Previously on Legends of Tomorrow, Astra released a bunch of evil souls from hell and created what the Legends are calling Encores aka bad guys back for their second act, Nora was off playing fairy godmother, the timeline swapped Zari out for her brother but then the present-day social media mogul version of her was swooped onto the Waverider.
We open this week in Iron Heights, 2004, where a man named Freddy Meyers is strapped to the electric chair. I love this because it’s so on the nose, an homage to Freddy Krueger and Mike Myers; there’s no subtlety, because why start now? It delights me to no end, and this scene is deliciously campy and it’s clear we’re in for a classic 80s slasher romp.
When asked if he has any last words, Freddy Meyers makes eye contact with the distraught woman on the other side of the glass and says, “I love my mother,” before he’s fried to death.
Then we cut to a Coroner who is jamming out to Heaven is a Place on Earth. A body bag ruffles, the transport van crashes. The Coroner finds himself faced with an empty body bag…AND HIS DEATH.
Dun dun DUNNNN.
Some delicious 80s synth takes us to the new badass opening credits and I am struck for the millionth time with how much I love this silly show.
Back to present day, on the Waverider, Constantine is lurking around the ship, obviously up to no good, when Sara busts him.
He explains that he’s trying to go off on a side mission but didn’t want a big fuss over it. He’s a lone wolf. With a stray Gary. So they slink off into the night with a wary warning from their captain and a near-miss of a musical number from Ray.
But Ray doesn’t have time for a big group sing, because in a flash of blue light, his girlfriend’s back.
Nora starts ranting about how she’s supposed to be helping people but all these kids want are ponies. She’s feeling pretty down about it so Ray starts to try to set the mood but by the time he dims the lights, Nora is sound asleep.
Elsewhere on the ship, Nate is trying to get Zari to remember being on the timeship, to no avail. Behrad wants to wipe her memory, but Nate still has hope; they have to go on their mission though, so they lock Zari in a room, despite her protesting.
Once (most of) the team is gathered, Gideon tells them that the newest Encore is Freddy Meyers and the year is 2004. Sara is not thrilled about going back to the early aughts, but Ava is PUMPED. A true crime junky with her own podcast to boot, she knows almost as much about Freddy and the prom murders as Gideon does.
Ava’s knowledge of who the Final Girl is, plus the promise of a Class of ’89 reunion happening gives them a place to start, so off they trot to Central City, 2004.
Sara and Ava strut into the school, Ava in a blazer and geeking out, Sara amused at her amusement.
And what’s funny is, as they walked in, I was trying to do the math of who among them would have been in high school in Central City in 2004. Turns out, the answer is Mick Rory. See, he had missed the team meeting otherwise he would have told them all about the “loser” Freddy Meyers. He runs into someone from high school named Ali, but he pretends he’s not Mick and skulks away as Sara revels in someone being punished for not attending her team meetings.
Sara and Ava go to the check-in desk and find Tiffany. Ava stutters and stammers like she’s meeting a celebrity and Sara is trying to keep her captain hat on but is just so amused by her.
Sara eventually saves Ava from herself and gives their names as Lisa and Kelly, which may have been just the first names Sara thought of, but I like to think were also a Saved by the Bell reference. They make a comment about the weirdness of time and Sara drags her starstruck girlfriend away.
Nate and Ray are outside scoping the perimeter and they find a dead cop and know they’re too late; the killer is here. Inside, Sara and Ava are watching a memorial unveiling, nervous about what’s about to happen.
But when Tiffany is called and doesn’t show up, the man does the unveiling himself, revealing instead Tiffany’s dead body. Also this was kind of glossed over but she was stabbed with the trophy that earlier Ava said was what she used to survive the first attacks 15 years ago. Total bummer.
And bad turns to worse when it’s revealed that this killer isn’t just armed with a penchant for stabbing, but also a touch of telekinesis.
Cut to 2020, in Northumberland, which is apparently not a word Miley Cyrus made up. Constantine and Gary go into an old house that Constantine reveals is a place he lived for a while at some point. He makes a big dramatic stink about how it’s been abandoned for years, but when he opens the doors, there are pizza boxes everywhere and a sleeping bro on the stairs. He grumbles aloud and turns to see himself walking out of the room with two humans, seemingly of two different genders, in tow who look rather… satisfied. Constantine calls the mirror image “Charlie” and sure enough our girl drops the shift and reveals that perfect face we know and love.
And so, just like that, on top of being inherently gender-fluid by the nature of her powers, she’s officially, canonically queer. Bringing the total of regular/recurring canon queer characters to a whopping five.
Back in 2004, realizing they’re trapped in the school telekinetically, Ava starts to psychoanalyze this development, saying it’s probably connected to the same feeling of powerlessness that started this killing spree in the first place. Realizing the danger, Mick says that they have to save Ali… er, the Class of ’89.
Left with little other choice, Sara decides to let Ray do what he always wants to do, and redeem the bad guy. So she sends the boys back to 1989 to stop Freddy from becoming a serial killer.
When they get to 1989, the first thing they see is Freddy being bullied. But then they see popular Tiffany ask him to the prom, and they sense a prank on the horizon. Sweet baby Freddy doesn’t though, and runs away from the creepy strange adults trying to tell him about his life so he can go get ready for prom.
In 2004, Ava is recording snippets for her podcast while they try to find the prom night slasher.
Instead they find a straggler who wandered out of the safety of the gym, and before the girls can get her back inside, the slasher appears, shoves her in a lockers using magic, and crushes her to death. Ava and Sara are realizing that this season isn’t messing around with its casualties and they’re going to have to up their game if they’re going to be any match for the Encores.
On the Waverider, Nora is getting itchy because teens on prom night are all a-wishing and a-hoping, but ultimately it ends up being Freddy who needs Nora the most. While Nora is explaining the whole wish situation to Freddy, and really hoping he won’t hope for the Class of ’89 to be stuck in a musical number where they are forced to express their feelings and dance until they burst into flames, Freddy’s mom interrupts and is a little horrified to learn her baby boy is going to prom. She looks itchy like some kind of Margaret White, worried her son is going to grow up and leave her. Reader, it was at this point I thought the twist of this episode was going to be that it wasn’t the bullies at school that drove Freddy to snap into a murderous rage, but his mother, and that the boys were going at it from the wrong angle. And reader, I was wrong.
Anyway, Nora is pleasantly surprised when instead of a teen massacre, Freddy just wishes for a really nice suit to replace the ill-fitting one he originally planned. And then, of course, he asks for his ride to the prom to be a pony.
Though it seems that she ended up talking him down, because when Freddy does finally get to the prom in his dapper new suit, he’s in a limo. He’s happy as can be as he gives Tiffany her corsage and they head in together, and Nora smiles proudly as she follows them inside with Ray on her arm (and Nate on his.)
Next page: PROM!
Back on the Waverider, Zari is trying to break out of the room when Behrad comes in. Zari finally notices the air totem on his wrist and they start to fight.
Zari accuses Behrad of being the do-no-wrong favorite child, Behrad accuses her of being vapid. This insult cuts deep. She looks genuinely hurt and her overconfident facade flickers like a hologram for just a minute as she says, “I’m not a void. I’m a business.”
And this is when I want to point out that at no point has Zari 2.0 acted dumb. She’s never pretended not to understand something or said anything stupid. She is feigning shallowness; she’s making it seem like all she cares about is her social media following. From the second she told her assistant to add a clip to the end of a compilation, it was clear she was strategic. From the second she knew something was up with Nate, it was clear she was clever. So for Behrad to write her off as vapid just because he doesn’t fully understand her passion? It hurt. It made it clear that her brother didn’t really know her at all. And also? What made me extra sad? “I’m a business.” She has no self-identity, she doesn’t know who she is beyond who the public expects her to be, because it’s all she’s known. And it must be exhausting.
Zipping out to 2004, Ali tries to sneak out of the gym, but Mick stops her. He admits he really is the Mick Rory she remembers, and agrees to sneak out with her. Mick, more awkward than he usually is when asking questions, tries to ask Ali if she’s single. Influenced by the band of queers around him at all times, he even asks her if she has a girlfriend, just in case. She assures him that she’s single and is about to ask what he thinks would have happened to them if prom had gone differently… but then she’s stabbed to death.
At 1989 prom, there’s a slow dance, and at first it looks like the bullies are going to dump a very conspicuous net full of trash that the decoration committee just allowed to be the centerpiece of this dance on Freddy’s head, but Tiffany is enjoying her time with Freddy and his newfound confidence and scoots him away from it.
Nora is all happy for a minute but then the bullies take matters into their own hands and take the more direct route of pushing him down and throwing his drink at him. Tiffany tries to explain that it WAS a prank but she likes him now that he took down his metaphorical ponytail, but he’s too upset to hear it.
Nora decides then and there what most of us who attended always knew: high school sucks.
Outside, Mick storms down the hallway past Ava and Sara, furious that his high school sweetheart was just murdered in front of him, Sara tries to calm him down; maybe they can still save Ali.
Nora catches up to Freddy and talks to him as someone who has given into that anger, that darkness before. She tells him that there’s so much more. And normally I would summarize her advice to him, but the actual words she said were so powerful, I want to share them verbatim:
“Being yourself, that is a magic stronger than any wish. Being truly okay with myself, scars and all, is how the right people truly found me.”
And it’s so true. It was the same way for me. The older I get and the more I get to know myself, the more the people I draw close to me fit into my life. It took growing up, coming out, facing my demons head-on, and admitting that I still don’t have it all figured out, but finally, finally, the right people truly found me.
So Freddy uses his last wish; he just wants to dance. So Nora DJs and gives him back-up dancers and sparkles and he has the time of his life.
His peers love his new energy and Tiffany is so happy this night wasn’t ruined by her idiot guy friends.
Up on the Waverider, Zari, still desperate for the internet, tries the computer in the room she’s locked in. As she puts her hands on the keys, a memory hits her.
Zari uses her uncovered memories to hack her way out of the room, surprising even Gideon.
At the prom, Freddy thanks Nora and tells her that her job is really cool and that he’s going to be okay, she should go help other kids now, and releases her from her duties as his fairy godmother.
After storming out of the Waverider, Zari unwittingly finds herself in 1989, and climbs into Freddy’s limo. A bunch of teens pile in, but before she can figure out what’s going on, we see the killer’s mask come into frame. And it’s not Freddy.
Behrad tells the team that Nora saved Freddy and that he won’t go on a killing spree, but as Ava and Sara watch Mick get burned alive with his own heat ray, If Freddy isn’t going to go on a killing spree, why are they still being attacked?
In the heat of the fire, the killer’s mask melts off and reveals that the killer has been Freddy’s mother all along. (Also her name is Kathy which I guess maybe is just a name but the first thing I thought of was horror queen Kathy Bates.)
Ava tries to talk to Freddy’s mom, probably partially for her podcast, but also to distract her while Sara creeps around to grab an axe. They flank her and start to fight and Sara knows this is a bi moment fo her girlfriend so she lets her say it: “We’re final girls!”
And so two fights ensue against Kathy Meyers, one in 2004, one in 1989. Just as Freddy realizes it’s his mother behind the mask, Kathy uses her newfound powers to hold Avalance in place. Things are looking bleak.
But then Freddy talks to his mom; he’s too sure of himself now, he knows he can make friends, stand on his own. He can be his own person, without her. He will not be punished for the sins of his mother.
And with that declaration, history is changed, and Sara and Ava watch their tormentor disappear before their eyes.
As his mother is behind hauled away by the police, Freddy feels a little lost. What do you do when the walls around you are lifted? When that confinement was all you’ve ever known? And Nora says simply, “Survive.” She says that her life was also full of childhood trauma, but that doesn’t have to define her. And this doesn’t have to define Freddy. He gets to choose his own destiny.
Nora assures him he’s going to be okay, and he hugs her. Suddenly her job doesn’t seem so bad after all.
In the med bay of the Waverider, Behrad checks on his sister. Zari, finally starting to understand why her brother has been lying about business school, decides she wants to stick around a little longer and figure out what this is all about.
Then everyone heads to 2004 and decides to just assimilate into the reunion. Mick, Ali, and the random locker lady are all alive. Freddy and Tiffany are dancing, all grown up and still together.
Sara and Ava dance, and Ava is just thrilled to have been the Final Girl of her dreams. Sara points out that technically they both survived, but Ava says Sara’s died enough times that she gets to take this crown.
It’s very cute. Also Heaven is a Place on Earth is playing again, cementing it as the queer anthem we’ve known it is since San Junipero.
And then Behrad discovered a photo booth station at the prom, thus beginning a photo shoot montage, aka one of my favorite kinds of montages. Cute moments include the time bros doing their signature move, a big class photo, Sara giving Ava cheesy, real, unfabricated high school prom memories…
…and (most of) the Ladies of Tomorrow being adorable.
At one point, Sara realizes that once again Mick is missing from the big group hang, but he’s a little…busy with Ali in the hallway. It’s actually kind of sweet.
Then we cut back to 2020, where Constantine is sitting at a table with Charlie, drinking and considering his next move. He has an idea of what to try next re: stopping Astra, and it involves a witch he used to run with in a gang of youths called the Newcastle Crew. He gestures to a creepy-ass door and says the witch is in there. Also the witch is Astra’s mother, and she’s not too fond of Constantine.
Charlie all but tells him to suck it up and just do it. There are things in her past that she can’t fix, so he shouldn’t wait to fix his.
He uses some magic and channels Hecate and the doors open in a fiery blaze. Which I’m sure is fine and chill.
And that’s all til next week, when heads will roll! I’m not as well-versed in 80s horror as I’d like to be, so please please please tell me any lil hints and nods I missed!