Legends of Tomorrow
began season 3 in a bit of a rudderless place. While not unenjoyable, the show seemed to be hopping from adventure to adventure with very little connective tissue. In the episode "Return of the Mack" the season came into a much clearer focus as the villain, Mallus, was properly explained.
Legends of Tomorrow has yet to introduce Mallus in a tangible form (although he/it is voiced by character actor John Noble.) Yet, the influence Mallus is having on the season and the scenarios that are being created consequently are already making Legends into one of the most exciting shows in The CW's Arrow-verse.
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If It's Not Broke, Make It Bigger
Legends of Tomorrow truly found itself in season 2 when it realized its greatest assets were in its sense of humor and fearlessness. Due to the time travel at the heart of the show, Legends is unlike Arrow, The Flash or Supergirl in just core concept alone. There's really no scenario that isn't open to the show. It's an idea that began to be explored in the Legion of Doom during season 2. However, Mallus takes the concept of the Legion of Doom and what they represented and expands it to far more entertaining extremes.
Mallus is very mysterious but it's been firmly established that it is a powerful force -- a powerful force that is amassing a cabal of threatening and amusing villains to its cause. "Return of the Mack" introduced the grown-up version of Damien Darhk's daughter, Eleanor, played by Courtney Ford (who was having the time of her life.) However, it also brought back Damien Darhk. Though he originated on Arrow season 4, Darhk is a character made for Legends as he's as unpredictable and amusing as the show itself.
Darhk is just the tip of the iceberg. Kuasa, Amaya's future evil granddaughter, is also part of the season and The Flash
's Gorilla Grodd will also be making an appearance.
There are so many moving pieces with this Mallus storyline but that is the benefit of Legends of Tomorrow
. The show has never flinched away from big ideas. Rather than suffer under the weight of everything that has been introduced or will be introduced, Legends
is embracing the weirdness.
No other show in the Arrowverse, or TV in general, could reasonably have a super-intelligent gorilla and undead wizard stand side-by-side as villains but Legends of Tomorrow is that show. Mallus has raised the stakes so greatly for season 3 and set up a scenario where anything and everything could happen. The Legion of Doom were entertaining and threatening but they were limited. They were just three men with one simple goal. Mallus has greatly surpassed them already and season 3 has barely begun. Mallus' reach is enormous and the power level is huge -- raising Darhk from the dead alone is wildly impressive.
The Crazy Balancing Act
Legends of Tomorrow hasn't just set up a ridiculous premise that offers fun story potential however. There is also room to mix the outlandishness of the scenarios with real emotional and character-based stories. Damien Darhk isn't just an entertaining villain played by a charismatic actor. He's also the man who killed Sara Lance's sister and unlike season 2, Darhk now remembers and lived through those events. This will make any encounter with them feel much more intense. Season 2's Darhk was a past version, season 3 is just "waking up" from being murdered by Oliver Queen.
Kuasa has similar benefits as a villain. Amaya is currently unaware of their familial connection but once she does learn of it, it's going to make Amya consider her own powers that much more. Amaya has reached a state of peace with the rocky connection she shares with her totem but Kuasa can stir all that up again. Kuasa will also likely make Amaya confront her eventual destiny. Amaya going back to her time might bring the heroic Mari McCabe into the world but it will also bring about Kuasa.
The totem issue also connects back to newcomer Zari. Totems were introduced as a simple explanation for wild super powers. Yet season 3 brings a whole new dimension to them, thanks to Kuasa (and by extension Mallus.) They are just simple trinkets but objects of great power that are often connected to serious emotions. Zari is already struggling with owning her totem since it once belonged to her brother.
The potential for Mallus is mostly in the humor and nutty scenarios that it will create as the central antagonist. However, the real genius of Legends of Tomorrow is that it's not just craziness for the sake of craziness. There's always an emotional connection back to the characters. Sara Lance and her team drive the action. The scenarios around them present unimaginable and inventive stories but the heart of the story is born out of the misfits who call the Waverider home.
How do you feel about Mallus? Are you excited to see the season play out? Is the story too similar to the Legion of Doom or is it just different enough to feel fresh? What other villain would you like to see join Mallus in season 3?
(Image courtesy of The CW)