DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow is The CW’s silliest superhero show. Sure, Supergirl had a 5th dimensional magical imp in this week’s episode and tonight’s The Flash features a city of intelligent gorillas, but these series aren’t as consistently and gleefully immature as Legends. “Camelot/3000” plays like the fan-fiction of a teen that is obsessed with superheroes, science fiction, and Arthurian myth, but that’s actually not a bad thing. The plotting and the characterizations are still very basic, but it’s a lot of fun seeing writer Anderson Mackenzie and director Antonio Negret delight in bringing Camelot to the screen with an influx of superhero drama and spectacle.
While this episode’s title is a variation on the name of DC’s Camelot 3000 miniseries, the two stories share very little in common beyond a foundation in Arthurian legend. The slash in the title differentiates between the episode’s two time periods. The action starts in Detroit in the year 3000, where Dr. Mid-Nite of the Justice Society of America has regained his sight and guards one of the pieces of the Spear of Destiny. Rip Hunter kills him, and then steals futuristic technology that allows him to control King Arthur and his men when he travels to Camelot to get the next piece of the spear, which has been grafted to Excalibur.
“Camelot/3000” is an episode that sends superheroes to Camelot, where they fight King Arthur’s army to prevent supervillains from getting their hands on another piece of the spear that pierced the side of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. I admire that balls-to-the-wall superhero craziness. This episode also manages to fold in the Justice Society of America as it reveals that the team was scattered through time after their last mission with the old version of Rip Hunter, who sent his teammates through the timestream with pieces of the Spear of Destiny that they would protect on their own.
Dr. Mid-Nite ended up in the future while Stargirl landed in the medieval past, where she joined King Arthur’s court as the new Merlin, armed with a cosmic staff that would definitely be considered magical in Camelot. The Stargirl as Merlin reveal was when I knew I was going to enjoy this episode, and these bold narrative choices make it easier to excuse the flaws in the storytelling. One of the ongoing problems with this show is that it’s always focused on big ideas, which prevents it from creating grounded, believable character dynamics. Stargirl is fully devoted to Arthur because she’s fallen in love with him, but that relationship has almost no emotional weight in this episode because it has such little context.
This episode’s interpretation of Queen Guinevere positions her as one of the leaders in Arthur’s army, and Sara is immediately attracted to the queen’s authority and her warrior prowess. Guinevere reciprocates these feelings, and while their connection is pretty shallow, it doesn’t stop me from smiling at the visual of Sara Lance making out with King Arthur’s wife. This show doesn’t do romance especially well, and partnering characters with figures from the past is limiting because there’s a time limit on the relationship. There’s not enough time to create a fleshed out courtship between Sara and Guinevere while the script juggles all the other plot threads, so their romance is primarily defined by casual flirtation and longing glances.
The visuals of this episode try to evoke the grandeur of Game Of Thrones on a much, much smaller budget, and the big action sequence does feature some very slick moments. Sara, Nate, and Amaya get individual moments to shine when they arrive to level the playing field, and there’s dramatic slow motion shot of Ray soaring through the air to take out his opponent. Director Antonio Negret does a good job capturing the chaos of the battle, and he brings an extra layer of grit to the sequence that heightens the impact of the action.
I mentioned in my recap of “Turncoat” that this show needs to stop doing death fakeouts because they’re increasingly meaningless, but we get another one this week as Ray Palmer, a.k.a. Sir Raymond of the Palms, rushes into action to stop Rip and Damien Darhk from toppling Camelot. With a lightsaber in hand (although he’s reluctant to call it that for trademark reasons), Ray proudly steps into the role of the Arthurian knights that inspired him as a child, charging into battle against Arthur and his mind-controlled troops and then following Damien Darhk away from the battlefield for a one-on-one showdown. Ray is a match for Darhk when it comes to sword-fighting, but he’s not prepared for the gun Darhk pulls out when he’s knocked down, shooting Ray in the chest and leaving him unconscious in the snow. Surprising no one, Ray isn’t actually dead because he has the A.T.O.M. suit on under his armor (that’s a lot of layers), and he returns to the team having gained the glory of helping save Camelot.
The whole gang is back together by the end of the episode, including Rip Hunter, who is abandoned by Darhk on the battlefield but saved by Sara, who refuses to leave any of her teammates behind. He’s thrown in the Waverider’s brig, but the final moments suggest that Sara’s actions have put the Legends in greater danger than if they had left their former leader in Camelot. Unless they can figure out how to revert Rip back to his old self, the heroes are risking a lot by bringing Rip back on board, and Sara’s noble intentions aren’t going to be a liability when Rip inevitably gets out of his jail cell.