New friends come and go.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
The Arrowverse has been at a relative low ebb in early 2018, and I have to wonder how much of that is simply due to the absence of Legends of Tomorrow. You can’t put your best superhero show on extended hiatus and not expect consequences. Thankfully, Legends has returned, even as the rest of the Arrowverse takes a brief break for the Olympics. Better still, the series remains in fine form thanks to an episode that brings in a terrific guest star and advances the Mallus conflict considerably.
That guest star, of course, is Matt Ryan’s John Constantine, who made his second Arrowverse appearance since the untimely cancellation of NBC’s Constantine. As much as it was a treat to see Constantine stop by Arrow a couple years ago, ultimately his appearance felt more like a means of scooting the plot forward than a natural, elegant story development. Here, the writers were able to integrate Constantine into the mix more smoothly, building on all the recent developments with Mallus and the Darhk family. If anything, this seems like the perfect opportunity to induct Constantine into the fold on a semi-permanent basis. That doesn’t appear to be in the cards this year.
It’s a shame, too, because Ryan proved he can more than hold his own alongside the rest of the cast. From the moment he sauntered on board the Waverider and flirted with Leo, Constantine felt like one of the gang. As is so often the case with Legends, the best moments in this episode weren’t the dramatic, story-driven ones, but simply those that focused on group banter and bonding. Nowhere was that more true than with Constantine and Sara. This episode built on their prior history in a fun way while also celebrating the fact that they’re both just horny ne’er-do-wells at the end of the day. The most significant accomplishment in “Daddy Darhkest” is that Constantine feels more like a true member of the Arrowverse, with attachments and desires that intertwine with other heroes.
“Daddy Darhkest” would have made for a very fitting Halloween episode, what with the haunted asylum setting, the rampant exorcisms and even a Shining homage for good measure. The exorcism scenes were suitably creepy, and the general look and vibe of this episode made for a nice change from the norm. If anything bogged down Legends this week, it’s that Mallus is shaping up to be a particularly fascinating villain so far. Granted, there’s only so much you can accomplish with an all-powerful disembodied voice (though at least that voice sounds pretty cool thanks to John Noble). There just isn’t much to this character yet. Whether Mallus turns out to be an existing DC villain or a new creation, hopefully we can get more background on the character in the weeks to come.
But if Mallus himself isn’t the most nuanced villain ever to appear on the show, this episode at least succeeded in lending new depth to two of his minions, Kuasa and Nora Darhk. My concern when the direction of Season 3 was announced was that this team of MVP villains sounded a bit too similar to the Legion of Doom from last year. But where the Legion was a group of self-interested, largely unconflicted men, this team is anything but. Both Kuasa and the younger Nora found their loyalties being tested this week.
Moreover, we got a better sense of what drives them. For Kuasa, she’s hellbent on saving her people, even if she has to battle her grandmother and make a deal with a literal devil to pull that off. For Nora, she suffered through an unhappy childhood trapped in mental institutions and longing for a perpetually absentee father. Nora in particular seems poised for a strong character arc in the remainder of the season. Her future encounters with the Legends will now be colored by her encounter with Ray and Zari, as well as that nagging realization that maybe Damien isn’t the father she longed for all those years. As entertaining as Neal McDonough’s Damien Darhk is week after week, hopefully this is paving the way for a more dramatic turn for him, as well.
“Daddy Darhkest” is also notable for serving as the final bow for Wentworth Miller in the Arrowverse. Leo is headed back to Earth-X and leaving the Legends that much poorer for his absence. It’s a shame, as he’s been a very entertaining addition to the mix these past couple episodes. It’s also surprising that the writers didn’t make a bigger deal out of his departure. You’d think they’d want to do one final episode spotlighting Leo and Mick before the end. But I also get the impression that this was a purposeful choice. Rather than give Leo a grand, heroic sacrifice on the level of his Earth-1 counterpart or a tearful sendoff, it’s more a case of, “See you around, Snart.” And in that sense, this was an effective, quietly emotional sendoff for the character. As much as Miller claims this is it for him, I’d like to think there’s always a chance we’ll see some incarnation of Leonard Snart down the road.