Taking a punk-rocking Brit like Constantine back to London in 1977 could’ve gone a lot of ways, but Legends of Tomorrow took the story in quite possibly the most brutal and surprising direction possible. And it was pretty great, but more on that later.
Spoilers ahead for “Dancing Queen,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which aired Monday, November 5, 2018.
The team chases its latest magical creature back to punk rock London, and while Constantine and Rory butt heads and start a bar fight, Ray ends up accidentally going undercover with the Clash-esque band at the heart of the mystery. Ray finds his inner bad boy and before long essentially goes native with the band — dubbed The Smell — while he tries to figure out which member is the magical creature. Turns out it's Charlie who brings the magic to this upstart punk band, in the form of her shapeshifter powers. Before long, she’ll use them to imitate the queen, and that will lead to a full downfall of the British monarchy that throws the world into chaos.
Much like the murderous unicorn, the team is looking to simply toss Charlie into a portal to hell and call it a night, but Ray’s heart of gold tries to find another way. In doing so, he gets at the heart of what makes this team — and this show — so good in the first place. The Legends aren’t the “cops” you call in to just toss someone back into prison. They’re misfits themselves, and more often than not try to do what’s right, even if it means bending a few time-travel rules to try and find some semblance of fairness. Ray doesn’t back down from that ideal, and in doing so accidentally welcomes a new member to the crew. But not before she can bring back a familiar face in the process.
Charlie shines a mirror — literally — on the team to show them that, in her eyes, they’re the monsters trying to capture her and throw her in hell. It’s a touching moment, and shows that, yeah, this crew really has lost its heart. Her final plea finds her taking the face of Amaya, and in that moment Constantine casts a spell to lock her in that face permanently (presumably). Is it a silly, roundabout way to get Maisie Richardson-Sellers back in the cast? Oh, absolutely. It’s a contrivance built of contrivances. But regardless, it works, and now there’s a punk rock shapeshifter roaming the halls wearing Amaya’s face.
So Constantine got his own little side story as he hits the pubs of 1970s London, and uses the chance to track down his young parents before his own birth. Turns out his mother died in childbirth, so he tracks her down as a bartender to meet her in the past. He also sees his father there, as well. His plan? To kick his father in the nether regions in an effort to prevent himself from being born. He goes through with it, too, but he paradoxes to the floor because he presumably can’t directly cause himself to not be born. So Constantine’s plan was to go and prevent himself from ever being born. He alludes that his past has caught up with him in a chat with Zari, but dang, it must be something truly awful for Constantine to resort to literally trying to erase himself from the timeline to prevent it.
The music in this episode was a ton of fun. As usual, this show knows how to do a time period setting up right.
The line “Are you being serious or racist?,” “Both, Love.” was great. They really, really do get the character of Constantine. Any worry about working him into this ensemble can stop at this point. Matt Ryan is a great fit.
So Ray has a tattoo now. Of punk rock pups.
Nate’s diversion at the Time Bureau has birthed a new bro: Gary. Oh, adorable, hapless Gary. We’re missing Nate on the Waverider, but having him at the Bureau has at least given the writers an excuse to hang around there a bit more this season, which is working well to keep Ava integrated into the show — even when she’s not with Sara.
Next week: The Legends take on a summer camp monster. Look for some deliciously fun slasher homages.