[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Legends of Tomorrow ahead.]
Legends of Tomorrow is back in full swing, returning this week with a second episode that answered some big questions about the missing Legend, focused on what the Legends do best (and worst), and ended with a scene that teases the big bad for this season. 'Freakshow' is a fantastic example of why Legends of Tomorrow is such a fun show, with plenty of humor and ridiculous capers (including a shrink ray and a saber tooth tiger), but some truly touching moments to balance them out.
While the rest of the Arrowverse shows tend to take themselves a little more seriously, Legends of Tomorrow just has fun, as the 'heroes' (and that term has to be used very loosely, here) keep trying to fix their mistakes... but get distracted, drunk, and generally cause mayhem for forty minutes before finally getting things back on track.
The Legends Join The Circus
'Freakshow' sees the Legends head to the 1800s, and the days of P T Barnum's early attempts at the Greatest Show On Earth. Last week, we saw the introduction of the Time Bureau, as Rip (Arthur Darvill) sets up an entire agency to deal with the problems created when the Legends broke time in season 2. Now, the Legends are largely unnecessary, but Rip has decided to let them keep wandering through time and fixing their mistakes - which brings us to the 'Freakshow' anachronism: a saber tooth tiger kicking around in 1870.
The team pick this anachronism because it is a 'Level One', i.e. something that even our favorite team of time-traveling idiots can't screw up. Of course, simply seeing the Legends collect the tiger and go home wouldn't be much fun, though, so they screw it all up.
Ray (Brandon Routh) has created a hyper-molecular compressor (not a shrink ray), and the team plan to use it to shrink the tiger and bring it back to its appropriate time. Things go wrong the first time when Ray, who is allergic to cats, sneezes while using the don't-call-it-a-shrink-ray and accidentally enlarges the tiger, who then escapes. This leads Sara (Caity Lotz) to go grab Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) to help them with their giant animal problem, which leads Nate to throw a bit of a tantrum. He and the boys head to the bar in 1870, get rip-roaringly drunk, and Nate starts showing off about their superpowers... so that P T Barnum (Billy Zane) kidnaps them to save his circus. As the remaining Legends attempt to deal with this latest problem, Mick (Dominic Purcell) accidentally lets the now-miniaturized saber tooth tiger loose on the ship (which is the most adorable problem anyone can have), and Ava (Jes Macallen) drops by from the Time Bureau to try and arrest them all. Again.
Amaya & Nate's Story
In amongst all the Benny-Hill-esque misadventures of this episode that keep us laughing, there is a sadder story being told; that of Nate (Nick Zano) and Amaya. At the end of the last season, these two Legends fell in love, but at the start of season 3, Amaya was gone. Nate refused to talk about the missing Legend, saying only that she returned to Zambesi and her own time. On the surface, this makes sense. We knew that Amaya had to return to her own village in order to have descendants, so that the younger Vixen, Mari McCabe (Megalyn Echikunwoke) would be born. However, it was clear that there was a story here that Nate didn't want to tell.
This week, we learned that that story begins with Nate and Amaya at home several months ago, clearly in love as Amaya hand-makes donuts for his birthday, and then they fling the batter on the floor in order to make out on the countertop. So far, so much classic rom-com. However, when Amaya sees Mari on the news, she realizes that she has to return to Zambesi, and she abandons Nate without so much as saying goodbye. It's a heartless move, but as she explains later in the episode, she had to make him hate her so that he wouldn't come after her.
The relationship between these two is at the core of the episode, as Amaya later struggles to control her totem and her animal powers, and Nate has to talk her down from slaughtering P T Barnum. She only uses her powers to protect him, he then protects her, and while the two are far from back to normal, 'Freakshow' goes a long way to repairing their relationship and showing how much they mean to each other. The episode also reintroduces Amaya to the team, as she decides that she is not safe to return to her village (and her daughter) until she learns to control her powers again.
Sara Vs Ava
While the main storyline combines humor with a touching explanation of Nate and Amaya's recent history, Sarah has her own problems to deal with. Ava (Jes Macallan) has been sending agents to spy on the Legends, and decides to drop by and arrest them all for their meddling. It's clear that while Rip is happy to let the Legends bumble around doing their best, Ava doesn't agree with him - and she's going to be the new face of the Time Bureau this season.
Her dynamic with Sara is particularly interesting. Both well-trained, capable, kick-ass time travelers, these two women are as different as they are similar. They fight well together, and this week we see that they are almost perfectly matched fighting against each other as well. They have little patience for useless underlings, and no fear of going up against their boss if they believe it is necessary. While Ava is something of an enemy to the Legends, there is a phenomenal moment in 'Freakshow' where she and Sara take a break from fighting and just... hang out. This is a relationship that is going to get very interesting in episodes to come.
That Final Scene (And What It Means)
By the end of the episode, then, we have enjoyed some amazing Legends-style hilarity, the mini-saber-tooth is back in its cage and ready to be sent home, Sara has saved Ava's life yet again (so Ava has decided to leave them un-arrested for another week), P T Barnum has got his show's reputation back, Amaya is back on board, and Nate has learned a valuable lesson about getting wasted in another time period. All's well that ends well, and while Ava let slip that there is a new big bad on the horizon, the Legends find the whole concept hilarious. They've dealt with evil speedsters and immortal Egyptians, of course they can handle whatever comes next!
Which brings us to the final scene, as 'Freakshow' continues to set up the season 3 big bad: Mallus. An acolyte mutters incantations by a pool, leading to a woman rising from the water: Kuasa. The sister of Mari McCabe and a villain from the Vixen animated series, Kuasa has been resurrected to help Mallus in some mysterious way... ending the episode with a whole new series of questions that we can't wait to have answered.
Legends of Tomorrow continues with 'Zari' on Tuesday, October 24 @9pm on The CW.