The Legends travel to Memphis, Tennessee in 1954 after they detect an anachronism that indirectly caused the death of modern music. As Zari helps Wally adjust to life on The Waverider, Nate relishes the chance to teach Amaya about classic rock and roll, accidentally discovering the sixth Zambesi Totem - the Totem of Death - in the process!
The legends of Robert Leroy Johnson and Elvis Aaron Presley and the movie Footloose.
While Elvis Presley was a devout Christian, he was raised a member of The Assembly of God - not the Church of Zion, as the episode depicts.
Elvis Presley also did not have a rock-and-roll hating preacher uncle named Lucius.
The episode seems to have either confused or intentionally combined the recording of Elvis's first record and Elvis first performance that was broadcast on the radio. The episode depicts Elvis as having recorded his first record at Sun Studio in July 1954. Elvis truly recorded his first record at Sun Studio on July 18, 1953. The song Elvis plays in the studio for his first record in the episode, "I'm Gone, Mama" isn't the song he recorded for his first record. He did two songs - "My Happiness" and "That's Where Your Heartaches Begin." Elvis recorded the song "That's All Right (Mama)" for his first radio performance, recording on July 5, 1954. The song played on the WHBQ two days later on July 7, 1954.
While Nate's insistence that Elvis be allowed to record his first record with the Death Totem Guitar is treated like the unreasonable request of a crazy fanboy, the loss of rock and roll on American culture would be a major anachronism with long-lasting consequences for the timeline. So why is Sara so resistant to letting Nate give the guitar back to Elvis?
It seems highly unlikely that even Mick could go into the galley and make a sandwich without seeing the dead Axl in the middle of the floor.
Elvis Presley did not write the song "Jailhouse Rock". It was written for him by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, for his third movie with the same name.
Given Zari's cynical nature and how she had to hide her religion in her time period, it seems highly unlikely that she'd be the one to suggest to Wally that they try talking to Elvis' conservative preacher uncle about giving his nephew's music a chance... even if she is trying to get Wally to explore options that don't involve just using his powers to solve everything when, in this case, Wally's powers totally could solve everything.
As much as one would like to cheer the general pro-religion, "not all Christians are bigots" message of this story, it's still somewhat unbelievable that a white Southern preacher at this point in time would be open to talking to a young black man or Muslim woman.
For that matter, Nate and Amaya kissing in a church should have been a MUCH bigger deal to the assembled crowd of all-white Southerners.
We never do find out exactly how The Darhks were involved in all of this and how their arrival prompted the anachronism that led to Elvis being committed and Memphis being abandoned.
The direction, cinematography and use of music in the opening scene is fantastic. It's also amazing how well the establish the supernatural mood with a simple change of lighting and a few props being shaken around.
The musical performances are strong.
Trivia Of Tomorrow
The guitar player mentioned in the opening sequence - Robert Johnson - is a nod to Robert Leroy Johnson. Ranked fifth on the Rolling Stone list of the greatest guitar players of all time, Johnson died young under mysterious circumstances at the age of 27 in 1938. Recordings of Johnson's blues music are credited with inspiring later artists - such as Elvis Presley - to create rock and roll. Popular folk legend has it that Johnson met with The Devil at a Mississippi crossroads at midnight and bargained for his amazing guitar skills.
The third episode of Constantine - The Devil's Vinyl - dealt with a legend similar to that of Robert Leroy Johnson. In that episode, John became involved in the hunt for a vinyl record by a legendary fictional blues man (Willie Cole) that apparently captured the voice of The Devil as he came to claim Willie Cole's soul.
Wally uses the initials WFW when he sets his high scores on Zari's video games. In the classic comics, Wally's full name is Wallace Rudolph West. It is unknown what Wally's middle name is in The DCTVU.
Rory named his pet rat Axl. This is likely in tribute to Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose.
Rory notices that Axl's name has mysteriously changed to Josh Groban, who is a popular classically-trained singer that sold over 20 million solo albums in the first 10 years of his career.
As Nate notes, Beale Street was the heart of the music scene in Memphis in the 1950s.
Elvis Aaron Presley did have a twin brother named Jesse Garon Presley, who was stillborn. The historical record is divided on what effect the loss of his twin may have had on Elvis, but some of his friends and biographers claim that Elvis believed that Jesse's ghost was always close to him and that Elvis would frequently talk to his dead brother as if he was there in the room.
The episode ends with a video tribute to Axl, showing Ray running from him and Mick making faces at him in his cage.
EMF ratings are a measurement used to gauge the strength of ambient electromagnetic fields. They are measured in metric units called Gauss. As Ray notes, some people believe that supernatural entities - such as ghosts - give off signals that can be detected using an EMF probe.
Constantine's notes on The Death Totem read as follows:
"The background of the Death Totem is entangled in contentious debates amongst ancient artifacts experts. The chronology of other totems are directly traceable through lineage, but records of previous death totem bearers are unknown. Witness accounts of the totem's powers are hard to verify. What is consistent in the testimonies is that The Death Totem is the most volatile of the totems. Historians have concluded that it was lost for eons, along with a sixth tribe of Zambesi."
The Death Totem gives its bearer the power to raise the spirits of the dead, control them and put them to rest.
The average life expectancy of a rat is 1.5 to 2.5 years.
The Wind Totem blasts can affect ghosts.
Apparently a speedster running through a ghost can disrupt their ectoplasmic form (At least, we think this is what Wally does to get rid of the ghosts inside the church.)
Ray develops specially encrypted lock-boxes to hold each of the six Totems.
(Wally looks at Ray's Chore Wheel.)
Wally: Wipe down food fabricator?
Zari: Bet you thought time-travel would be seeing Woodstock, saving Shakespeare and having ethical debates while standing over baby Hitler. Trust me. It takes time to get used to life-
(There is a sudden burst of yellow lightning around the room as Wally gets to work. When he stops, the kitchen is spotless.)
Wally: Cool. So what's next?
Zari: It's gonna take time for me to get used to life with a speedster.
(Gideon tells The Legends where Elvis Presley might be found.)
Sara: You heard the lady.
(Everyone just stares at Sara.)
Sara: (impatiently) What?! Why are you staring at me?
Nate: I dunno... we're waiting for you to... do the thing you do.
Sara: What thing?
Ray: You know? You usually send us into the field with a little more... piazza.
(Sara rolls her eyes and flips her hair in an exaggerated manner before walking off making a jazz hands gesture.)
Sara: All right Legends! Put on your Sunday best because we are going to church!
(Everyone nods, satisfied, and moves to change clothes.)
Sara: (dryly) So Elvis is the bearer of the long-lost sixth totem? Consider me all shook up.
Amaya; Every totem is growing strong in response to Mallus' threat. What if the preacher is right and Elvis' music literally drives Memphis insane?
Sara: Then we have to get it before that happens.
(Wally dashes off, leaving papers flying in his wake, and returns seconds later holding Elvis' guitar.)
Wally: I got it! Elvis' guitar totem.
Zari: So I'm not the only one who finds that annoying right?
Nate: So annoying.
(Sara attempts to pry the black gem loose from the guitar with a wrench. Suddenly, there is a weird tone. Sara stops and drops the wrench.)
Ray: Woah. That was weird.
(The lights flicker and there's a distinctive electric crackle in the air.)
Sara: You feel that?
Ray: Yeah. It's freezing.
Gideon: I am detecting an EMF rating of 6 milliGauss that is disturbing the ship's electrical service.
Ray: Electro-Magnetic Field. It's a scientific term that's wrapped up in a bunch of (sputters, clearly finding the idea distasteful) paranormal nonsense.
(There's a noise across the room as Sara and Ray both run to a glass wall that's suddenly frosted over with a hand-print in the middle of the frost.)
Sara: Paranormal? As in...
(The two turn to see the guitar hovering in mid-air as if picked up by an unseen figure. The black gem glows as a figure resembling a young Elvis Presley suddenly comes into view only to fade into a grey indistinct shriveled figure,covered in ice.)
Ray: ... ghosts.
Nate: (into comm) Guys? Elvis' guitar is haunted.
(Cut to The Waverider, where Wally is being pulled along the floor of the bridge by the guitar.)
Ray and Sara: We know!
We see Ray's Chore Wheel, which was mentioned but not shown in 211.
The chore wheel lists the following parts of The Waverider: Cargo Bay, Galley, Library, Dining, Air Ducts, Storage, Controls, Engine, Servers, Fabricator, Lab, Gym, Med Bay and Parlour.
The chore wheel lists the following duties: Wipe Down Food Fabricator; Tidy, Sweep and Remove Debris; General Cleaning and Tidying; Clean & Maintain Pipes & Ducts, Electrical Set-Up and Dust Removal; Regular Systems Check & Tune-Up and Equipment Maintenance.
Zari pretends not to understand Ray's system for the chore wheel since he'll eventually do all her chores for her rather than make a fuss about it.
Wally beats the high scores on Zari's favorite video games.
According to Wally, the trick to Ms. Pac-Man is to focus on attacking the ghosts - not chasing the fruit. Zari says everyone knows that.
The first clue that an anachronism destroyed rock and roll music is Zari's discovery that her copy of Guitar Hero is now a game called Trombone Hero.
The rat that Ray gave to Mick as a pet in 211 is seen for the first time. Rory named him Axl.
Ray refers to using cold fusion to fix The Fire Totem again, as in 313.
The second clue that an anachronism destroyed rock and roll music is that Axl's name has mysteriously changed to Josh Groban.
Sara is now fully aware that Nate and Amaya are dating again.
The third clue that an anachronism destroyed rock and roll music is that Nate's distinctive hairstyle has changed.
Nate uses Royal Crown Pomade to spike his hair - the same hair product used by Elvis Presley.
Gideon determines that Memphis, Tennessee became a ghost town following a mysterious bout of mass hysteria in July 1954. This coincided with a concert performance by Elvis Presley, which ended with Presley being committed to Bolivar State Hospital.
As Nate explains, without Memphis, there would be no rock and roll, which would have a butterfly effect on American culture further down the line.
Mick likes peanut butter and banana sandwiches fried in bacon fat - a reported favorite food of Elvis.
Nate hates ska music.
It is confirmed that the anachronisms being caused by The Darhks are not showing up on The Time Bureau's Radar, for some reason.
Amaya is a fan of Benny Goodman.
Zari's amulet reacts to Elvis' guitar while he's singing. This leads The Legends to conclude that Elvis is a totem barer.
Sara has some means of contacting John Constantine.
Amaya refers to the events of 213 and how she and Nate saw dinosaurs together.
Amaya and Nate once watched the entire series of Friends in one week on Netflix.
Axl dies after ingesting some green liquid left on the floor of the galley.
Nate is apparently something of a Goth, being a fan of The Smiths and Morrisey.
Amaya exposes Nate to the traditional music of Zambesi.
The episode ends with the box containing The Death Totem visibly jumping around on Ray's desk.
Memphis, Tennessee - 1950
Memphis, Teneessee - July 1954
There was a Category Two Anachronism during the Belle Epoque in Paris.
The was a Category Three Anachronism during the launch of The Spirit of St. Louis.
The Bottom Line
Badly researched in terms of its history and full of plot holes and a lot of out-of-character moments. The production values are decent and the music is fantastic but the writers forced a lot of the story elements in order to tell the story that they wanted to tell. Ultimately, this is a painful and problematic episode in many respects and easily the worst one of Season Three so far.