TV reviews

Legends of Tomorrow 3×04 – ‘Phone Home’ – Review

Legends of Tomorrow is doing E.T., set at Halloween, in the 1980’s. Yes, it’s absolutely as good as you think it’s going to be.

With the last episode of Legends of Tomorrow feeling a lot weaker, especially in terms of humour, ‘Phone Home’ completely turns things around, embracing it’s ridiculous side, whilst also managing to squeeze in one of the more touching character moments that the series has given us.

Whilst trying to get the team to bond with their new member, Zari (Tala Ashe), Ray (Brandon Routh) gets the team to try and take part in trust exercises before suddenly disappearing from reality. The moment that Ray vanishes should probably feel dramatic, but the fact that it ends up with Mick (Dominic Purcell) slamming head first into the floor mid-trust fall it’s easily forgiven. Realising that Ray’s disappeared from the timeline because he was killed in 1988. Travelling back to a few days before the young Ray’s death, which thankfully bring their Ray back into reality, the team discover that young Ray’s made a new friend in the form of a baby Dominator.

With the tease the week before I was expecting young Ray to come across some kind of creature, and was expecting an alien, but making it a Dominator was a great idea, tying it nicely into the existing mythology of the series. The baby Dominator itself is actually surprisingly cute, and it’s quite believable that a young Ray Palmer would see it as someone he could be friends with.

Despite the amount of comedy that permeates the episode there’s some surprisingly touching moments too, especially when you realise how sad and lonely Ray was as a child. In many ways this goes on to explain a lot of why Ray’s the way he is, why he’s always so positive, and why he so desperately wants to be part of the team and for the team to work. It really does feel like the Legends are Ray’s first real friends, and it’s a very bittersweet realisation.

Thankfully, there’s so much more fun in the episode to mean that these moments don’t leave you feeling too down, though mainly because you’re too busy laughing. Micks joy at seeing the young Ray stealing is great, and the banter between Nate (Nick Zano) and Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) is spot on, especially when Nate starts coming on to Ray’s mother.

The joke might be a little on the nose, especially with the ‘cougar’ conversation, but the sheer ridiculousness that cast brings to proceedings means that it never really bothers. One of the strengths of Legends of Tomorrow is that it can make its heroes look like complete idiots without that undermining them. Whilst it’s great to see them being heroes, they’re fuck-ups, they’re people who mess things up all the time, so laughing at them feels as natural as laughing with them.

Whilst dealing with the drama of Ray’s younger self being killed, Jax (Franz Drameh) and Mick investigate the possibility that Stein (Victor Garber) might be sending messages to the Time Bureau. Even without the bond that Jax and Stein share I found this notion absolutely ridiculous, and found it a little hard to believe that Jax could even suspect his partner of such a thing.

Luckily, this can be overlooked as it ends with a great moment when Stein believes that he’s going to miss out on the birth of his first grandchild, something that Jax and Mick refuse to let happen. ‘Borrowing’ the Waverider so that he can get there to be with his daughter (even leaving a note behind on a tree for the others), the two of them prove that they really are all a family, and that means they’ll do whatever it takes for each other.

With so many great character moments (with an added look at Zari’s new costume), great comedy (Nate kissing a Dominator Queen), and a load of 80’s movie nods (including flying their bicycles in front of the moon!), ‘Phone Home’ might not just be the funniest episode of Legends of Tomorrow, but of the whole CW DC Universe. This episode goes to showcase the kind of superhero comedy that other shows can do at times, but never to this level. A great episode that’s going to be hard to beat.

Legends of Tomorrow airs on Sky in the UK. Let us know what you think of the season.

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