As if time-traveling superheroes weren’t enough to keep viewers interested, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ decided to throw in some zombies too. Was this really necessary? Probably not. Is it fun? Sure, what the hell.
Episode ‘Abominations’ opens with one of those pesky time pirates. His ship is damaged after having stolen something and he crashes into 1863 America. Was anything notable going on in the country at that time? Oh right, just the Civil War.
The pirates sends out a distress call for his pirate buddies to come get him. The Waverider intercepts the message, and the Legends team decide that it would be a good idea to go stop the guy from messing with history too much, especially in that time period. When they arrive in 1863, Sara (who’s still acting as captain) benches Ray and tells him to stay on the ship. Without his A.T.O.M. suit, he’s kind of useless. (He’s a genius. Can’t he build another one?) Dr. Stein also suggests that Jax might want to stay behind, because… you know… the Civil War wasn’t a great time to be a black man in America. Jax is offended and insists on going anyway.
Dressed up in period clothes, the team quickly find the pirate’s escape pod. Sara asks Mick to destroy it with his flamethrower to prevent the futuristic technology from falling into the wrong hands. Mick likes destroying things. He enthuses, “This is turning out to be one of our easiest missions yet.”
Amaya, a.k.a. Vixen (who’s also black, yet nobody said anything about her coming along), hears a running slave calling for help and, against Sara’s warnings not to interfere, goes off to help him. The man’s not just running from Confederate soldiers – they’re Confederate zombies! Stein has an irrational phobia of zombies and can’t even bring himself to say the z-word. The team fight off the zombies, but the man, whose name is Henry Scott, is fatally wounded. With his dying breaths, he explains that he was a Union spy. His mission, which is crucial to turning the tide of the war, was to infiltrate the plantation of a prominent Confederate general, steal troop movement plans, and deliver them to General Ulysses Grant.
The team return to the Waverider and determine that the zombies were caused by a bio-weapon that the pirate stole and has now gotten loose in this time. Suddenly, Mick passes out. The others examine him and discover that he was bit on the shoulder during the fracas with the zombies. As if that’s not bad enough, the Gideon computer tells them that Henry Scott’s failure means that the South will win the war, forever tearing apart the United States.
A plan is formulated: Jax and Amaya will go undercover as slaves and complete Henry’s mission. This doesn’t sound like a fun assignment. One of the first things they witness after arriving at the plantation is a slave being whipped. They both seethe at not being able to kick the vile slave-owner’s ass.
After dropping Jax and Amaya off, Sara and Nate are caught by Union troops, who assume that they’re Rebel spies. They’re brought before Gen. Grant. Nate says that his name is Colonel Sanders and tries to explain to Grant that his troops are in danger of being overrun by zombies, but Grant has never heard of zombies before and has no idea what they’re talking about. ‘Night of the Living Dead’ won’t be made for another 105 years. Sara says that she can demonstrate if he’ll just allow her a few minutes to go fetch one. Grant permits her to leave the camp so long as Nate stays behind in his custody. (She’s just a woman. What could she possibly do?) Sara returns a little later with a snarling zombie head. The general is horrified.
Back on the Waverider, Ray whips up what he believes is a zombie vaccine and administers it to Mick, but rather than cure him, it just causes him to immediately turn into a super-strong zombie. Ray may be a brilliant mechanical engineer, but he’s not a doctor, and those two skills don’t have a tremendous amount of crossover. Perhaps he wasn’t the right guy to try to make medicine on short notice.
The Confederate general is throwing a big party for his Confederate… umm… confederates… at his mansion. Jax puts on servant’s clothes and snoops around through the house looking for the troop movement plans. When he makes the mistake of bumping into and touching a white guest, the seethingly evil slave-owner yells at him, drags him out to the slave quarters, and chains him up. He promises to come back later and give him a good whipping. Unfortunately, Jax has no comms to contact his team with.
Meanwhile, the Union camp is attacked by a horde of zombies. Sara and Nate attempt to help Gen. Grant mount a defense. They call Stein and Ray for backup, but they’ve locked themselves in the ship’s galley while Zombie Mick pounds on the door. Stein is practically paralyzed with fear. At this point, it seems like nobody on the team can help anybody else.
Jax gets to talking with some of the other slaves chained up in the barn, and obviously he’s horrified by the conditions they live in, but also amazed by their strength and solidarity when they start singing a spiritual. Eventually, Amaya finds and unchains him. One of the slave women recognizes the amulet she wears as being an African magic symbol. Amaya and Jax unchain the slaves and resolve to get them to freedom, any effects to history be damned, because “This is the history that needs to be fixed.”
Just at that moment, a horde of zombies descend on the plantation and cause chaos. The other slaves help Jax find the Confederate troop plans. The heinous slave-owner is overrun by zombies and begs for help, but Jax leaves him to be eaten. He then burns down the plantation behind him.
At the Union camp, Nate comes up with a plan. He lures all the zombies to a wagon filled with dynamite. He then turns to metal just as they converge on him and lights the fuse, blowing them all to hell.
Since Ray’s vaccine shot didn’t work, he and Stein develop a newer version that can be administered aerially by way of a fire extinguisher. When Ray is jumped by Mick, Stein is forced to face his fear of zombies. He sprays Mick with the cure just as he’s about to attack him too. Mick instantly comes around, having no idea what’s going on.
Jax and Amaya meet up with Sara and Nate at the Union camp. Jax delivers the troop plans to Gen. Grant. When asked his name, he says that he’s Henry Scott. The Legends team then spread the zombie vaccine to stop the outbreak, thus setting history straight again so that the Union can win the war.
With the mission completed, Ray tells Mick that he forgives him for trying to eat him, and apologizes for screwing up the cure the first time. Ray laments that he still hasn’t quite found his place on the team without his A.T.O.M. suit yet. Feeling an uncharacteristic amount of kinship, Mick says that he also needs a new partner, then opens a chest and hands Ray the freeze gun that formerly belonged to Leonard Snart.
The episode ends with Jax and Stein having a very preachy talk about hope while another spiritual plays on the soundtrack.
Much like the previous episode, this one is generally pretty entertaining but leaves me feeling a little conflicted. It turns really heavy-handed when dealing with the issue of slavery (as if we didn’t know that slavery was bad!), and is frankly kind of patronizing in the way it portrays the noble and pure-hearted slaves.
I also seriously doubt that Ulysses Grant was quite so progressive in his views or treatment of women and minorities as played here. That said, I don’t look to this show for historical accuracy.
In a minor improvement, the characters this week at least give lip-service to concerns about altering history. However, they then go about revealing their super powers and altering history left and right anyway.
Strangely, after introducing the time pirate with a big VFX scene at the beginning (and making a point that he sends a message to his time pirate friends, the episode forgets entirely about him later. The Legends crew destroy his ship, but (unless I missed it) they don’t actually find the pirate. Is he supposed to come back around again later?