‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Post-Show Recap: Season 2, Episode 12: ‘Camelot / 3000′
The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow follows a time-traveling team of misfits that includes historian Nate Heywood, Vixen, Arrow’s Atom and White Canary, both halves of Firestorm, and Flash rogue Heat Wave. Recappers Matt Wilson and James Leask are on hand to deliver our Legends of Tomorrow post-show analysis, Stuff of Legends.
This week’s episode, “Camelot/3000,” finds the team flung into the distant future and a not-historically-verified past in search of pieces of the Spear of Destiny. Battles are fought, minds are controlled, and character development is wildly uneven. Antonio Negret directed the episode, which was written by Anderson Mackenzie.
Matt: James, this may well have been the dumbest episode of Legends of Tomorrow yet. And, a handful of flaws aside, I kinda loved it? I’m still trying to work out my exact feelings, but the sheer audacity of doing a full-on Knights of the Round Table story in a show that’s ostensibly supposed to be about history is enough to make my initial feelings pretty positive. You?
James: Oh, it is absolutely the dumbest episode of any I’ve watched. But I’m right with you about kinda loving it. Barring an unbelievable bit of idiocy in the show’s final scene, which we’ll get to later, I thought this episode was a friggin hoot. I’m on record as saying I like the show best when it gets out of its own way and just commits to ridiculous time hijinks, and “Camelot / 3000” fulfilled that. Even if it wasn’t about history.
Matt: Ray Palmer makes a lightning sword. He makes a lightning sword! And besides that little piece of wonder (that leads to an unnecessary lightsaber joke), I felt like this was a pretty strong episode for Ray overall. It did a lot to differentiate his dorky good nature and sense of decency with Nate’s... deal, whatever it is.
James: While I’m never completely happy when the show goes back to the “Ray is a loser nerd” well, I thought this episode turned that into sweet naïveté, which really helps the episode, and him. “Raiders of the Lost Art” showed him and Nate bonding over their love of George Lucas, but I liked how this episode shaded in each character a bit to differentiate them. Nate getting huffy about Ray becoming a knight made Ray shine, I thought.
Even if they never really explained why King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table exist in 6th century AD England.
Matt: I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop on that. Like, maybe we’d find out the JSA had to reshape history to protect the spear, or that someone used it to create a for-real Camelot of legend? But the only difference is that Merlin is Stargirl, who says she "fashioned" the middling kingdom of Camelot into the legendary Court of King Arthur.
James: They never resolve that! I love it!
As is revealed in this episode, the reason the JSA disappeared on their final mission is that Rip --- the good one… I think? --- took them through time and left each of them with a piece of the Spear of Destiny. Starting the episode, Evil Rip tracks down Doctor Mid-Nite in “Detroit 3000” and kills him, and then goes to the next JSA member on the list, which happens to be Stargirl in Camelot.
Honestly, this was exactly the level of time travel nonsense I like Legends of Tomorrow to have, even if the team not just going back an hour to save Mid-Nite and instead letting him die sent Jace literally screaming out of the room in anger. But that aside, I thought “Camelot / 3000” did a pretty good job at giving just enough nonsense to justify sending the team somewhere cool, and then letting them (mostly Ray and Sara) have fun there.
Matt: Isn’t it cool how they fit all of Detroit 3000 into a single room with some very 2017 (really 2010) computer monitors scattered about in it? Likewise, Camelot was one big room and one tent that resembled a stylish 2017 cocktail bar.
But to your point about not saving Dr. Mid-Nite, I had a similar reaction to Sara’s assertion that the team is not made up of killers. Dr. Stein rightly took up my typical role and said a good many of them definitely are, and then later in the episode, all of them, Vixen, Nate, and Ray included, absolutely killed a whole bunch of mind-controlled soldiers in a very bloody battle, even though they knew Stein, Jax, and Mick were working on breaking the mind control. That part was mega frustrating in the midst of what was otherwise a fun episode.
James: It absolutely was, and I had a similar reaction. It felt a bit like the show wanting its cake --- in this case, another high-minded speech about heroism --- and eating it too, in the form of a surprisingly bloody sword fight shot in budget-obscuring close-ups and quick cuts. It didn’t break the episode for me, but it was easily the most dissonance-inducing part of it.
Matt: That plus one of our continual problems with the season as a whole: Vixen’s character was so, so wildly inconsistent. (NB. Almost as inconsistent as Ray's accent --- Ed.) She’s totally fine with leaving Ray behind after he chooses to become a knight and fight for Camelot... until she’s not. She spent the whole season being a facilitator and mediator until she decides to be a firebrand at the start of this episode, essentially calling Sara a bad leader.
I guess there’s an explanation that seeing her JSA compatriots in the positions they’re in here led to some changes, but honestly it just comes off as terribly inconsistent writing for this character who I want to like so much.
James: Not to mention, she’s standoffish to Nate at the beginning of the episode, and then mooning over him in their final scene together. The show really needs to decide what Amaya is, because there’s only so much time left in the season. And just a few weeks after celebrating Christmas with her new family, she’s only now this week wondering if she’s attached to them.
I’ll more readily accept some of this wishy-washiness from, say, Sara, who is genuinely growing into a new role, but with Amaya it feels like the show just still hasn’t decided who she is.
The most frustrating part of the episode for me, however, wasn’t even that, though it did involve her. Why is Excalibur still in the stone if Arthur is already king, and why can Amaya just pull it out by invoking… all of her animal totems? Is she the rightful king of England? Because I’m pretty sure the book of Arthurian legend at the end of the episode says that’s Ray, aka Sir Raymond of the Palms.
I don’t get easily annoyed with weird mistakes in lore, but come on.
Matt: Apparently the code to pull the sword from the stone is gorilla, eagle, bear. You’d think a lion or a dragon (because why not, if we have actual King Arthur in here) would be part of the mix, but no, that’s it. Amaya must have read the Sword in the Stone official strategy guide.
Maybe the idea, though, is that it’s all just a display anyway? Because the sword is where Stargirl/Merlin hid her part of the spear, so she obviously had to get in there, too.
James: I will accept this only if Arthur was enough of a baller to just have a giant monument to the moment he became king in the middle of his throne room.
But these problems aside, I really did think the episode was a hoot. It had so many of the things I like best about the show: doofy high concept, a focus on Ray, Sara Lance seducing a figure of history/legend, Mick Rory being an idiot savant, and the sheer ridiculousness of Damien Dahrk just straight up pulling a pistol on Ray in the middle of a sword fight, fortuitously shot immediately after a snowfall in Vancouver. I absolutely cackled when Dahrk pulled a gun on Ray.
Matt: Yeah, that was good. We’ve had our complaints about the Legion this season, but I’m coming to think they work best when we only see one of them. I mean, I’m not sure what Malcolm Merlyn is so busy with that he can’t accompany Darhk to Camelot, but having just Darhk be there with Rip gives Neal McDonough a chance to shine that he hasn’t really had in other episodes this season, and he plays such a wonderful, devious cad. The part where he and Rip come into Camelot’s single room and mind control Arthur is another good example of McDonough having so much fun chewing scenery.
James: Maybe it’s because the villains don’t get saddled with as many speeches, and are simply seen less, but I think they’re generally used more impactfully than the Legends are a lot of the time. McDonough, Barrowman and now Darvill get to show up, gnash their teeth, do something fun, and leave. They’re not saddled with having to say they’re not heroes or killers.
For me, though, the real strength of this episode was Ray, who was written maybe the most consistently out of all the Legends. From the moment they get to Camelot to the final scene, he’s very clear about wanting to do the right thing, and he never wavers. The rest of the team --- for some reason --- may decide for a few minutes to abdicate all moral responsibility, but Ray is there, getting knighted and inventing a lightning sword. God bless Ray Palmer. He even helps Sara get a smooch from Guinevere!
Matt: I like when characters have defined roles. Sara’s the tactician, Mick’s the rogue, Stein and Jax are the designer and builder, respectively. And I think this cements Ray as the moral center of the team, if he wasn’t already. Now we just need roles for the rest.
And, despite that big battle scene definitely going against every sentiment of “we’re not killers,” it was also pretty cool. A battle-damaged Sara Lance walking over to a bloodied Rip Hunter to prove she’s his better? Ticket sold.
James: I think that scene was one of the best-shot action scenes in the season to date, which is another reason why I forgave it a little for violating the “we’re not killers” part. It simply looked good, and had some excellent punctuation marks. Rip going out because of a horse falling on him, and then being ignominiously saved by Sara, was a great way to end it.
Matt: That battle scene looking so good really made the rest of the episode taking place in, like, three rooms make a lot of sense.
James: Now Sara, repeat after me: next time, I will disable Rip’s control of Gideon before I bring him back on the ship. I swear to god, Matt. The Legends can’t go longer than five minutes without doing something catastrophically dumb.
Matt: But isn’t that why we love them, James? And isn’t it a way to do an episode that’s entirely set on the Waverider, so the budget can further be stretched to pay for the battle scene in this episode? I believe these truths are self-evident.
James: That may be true, I just… I mean… come on, guys. Romance me a little with this cliffhanger.
Matt: We’ll just have to find out if the tease gets better in two weeks!
James: Until then, I’ll be furiously annotating my book of Arthurian legend with everything this episode got wrong, and feeling very bad about myself for doing it. I did appreciate that Siege Perilous reference, though.
Matt: Call me when Colossus gets involved.