The Good: Good character development, Fun casting
The Bad: Very lame tiger effects, Very basic plot and villains
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow returns to fun while actually making its characters deeper in "Freakshow."
Legends Of Tomorrow comes with a surprisingly strong flexibility to it. As an ensemble piece with a cast that can be changed out and pull both established characters from the Berlanti-DC Television Universe or adapting characters to it, Legends Of Tomorrow can be pretty much anything it wants to be. So, when the show makes an attempt to do something smart or deep, it is well within the show's range to do so. "Freakshow" has the show's familiar use of humor that it blends with a decent level of adult conflict and serious moments.
Following on the events of "Aruba-Con" (reviewed here!), which saw most of the Waverider crew coming back together in the wake of Rip Hunter forming the Time Bureau to fix the damage the crew did to time itself, "Freakshow" puts the focus on Dr. Nate Heywood and an anomaly of the week. The anomaly is a sabretooth tiger, which affords Legends Of Tomorrow the chance to insert P.T. Barnum into the narrative.
Six months ago in Central City, Amaya Jiwe and Dr. Heywood are living together. While Heywood runs out for doughnuts, Jiwe sees a television report on Vixen and she freaks out and abandons the doctor. In the present, Dr. Palmer perfects his shrink ray and the Waverider crew attempts to evaluate the anachronism files from Rip Hunter's Temporal Bureau. The Waverider crew heads to Wisconsin, 1870, to P.T. Barnum's circus. There, they discover the anachronism is a sabretooth tiger and they unwittingly make it large and it gets loose. Sara Lance heads back to 1942 to enlist Jiwe in the mission. When Jiwe joins the Waverider crew on the mission, the distance between her and Heywood leads Heywood to go out drinking.
In the process, Palmer and Jackson are captured by P.T. Barnum, who adds them to his freakshow. While looking for the pair, Lance notices her crew is being surveilled by a member of Rip's Time Bureau. Lance captures Gary and in the process draws the attention of Agent Sharpe, who boards the Waverider. Dr. Stein and Rory manage to rescue their teammates and when the crisis abates, Jiwe confesses to her friends what has been going on with her since she left the team.
"Freakshow" has a very familiar plot to several other episodes of Legends Of Tomorrow and the novelty of P.T. Barnum being played by Billy Zane does not wear thin over the course of the episode. The impressive aspect of "Freakshow" is that the relationship between Heywood and Jiwe is adequately explored in a compelling and adult way. Abandonment is a huge issue for adults in romantic relationships and Heywood's sense of loss is realistically portrayed in "Freakshow." Beyond that, Nick Zano and Maisie Richardson-Sellers manage to portray their characters with an exceptional sense of on-screen chemistry, making the depth of Heywood's loss seem plausible.
The plot of "Freakshow" is yet another simple "rescue the crew from a historic problem" episode, but most of the episode feels fresh. Sure, Billy Zane plays another villain and Brandon Routh plays Palmer as more dippy and humorous than smart and professional, but Caity Lotz finds the right balance of kicking ass and humor in "Freakshow." And Victor Garber comes through with his usual coolness. Dominic Purcell has yet another moment where he is given a joke that is seriously telegraphed, but he pulls off.
"Freakshow" manages to continue developing Sara Lance as a true hero and reasonable timeship captain. Lance wants to know what is in store for the Waverider crew the moment Agent Sharpe slips up. Lance is starting to see the big picture on the Waverider's mandate and it is refreshing to see her developing as a leader. Lance starts to trust her crew and use their talents by the end of "Freakshow" and that is real development for both the character and Legends Of Tomorrow.
Ultimately, "Freakshow" manages to take the familiar plot of Legends Of Tomorrow and infuse it with enough character development to make it feel fresh again.
For other works with Paul Lazenby, please visit my reviews of:
Star Trek: Beyond
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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