History Notes: Legends of Tomorrow Episode 302, "Freakshow"

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Legends of Tomorrow Freakshow

Shame on the writers of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW for this episode. The Legends team is on the hunt for anachronisms, time anomalies they created when they broke time. They've stolen technology from the Time Bureau to do this, and they decide that, while the Time Bureau tackles Level 10 anachronisms, they will clean up some of the smaller ones. They find a Level 1 with P.T. Barnum's circus, in its early days, where they discover a sabertooth tiger among the animals. Ray (BRANDON ROUTH) is ready to handle it with the new "shrink ray" he's developed, but his allergy to cats ends up enlarging it instead. It escapes, and the team needs someone who can deal directly with animals in order to subdue it. This leads Sara (CAITY LOTZ) to venture back to 1942 Zambesi to re-recruit Amaya (MAISIE RICHARDSON-SELLERS) to the team.

Bringing back Amaya leads to uncomfortable feelings in Nate (NICK ZANO), who has not yet learned why it was that Amaya left him to go back to 1942. All of that is covered in flashbacks in this episode, but that doesn't mean that Amaya is going back to 1942 anytime soon, as she has her own problems.

When Nate goes out with Ray and Jefferson (FRANZ DRAMEH) to have some drinks and drown his sorrows, he gets into a bar fight with someone disrespecting the circus's bearded lady (CHRISTA ANDERSEN). He steels up, and the whole thing is witnessed by P.T. Barnum (BILLY ZANE). He then drunkenly tells Barnum that Jefferson can turn to fire and that Ray can turn "teeny weeny." So naturally Barnum invites them back to the circus, appealing to their baser instincts and the promise of beautiful and flexible acrobats. But Nate splits off to go back to the ship to talk with Amaya, where he passes out.

And here is were we learn that P.T. Barnum wasn't just someone who would humbug his way with made-up sideshow events -- but he would actually kidnap people and press them into servitude in the circus! Even when Jefferson and Ray insist they can't do the things Nate said they could (Jefferson can't without his partner, Martin Stein, and Ray can't without his exo-suit), Barnum puts them in a harness and special suit and markets them as conjoined twins!

One rescue mission fails with Nate and Amaya go after them, and Barnum ends up pressing them into service as well, finally getting Nate to "steel up" and get shot at. But when Amaya uses her powers to rescue him, her powers once again go out of control and the animal spirit takes her over completely.  It's up to Martin Stein (VICTOR GARBER) and Mick Rory (DOMINIC PURCELL) to save them -- which is hard to do since Mick is deathly afraid of clowns!

Back on the Waverider, Sara encounters once more the Time Bureau's Agent Sharpe (JES MACALLAN) , fighting her to a draw. Sharpe has come because the anomaly has escalated from a 1 to a 6 with the Legends' involvement--and the sabertooth tiger is roaming the time ship!

One nice little Easter egg was early in the episode, when the crew is deciding on low-level anomalies to fix. One of them is the Titanic, and Martin is dead-set against it. "Whoever built that ship should have been shot!" (Victor Garber played Thomas Andrews, chief architect of the ship in the film TITANIC.)

We do get a little more ominous hints about the danger that is to come, which the Legends don't take seriously. But this episode was almost ruined for me by the criminal portrayal of P.T. Barnum.

3.5 / 5.0