The team is outwitted by P.T. Barnum in the latest Legends of Tomorrow

Contributed by
Oct 18, 2017

The Legends of Tomorrow are still settling into their new status quo as the also-rans to Rip's new Time Bureau, so this week they try to tackle a low-stakes case of a time anachronism. Spoiler alert: It doesn't go well.

Spoilers ahead for "Freakshow," the latest episode of The CW's Legends of Tomorrow, which aired October 18.

The Legends need to start being a bit more legendary, pronto. Fresh off the season premiere, "Freakshow" basically serves as a wacky side mission to allow the Legends to work through all their lingering issues before hitting the ol' dusty time stream for bigger things. But they can't even manage to get that right. This show has always prided itself on being a big, silly adventure through space and time (ahem, sorry Doctor Who) with C-list superheroes kicking a whole lot of butt in the process. And it still does that really, really well.

The problem is that now, more than ever, the Legends are starting to look like a bunch of buffoons. The Time Bureau doesn't think they need to be out there playing with time, and after seeing Ray unleash a gigantic sabretooth tiger on the people of 1870 Wisconsin, it's getting harder to argue. The Legends are being positioned as the heroes who might be the only thing that can stand in the way of the mystery baddie that has the Time Bureau shaking in their cheap suits. But, at least judging by their work this season, does anyone actually think these goofballs could save the world? Sure, they've always made mistakes along the way (time travel ain't easy), but the Legends seem to be going backwards.

Last episode, Nate accidentally gives Julius Caesar a book about his own history, and this week Ray sneezes and accidentally uses his shrink ray to make a problem a whole lot worse. The theme of this season looks to be that the Legends show up and screw things up. Then screw things up a little more. Then save the day at the last second, after making it exponentially worse. That worked in the premiere well enough to repilot and get the team back in the air, but the gimmick is running thin here.

 

This team has fallen hard and fast, and this season is framed around cleaning up the mess they made of the time stream last season. It's just hard to pull for a team of heroes who don't even act like they're up to the task. This series has always found its place on the silly and stupid spectrum, but it's going a bit too far to the wrong side these days.

The antagonist this week is Billy Zane, who shows up as upstart carnival founder P.T. Barnum, who is still trying to land on that "Greatest Show on Earth" slogan. Barnum is looking to save his failing circus, and sees the sabertooth tiger as his ticket to stardom. When the big cat escapes, a drunk Nate tells Barnum all about the Legends' power set (doh!) and he kidnaps members of the team to use them as freaks in his show. Yes, that's right — a clever carnival barker managed to take out the Legends this week, no superpowers required. Again, it's mostly played for a laugh, but it's a humbling experience if you think about it. This team is a mess, and the joke is getting less funny by the week. Here's hoping this gag is running its course, and the team is on the verge of turning a corner.

If not, they'd probably be better off to just head back to 2017 and drops the keys off for the Waverider themselves.

Assorted musings

 

*The emotional heart of this episode is the break-up between Nick and Amaya, as we learn via flashback that Amaya vanished and left him high and dry for fear that her presence in the future could inadvertently cause her present-day granddaughter to cease to exist. This show has never really done a great job with romance, and this story mostly fell flat. But, with Amaya sticking around (at least for now) look for that subplot to linger. Also, what's wrong with her amulet? Angry Amaya is a very, very scary Amaya.

*The Titanic in-jokes. This show is nothing if not a wink and a nod at its best.

*Hey, modern-day Vixen! Hopefully we'll see a bit more of her this season.

*It wasn't subtle, but still fun: "Hello, McFly!" - Jax

*The case of the week formula for this season looks to have been firmly established this episode: Ray has figured out how to track anachronisms, so the team can follow them just like the Time Bureau does.

*Mick's fear of clowns is hilarious, and seeing him face that fear to save Stein was a great moment. Hilarious, and great.

*Seeing Barnum workshop his slogan was a fun through line across this one: "Welcome to the best show on Earth!" "Welcome to the greatest show on the planet!"

*The house cat-sized sabertooth tiger was adorable. The team should keep him around. They could use a pet, right?

*The Time Bureau's Gary is easily the best new character this season. Maybe the gang will take him on as a Legend-in-training?

*Sara's fight, and eventual stalemate, when the Time Bureau tries to arrest her was stellar. It's rare to see anyone go toe-to-toe with Sara, and that was a fun fight.

*"Man of steel, that's very catchy." - P.T. Barnum

*That pic of Laurel and Oliver in Sara's office show's Sara is not just making herself at home on the Waverider, but also a reminder of how far she's come. Seriously, it's hard to remember this character started out as a supporting player on Arrow. Caity Lotz oozes star power, and it's amazing how far she's taken this character.

Next week: The Legends head to the near future and find a new team member in the process.