More than any episode this season, “Return of the Mack” felt like vintage Legends of Tomorrow — though by the the time the screen went black, it was clear just how much has changed over three seasons.
Spoilers ahead for “Return of the Mack,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which aired Tuesday, November 7, 2017.
“Do you remember when you told me you had nothing left to teach me? I guess you had one final lesson. How to be a cold son of a b*tch.” - Sara Lance
It’s easy to forget that Rip Hunter started this whole wacky adventure back in Season 1 by recruiting a bunch of C-list heroes and villains to found the Legends of Tomorrow, and after ditching the crew for his newly founded Time Bureau, he returned for a rogue mission in London circa 1895. After figuring out there’s something odd about this certain time anachronism, the team finds Rip in London investigating a string of alleged vampire killings.
The requisite team-up ensues, and as expected, it’s a whole lot of fun. Rip has a deep history with this team, especially with Sara, and seeing the duo back together kicking butt and taking names was a highlight.
It’s clear Rip has missed the camaraderie and freedom that comes with sailing off into the time stream with a ship full of vagabonds (seriously, all that’s missing is his trademark duster), but much as he’s done for most of his history, he winds up betraying pretty much everyone who actually trusts him. It’s been a theme for Rip across the entire series — he’s a hero most of the time, and an A-hole almost as often.
He convinces the Legends that he’s gone solo on this investigation, but it turns out he lied to them so he could get a bit of backup on the scene, then locks them on their own ship when they won’t go along with his plan. Rip’s actions lead to an entire team of Time Bureau agents getting slaughtered by a newly resurrected Damien Darhk.
Rip’s spent the past five years piecing together every piece of intel he can on this season’s mystery baddie Mallus, and allows Darhk to be resurrected so he can use him as bait. He apparently forgot that Darhk is juiced up with mystical powers, and he immediately takes out Rip’s team the moment he floats out of his casket. As Rip once again pleads for Sara to trust him, it’s clear Capt. Lance has finally learned her lesson as she calls in the Time Bureau to take Rip into custody for using his agents as cannon fodder.
Sara has grown into the type of leader Rip never could be for this team, and by finally trusting herself and realizing that he can’t be trusted, that growth continues. It seems, albeit unwittingly, that really was his final lesson.
*Mallus might be the season’s Big Bad, but Darhk should make for a more than formidable henchman. He’s become a fan favorite, and by literally resurrecting the modern-day, time-displaced version of the character, they’ve skipped beyond all the timeline wonkiness. Even more, he remembers all his mind-wiped run-ins with the Legends during his tenure in the Legion of Doom. Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun having him back in the fold.
*Wanting to use the time ship for personal gain seems to be a rite of passage for new team members, and Zari faced her own desires this week. We knew she lost her brother, and she comes to realize that going back and fixing all your problems isn’t as easy as it sounds. We also get the backstory of why she’s so tortured, and it seems Zari’s tale is setting up as a great hero’s journey.
*Considering this show has already done zombies, it’s a shame we didn’t really get to see some vampires this week. If any show can pull it off, it’s this one. Heck, Constantine is already in the continuity — vampires are probably out there somewhere, right?
*Rory’s obsession with killing a vampire is hilarious, and just another bit of zaniness that makes this show so much darn fun, week in and week out. From the garlic to the stake, you’ve got to love his commitment.
*Jax and Ray’s mission to break up Firestorm didn’t stay secret for long, and with Stein in on the plan, it’s likely only a matter of time before Stein heads back to hang out with that grandchild of his for good. Which makes sense. Victor Garber is a great actor, and the character of Stein is a fun one, but he’s always been a strange fit among this crew of 20- and 30-somethings.
*We learn a bit more about Mallus this week. Turns out he’s an ancient and powerful evil who exists through all of time, and can seemingly manipulate time? Give us your best theory on who he might be in the DC Comics canon below.
*The line: “I’m no one’s side piece.” - Rory
*Great surprise cameo to have Curtis pop up for a video chat. It’s all connected.
*The scene where Darhk takes out pretty much everyone was one heck of a fun set piece. The soundtrack to that. Just, yeah. Not many shows could pull that off.
Next week: Firestorm tries to split as things go all Freaky Friday.