The Good: Moments of character, Special effects
The Bad: Poor use of humor, Very simplistic plot
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow brings Grodd back to the DC Television Universe in "Welcome To The Jungle," which is an erratic episode.
With an entire universe of villains, it is always interesting to see in what direction Legends Of Tomorrow goes. For the third season of Legends Of Tomorrow, a new Big Bad has been insinuated by Rip Hunter, but by "Welcome To The Jungle" the show is fairly preoccupied with Damien Darhk as the adversary. "Welcome To The Jungle" picks up after an attack by Darhk, his daughter, and Amaya Jiwe's evil grand-daughter. So, instead of suffering yet another episode where Darhk is the primary adversary, it is refreshing to see a different DC Universe villain come back into play.
"Welcome To The Jungle" picks up after "Helen Hunt" (reviewed here!) and the consequences of the prior episode resonate throughout it. After all, Damien Darhk nearly killed Sara Lance and she remains in a coma in "Welcome To The Jungle" and Dr. Stein wanted to alter the Firestorm matrix to free Jefferson Jackson.
In December 1967, Alpha Team in Vietnam is attacked and only one American soldier manages to escape the threat found there. With Captain Lance out of commission, the Waverider crew decides to randomly pick an anachronism to fix. The crew picks a Level 8 Anachronism in December of 1967 in Vietnam to fix. At the height of the Vietnam War, the Waverider crew finds things surprisingly peaceful as most of the populace in the area has been subdued . . . by Grodd.
While Mick Rory and Dr. Heywood encounter Rory's father in the jungle, Jiwe, Tomaz and Palmer go looking for the anachronism. The trio finds Grodd while posing as journalists and shortly thereafter, the anachronism escalates from an 8 to a 10 and Gideon informs the team that a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia is imminent. Grodd plans to bring peace to humanity by killing President Johnson and letting humanity wipe much of itself out.
"Welcome To The Jungle" finally has characters within Legends Of Tomorrow questioning their own relationship to the anachronisms and that is refreshing to see. It's no longer treated as random that Stein ran into his ancestor, Palmer's younger self was part of an anachronism, and now Rory has encountered his own father. Mick Rory finally sees a different side of his father, which is almost enough to make up for the truly lame joke that introduces Dick Rory to the narrative. Rory has been a pleasant surprise for Legends Of Tomorrow by playing him with more depth and complexity than he previously was revealed as having. "Welcome To The Jungle" manages to deepen the character without completely undoing his flaws.
Zari Tomaz runs into a decent moral dilemma in "Welcome To The Jungle" when Palmer reveals that Grodd used to be in an A.R.G.U.S. prison. Given that Tomaz comes from a time where A.R.G.U.S. is a villain, the idea of capturing Grodd and sending him back to A.R.G.U.S. makes her uneasy.
That Grodd would use the chaos of the Vietnam War to try to alter human history is an intriguing one, but like most Grodd stories, "Welcome To The Jungle" has a somewhat simple problem/simple solution to it.
Outside the Grodd storyline, "Welcome To The Jungle" is preoccupied with Mick Rory and the strength of the episode will truly only be revealed by how Rory acts in subsequent episodes. Resolving issues with Rory's father makes for an interesting character journey and Dominic Purcell performs the slow transition in his character well. The other decent performance in the episode undermines Dr. Stein as Caity Lotz portrays Lance as clearly under Grodd's influence.
Ultimately, "Welcome To The Jungle" is a pretty average hour of television: nothing truly stands out and develops, but very little is truly horrible in it either.
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© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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