Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e15 – Swan Thong

I sometimes forget “Legends of Tomorrow” is at its best when it’s completely unconcerned with continuity. It’s a fun, heart-y, and then time travel time travel show. I went into this season finale worried how they were going to wrap things up in one episode after Greek Fates Sarah Strange, Joanna Vanderham, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers have remade the entire universe… but the show wasn’t worried about it and I shouldn’t have been either.

They open with a quick resolution to the immediate problem and then skip ahead to deal with the fallout. The fallout involves a big fight scene with a bunch of demonic “encores” (human mass murderers or evil folks consigned to Hell but released to wreck havoc again, only demonically), including Courtney Ford, playing Marie Antoinette. Ford was a sort of regular who left a few episodes ago who just happened to look like Marie Antoinette. It’s a pure comedy performance from Ford and absolutely fantastic stuff. Fun.

The heart comes from everywhere else. There’s Tala Ashe, who’s playing time twins (one from one timeline, one from another), and the original character’s been gone a season and everyone forgot about her. So Ashe has got to resolve things with beau Nick Zano, who gets to be sincere for the first time all season and it’s nice, and bond with brother Shayan Sobhian, who doesn’t even know this version of her. Not to mention Ashe’s other character is just trying to get Matt Ryan alone for some smooching.

Then there’s Dominic Purcell and daughter Mina Sundwall—I really, really, really hope Sundwall gets to come back next season, especially since she gets to pull off the emotional deus ex machina with Richardson-Sellers.

Oh, and then there’s Olivia Swann coming to terms with not being a hellspawn if she doesn’t want to be. She gets an arc. Richardson-Sellers gets an arc. Ashe gets an arc.

Plus Ramona Young and Adam Tsekhman are around—not a lot—but enough.

“Legends” ends the season in fairly good shape. It’s been a transformative season, though it’s usually a transformative season with this show… but they’re on firm ground. Certainly firmer ground than they went out with last year.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e14 – The One Where We’re Trapped on TV

I’m not going back to count, but I feel like at least half this season of “Legends” is them getting knocked off track for an episode then getting back on track by the end. It’s fine, there have been some great episodes, but there’s no momentum on the main plot.

So while this episode is amusing—the Legends are trapped in TV shows with Caity Lotz doing a bad William Shatner impression for a while (with Jes Macallan doing a Spock), Nick Zano doing a riff on Joey from “Friends,” and Matt Ryan playing Mr. Carson from “Downton”—it’s definitely just a gimmick. It’s well-produced though maybe not well-executed. But it’s also hard to say for sure because the trip through reruns isn’t even the biggest deal in the episode—real Zari (Tala Ashe) comes back. So does Ramona Young.

The episode opens in a dystopia where the Fates have retaken control and turned it into a “1984”-type thing where all you do is work, make mush, watch TV. Young is the protagonist for this section, figuring out things are wrong on her favorite shows as Ashe pops out of the totem and possesses new Zari who’s living in the “Friends” show. Sounds complicated, but plays out real simple. The show almost immediately works itself into a pickle with old Zari, because Ashe is so good. So good. Even when she reunites with Zano, who is still in his “Friends” mode. Also, is “Legends” correct, is “Friends” responsible for the growth of “Bro” culture?

Anyway.

In the real world, Young hooks up with Adam Tsekhman, who also knows something’s wrong, and they go to the TV studio to try to confront the TV actors (not knowing what the Legends are yet). There, they discover a complicated, almost steampunk setup plugging life threads into a computer and auto-generating the TV shows. Turns out Maisie Richardson-Sellers had to get creative to keep her teammates alive.

So will the team get back together and save the world? Going to be a pretty dreary season finale next episode if they don’t….

There are some good jokes, there are some eh jokes; there’s a lot of good acting from Ashe, Ryan, and Olivia Swann in particular.

The show moves a bunch of pieces around to setup the characters who’ve returned and those who haven’t, but there’s no sense what the final battle is going to look like… instead, I’m just hoping some of the developments are permanent for next season because there’s a lot of potential.

Also—amazing makeup and costumes this episode. It’s a great idea, just awkwardly executed.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e13 – I Am Legends

Did you know you needed a “Legends vs. Zombies” episode of “Legends of Tomorrow”? Because I did not know I needed such a thing. I also didn’t realize I needed to see how much range Adam Tsekhman can exhibit on the drop of a… carrot. I’ve always liked Tsekhman but in a comic relief sort of way; they’re underutilizing him. They really need to bring in tough Tsekham.

And give him Amy Louise Pemberton as a partner.

But Pemberton and Tsekham in a bit.

Following the disappointing Animal House 2020 episode they did, the Legends find themselves stuck in England because hellspawn Olivia Swann had to betray them out to evil sisters Sarah Strange and Joanna Vanderham.

The Legends only have 24 hours of immortality to get to the ship and stop the sisters, only they’re stranded in Constantine Manor and Matt Ryan doesn’t believe in cars. Bumming rides is his thing. You’d think he’d know a teleportation spell.

Anyway, on their way to London to a time bureau safe house (weird but welcome Rip Hunter mention this episode), Vanderham figures out what they’re doing and sends zombies to destroy them.

So the episode’s the Legends fighting their way to London, figuring out how to do it without enough gas, Ryan and Tala Ashe argue-flirting, and Tsekhman trying to save the day with Pemberton’s help.

Pemberton, who usually just voices the ship’s computer, gets to do an in-person performance and she and Tsekhman and perfect together. Also more bi-inclusivity for “Legends.”

But it then turns out Sara (Caity Lotz) has been lying to co-captain for life Ava (Jes Macallan) about not seeing the future and the Legends are in real trouble. Can they defeat Swann, Vanderham, and Strange not to mention a swarm of zombies?

On one hand, they’re the Legends, on the other hand, it’s the second-to-last episode of the season and there is some required dramatic tension.

Really good episode. Makes up for Animal House 2020 flopping so hard.

Perfect cliffhanger too. Oh, and the costumes. Great costumes.

And whoever thought to put in the George A. Romero zombie.

And the Trash (from Return) zombie. Just wonderful touches.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e12 – Freaks and Greeks

And, now, in the “they all can’t be winners” category, we have Freaks and Greeks, which sends the Legends to Hudson University to steal a chalice from a frat. It’s not a frat in 1979. It’s a frat in 2020, run by special guest star Drew Ray Tanner; he’s Greek party god Dionysus, who’s finally found a place where the party never stops.

Maisie Richardson-Sellers recognizes him from the old days, which is cool, he’s immortal or whatever. But he recognizes Richardson-Sellers, so apparently gods can see through her shapeshifting.

Whatever.

It’s a girl power episode where Richardson-Sellers has to convince Olivia Swann to be a team player. They do it by forming their own sorority, which requires they recruit three regular college student members (Briana Skye, Jennifer Tong, and Jade Falcon). The introduction to the three is maybe the best thing in the episode, as far as editing and narrative brevity, but ignores how we’ve already met them at the sorority mixer where Richardson-Sellers and Swann get kicked out for… cat-fighting.

Now, the Legends’s sorority is going to be different than the regular ones because it’s inclusive, socially minded, empowering, and not rape culture-y.

But Tanner’s already established it’s 2020 frat rules and they don’t allow any rape culture or bullying on campus.

Speaking of campus, there’s a subplot about Mina Sundwall getting a campus tour with dad Dominic Purcell and being put off by all the students being rich, privileged assholes.

There’s also the subplot about Nate (Nick Zano) reverting to his frat boy persona from college, so they seem to have retconned out him growing up immunocompromised until he got super powers, which I already knew but just wanted to point out because why not kick writers Matthew Maala and Ubah Mohamed a little. I had to sit through their stupid episode.

Maala’s written good episodes this season, Mohamed hasn’t. Let’s blame Mohamed.

Richardson-Sellers and Swann are both okay plus this episode, with the script getting in the way a little obviously. And Sundwall and Purcell would be great if they actually spent any time together.

Was someone in the writers’ room really gung ho for this episode? Are there just ready-to-go CW college sets? Because even though it’s effects-lite, there’s a lot of speaking cast to pay. I mean, bully for the cast’s professionalism but still….

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e11 – Ship Broken

It’s a good episode with a great twist in the third act but it’s not the episode the cold open promises. We’re supposed to be getting pyromaniac, patricidal supervillain turned time-traveling adventurer and romance novelist Mick (Dominic Purcell) bringing daughter Mina Sundwall onto the time machine ship to hang out for the weekend. We’ve seen Purcell and Sundwall for really brief scenes but never actually having a subplot together.

And, we don’t again.

Because the rest of the Legends are playing with the Loom of Fate and it causes some kind of electromagnetic pulse, knocking out the ship’s systems, without actually bending reality the way they were all hoping.

Or does it. Because the more everyone digs, the more unlikely it seems the ship’s issues were caused by the pulse. Instead, it appears to be intentional sabotage and suspect number one is visiting demon (or lost soul?) Olivia Swann. Swann protests her innocence and tries to sway Tala Ashe to her side while Caity Lotz comes out of her coma (good, when she opened the episode still in it, I was worried we’d have another Sara-less episode). Only Lotz now has future sight. She touches someone and she can see their future. And they’re all dead. In the near future. From stab wounds.

And the more people she touches, the clearer the future becomes—she’s the one who’s doing it.

Throw in Gary Green bringing an emotional support dog (he’s got a note) onto the ship and it’s a pretty full episode.

Lots of fun along the way, lots of cute moments for Jes Macallan and Lotz, a few nice scenes for Purcell and Sundwall—Nick Zano, in his most appealing performance in ages, tutors history student Sundwall and reminds he joined the show as a historian.

Other reminders to the past have Lotz listing all the guys who’ve left the show over the years, which is a really nice touch. The direction, from Andi Armaganian, is really nice.

There’s a great line from Matt Ryan, who’s got less to do this episode than usual, about how as long as someone’s not a weekly villain, the Legends welcome them—Swann’s worried everyone’s still mad at her for unleashing demonic killers on the timeline and he’s assuring her. It’s got a nice echo at the end.

I still hope we get an episode where Purcell and Zano have to help Sundwall with a history report on how important historical figures would view the world of San Dimas, 1988.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e10 – The Great British Fake Off

Okay, “Legends” is going to fifteen episodes this season; this one is episode ten and it feels like they’re getting really close to resolving the season’s main plot and I’m really hoping they don’t meander this season like they did last. They got lost meandering.

This episode is split between John (Matt Ryan) and Zari (Tala Ashe) trapped in his house looking for the third magic ring, only they’re trapped there sometime in the past and there are immortal serial killers after them. The third ring gets introduced in an Ancient Egypt prologue, which sadly does not feature first season Hawks man or woman but it was an infinite shot, and the Egypt theme stays with the episode. Ashe eventually has to dress up like Cleopatra to try to save Ryan’s butt.

The other plot has Jes Macallan leading an expedition to Hell—Dominic Purcell and Adam Tsekhman tagging along—to try to convince Olivia Swann to stop messing with Ryan. Macallan’s in charge while Caity Lotz is out of commission, suffering some kind of time sickness.

The Macallan stuff with Swann proves a lot more effective than expected, which kind of makes sense. Macallan’s a time traveling super clone; “Legends”’s version of Hell probably isn’t going to freak her out too much. And she and Swann bond… which is unexpected but not unwelcome.

Purcell and Tsekhman are great comic relief; I’ve missed Tsekhman more than I realized.

But the main plot’s where it’s at; it’s Ashe’s episode. Ryan gets a lot to do and the two spend the episode developing chemistry together, which is… weird since Ashe starts the episode almost kissing alternate timeline ex-boyfriend Nick Zano.

But then Zano was never on par with Ashe; Ryan’s a much better choice, especially as this version of Ashe’s character is racing downhill with the character development now.

There’s also a cameo appearance by Samantha Cole… who’s playing “Enchantress,” a character in need of redeeming post Suicide Squad: The Movie. Cole’s only it for a couple scenes but… interesting to see them try to clean up that brand.

Wait, wait. Almost forgot—apparently following last episode’s tragic conclusion, Ashe and Maisie Richardson-Sellers got their hair done. Richardson-Sellers is a shapeshifter so okay but Ashe’s new do deserves some explanation.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e09 – Zari, Not Zari

It’s an unexpectedly strong episode. Not everything goes off without a hitch—teaming up Jes Macallan and Dominic Purcell as they go through time trying to make it seem like Purcell was a present dad ought to be a great comedy subplot but instead just seems rushed.

And, despite some really good acting from Maisie Richardson-Sellers, the main plot involving she, Caity Lotz, and Matt Ryan looking for a missing relic (again) so they can fix the universe (again) while running from Richardson-Sellers evil god of a mean older sister, Joanna Vanderham. Vanderham’s not a great villain. Not so far. She’s not a bad villain, but she’s not a great one.

The relic is hidden in the British Columbia woods and, while there, the good guys stumble across a “Supernatural” episode filming. No star cameos—in fact, it appears to be a prop cameo—but it’s fairly cute, albeit draggy. There’s some obvious twists and turns you’d think at least Lotz would see coming, given they’re familiar “Legends” tropes.

Where the episode excels—before the third act, where even the Vanderham stuff excels—but where it excels throughout is Tala Ashe. She’s now sleepwalking herself into bed with alternate reality boyfriend Nick Zano (alternate reality to the show, but not to the viewer), so brother Shayan Sobhian suggests she go into their family superpowers totem and talk to the ancestors.

Only when she goes in, Ashe finds the alternate universe self waiting to talk to her, which turns out to be a far better scene than it ought to be, given the goofiness level. It’s because Ashe can pull it off because Ashe is so good. When the show’s stars are at their best, they’re not just selling the silly mix of supernatural and superhero, they’re making it believable. Ashe does it times two this episode (versus Richardson-Sellers’s times one). Plus Ashe then has an absolutely phenomenal resolution to her eventually tragic subplot.

The emotional weight of the episode helps it get over the laggy sections… plus the five minutes it feels like we’ve literally seen the same turn of events before (from a couple seasons ago).

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e08 – Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness

It’s another big win good episode of “Legends.” It’s the farewell episode for Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford, which has all sorts of feelings but also Routh not being able to tell best bro Nick Zano the truth. Routh and Ford tell everyone else they’re leaving—in this great line for the bathroom scene—but when it comes time for Routh to inform Zano, he chokes, leading to a recurring subplot as everyone else tries to get Routh to tell and Routh keeps avoiding it.

The last mission is going to involve William Shakespeare (Rowan Schlosberg) and a single set for said mission. The episode’s pinching pennies to get a nice cast—Ramona Young comes back for a visit, which ends up having the girls through Ford a bachelorette party on the ship while the boys have one for Routh in Shakespeare’s favorite tavern.

One tavern fight later, Romeo and Juliet gets a new title—Romeo v Juliet: Dawn of Justness with Shakespeare writing comic books now. Nice dig at the corporate overlord, but then also a really nice montage sequence for the finale. See, in order to save the future of literature, the team has to put on a production of the play to convince Shakespeare to keep going.

Matt Ryan plays Romeo, Tala Ashe pays Juliet and they get a lot of mileage out of their performances. Ryan is the show’s most reliable performer, always able to play a scene for the right effect, but he’s never really gotten to do a lot of fun acting though. He’s gotten to do gravitas, but never this kind of playful before. And Ashe’s the show’s strongest actor, who’s able to do the most with whatever material she gets, lots or little. So the two of them doing a playfully randy Romeo and Juliet is a delight.

It’s another strong episode—the bachelorette and bachelor parties both have some great moments (the girls get drunk and go wild, the boys get drunk and bro mope), then the big save the future finale goes nicely.

It’s a fine send-off for Routh, who’s been around since day one and really made the role something different, good, and nice.

Swell, actually. Routh made the role swell.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e07 – Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac

Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac is an exemplar of “Legends of Tomorrow.” Writers Keto Shimizu and James Eagan provide a great script—just the right amount of subplots, just the right pace—and the cast is outstanding.

The episode opens on a red herring to get things moving. In the Wild West, Adam Tsekhman is cleaning up after a Legends outing from two seasons ago and is attacked by an unknown figure. In the present, Caity Lotz and Jes Macallan get the alert and go to save him, which gets them out of the way so the episode can get moving on the main plot, which involves Brandon Routh planning a date night to propose to girlfriend Courtney Ford. On their way to the Wild West, Lotz assigns Tala Ashe the job of helping Dominic Purcell get over someone trolling his romance novels online. That subplot, which only lasts half the episode, is phenomenal. Ashe is spectacular this season and this episode’s no exception. Plus it lets Purcell play straight humor, which is great too.

Routh’s date night goes wrong because it turns out Tsekhman ran into a resurrected Neal McDonough, whose attack has present day consequences for Tsekhman, who’s helping Routh with the date night. Phasing in and out of reality consequences. But then McDonough shows up at the date night because he’s looking for daughter Ford, who’s become a hero this season and last, only McDonough thinks she’s a demoness or something. So she’s got to pretend she’s bad and has enslaved the Legends (well, Loitz and Macallan) so he doesn’t realize she’s gone good.

So the episode then turns into this hilarious riff on Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Matt Ryan having to pretend to be Ford’s boyfriend (she’s hiding good guy Routh from McDonough). Only Routh is babysitting Ford’s charge, Madeline Hirvonen (Ford’s a fairy godmother), and thanks to him making her watch Mr. Rogers knock-off “Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac” and Hirvonen latches onto the “Love is Love” message and gets Routh ginned up to declare his love for Ford in front of McDonough.

It’s really funny, really well-acted, really well-written. And then the last act has about five metric tons of heart in it, right after a warlock battle.

Like I said, it’s an exemplar of the series. Great guest spot from McDonough, but also a fantastic showcase for Ford. So good.

And somehow I forgot about Ryan’s whole “going to Antarctica” subplot, which is hilarious. No one can pack forty-three minutes like “Legends.”

And there are puppets. How did I forget the puppets.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e06 – Mortal Khanbat

Not sure why Dominic Purcell isn’t in the episode save a scene—he’s still off nursing catching feelings for an ex-girlfriend with lots of beer–but Caity Lotz uses her time off camera to direct this episode. She’s pretty damn good. The episode’s split between a series of John Woo homages in 1997 Hong Kong and John Constantine (Matt Ryan) doing a horror show, but one with frequent comic relief. Unlike last episode, which also had Purcell and Lotz too busy with their offscreen obligations to play, this one doesn’t focus on Jes Macallan taking over the captain role. Macallan’s still in charge and she gets some good moments, but it’s really Shayan Sobhian’s episode. Also Maisie Richardson-Sellers’s, but more Sobhian because he’s the new guy. And he’s still a guest star, not regular cast.

See, Richardson-Sellers and Sobhian hooked up after last season finale and hadn’t had the chance to talk before the Crisis crossover, which screws up the way Richardson-Sellers fixed something in the past. We get her origin story at the end of the episode. It’s solid enough stuff. The part’s okay but Richardson-Sellers basically just fronts her way through it. Sobhian holds up their scenes, which are frequently played for laughs, even though Richardson-Sellers’s always delivering the punchline. Again, good directing from Lotz. She gets how “Legends” works best.

Some of that working best is the straight comedy in the resolutions to both story lines. Yes, Ryan having his last supper with Brandon Routh and Adam Tsekhman has some sincere moments Ryan’s able to both sell and make funny, but it gets even funnier once it’s all resolved. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong pot about Genghis Khan (Terry Chen) coming back and trying to take over the world… it’s got a nice fun finish too. With some great action in addition to the obvious Woo nods. And it goes heavy into humor for its finale too.

Good material for Courtney Ford and Tala Ashe, though not a lot; keeping them on simmer levels of material.

It’s a very successful episode. And also because it seems to have gotten the pieces in place for the rest of the season.

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