SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Return of the Mack,” the latest episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
There’s no guarantee that the dead will stay dead in the Arrowverse. There have been fake deaths and resurrections and all those other versions of people in alternate realities, and that’s all before we get to time travel, which can bring just about anyone back to the screen for an episode or two. While such re-introductions might have gotten a bit predictable, that doesn’t mean they’re unwelcome, especially when they happen on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The latest episode makes the reason clear: On Legends, the bad guys are just plain better, and it’s because they have so much more fun.
While Neal McDonough’s return to Legends was announced earlier this year, “Return of the Mack” details the nature of that return. Devotees of the mysterious Mallus brought Damien Darhk back from death, in part through power taken from Zari’s amulet — a ceremony that was made possible by a rogue Rip Hunter’s decision to betray the Legends. Hunter’s goal was to use the Darhk resurrection to trap Mallus himself, a play that got a number of Time Agents killed and landed him in a cell. Mallus remains mysterious and free, and Darhk is alive and at large. It’s a very bad situation for the Legends, for anyone around Darhk and for time itself.
The one thing this resurrection isn’t bad for is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Watching McDonough’s performance as Darhk in “Return of the Mack,” it’s easy to forget how dour and flat the character seemed for much of his run on Arrow. As with his turn last season as a part of the Legion of Doom, though, Darhk’s belting out a much more appealing tune and McDonough himself seems to be having a great deal more fun. It’s all a little giddier, a little sillier and a little more weird — a balance that Legends has struck very well since early in its second season.
Even by Legends standards, though, there’s some stuff in “Return of the Mack” that’s deeply weird. The best and strangest of these moments is the sequence from which the episode draws its title, a sprawling fight scene in which Darhk slays Time Agent after Time Agent to the tune of Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit. It’s a pair of tap shoes and a high kick away from a dance number, with McDonough’s Darhk flicking bodies across the room with a kind of easy enjoyment. It’s almost leisurely. That’s what makes it so deranged. And while a good, old-fashioned menacing villain can be a lot of fun, a villain who might be kind of a blast is often even more entertaining.
Since the beginning of its second season, Legends has specialized in precisely these types of villains, and they’ve often been more successful facing off against the Waverider’s team than they have been on other Arrowverse shows. John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn was always good on Arrow, but he was better (if underused) as a member of the Legion of Doom. Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart was great fun on The Flash and he was a solid and compelling hero in the inaugural season of Legends, but his appearances in season two were more interesting by far. And while it would be hard to top Matt Letscher’s terrific run as Eobard Thawne in the first season of The Flash, watching him dig into some of the comedic elements of Legends was also very welcome.
The best example, however, is Darhk. Just as the Waverider became home to a band of misfits and screw-ups. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has proven to be the Arrowverse’s most reliable home for its baddies. “Return of the Mack” is the perfect reminder that no matter what happens with Darhk next, you can bet it’ll be a lot of fun.
Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST/PT on The CW, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow stars Victor Garber as Martin Stein, Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary, Franz Drameh as Jefferson “Jax” Jackson/Firestorm, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom, Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Amaya Jiwe/Vixen, and Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel.
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