REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow, S3E16 – I, Ava

Legends of Tomorrow explores the importance of family and identity in “I, Ava,” which provides guest star Jes Macallan ample opportunity to leave her mark on the show while also pushing Amaya’s (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) story forward for the first time in weeks. The biggest downside is the time spent on poor Zari (Tala Ashe) babysitting a grown man who insists on trying to light his farts on fire.

Would you believe Sara’s had messier breakups?

After last week’s breakup, Sara (Caity Lotz) walks out on the team with the excuse that she needs to clear her head in the face of the impending totem race. However, as soon as she learns from Gary that Ava has been missing from work, she has a renewed purpose and takes Ray (Brandon Routh) along for the ride. The trio search for Ava’s files at the Bureau only to find they’ve been deleted. They next head to Fresno to meet Ava’s parents, where Sara questions every photo in the room before whipping out a knife when their story about her fifteenth birthday doesn’t line up. It turns out they are actors who were hired 4 years ago to play Ava’s parents, but the who and why are still mysteries. When Ava reappears with a lie about whereabouts, Sara steals her time courier and then her mothership in order to travel to Vancouver in 2213 (nice use of the actual filming location!), which has been banned by the Bureau on account of it being filled with hundreds of Ava Sharpes. Is she actually Legends of Tomorrow‘s very own Janet from The Good Place?

The idea that Ava is a mix of the best genes from around the world is deeply uncomfortable, and I’m not sure if I love Ray summing it up with, “She’s a little pale, if you ask me.” Regardless, Sara and Ray engage in a short but interesting discussion on whether the clones are things or people. Sara leans hard on the former until the real Ava (if we can call her that) shows up and inadvertently reminds her ex of just how human she is. The main plot of “I, Ava” contains a large number of convenient coincidences and simplified reactions to incredibly complex discoveries, but the enjoyment of the story can’t be denied. The battle against the fembots is one of the most ambitious set pieces in recent memory, and there’s a lot of great bits for each of the four characters involved in it. Not to mention that Rip Hunter will have a lot to answer for when Sara and Ava next run into him.

Why won’t Kuasa say who her grandfather is?

Back on the Waverider, Amaya finds out that her granddaughter Mari has been injured in a fire now that the timeline is cementing without her totem. Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) and Nate (Nick Zano) set out to speak with her and run into Kuasa at the hospital. Wally gets to use his speed in a cool chase sequence that also makes use of Kuasa’s water powers, but they’re soon on the same side when they learn that she’s here to help Mari and not hurt her. Kuasa wants to restore the Anazi totem to her family, so she suggests bringing the Darhks to them by using one of the Legends as bait. Nate takes charge here, handling his girlfriend’s grandchildren with an ease that suggests he’s forgotten their existence is proof his relationship ends. But even if he’s forgotten, she hasn’t. So as soon as Damien and a very creepy-looking Nora arrive, Kuasa turns on Nate and hands him over. Even Damien seems scared of his daughter now, so much so that he can’t even torture Nate properly. Instead they opt for a safe space to discuss possessed daughter issues in what may be the funniest gag in all of “I, Ava.” The Mallus version of Nora doesn’t take too kindly to being played, however, and attacks her father without a second thought before draining Nate’ life force.

In the meantime, Kuasa brings the Anazi totem back to her grandmother and informs her that Nate has been left with the darks. They get into a nasty argument about selfishness, and in a way both are right. Amaya should be able to live her life as she chooses, but in doing so she may be hurting the family she swore to protect. At the same time, Kuasa is acting out precisely to save her family but doesn’t care how many people she hurts in the process. Can’t we all just get along? Vixen and Kid Flash go after their friend, but Mallus manages to steal Wally’s speed and throw it back at him – leaving a newly powered Vixen to battle alone until her granddaughter decides to join her. We finally get a glimpse of Nate turning to his steel form to help Amaya, and Kuasa finally learns that family is her strength. Unfortunately, Mallus steals Kuasa’s totem as vengeance and takes her life along with it. And mourning her granddaughter takes Amaya back to her previous stance on Nate and destiny, which means the next stop is Zambezi 1992.

The final subplot of “I, Ava” is also its most annoying. Zari is left to train Mick (Dominic Purcell) on using his fire totem, but he won’t stop eating despite the fact that she is clearly fasting and tired. At first it’s unclear if she neglected to inform them that she’s Muslim, or if Mick is just terribly insensitive. The latter emerges as the more accurate description when he offers her a bacon burger after she explains that she’s observing Ramadan. Maybe this was meant to be funny, but it only serves as a reminder that Heatwave is a walking redneck stereotype this season. Eventually they do get around to a real training session, in which Mick calls Zari a bitch the second she loses her saintly patience. The sounds of her teaching him a painful lesson are not quite as satisfying as they could be, but I’ll take them for now. Kuasa’s tragic death seems to sober him a bit, and “I, Ava” ends with him allowing Zari to talk about her religious traditions – even if he still tries to offer her pork.

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