A new Legend emerges.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
With most Arrowverse shows, I find myself wishing for less “villain of the week” adventures and more story-driven episodes that focus on building the overarching conflict. Not so much with Legends of Tomorrow. The first two episodes of Season 3 were extremely entertaining even without a deep, high-stakes conflict propelling the show forward. If anything, the series seems worse off as it finally begins delving into the new, ongoing struggle facing the Legends this year.
“Zari” is, of course, most notable for introducing the title character as the latest addition to the Legends roster. Zari Adrianna Tomaz (American Odyssey’s Tala Ashe) is based on the DC character Isis (though the writers have ditched that codename for obvious reasons). Zari’s debut was intriguing for two main reasons. One, the character is closely linked to the Shazam/Black Adam mythology of the comics. After all these years of Arrowverse shows name-dropping Khandaq, I was looking forward to seeing that mythology come into play in a more significant way. The other is that Zari hails from a different time period from most of the Legends, all of whom (save Mari) hail from the same early 21st Century setting. Given how steeped in time travel Legends is, it’s a little surprising that the cast isn’t more diverse in that regard.
Sadly, neither element really paid off in this episode. For one thing, the Seattle circa-2042 setting is far from the most memorable time period the Legends have visited. Compared to the mid-21st Century version of Star City we saw in Season 1, it’s a pretty bland place. It certainly doesn’t seem like Zari’s background will give her a wildly different perspective on life and the timestream than her new teammates.
Zari is clearly a very loose interpretation of the character introduced in the CBS series The Secrets of Isis and later revamped in the comics. There’s no reason why the writers can’t eventually draw on the Shazam mythos, but for now Zari comes across as a pretty generic hacker anti-hero who just happens to have possession of a mystical amulet. Nothing about her personality or background makes her a particularly compelling addition to the team. For now, at least, Ashe doesn’t show the screen presence necessary to stand out alongside the colorful cast of Legends. It’s probably a good idea to throw a new wild card into this now-familiar team dynamic, but Zari needs to bring more to the table than she does here.
But if the series mostly stumbled where Zari is concerned, at least Kuasa (Quantico’s Tracy Ifeachor) is faring better. There’s a real sense of menace and danger to this villain. This episode made several overt Terminator references, and that feels pretty apt with the way Juasa is being presented as a mostly silent, relentless hunter akin to Robert Patrick’s T-1000. Her water-based powers are cool, but I was actually more impressed by her martial arts ability. Ifeachor seemed as much a dancer as a fighter when she squared off against Caity Lotz’s Sara in the bar, and that made for a really terrific fight scene.
We’ll have to see how well this shared connection between Amaya, Zari and Kuasa plays out. At the moment, I’m wary another supernatural-focused conflict given the show’s struggles with Vandal Savage in Season 1. But to be fair, Kuasa is only one piece of a larger puzzle to be revealed over time.
Sadly, the Zari/Kuasa-heavy focus this week caused the show to downplay its normally strong sense of humor. But at least characters like Nate and Mick were on hand to provide some welcome comic relief. Nate’s brush with hallucinogenic drugs was an amusing shift for the character, but also one that reaffirmed his commitment to Amaya even with the tenuous state of their relationship. And Mick never failed to entertain this week, whether it was his fourth wall-bending Prison Break reference or his constant frustration in not being able to shoot anyone.
I’m curious to see where the season goes from here in terms of the Mick/Zari dynamic. Mick is clearly attracted to his new teammate and her sizable rap sheet. That could be just the catalyst Zari needs as she finds her place among her new allies. On the other hand, if she doesn’t begin to stand out more than she did this week, that would-be romance may fizzle out before it ever really gets going.