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Recap / Legends of Tomorrow S3 E17 "Guest Starring John Noble"

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The Legends have to stop Grodd from killing a young Barack Obama, and Amaya from changing her future.


Tropes:

  • The '90s: Filming for The Lord of the Rings trilogy happened in 1999 (and 2000).
  • Actor Allusion: John Noble, who has been voicing the character Mallus all season, is a well-known character actor who appeared in The Lord of the Rings, which is a major plot point.
  • Adult Fear: Darhk is clearly not happy about losing his beloved daughter to Mallus.
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  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The 1999 date for the New Zealand scene may initially seem inaccurate. However, principal photography for The Lord of the Rings trilogy did in fact last between October 1st, 1999 and December 22nd, 2000.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Damien Darhk, of all people, who tells the Legends that he doesn't want to kill them when they are trying to stop him and Grodd; he just wants to save his daughter.
  • Being Good Sucks: Sara is not happy about having to keep Darhk alive.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Nate comes in at the last second to use the Earth Totem to launch Gorilla Grodd out of Amaya's village.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Gets a Lampshade Hanging and is Played for Laughs. Mallus is voiced by John Noble, so when the Legends need to impersonate Mallus, they notice that the guy who plays Denethor in The Lord of the Rings sounds exactly like him.
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  • Cloning Blues: Ava is not taking the truth about her origins well. It gets worse when Rip admits she's not even the first clone of herself he recruited.
  • Combat Pragmatist: After Darhk defeats every Legend who attacks him upfront, Sara simply stabs him in the back.
  • Continuity Nod: Ray looks at shrunken Grodd and reminisces about the saber-tooth tiger.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Surprisingly, Grodd gets dispatched very easily both times the Legends fight him. First, Ray nails him with the shrinking device and locks him in a jar; second, he gets blasted away by Nate using the Earth Totem (and apparently just gives up after).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After Ray fails to activate the Water Totem:
    Darhk: Performance anxiety, Ray?
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Sara gets drunk after the team decides to work together with her sister's killer.
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  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The episode really does guest star John Noble. The title itself practically warrants a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe, how Ray gets Noble to read the new lines: he tells them they're the result of "studio notes."
  • Expendable Clone: Ava finds out from Rip that she's the 12th Ava clone he has recruited. He keeps replacing them after they die, as he can't afford to lose such a great agent. Deconstructed, in that Ava is horrified to learn of it.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Darhk decides to make an alliance with the Legends to stop Mallus from taking his daughter. Sara agrees... on the condition she gets to kill him for good when all is said and done. She even gives him the Death Totem. It backfires when, rather than risk losing Nora, he sics Grodd on Zambesi to ensure history runs its course.
    • The Legends let Amaya save her village, knowing the anachronism will be the one to free Mallus, so they can use the totems to kill him.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Damien tries this several times with Nora. Sadly, it doesn't seem to work.
  • Innocently Insensitive: While Rip is trying to compliment Ava, him telling her that she is not only great but replaceable is not the most tactful thing to say to her.
  • Internal Reveal: Rip learns that Ava found out about her origin.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Legends do a huge lampshading on how Mallus sounds exactly like Denethor.
  • Literal Metaphor: Pointed out by Darhk when Sara stabs him in the back (with a sword) when he tries using Grodd to destroy Zambesi (to keep history on track and not cause the anachronism that will free Mallus).
  • Logical Latecomer: As his part of the Enemy Mine, Darhk is very exasperated with the ridiculous plan the Legends come up with to fake Mallus's voice.
    Darhk: Okay, new guy question — is that a joke plan or a real plan?
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Darhk finally realizes how much of a screw-up father he is, as his dreams of world domination poisoned his daughter's soul and left her easy prey for Mallus.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Neck Lift: Gorilla Grodd catches by the throat a young Barack Obama and lifts him up, planning to break his neck to mess up with the timeline. The Legends arrives Just Intime to save him.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The promo for the episode made it seem like the "Grodd attacking Obama" angle would last a majority of the episode, when in reality it is resolved almost as quickly as it was introduced, with Obama appearing in two more scenes following.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Sara insisting that Ava press Rip for her true origins instead of waiting until after the mission leaves her in such a volatile emotional state that she clings to the Time Bureau's rules and regulations, thus disagreeing with the Legends' unorthodox plans.
    • Discussed: Wally brings up Barry causing Flashpoint when Amaya is trying to prevent the destruction of her village.
  • No-Sell: This is the first time we see Damien Darhk directly face a speedster in combat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his telekinesis ends up winning out.
  • Not So Different: Damien notices how alike he and Sara are, both people who did some very bad things, but still have their love for the people closest to them to hold on to.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Esi apparently defeated the warlords (including Benatu Eshu) off-screen while the team waited inside the hut. Turns out Grodd did that, and likely killed them all.
  • One Steve Limit: Played for laughs. Rip insists on addressing a young Barack Obama as "Barry", causing lots of confusion amongst the team.
  • Only Sane Man: Wally is the only one to point out the elephant in the room. That is, that changing history is never a safe thing to do.
  • Pet the Dog: Damien acts a lot more amicable throughout the entire episode, but the most notable moment is when he actually apologizes to Sara for Laurel's murder, wishing he could take it back. He also later admits to somewhat liking Ray after what happened in Berlin.
  • Postmodernism: The plan to get Nora onto the Waverider? Making it seem like Mallus is telling her to do so. How do they do this? Going to the set of The Lord of the Rings and tricking John Noble into recording some lines.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Once again, Amaya and Nate decide to screw the rules and do what benefits them personally (saving Amaya's village) despite the consequences to the timeline. Wally flat-out calls them out on this, and the rest of the team wind up going along with it only so they can fight Mallus face to face, believing that to be their only chance of destroying him.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Ray's plan in faking Mallus's command with John Noble's voice is crazy and called such, but it actually works.
  • The Reveal:
    • When Amaya finally went back to her village, she had her memories of her time with the Legends wiped for the greater good.
    • Our Ava is actually the 12th clone Rip has used as a Time Bureau Agent.
    • The true form of Mallus. He's a demon complete with horns and bat wings.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • The Legends are able to hold Nora possessed by Mallus with a magic seal, when Constantine tried such a trick and it didn't work. However, it's implied that it was the Death Totem boosting Mallus's power during that encounter.
    • In Vixen, we had a flashback of Kuasa being given the totem just before the warlords came. In the show proper, Amaya gives it to her daughter instead. However, it's implied that Kuasa would've been given the totem had the Legends not meddled.
    • Obama's historical importance is complicated by Invasion[1][2][3] establishing other people being president of America on Earth One at the end of 2016. In some way this actually undoes the Continuity Snarl Invasion caused with that as Obama was established as President back in the first episode of Arrownote . Either the president in Invasion was his successor (which would require either him serving a shorter term, or for the election to have happened earlier in the Arrowverse). Or quite possibly, one of the many screw-ups of time lead to his tenure being erased before Invasion only to be restored at some point between that and now.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "Guest Starring John Noble" features Guest Star John Noble as... himself back when he was filming The Lord of the Rings, as well as the voice of Mallus. The Legends even note he sounds exactly like Mallus.
  • Take That!:
    • The trailer's tagline was "Make America Grodd Again", a dig against a very polarizing politician (Grodd utters the actual line of dialogue in the episode, too).
    • In a similar vein, when Obama mentions after the fact that he's called "Barack" on his birth certificate, Sara makes a point of telling him to hold on to it.
    • When Sara goes to Obama for advice how to deal with her personal turmoil during the fight against Mallus, his words give her inspiration to solve the problem. She smiles and answers, "I really miss you" before wiping his memory.
    • Ray claims that Nora is a "new female character" the studio insisted on putting in. Noble acts with outrage at the idea of changing Tolkien just to have a female presence.note 
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Defied: when Obama tries reasoning with Grodd, Grodd simply grabs him by the throat.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Ray can't quite express himself about Nora in front of Damien, who gives him a look when he first says "Nora and I had a connection in Berlin" and later suggests he "get inside" Nora.
  • Title, Please!: Very sneakily averted. Generally, the series does not display episode titles on screen, but midway through the guest star credits, the title of the episode actually appears: "Guest starring John Noble".
  • Token Evil Teammate: Damien basically acts as a Guest-Star Party Member this episode.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's not clear what happened to Grodd after Nate sent him flying.
  • The Un Reveal: When Ava wants to know why Rip recruited her and went to the trouble of giving her false memories and fake parents, Rip's only answer before she tells him to shut up is that she's special.
  • Wham Line: Played for Laughs. As the plan is formulated of convincing Nora via Mallus to come aboard the Waverider as a trap, what suddenly pops up?
    Denethor: [from the TV Mick is watching] This is how you would serve your city...
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: John Noble's reaction to the "script" Ray hands him. Ray reacts like he is the one who wrote it.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Damien Darhk gives one to Sara, stating that even people with as much darkness inside them as she and he possess still have love to hold on to. And it actually works.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: After Ray comes up with the idea of going into Nora's ear and pretending to be Mallus, Darhk immediately asks if this is a joke plan.
  • You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: Hero to villain example. Sara tells Darhk that she's going to kill him as soon as he's no longer needed. Despite this and his later betrayal, she hasn't killed him by the end of the episode.

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