the magical insanity serving as the support this time. Our dear Legends find themselves heading to Salem, 1692 to deal with a vengeful fairy godmother who sings murderous musical numbers. But that’s only the side dressing for real core of the episode, Zari’s frustrations at being unable to save her family coming to a head as she tries to save a mother accused as witchcraft.
The fairy godmother is bound to Prudence, the daughter of the woman accused of being a witch. Constantine (who shows up on the Waverider this episode despite turning Sara down last time) can’t send the fairy packing off to hell without doing the same to Prudence as long they’re connected. While Constantine searches for a way to separate the two, Zari wants to save the mother. There’s one issue though, historical records show the mom dies with or without the interference of a fairy godmother. Sara can’t let Zari change the timeline by saving her.
Zari still goes to free the mother, despite the woman herself not wanting to be freed. The mother doesn’t want innocents to be blamed for her escape. A failed jailbreak doesn’t discourage Zari from intervening at the trail. She goes full-on Zaheer from Legend of Korra, using her powers to suck the air right out of the lungs of the men. She stops herself before any permanent damage is done, but she’s thrown on the pyre with the mother.
Sara tries to stop the burning, but it’s Prudence and the fairy godmother who stop it, right after Prudence escapes the Waverider by turning Ray and Mick into pigs and taking away Constantine’s mouth.
The Godmother is ready to bring hellfire down the entire town, but Zari reaches out to Prudence reminding her of her mother’s forgiveness. She can’t say the world gets better with time, there will always be people who hate what they don’t understand. Yet reacting to their hate in kind isn’t going to make anything better. Zari’s words move Prudence enough to make her release her godmother and Constantine, with mouth intact, captures the fairy.
Before he banishes the fairy, he offers her a deal. He’ll bind himself to her if she’ll help him with his demon problem. Fairy godmother knows whatever is after the warlock, she’ll prefer hell over dealing with ‘him’.
Meanwhile, Zari’s back on the Waverider, expecting a lecture from her captain. But Sara Lance has lost enough of her friends and family to know exactly what Zari is going through. She comes with compassion and a willing ear. Zari doesn’t know how to channel her anger beyond sarcasm but Sara’s there to help her.
While the Legends were dealing with the discount Disney godmother, in 2018 Nate has been trying (and failing) to reconnect with his father. He’s also been squatting at the Time Bureau because being a superhero doesn’t come with a salary. Which, sidenote, last episode Ray mentioned the Legends being Time Bureau employees now, but apparently they’re not on the payroll? Are they listed as consultants who the Bureau doesn’t pay? Am I thinking too much about this? Probably.
Since Nate is already at the Bureau he offers to help Ava with a presentation to secure funding for the agency. They’re fully prepared for their presentation, with the three C’s, confidence, charisma and…crap, one of the guys they need to present to is Nate’s dad. He can’t face his father so the presentation is left up to Ava and Gary. This leads to Gary recapping the Beebo vs Mallus fight and showing off his chest, now minus one nipple thanks to a unicorn.
It’s a disaster and the Time Bureau loses its funding. A pep talk from Ava convinces Nate to speak to his dad, but Hank still needs proof of magic before he’s willing to allocate any money to the Bureau. Nate hops off to the Waverider were he finds Pig-Ray. He asks Ray for help convincing his father and yes, Nate understands his best bud even as a pig.
At the Bureau, Pig-Ray turns into Naked-Ray in Nate’s arms as Nate steels up in front of his father. It’s more than enough to convince Hank who gives Ava whatever she asks for. Ava offers Nate a place at the Time Bureau which he takes, meaning he’ll be hanging around in 2018 a bit longer.
Legends has never pretended they’re going for historical accuracy. Time travel has always been a vehicle to tell an entertaining story, but when the moment calls for it, they don’t shy away from using history as a lens either. That’s what do they here, with Zari. She sees in Salem the same society that will one day turn her and her family into criminals. She sees people willing to hate because they don’t understand. Is history worth protecting when so much of it is defined by hate? Is it worth doing what they do if they’re leaving somewhere as bad as they met it? It’s not the first time Legends has posed these questions.
This episode falls back on an answer they’ve given before; somethings are more important than history. For Zari, this time, saving one mother was more important. History is dark and filled with wrongs. But so is our present. And the same is probably true for the future. ‘Witch Hunt’ reminds us that in spite of that we can be better. Even after learning this Zari’s anger is still there, but she still chooses to save the priest who wanted to burn her at the stake.
Like the best episodes of Legends ‘Witch Hunt’ balances the dark with the humour. Sometimes evil isn’t so easy to spot. And sometimes it’s cartoonishly apparent as it sings about vicious mutilation. The fairy godmother, like the unicorn before her, was wonderfully over the top. The twist on her being vengeful and full of resent after being used selfishly for years was an inspired decision. It added a layer of reason to something that didn’t need to be anything more than the monster of the week.
Speaking off the monster of the week, that continues to be a tactic that works in Legends favour. There will no doubt be an overarching main villain for the season, as there always is. It may have something to do with whatever is haunting Constantine. But even without that greater threat being clear yet, each episode is a self-contained story that’s fun to watch on its own.
Nate would not have been my first choice for a Legend to interact with Ava. But that doesn’t matter because the characters and actors both play so well of each other you could throw almost anyone together and it will work. Nate’s storyline with his father and now with the Time Bureau is proving to be a strong one for the resident historian.
Plus, more time at the Bureau means more story arcs for Ava outside of Sara. As wonderful as the depiction of their relationship has been it’s great she’s getting to exist outside of being the love interest. It’s also great to see a woman like Ava Sharpe in a leadership position in general. She’s shown to be confident and capable in most aspects of her job. As a field agent and fighter, she’s top notch. She’s a natural leader. But it’s her people skills that aren’t always bursting with charm. Women are usually on one end of the extream ends of confidence. It’s rare for a woman to be depicted knowing her strengths and weaknesses so well, and asking for helping with the latter. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in her role as director, both with and without Sara.
Only Legends could…
- Our lord and saviour, Beebo has a mobile app called Beebo Blox. Is too soon to say Beebo is the best running gag of all time?
- So many good lines this episode. Constantine’s ‘Tired, hungover and in need of a stiff a one. Dealer’s choice as to what that’s a euphemism for,’ and Sara’s ‘What in the Disney hell is this?’ were both very close to being my favourite lines of the episode.
- But the one that ended up winning was Nate’s, ‘As a Legend your salary is the friendships you make along the way.’
- Earlier in the episode, Sara and Legends decide to call the magical escapees ‘fugitives’ (after ruthlessly shooting down Ray’s suggestion of mytheries). Later Ava uses the same term to describe them. I take this as unspoken proof Sara and Ava text each other throughout the workday.
- Ava secured 4.2 billion dollars of funding because Ray went from being a pig to naked in Nate’s arms. It’s moments like these that convince me there is nothing Legends can do at this point that will break my suspension of disbelieve.
- When Nate and Ray say goodbye, Ray’s borrowed some clothes from the Time Bureau, including a sweatshirt that says, “Time Bureau Softball Team- We do things chronologically.” Here’s my question, how high of a security clearance does someone from another agency need to play softball against the Time Bureau? Or do they just play in a league against other black ops agencies like A.R.G.U.S. and the D.E.O.? (Is anyone else now imagining Ava Sharpe and Alex Danvers leading their teams while Brainy and Gary give equally horrible displays of athleticism on the field? Next year’s crossover. Make it happen CW.)