Legends Of Tomorrow Freakshow Review
Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 2: Freakshow is a high-stakes adventure played in a rather low-stakes way.
Revolving as it does around the group’s efforts to contain an anachronism of steadily increasing magnitude, you would think Tuesday night’s episode would be considerably more tense than it actually was (perhaps even more so given the fairly mellow tone of the preceding installment). But even as the characters warn that the scope of the anachronism is growing, the potentially cosmic ramifications of this are never really felt. As far as the audience can tell, the problem facing the Legends is a strictly local one: local, that is, to the 19th century. Of course, after already seeing our heroes tackle any number of universe-threatening perils, I doubt that anyone will hold this against the show.
While last week’s villain (if you can really call him that) Julius Caesar proved to be more of an annoyance to the team than an actual threat, this week’s enemy is a surprisingly competent adversary for them. As P.T. Barnum, Billy Zane is strikingly effective, capturing the wily nature of the real-life circus showman as well as giving him an edge that makes it believable when he captures Jax (Franz Drameh) and Stein (Victor Garber) and coaxes them into performing for his show. He’s a far cry from Vandal Savage and Eobard Thawne obviously, but in all likelihood that’s the point.
Curiously, Rip (Arthur Darvill) doesn’t appear in the show but his presence is more than felt, thanks in no small part to Time Bureau agents Sharpe (Jes Macallan) and Gary (Adam Tsekhman), the latter of whom has a kind of Jeff Goldblum vibe to him. Although Gary technically appeared in the last episode, his role was so small that I wouldn’t be surprised if viewers were as mystified as I was when Sara (Caity Lotz) called his name upon seeing him like we’re supposed to remember this less-than secondary character from the week before.
The special effects here aren’t the most spectacular, but they get the job done, with the sabertooth tiger captured by Barnum rendered about as plausibly as TV will allow. The real achievement, however, lies in the costumes that the characters wear to blend in. Sparing what looks like no expense, the costumers decked the cast in suits and dresses that look like they came straight out of the Gilded Age and Barnum’s performers in suitably vintage-looking costumes. In a series that features armor-clad scientists and leather clad assassins, this might be a quaint thing to be impressed by, but it’s nonetheless part of the charm of Legends of Tomorrow.
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