The Good: Amazing acting by Franz Drameh and Victor Garber, Good plot progression, Moments of character
The Bad: Simple plot, Crowded character palate (dilutes the impact of some big moments)
The Basics: "Helen Hunt" is generally decent Legends Of Tomorrow that has a few too many characters, but a pair of absolutely amazing performance that elevate the episode.
One of the intriguing character aspects of the third season of Legends Of Tomorrow is how the Waverider crew has parted ways with Rip Hunter. The concept of Legends Of Tomorrow was begun when Rip Hunter assembled the disparate DC Comics and DC Television Universe characters into a crew to attempt to defeat Vandal Savage. So, the idea that the Waverider crew would continue on its own without Rip Hunter and, in fact, in direct opposition to their former Captain is an intriguing one. "Helen Hunt" is the first full episode where the Waverider crew is working entirely in opposition to Rip Hunter's goals.
"Helen Hunt" follows on "Return Of The Mack" (reviewed here!), which has retasked the Legends with once again finding Damien Darhk and his daughter, Eleanor Darhk. "Helen Hunt" is a surprisingly strong, often funny, ensemble piece that plays the usual Anachronism Of The Week concept out in a fresh-feeling way.
Opening in Hollywood, 1937, Helen Of Troy wanders onto a soundstage. The Waverider is in the Temporal Zone, where Dr. Heywood is searching for clues for where Damien Darhk and Ray Palmer is trying to devise a way to separate Dr. Stein and Jefferson Jackson from one another. In the process, Stein and Jax switch bodies. Heywood finds the anachronism; Helen Of Troy and the Waverider heads to avert a war between major movie studios that was not supposed to happen.
When the Waverider crew, less Jackson in Stein's body, infiltrates a Hollywood party where Helen Of Troy makes her appearance, Lance encounters Damien Darhk. Darhk is working as Helen Of Troy's agent and at a parlay with him, Darhk offers Lance a deal. Despite Darhk's warnings, Lance, Jiwe and Tomaz infiltrate a Hollywood party and abduct Helen Of Troy. With the Waverider disappearing piece by piece, Stein goes to get Hedy Lamarr back on historical track to restore the technology upon which the timeship is based.
"Helen Hunt" is a lot of fun. While the plot may be a pretty standard Legends Of Tomorrow episode, the performances in the episode truly raise the bar. Victor Garber and Franz Drameh rule "Helen Hunt." Garber and Drameh spend the bulk of "Helen Hunt" doing impersonations of each other playing Stein and Jackson. One has to imagine the two sitting around honing their impressions of one another to sell the idea that they could pull off the body-switch for their characters and they two actors nail it perfectly. Drameh expertly gets the cadences of Victor Garber. Garber manages to get most of Drameh's tone and cadences down pat as well.
As "Helen Hunt" moves towards its conclusion, the episode begins to feel a bit crowded. As Sara Lance and Damien Darhk begin their inevitable duel, it is broken up by a fight between Amaya Jiwe and Kuasa. Kuasa as a totem-bearer is the natural adversary for Jiwe, but lacking the years of backstory and build-up between the two, it guts the potential emotional resonance of the fight between Lance and Darhk.
"Helen Hunt" continues to slowly develop Zari Tomaz and her plotline in the episode illustrates the weakness of Legends Of Tomorrow as an ensemble piece. Tomaz has a compelling arc that is almost entirely glossed over in "Helen Hunt." Tomaz is new to the Waverider crew and there has not yet been a chance to give her a full episode that truly fleshes her out. As a result, she is being characterized on the fly and the important moments she has in the episode feel more like forced exposure for the character than anything organic.
The episode's final moment is somewhat insulting to fans of the DC Comics Universe, but the bulk of "Helen Hunt" is smart, fun and incredibly well-performed.
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Pain & Gain
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© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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