REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow, S3E15 – Necromancing the Stone

Legends of Tomorrow wastes no time making use of the death totem that was picked up last week, dealing with the team’s fears and insecurities in the haunting but uneven “Necromancing the Stone.”

If you love someone, set them free of demons.

The episode starts creepily enough, with Sara (Caity Lotz) waking from a Mallus-induced nightmare that hints at what’s to come. She wakes next to Ava (Jess Macallan), and the two share a cute and fun moment full of ship fodder ranging from jealousy over Constantine to the first official utterance of the “girlfriend” word. It’s rare to see Sara this happy, but unfortunately it seems Legends of Tomorrow wants to keep that sight from us a little bit longer. Their new couple glow is interrupted by the latest anachronisms, and Sara sends everyone out to repair different ones in pairs while Ray (Brandon Routh) and Mick (Dominic Purcell) stay behind to work on the fire totem. Of course, everyone’s plans are derailed when her splitting headache becomes a full-on demon possession courtesy of the death totem mixing with the piece of Mallus still inside her.

The vision of Sara’s Black Canary past is particularly affecting, with everything from the echo effect on Lotz’s voice to the choice of music hitting just the right spot. Other highlights include the confusion and fear once Zari (Tala Ashe) and Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) find a knocked out Ray and realize the ship has been sabotaged. And while Sara’s Death garb looks like it came from Hot Topic, the voice modulation and excellent fight choreography go a long way to keep the story from entering the ‘cheesy in a bad way’ territory. Plus, “Necromancing the Stone” lets Ava take an active role in the story and romance by bringing Constantine (Matt Ryan) in to help save her girlfriend. Constantine, for his part, adds the right amount of levity to the proceedings while cementing the possession storyline as serious business. It’s a strong episode for Sara and her guilt over her past, and the scene of Ava breaking through Sara’s mind prison is especially lovely, but the ending is a bit of a letdown. Though it’s obviously just a temporary setback, seeing Sara give in so easily to the idea that she doesn’t deserve happiness or Ava is a disappointing conclusion when she’s fought off the darkness so well in past episodes.

Meanwhile, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is given more opportunities to show off his speed in “Necromancing the Stone,” but there’s still an undercurrent of his ability being wrong for the Waverider. It’s an odd choice narratively speaking, because a speedster should open the door up to new possibilities rather than close it. Not only that, but his previous experience and skills as an engineer are consistently downplayed in favor of a story in which he feels insecure because of all the geniuses he’s been surrounded by. I’m personally trying not to let my affinity for his characterization on The Flash to get in the way of my enjoyment of Legends, but it is a jarring change. It’s especially jarring when when the death totem turns into Jesse and mocks his newfound insecurities about her intelligence and her family’s status compared to his. He’s suddenly self-conscious about his mother being a ‘drug addict,’ despite the fact that was clean and supportive all of Wally’s life, in another instance of the show warping his backstory so that he can be an unloved orphan welcomed into the Waverider’s arms.

Heatwave gets the fire totem? You don’t say.

On the other side, some of the death totem visions were incredibly powerful. Zari, whose story has consistently been one of the season’s strongest points, has a run-in with her baby brother that is sure to bring a tear to anyone’s eye. Time and again, Ashe makes the most of her material and proves what a great addition her character has been. Nate’s (Nick Zano) confrontation with his grandfather is more of a reminder that he and Amaya may be doomed rather than an indication of his character, but it’s still nice to see Commander Steel again in whatever form. Mick taking up the fire totem with Amaya’s help is actually one of the most interesting twists in the story, and helps turn his refusal to be a hero into an important throughline on its own. Finally, the shoutout to Constantine with John’s vision of Astra is a bittersweet treat for fans of that series – and one that makes a lot of sense now that we know he’ll be a regular next season.

Once again, the character work in Legends of Tomorrow is stronger than the overarching plot. Nevertheless, “Necromancing the Stone” is one of the stronger episodes in recent weeks outside of what feels like complete rewrite of Wally’s character and the unnecessary roadblock to Avalance’s courtship.

Legends of Tomorrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on the CW.