REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow, S3E18 – The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly

“The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly” brings Legends of Tomorrow‘s excellent third season to a close by driving home the point that there are no coincidences. This group of ragtag misfits was brought together for a reason, and every time they break time it’s for a bigger purpose. And sometimes – often, in fact – that purpose comes with noble sacrifice.

The episode starts with a totem battle right off the bat, not to mention the reveal that Mallus’ name is actually pronounced Mal-us. Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) creates a speedy distraction so the Legends can make it out alive, but it’s Rip (Arthur Darvill) who makes a surprising sacrifice by sucking himself and the demon into the Waverider’s time drive. The flashbacks and voiceovers to his high points were a bit more telegraphing that necessary, but it is bittersweet to hear him say he wants to see his wife and son again.

Even leaders need pep talks sometimes.

Sara (Caity Lotz) and the rest of the team mourn their lost, but she quickly come up with the plan to hide the totems in the Old West. While they ponder over who might be a righteous totem bearer, fan favorite Jonah Hex informs them that he’s the town’s new sheriff and immediately takes a liking to Zari (Tala Ashe). There’s not much time for flirtation, though, because Mallus’ agents follow them and demand the totems once more. For some reason, the collection of Romans and Vikings give the Legends twelve hours to prepare all six totems, which is one of those moments that stretch credulity before I remember that Legends of Tomorrow is about having fun and not about making sense. That being said, I must commend “The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly” for so seamlessly tying together disparate plot points throughout the season that had no reason to come up again; the villain arc took a long time to ramp up, but by the finale it all feels perfectly planned.

Back on the Waverider, Ray (Brandon Routh) and Damien (Neal McDonough) will stop at nothing to get Nora (Courtney Ford) back even though Sara explicitly warned them not to try anything stupid. Of course, Nate (Nick Zano) catches them in the act of escaping on the jump ship and promptly gets punched out on the spot. Ray’s single-minded desire to save Nora, which takes him to the night before she was possessed despite that kind of time travel being forbidden, is one of the season’s pleasant surprises. It’s nearly impossible to tell whether it’s because his heart is just that big, or because Stockholm Syndrome worked extra fast on him, but either way it’s a reminder of just why Ray is the gooey heart of the team. Damien steals the nanite gun and shoots Nora with it, much to Ray’s dismay. But little does the latter know, it isn’t meant to kill Nora but to transfer Mallus’ spirit into Damien instead. Damien’s sacrifice hits harder than Rip’s, mostly because he’s been such a large part of the last two seasons and the show has taken pains to flesh out his change of heart with his daughter’s life on the line. Ford’s performance also breaks a few hearts when Ray has to tell Nora what became of her father, but at least she has Ray by her side.

Guess who’s back?

Meanwhile, Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) decides to travel back to her ancestors and discover exactly how they defeated Mallus, which is probably the smartest idea anyone’s had all season. It’s not totally necessary for Nat to join her, but that man will do anything for a hit of hallucinogens. Either way, they learn the Care Bear Stare is the way to go, and thus the power of friendship is highlighted once more. Amaya brings up all the important moments in each character’s journey as proof that they are meant to wield the totems, from Mick (Dominic Purcell) running into his father to Zari’s totem calling her to the team, and together they join forces to call their champion. After Nate’s stray thoughts about Voltron and Zari’s attraction to Jonah Hex, they finally “make a baby” in Mick’s words. Their first attempt is twisted and useless, but all the friends they’ve made over the season show up just in time to help thanks to Zari’s beacon – including a newly revived Kuasa, an Amazonian Helen and a married Jax!

Sara’s confidence has taken a hit with two totem failures on her conscience, but Ava serves as an ego boost (and a romantic future?) that gives her the strength she needs to lead just in time for the showdown against vikings and pirates. After giving another one of her signature speeches, she faces the army with all six totems in hand before being carried away by Ava on a horse for the first time. The epic fight sequence maintains a lively pace without overstaying its welcome, and soon enough all that’s left is for the backup to keep Mallus occupied while the Legends call their champion once more.

Hello, my old heart.

And who is their champion, pray tell? None other than Beebo, the god of war. Not just any Beebo, a giant Voltron version of him made up of the six totem bearers. No DCTV show but Legends of Tomorrow could make this work, but they commit to the absurdity and it’s by far the best set piece all season. Suddenly it’s clear why so many of the recent episodes took place almost entirely in the Waverider: they had to save their budget for this battle. And, boy, was it worth it. Mallus is defeated by a ball of fluff and Mick finds himself the victim of a group hug, which is its own reward.

The character beats are what really make this show what it is, though, and the last few minutes are chock full of them. Between Jonah leaving Zari his hat, Sara commending Jax on becoming a father, and Ray giving Nora her father’s time stone so she can start over, there are plenty of moments to bring the warm and fuzzies. Less warm is Amaya’s decision to return to Zambezi, which was a foregone conclusion but still disappointing given how ingrained she’s been in the show these last two years. Good thing EW confirmed Richardson-Sellers would be back next season, and an even better thing that Amaya chose not to forget her time with the Legends or Nate. As uneven as the relationship felt at times, they both invested too much to erase it now.

“The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly” ends with another full circle note: the Legends of Tomorrow finally taking that trip to Aruba. Oh, and let’s not forget that Gary shows up with Constantine (Matt Ryan) in tow to reminds the team that they ruined everything again by letting out a bunch of demons and supernatural creatures along with Mallus. Who else can’t wait to see how they fix that problem next season?