Legends Of Tomorrow Phone Home Review
Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 4: Phone Home begins with a half-baked cliched premise but skewers it into something that’s as memorable as it is entertaining.
From the moment I saw the trailer for Tuesday night’s episode, I was wary of the 1980’s setting and E.T.-style set-up. After Super 8, Stranger Things, and It, I’m pretty burnt out on the whole 80’s kids sci-fi/adventure throwback thing, feeling it’s become little more than an exercise in shaking tropes and references in viewers’ faces and saying “Hey, remember this?!?” I feared that it was precisely this that Phone Home would fall into, but luckily it turned out to be far from the case.
Although the show does mimics the basic set-up of the aforementioned properties and the movies that inspired them, it wastes no time in deconstructing the world it has just created. Indeed, the general vibe of the program is one of good-natured knowing, poking gentle fun at the nostalgia that drives audience affinity for 80’s-themed media. Ray (Brandon Routh) is elated about revisiting his childhood, but it becomes clear that it wasn’t quite as rosy as he remembered. Part of this is due to temporal interference, but just as much of it is due to his insistence on seeing the bright side of absolutely everything. When the team witnesses some bullies pick on the young Ray, the adult version of him laughs it off and insists that the bullies are actually his friends and that that’s just how they played with him. It’s a joke about Ray’s unwavering sense of optimism, but it’s also a dig at “golden age” enthusiasts who only remember the good things about the past and ignore or rationalize the bad things that separates the show from other 80’s throwbacks.
Another area where the show excels is fleshing out Zari (Tala Ashe), an important feat given the lackluster intro she received in the previous episode. Instead of telling us who she is, Phone Home shows us who she is, forcing her to reign in two different versions of Ray over the course of the show. From her interactions with the two iterations of the starry-eyed whiz kid, we see that although she has little use for Ray’s unending positivity, there is indeed a soft spot underneath the rough exterior. As the show goes on and she spends more time with the team, I bet that we will see more of this soft spot exposed in a manner similar to how Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Mick’s (Dominic Purcell) were, although how exactly it will be exposed is hard to tell.
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