In Review: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: 3×07: “Welcome to the Jungle”
HEALING FROM THE PAST — With Sara (Caity Lotz) out of commission, the team finds a new Anachronism that leads them to the jungles of Vietnam and right in the middle of the war. Ray (Brandon Routh), Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Zari (Tala Ashe) pose as journalists and trek through the jungle when they are lead to time-displaced Gorilla Grodd. Meanwhile, Nate (Nick Zano) and Rory (Dominic Purcell) run into someone Rory knows which give a glimpse into his past. Victor Garber and Franz Drameh also star.
The producers had a problem. “Welcome to the Jungle” featured Grodd, but Grodd can only be featured in so many scenes per episode before the VFX team starts praying for death. Writers Ray Utarnachitt and Tyron B. Carter addressed the problem by crafting character driven subplots that resulted in one of the series’ strongest outings to date.
I’ll begin with Mick Rory. When the pilot aired, I, along with many others, questioned Heatwave’s value — not any more. Dominic Purcell transformed an already solid script into real catharsis. Everything Rory has been and done crystalized in one of the best Apocalypse Now homages I’ve seen in a while.
Then, there’s the ongoing farewell to Firestorm. Jax and Stein had to confront some unspoken fears with special guest appearances by Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Marie Curie, and LBJ. I’ve become attached to Stein, and I’m going to miss Victor Garber very much. Based on the themes and character beats, my biggest fear is that Stein will be killed to add dramatic weight to the crossover. In which case, the Earth X contingent will be doing Damien Darhk’s work for him. That’s right. In the course of the episode, the Legends begin to see the shape of his plan, which now includes Grodd.
That brings me to Grodd — the main event. The writers and the VFX team really went all out to maximize his fairly limited presence in the episode, resulting in character development for Amaya. I’ve been waiting for her interactions with Grodd since they announced his appearance in Season 3, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers demonstrated how far actresses have come since Fay Wray. The centerpiece of Grodd’s appearance, however, was his attack on the Waverider in flight! The scene also made marvelous use of a previously comatose Sara, paying off Stein’s attempts to wake her at the beginning of the episode.
I’m giving this episode high marks for ambition and execution. When I first saw promos, I took “Welcome to the Jungle” for an even higher concept riff on Kong: Skull Island. What viewers got was far more nuanced.
Ray Utarnachitt, Tyron B. Carter