Ava Sharpe has been a villain, friend, and lover in this season of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, but she has a secret that not even she knows about. The title of “I, Ava” suggests that she’s a robot, and when Sara, Ray, and Gary travel to Vancouver, 2213, they discover that her name is actually an abbreviation for Advanced Variant Automation. They call her a clone, but she’s somewhere between a clone and a robot, a living being created in a very Westworld-like machine that builds Ava units and spits them out to serve as the future’s police force. Everyone is shaken by this revelation, but it puts Ava Prime in an especially distraught state as she begins to doubt everything about her identity and what she thought she knew about her life.
The Ava story begins with Gary seeking the Legends’ help in tracking down his missing boss, and it quickly becomes clear that there’s something fishy going on with Ava when they break into her office and learn that her personnel file has been deleted from the Time Bureau’s database. The mystery deepens when the trio visits Ava’s parents in Fresno, who are actually actors being paid to play these roles by a mysterious third party, and when they investigate Ava’s history, they find out that 2213 is a no-fly zone, meaning it’s their best lead at figuring out what’s going on. Upon arrival in the future, they find a city full of people in brightly colored tracksuits being guarded by Avas, and when they sneak into the Advanced Variant Automation factory, they’re left with only more questions as they see how the Avas are created.
Ava Prime teleports into the factory to stop the Legends (and Gary), and she’s shaken to her core by what she discovers. She has no idea that she’s a clone or robot or whatever she actually is, but there’s no time for her to be overwhelmed by this identity crisis. There’s an army of Avas waiting to attack, and Sara needs her to remember her unique inner badass in order for them to make it out alive. I’m always down for a good Sara Lance hand-to-hand combat scene, and there’s an exciting brawl when the clones ambush them, giving Sara the opportunity to work through her romantic issues by beating up different versions of her ex. Ava Prime gets in on the action too, and as we’ve seen earlier in the season, they make excellent battle partners. By the end of the episode they realize that Rip Hunter is probably the person responsible for Ava’s current predicament, and Rip is going to want to find some body armor because he’s in for a world of hurt when these two women track him down.
The stakes are steadily rising as Legends approaches its season finale, and the Ava revelation isn’t even the biggest event of this episode. Amaya is the captain of the Waverider while Sara is away, and when she learns that her superhero granddaughter, Mari, has been injured in 2018 because she no longer has her totem, she sends Nate and Wally to convince her to give up the vigilante lifestyle. They find Kuasa at the hospital protecting her sister, and when they go to Mari’s superhero hideout, Kuasa and Nate hatch a plan to get the spirit totem away from Nora Darhk and back in the hands of its rightful owner, Amaya. For a few minutes it seems like Kuasa has actually joined the side of the angels, but she has another objective to save her family by getting rid of Nate, whose relationship with Amaya is a direct threat to her bloodline.
Kuasa betrays Nate, but she has another change of heart when Amaya gives her a stern talking to after returning the spirit totem. Kuasa’s Nana Baa tells her that she’s beyond redemption and that this is exactly why Mari was given the spirit totem instead of her, and these words inspire Kuasa to be the hero and work with Amaya and Wally to save Nate from the Darhks. Unfortunately, the only reason Kuasa is alive is because Mallus brought her back to life, and when she turns against him, he has Nora kill her by ripping the water totem from her chest.
Tracy Ifeachor has done strong work making Kuasa a fierce, complicated figure who is working with the villains to guarantee the survival of her family, so it’s sad to see her go this week, but the final moments of this episode suggest that maybe her story isn’t over yet. Amaya is sick and tired of hearing about the tragedy that will shatter her family and tribe, so she takes the Waverider’s shuttle to 1992 in hopes of changing the timeline for the better. But as we’ve learned over and over again, these kinds of changes tend to only make things worse.
The episode’s best storyline is the one with the least amount of screen time, and Zari’s plot with Mick isn’t just a lot of fun, it’s groundbreaking for superhero media. Zari is tasked with teaching Mick how to use his fire totem for something other than cooking hotdogs, popping popcorn, and lighting farts, but she’s really cranky because she’s fasting in observance of Ramadan. As far as I know—and please tell me if I’m wrong—this is the first time a live-action superhero story has addressed Ramadan, and while this subplot is used as comic relief for most of the episode, it builds to a very touching scene where Zari tells Mick how observing Ramadan is her way of honoring the family she’s lost. I love the dynamic between Tala Ashe and Dominic Purcell, who have great comedic chemistry, but there’s also a tender friendship developing there, bolstered by their shared status as totem-bearers.
Between last week’s Jane The Virgin and tonight’s Legends, The CW is doing some impressive work exploring the nature of religion and why people choose to follow centuries-old traditions. In both series, characters talk about how religion is something that brings people together, and in Zari’s case, Ramadan makes her feel connected to her late mother, who always wanted her to fast as a child. Her mother taught her how to cook iftar, the meal they eat to break the fast, and she continues to cook this meal and shares it with Mick to keep that sense of community alive. Superhero stories rarely engage with religion in such overt ways, and this storyline shows how effective these traditions can be in forming bonds between characters. Mick isn’t Muslim, but he partakes in iftar with Zari, and despite Mick’s signature crudeness, this is a very sweet scene that reinforces the familial bond between the Legends. They’re tied together on a spiritual level thanks to their totems, but it’s this small moment that really solidifies their emotional connection.
- I love the recurring joke of Upswipz. Swiping up and down really is more intuitive!
- Damien Darhk doesn’t do much in this episode, but he’s very entertaining as he opens up to Nate about how he regrets working for Mallus and sacrificing his daughter’s soul for ultimate power. I’m really enjoying Damien as a tormented father figure, and his love for his daughter has given Neal McDonough much more to work with in his performance.
- The teaser for next week’s episode teases the return of Gorilla Grodd with the phrase “Make America Grodd Again.” Maybe it’s about Grodd using his psychic powers to rig the 2016 presidential election!
- Amaya’s hair changes between scenes, so I’m assuming she has a big supply of wigs at the ready on the ship. I would love to see a scene of Amaya doing her hair, because she’s had a lot of looks this season. My favorite is her 1940s pin-up hair, which is the best reminder of the era she’s been pulled from.
- “Do not pull his finger. Let’s just say hot dogs aren’t the only things he’s learned how to light on fire.”
- Gary: “What am I supposed to do next? Put on a wig and pantsuit and pretend I’m her?” Sara: “No. Don’t do that.”
- “Do you know how hard it is to get an acting job in Fresno?”
- Gary: “I had a dream like this once.” Sara: “Yeah, me too, but mine involved less clothing.” Gary: “Me too!”
- “This is the second-worst attack of the clones I’ve seen.”
- “I’m keeping the suit!”