A nostalgic Prom Night slasher gifts DC’s Legends of Tomorrow with its best episode in a very long time.
If you’ve been following these weekly reviews on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, you’ll probably know that this writer wasn’t the biggest fan of how the show began prioritizing humor over the plot developments in its fourth season.
A series that knew exactly how make us both laugh and cry, Season 4 of Legends blurred the lines too much and the season ended up becoming one of its more uneven offerings – an unfortunate development for a show that spent two consecutive years being the very best that the Arrowverse had to offer.
Season 5, however, began an upward trajectory for the show as, following its Crisis On Infinite Earths-themed opener, its season premiere (though a little too meta) took some downtime to let the Waverider’s captain Sara Lance grieve Oliver Queen’s death. It would follow that up with a good old-fashioned noir escapade that felt very much like it belonged in the show’s glory days. And that all led to this; the gripping “Slay Anything”.
The beauty of a show such as Legends of Tomorrow is that every adventure gets to offer something significantly different than its predecessor. Last week we took a trip to the Golden Age of Hollywood and this week we ended up in the John Hughes-esque setting of a 1989 high school prom. And what really makes each episode stand out is how the show manages to replicate the qualities and conventions associated with each of its respective settings.
Just as the previous installment had all the makings of a noir classic, “Slay Anything” successfully channeled the vintage teen angst of Pretty In Pink or The Breakfast Club to instil us with a sense of nostalgia that is pretty hard to come by. However, the episode didn’t just channel John Hughes.
Focused on the return of a fictional serial killer known as the Prom Night Slasher – a student that apparently stabbed a number of his fellow classmates to death on their prom night in 1989 who was resurrected immediately after his execution in 2004 – the episode employed a number of classic horror movie tropes in order to add to the suspense of it all.
Some Legends back in the ’80s attempting to make a young man very happy? Undeniably John Hughes. Other Legends trapped in high school with a vengeful serial killer? So John Carpenter. And the fact that Nate and Ray made reference to that during their mission highlights how tongue-in-cheek it all was, but the writers really do deserve credit for utilizing that nostalgia in order to make “Slay Anything” so genuinely thrilling. Bravo.
Dysfunction doesn’t get to choose who you are
A slasher on the surface, yes, but the episode’s emotional core revolved around the supposed serial killer Freddy Meyers and how a dysfunctional life threatened to turn him into one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. So, while Sara, Ava and Mick battled that notorious killer in 2004, they sent Ray, Nora and Nate back to 1989 in a desperate bid to stop that future from ever coming to pass.
Speaking of Nora, she was struggling with her duties as a Fairy Godmother because she felt like her attempts to make the world a better place were redundant as long as she continued to grant wishes for ponies, simply because she couldn’t give children what they needed if they were completely unaware as to what they really needed. This, however, ended up serving the episode’s narrative beautifully, as she was able to give Freddy the prom that he wanted, effectively ending his high school misery and allowing everyone to see him for the fun-loving friend he could be.
Though it turned out that Freddy wasn’t the killer after all – and thus, deserved the redemptive tale the episode laid out for him – what ensued was a surprisingly heartwarming tale of how two troubled souls forged by lives of torment and heartache made each other realize that they don’t have to be defined by that – as the show so eloquently put it – dysfunction.
Like Legends‘ very best, there was a whole lot meaning behind its crazy and this proved to be one of the very best examples of that reliably successful formula. Beautiful.
Back On Form
If this writer learned anything from this week’s installment, it’s that Legends is continuing its own path to redemption, rediscovering what made it so darn successful in the first place and managing to get the degrees of madness just right. Yes, the episode was chilling, haunting, destructive, heartfelt, emotional, nostalgic and oddly beautiful – all of which defines this somewhat undefinable series.
“Slay Anything” is a wonderfully paced horror thriller dripping in as much nostalgia as it is blood that stands out as one of Legends of Tomorrow‘s absolute best. A welcome return to form for this genius show.
- The episode owed a lot to the classic horror films of the 1980s, with references to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday The 13th and Halloween.
- Freddy Meyers’ name is a nod to Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers from Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween respectively.
- Can we please give a standing ovation to Courtney Ford who absolutely stole the show as Nora Darhk. Her emotional monologues were both an example of how far the character has come and how great an actress she truly is. We love her and I’m not sure we’ll ever be ready to let her go.
- The same goes for Seth Meriwether – whose performance as Freddy Meyers was so darn infectious that it was hard not to feel for the unfortunate teenager who deserved better from his classmates.
- The bond building between Zari and Behrad is proving to be really fruitful and it’s great that the former has decided to stick around. She’s such a self-aware queen.
- The twist that Freddy’s mother was the killer was a pleasant subversion of our expectations. Exceptional plotting and a twist that felt like so much more than shock value.
- Ava being a serial killer fangirl with her own podcast was just too good.
- Totally stan Ava and Sara for being the “final girls”.
- Is it even possible to not get nostalgic when “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” plays?
- So happy Mick got some happiness.
- Constantine’s own mission has reunited with him Charlie and Gary, as he’ll attempt to seek the help of the spirit of a powerful witch – a witch that just so happens to be Astra’s mother.
- Again, this was one of Legends of Tomorrow‘s finest episodes to date and, by far, one of this writer’s personal favorites.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns to The CW next Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Did you enjoy “Slay Anything”? Let us know in the comments below!