REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow, S3E6 – Helen Hunt

After a slightly off-kilter week, Legends of Tomorrow was back in fine form last night with “Helen Hunt.” Written by Keto Shimizu and Ubah Mohamed, it was one of the few DCTV episodes that managed to feel genuinely feminist rather than just attempting to be. The team hears about the rather large anachronism that is Helen of Troy (guest star Bar Paly) winding up in Hollywood, and rushes to prevent her very existence from causing a bloody studio war. Behind the chaos, of course, they find Damien Darkh (Neal McDonough) posing as Helen’s agent with his own agents of evil at his side.

It’s the week to face your demons.

Near the start of “Helen Hunt,” I groaned when two studio executives came to blows fighting over Helen’s beauty while she was forced to stand to the side like she didn’t exist. And I literally face palmed when Nate (Nick Zano) and Mick (Dominic Purcell) took one look and fell in insta-love, acting no differently from the Neanderthals that had come before them. But that was before I realized that Legends of Tomorrow was making a genuine commentary on the objectification of women without their consent, at which point I thanked the TV gods for the timeliness of this episode. Given the sexual harassment nightmare that has been plaguing the shows behind the scenes, “Helen Hunt” felt like the female writers fighting back and eloquently using Sara (Caity Lotz) and Zari (Tala Ashe) especially to do so.

It was a relief to see all three Legends girls immediately place the blame for the wars (both in Troy and in Hollywood) where it belongs, and focus only on helping Helen and righting the inconsistencies of history. And the fact that Helen herself had learned the ways that the studios worked was also a fun twist, proving she’s intelligent as well as beautiful, even if those around her didn’t want to see it. At first she didn’t even want to be “saved,” because the only thing left for her in Troy was more bloodshed and objectification, which led to an interesting if underwritten stand-off between Sara and Zari. While Sara has learned that it’s never okay to mess with time and therefore wants to put Helen right back where she belongs, Zari takes a more compassionate approach and winds up “hacking time” to find a loophole for Helen to live the life she chooses without messing up history. This is where the exciting Wonder Woman Easter Egg comes in, so I won’t totally spoil it if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

Good and bad ways to wield a totem.

Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) actually had a role to play in Helen’s plot as well, giving her the knife that ultimately changes the course of her destiny, but she has her own villain to face in “Helen Hunt.” Kuasa (guest star Tracy Ifeachor) finally reveals that she is Amaya’s granddaughter, throwing her for a loop and potentially making her re-evaluate her fate. But as she tells Ray (Brandon Routh) later on, she is a protector of history and not its editor, so for now she remains firm on her course. It’ll be interesting to see how differently she fights her own blood now that she knows the truth, though.

Speaking of truths revealed, ‘Madame Eleanor’ (guest star Courtney Ford) does indeed turn out to be Damien’s daughter Nora Darkh. She and her dad team up to play dirty in a duel against Sara, showcasing that they are much more powerful foes than the Darkh who has been defeated twice now on Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. This overarching villain plot is still a little nebulous to me, but I’m enjoying myself so much this season that I don’t mind.

The only plot I do mind remains the separation of Jax (Franz Drameh) and Stein (Victor Garber), which continues to fall somewhat flat each week. The actors obviously had fun playing each other after Ray’s attempt to transfer the Firestorm matrix winds up causing a body switch, but the joke wore thin after a scene or two. Though I must give Drameh credit for his more believable interpretation of a Stein in Jax’s body. That being said, the plot is still important because it introduces us to actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr (guest star Celia Massingham), who was Stein’s childhood crush and a brilliant woman in her own right. It was a nice subversion of expectations to see that he truly admired her for her mind, and the discovery that she is partially responsible for the Waverider’s existence was simply wonderful.

Even the weakest parts of “Helen Hunt” proved to be some of the best work Legends of Tomorrow has done this season. I commend the cast and crew for a subtle exploration of women’s equality in the middle of what I can only imagine was real-life proof that we have not achieved it yet.