While Sara tends to some business in Star City, Ava is left in charge and tries to manage the team (and their newest addition Zari) as they track down the latest Encore - Marie Antoinette. Meanwhile, John Constantine confronts a literal ghost from his past, with a little help from Charlie and Gary.
Various Hellblazer stories, particularly Original Sins, Dangerous Habits and the Swamp Thing story American Gothic and the 2019 film version of Pet Semetary (creepy kids in animal masks) and the 2006 movie Marie Antoinette.
How can Mick, who became famous for writing romance novels, not recognize the signs of a crush? (From what we've seen of Mick's love-life he's more into hot, short-term passion than honest emotion.)
Shouldn't Nate be familiar with ALOHA, having been a Time Agent for most of the last year?
It is a credit to both Courtney Ford and Tala Ashe as performers that they manage to sell a scene in which the severed head of Marie Antoinette and a social media influencer from 2044 bond over the problems of public perception and being rich and popular.
The costumes are well-designed and period appropriate. The design for DJ S'more Money is also fun.
The final shot of the clockwork in the coin and John lying dying in the middle of a circle on a tile floor is a beautiful, artistic one.
Trivia Of Tomorrow
This episode reveals that the details of how Astra became lost to Hell were different in the Arrowverse than they were in the original Vertigo Comics universe.
Hellblazer #11 revealed that John Constantine and his friends in the Newcastle Crew went to a club in Newcastle where John and his band Mucous Membrane had played once before. The club owner was a dodgy sort named Alex Louge who was known to have wild parties involving sex magic in the club basement. What was not know, however, was that Alex had started forcing his daughter, Astra, to take part in the parties. Terrified by the molestation, Astra called out for someone to help her and her pleas were answered by a fear elemental, who killed everyone else in the club and possessed Astra.
John attempted to drive the elemental away by summoning a more powerful demon to scare it off. Unfortunately, John botched the ritual and the demon claimed Astra as its prize since John was unable to nail it down to a bargain before it manifested. The incident drove John mad and saw him committed to the Ravenscar Sanitarium for two years. It had a similar effect on most of his companions, most of whom were scared out of getting involved in the supernatural after that.
The Arrowverse version of the Newcastle incident had the same end result, but introduces a new wrinkle along with the character of Natalie Louge. Astra's mother did not figure into the original comics.
In the Arrowverse, Natalie was a friend of John Constantine as a child, his first love as a teenager and the lead singer of Mucous Membrane. She was a talented witch but she turned aside her power after John was nearly killed by something and saved only by the intervention of his friend Gary Lester. (Gary was the friend of John's who died fighting the hunger demon in C104) She begged John to give up his magic to settle down with her but he refused. She later married Alex Logue and had Astra.
When Natalie was killed by a drunk driver, John asked Alex for permission to try and bring her back from the dead. (John later lied and said that Alex had begged him to resurrect her.) John botched the ritual and Astra was taken to Hell. Natalie committed suicide when she learned the price of her resurrection and Alex Louge drank himself to death.
The parable of the fox knowing many things but the hedgehog knowing one important thing which Behrad quotes is taken from a poem by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus. This idea was later turned into a formal essay - The Hedgehog and The Fox - by philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who speculated that intellectuals can be broken down into two groups - those who base their philosophy around one single strong idea (hedgehogs) and those who cannot limit themselves to a single theme (foxes). In pushing this metaphor, Behrad says that the Legends are foxes and Ava is a hedgehog.
The ending in which John begins dying of lung cancer is a nod to John's prophecized death in Dangerous Habits - a graphic novel which served as the basis for the Keanu Reeves Constantine movie. In it, John was diagnosed with untreatble lung cancer and started seeking out a magical solution to his problen.
Gary knows a spell that can open sealed doors which involves a chant in Romanian.
Ray: Mick, are you feeling all right?
Mick: My stomach hurts. I can't eat. I can't drink. I think Allie gave me an STD back at the reunion.
Gideon: Initiating scan.
Ray: Those are not symptoms. Those are feelings. Mick. I think you're developing a crush.
Mick: Is that when you whiz and it hurts?
(Zari has invited herself along on the mission, dressed as a French nobleman.)
Ava: She's not coming. We don't do ride-alongs in the field, B.
Zari: Ava, I can handle myself in the field. I once played capture the flag to raise awareness about feline OCD. Sooooo.....
Ava: This isn't a PR event, all right? We're walking into a deadly situation facing an Encore with unknown powers. I do not have time to keep my eye on a party girl!
Nate: (starring at Zari) I do.
Zari: So this is your job? Walking around parties?
Nate: Isn't this kind of what you do?
Zari: Hmm, touche.
(Nate grabs two glasses of champagne from a passing servant. He offers one to Zari but she shakes her head.)
(Nate quickly puts both drinks down.)
Nate: But something definitely feels off. At this point in the French Revolution, most of the royals had been separated from their heads. Even wearing a nice dress could get you sent to the guillotine.
(Zari stops dead.)
Zari: Uh, and you let me come out in this because...?
Nate: I'm sucker for a corset and an updo.
(Zari and Ava watch as a woman collapses on the floor, having apparently partied herself to death.)
Zari: This woman is next-level popular. People would rather die than leave. Talk about FOMO.
Ava: My God, that's it. Marie Antoinette was beheaded for partying while France starved, and now she is literally killing the Revolution with a nonstop party!
John: Is that really you, Nat?
Natalie: I need to hear you say it. Why did you bring me back?
John: Because I loved you, Nat. I never stopped.
Natalie: I'm not here for the John Constantine broken hero act.
(Charlie's body changes to resemble Natalie.)
Natalie: Say it to my face. I need to hear the truth.
John: I brought you back to prove to you that I was right. To show you that I was right to choose magic over us.
Natalie: (nodding sadly) Thank you. I needed you to admit to yourself what you did, because if you're going to save Astra, you need to do it for her. Not for your ego.
John: Oh, I have tried to save her, Nat, I have tried, but I don't know how.
Natalie: I think I found a way.
Marie Antoinette: When I was 14, I was forced to leave my family. People saw the dresses, the parties, the hair, and they assumed I was a spoiled brat. Really, I was just a lonely Viennese girl trying to fit into French society.
Zari: I've been famous since I was six years old. I don't know if people love me or love to hate me. What they don't understand is how hard I work to create a fantasy for them.
(Marie nods as best you can when you're a severed head.)
Marie Antoinette: The secret is to never let the party stop.
(Ray brings his phone into the library. He is oblivious to Marie Antoinette's head being gagged.)
Ray: Here, doesn't she look exactly like you?
(Ray points his phone at Marie.)
Nora:: Ray, I am looking at a gagged, decapitated woman. If that's what you think I look like, we have a lot of processing to do.
Zari: You locked Marie Antoinette up, but you let me off the hook.
Ava: I mean, she killed people, Zari. You screwed up. You know, everybody screws up.
Zari: Not you.
Ava: Me? I feel like I'm screwing up all the time.
Zari:You were so on mission. You crashed an A-list party in a pantsuit and threw yourself into a fountain.
Ava: Ugh, see, it's a perfect example.
Zari: No, it was amazing. You didn't care what anyone thought. You were just being you. I've been trying to get people to like me for so long that I've forgotten who I really am. I have millions of followers but zero friends.
Ava: You got one.
Gary accidentally freeze the ghost of Astra's mother while trying to check on John.
Sara has a bad habit of accidentally sneaking up on people.
Sara appoints Ava as the Interim Captain while she is away.
While the personal business taking Sara to Star City is not specified, it seems likely that it is Oliver Queen's funeral in 810.
Astra is warned by another demon that her venture with the Encores is getting too costly, as she has already lost three souls because of the Legends - Rasputin, Bugsy Siegel and Kathy Meyers.
Astra's mother was named Natalie.
John lies to Gary and Charlie about how the night Astra was lost to Hell being far more complicated than a simple exorcism and how he was begged to intervene by Astra's father, Alex. In truth, John asked for permission to resurrect Natalie to prove that he was right to give up their love to become a warlock.
According to Behard, squeezable butter stops existing in 2024.
Zari asks for Gideon to make her a new dress for the unveiling of her new perfume.
According to Ava, the first rule of Time Travel is no using knowledge of the future for personal profit. The second rule is no social media while on-board the Waverider.
Nora is currently helping a girl and her mom who have been living out of their car for a year. The mom has a final-round job interview lined-up.
Mick thinks he got an STD after his encounter with his ex in 504. According to Gideon, he's just feeling actual love.
Zari has a boyfriend - a rapper who performs under the DJ S'more Money.
The Time Bureau used to celebrate Taco Monday under Ava's leadership.
ALOHA is a program Ava developed for handling tactical situations. The acronym stands for Assess, Listen, Observe, Hydrate, Attack.
Gideon detects a disturbance in Paris in 1793 which results in the French Revolution collapsing.
While everyone else dresses like a French peasant, Zari dresses like a high-class French lady.
Zari sprays herself and Ava with her signature perfume, Dragoness, before they leave the Waverider.
Astra consults with a demon known as The Coin Maker, who forges the soul coins, as to how to kill John Constantine before his appointed time to die.
Napoleon is among the party-goers in the Bastille. According to Nate, he should be marching on Southern France at that point in history.
Marie Antoinette is the spitting image of Nora Darhk.
Zari doesn't drink alcohol and stops Behard from drinking champagne. This is the first clue that something is wrong and the first hint of Marie Antoinette's power as an Encore.
Zari and Ava figure out that Marie Antoinette has some kind of charm power that makes people want to be near her even to the point of dying.
Zari comes up with a plan to lure Marie away from her guards by telling her they're going to a better party.
Natalie's ghost takes possession of Charlie's body.
It is revealed that Marie Antoinette's head and body are separated even in death and she is barely able to keep her head balanced on top of her body. The body seems to act independently of Marie's head unless she is on it.
Nate puts Marie's head in the library to make her less dangerous. Her body is kept in the brig.
Gideon shows Zari a news report from October 7, 2045. It reveals that Zari's social media empire and brand have both crumbled after the FDA determined that her Dragoness perfume caused people to lose their sense of smell.
Zari figures out that Marie Antoinette's perfume was the source of her charm power.
Zari steals the perfume from Marie's body before going to her event.
Zari has an assistant named Les-Lay.
DJ S'more Money's team had the idea for him to propose to Zari at the MTV Movie Awards, just before they presented their co-branded line of sunglasses.
Ava figures out that Dragoness causing people to lose their sense of smell is why she and Zari were immune to the effects of Marie Antoinette's mind-control.
Zari spills the perfume on herself, causing everyone at the event to start chasing her like zombies.
Ava rescues Zari by getting her to jump in a fountain, which washes the perfume off of her.
Nate takes advantage of the confusion to punch DJ S'more Money.
DJ S'more Money apparently breaks up with Zari, having shouted something about calling his agent to schedule a divorce.
Natalie tells John that she thinks the Loom of Fate can save Astra and that Charlie is connected to it.
Charlie admits that the Loom of Fate was real until she destroyed it. She scattered the pieces of it around the multiverse to destroy the idea of Fate itself, but she recently sensed something changed.
Gideon makes a dressed-down outfit for Zari to replace her dress. With a flannel shirt and jeans, it resembles the clothes she favored before the timeline was changed.
Zari has her first donut in 1,743 days. One bite of it gives her flashes of all the other times she ate donuts on the Waverider.
Zari and Ava become friends.
The Coin Maker alters John's coin so that his death of lung cancer in ten years happens now. She does this in exchange for a favor to be named later from Astra.
The episode ends with John collapsing and coughing up blood as Charlie and Gary try to help him.
Northumberland County, UK - 2020
Versailles, France - 1793
New York City - 2044
The Fridge Factor
Ava is dumbed down as a leader to make her difficulties in leading the Legends more believable, despite her being the former head of the Time Bureau and leading field teams against the Legends all through Season 3.
The Bottom Line
Not a bad episode but it doesn't quite work either. The tonal shift between the two major plots is too great to jump back and forth between them. Had the bits with Constantine and Charlie been saved for the beginning and end like last week, maybe it would be less jarring. As it is there's a lot of little things that just make the whole episode seem off.