Thursday, February 22, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow 3x11 Recap: "Here I Go Again" (Legends Does Groundhog Day!) [Contributor: Marilyn]

"Here I Go Again"
Original Airdate: February 19, 2018

Here is where I admit that I kinda love the “time loop” trope. Ever since I first saw Groundhog Day in the movie theater way back when, I’ve loved the full array of human emotions that a time loop story can deliver. Think about it: there’s always the disbelief, followed by trying to “fix it,” and then reckless over-indulgence, followed by ennui and hopelessness, which then (hopefully) leads to ultimate growth and resolution. I was thrilled to pieces when I heard Legends of Tomorrow was doing a time loop episode, and I was not let down. Not even close.

For all practical intents and purposes, “Here I Go Again” is a bottle episode — a term used for an episode of television that is produced by reusing sets, and it often takes place in a single location. I love bottle episodes. It gives shows a chance to delve into deeper storytelling and characterization with less focus on fancy plot points. In this episode of Legends of Tomorrow, the character we get to know and relate to is Zari. As she’s a relatively new addition to the Waverider, she’s the team member we know the least about. She’s also the least bonded to the rest of the team, with one foot out the door already. That’s something Sara calls her on in the very beginning of the episode — Zari’s caught fiddling with Gideon’s computer instead of performing the upgrades she’d said she’d do while the team was off dealing with a Waterloo crisis (yes, there were disco outfits involved).

The time loop begins after Zari is sent by Sara to fix Gideon. In her frustration, Zari gets sprayed with “time goo” in the circuits. The ship explodes shortly thereafter and Zari’s reverted to the moment she was fighting with Sara. And that keeps happening over and over and over...

Through all of this, Zari learns to ask for help (most notably from Nate) and also gains insight about her shipmates (like Mick’s penchant for writing erotic sci-fi romance in the seclusion of his room). She’s looking for what causes the ship to blow each hour on the hour, but ultimately learns what makes this team her newfound family. While she’d been so desperate to find a way to save her real family back in 2042, she’d been keeping the team at arm's length.

Because of the friction between them, Zari was certain that Sara wouldn’t give the whole time loop thing any credibility but to her surprise, Sara takes Zari seriously. Why? Because Zari is a part of the team and Sara knows to trust and listen to her team. They all work together to find the bomb (discovering Gary from the Time Bureau stuck in the trash compactor along the way. He was sent to alert the Waverider to the bomb but didn’t account for “drift” when beaming aboard so trash compactor it was!), ultimately finding it in the 8-track of Waterloo that they’d brought back on board after the mission. There’s not enough time to defuse the bomb and Zari makes a snap decision to sacrifice herself to save the rest of the team. Before the timer ticks down to zero, she addresses each member of the team, telling them what she’s learned about them and how she’s realized their importance in her life. It’s very emotional.

But when the timer reaches zero, there is no explosion. Instead, Zari finds herself alone on the bridge. Well, not entirely alone. A woman walks in and we realize it’s Gideon — in the flesh. She explains to Zari that when she got sprayed with the “time goo,” her consciousness ran through the simulation she’d uploaded to Gideon in an effort to find out how to save her family in 2042. So while Zari's body has been healing in the med bay, her brain has been running through a quasi-time loop.

You see, Gideon realized via the simulation that the only way to save Zari’s family is for her to do it with the team. But without the time loop, Zari was going to leave the Waverider. So the time loop was a way to help Zari bond with the team, keeping her on board and in a position to fight Mollus and save her family. It’s complicated, sure, but it makes a strange sort of sense for this show.

When Zari wakes up, she explains to the team what happened and what she’s learned. She confronts each team member — from Ray’s secret about Constantine asking him to kill Sara if she’s ever possessed by Mollus again, to Nate and Amaya secretly hooking up on missions and then wiping each other’s memories of it after the fact, to Sara’s desire to ask Ava out on a date. It’s a peaceful sort of ending that feels earned and fulfilling and certainly gives me the warm fuzzies. I love everyone on this team and their place in the story and this episode really helped underline that for me.

But wait... that wasn’t all! We finish with an extra scene of a remote monastery in China where Wally West (from The Flash) is meditating alone. But not for long. He’s joined by Rip Hunter, who has escaped from the Time Bureau prison. He tells Wally that he needs his help to save the universe. You know — usual stuff. I’m excited to see Wally join the show and hopefully the team. He’s my favorite speedster and I have a feeling he will fit right in with my favorite misfits on board the Waverider.

This was one of those episodes that just reinforced why I love Legends of Tomorrow so much: the comedy, the character development, the emotion and drama and plot — it all works together so well. Sure, things get complicated now and then, but most of the time the complicated stuff is just window dressing. At its heart, this is a show about teamwork and found family. And that’s a show that I like to watch.


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