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Tala Ashe as Zari (left) and Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom (right). Photo courtesy of DC Legends TV.

Please Keep In Mind That This Article Contains Potential Spoilers For “Phone Home” and Events That Occurred Prior

“Phone Home” was easily the strongest outing that Legends has had this season. It’s odd for me to be saying that, because Ray Palmer has never been my favorite character in Legends.  This feeling really goes back to when he was first introduced in Arrow. His performance and character never elevated itself past his sometimes dweeby demeanor and place in the plot.  This Ray-centric episode went the distance however, and finally added some much needed weight, and understanding to who Ray Palmer is.

The storyline started out on an amusing note, as Ray initiated a trust fall session with Mick where he disappeared out of thin air, leaving Mick to smash to the ground. This led the Legends to Ivy Town, circa 1988, where they found out that Ray Palmer befriended not Pennywise…not E.T.…but a stray baby Dominator, a lonely creature that the Legends are sure is responsible for Ray’s untimely death. To add to all of this, young Ray’s unwillingness to hand over Gumball, as he has lovingly named him, to the Legends becomes an issue when both a secret government agency and Gumball’s mother come searching for him.  

Being able to see young Ray and his life really helped sell the idea of who Ray Palmer came to be. The loneliness that led him to befriend a baby dominator helped flesh out the intricacies of Ray’s joking—and sometimes dopey—behavior.  He is a genius that grew up lonely, yet wanted friendship so badly that he became oblivious to those around him that clearly had no or little love for him (something the bully scene showcased surprisingly well).  All of the scenes with older Ray interacting with his younger self were all great, and led to some great heart-to-hearts between the two.  Also great: Singing In The Rain saving the day.

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Jack Fisher as Young Ray (left) and Tala Ashe as Zari (right). Photo courtesy of DC Legends TV.

Now if there was any other character vying for the spotlight this week, it was Zari.  Zari started the first half of the episode being…well being a jerk.  She was really just an unlikeable person to everyone on the team, even including young Ray. Thankfully, the episode worked at getting her to climb out of that rut, as she learned to play along with others.  By the end of the hour, she seemed to be in a much better place, convincing the team to agree to trick-or-treat with young Ray. This led to a great scene where everyone backed up young Ray in full costumes (including a fun nod to Zari’s costume). Although, there must be some temporal consequence to Ray not only fully revealing his costume to his younger self, but also his superhero name, right?

In the midst of all the action, there was some development on the Nate & Amaya front this week. Nate’s attraction with Ray’s mother made for some fun gags and moments, particularly after Nate realizes that he enjoyed kissing a Dominator. Nate’s attraction to someone brings some potential jealousy in Amaya, showing that there may still be a spark there.  Shortly prior to the Dominator seduction scene, Amaya does bring up to Nate that she just wants them to be friends like they were—which Nate rightly jokes how odd that is.  There is still very clearly a connection between the two, that while strained, isn’t strained enough to jump right to “let’s be friends” territory.

While all the attention was on Ray and his younger self this week, Stein’s departure from the show was set up on the side as Jax and Mick started to become suspicious of Martin’s activities behind the team’s back.  While they suspected him to be a snitch for the Time Bureau, it turned out all he wanted to do was make it back to 2017 in time for the arrival of his first grandchild. I’m glad that’s the direction the show took, as I thought it was for the better that the Time Bureau took the week off (even if that means we just got those woefully generic government agents). The whole outing caused Jax to realize that being with the team is not where Stein is meant to be, giving Jax a new purpose in figuring out how to separate the two so that Stein can lead the life he’s meant to lead . While it’s sad that this storyline will likely culminate in the departure of an original cast member, it will hopefully make for an emotional plot thread down the line.  I do wish that we got a few more moments with Stein as he met his grandchild, because the show kinda breezed through it.

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Jack Fisher as Young Ray (left) and Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom (right). Photo courtesy of DC Legends TV.

When it comes to Stein’s journey, I do have a nitpick. Why was there a rush to get Stein back to 2017?  They are in a time ship after all.  They could have easily come to an agreement as to Stein’s true motives, helped complete the mission in 1988, and then escorted Stein back to 2017 with time to spare.  Maybe I’ve just forgotten if the show has established the fact that time passes at the same rate for the Legends no matter which time period they go to.  Which still doesn’t quite forgive the fact that they can simply travel back in time.

“Phone Home”’s focused character driven approach really helped this week’s Legends shine.  We were able to dive more into Ray Palmer as a character, while still giving the rest of the cast important things to do (even though Sarah did seemingly get the short end of the stick). I do hope that this episodes arc for Zari sticks, and that she becomes a more friendly face to watch from this point on.  If there was a downside to this episode, it’s that there was really no progress made when it came to the overall season arc.  Something that’s easily forgivable when the episode added significantly more depth to three-year-old characters.

What did you guys think about the episode?  Make sure to leave your thoughts down below!

You can catch new episodes of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow when they air on The CW network every Tuesday at 9pm EST