Shayan Sobhian

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) 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.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e05 – A Head of Her Time

Continuing whatever this season is doing with its creative Arrowverse accounting, Dominic Purcell and Caity Lotz mostly sit out this episode. Lotz is in Star City on some kind of bland personal business, which leaves Jes Macallan in charge. Macallan, who used to run an extra-dimensional time agency, gets very worried about captaining the Legends, which leads to her bonding with Tala Ashe, which is fine.

Meanwhile Purcell is just heartsick and apparently off drinking about it during the action.

Apparently having Purcell and Lotz on partial duty means Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Adam Tsekhman get to do things, so they’re the backup in Matt Ryan’s Constantine story arc. They really should’ve renamed it “John Constantine and the Legends of Tomorrow,” then did a bit about how Ryan got more famous than everyone else and it’s a thing. But they didn’t and instead it’s “Legends of Tomorrow with Special Guest Star John Constantine.”

Ryan, Richardson-Sellers, and Tsekhman are doing a horror humor bit involving Ryan’s history with Hell villain Olivia Swann. Turns out Ryan used to have a thing for Swann’s mom, Alice Hunter, and maybe only consigned Swann to Hell because he was trying to resurrect Hunter. The flashbacks also allow for Ryan with a mohawk, which is a lot of fun.

Also a lot of fun is the main plot, which has Macallan, Ashe, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, and I hope they keep him around somehow Shayan Sobhian trying to get a resurrected and not entirely unjustifiably angry Marie Antoinette (Courtney Ford) from ruining history.

Ford, who also plays another character, a fairly regular cast member, is pretty funny as Antoinette and the gimmick works.

Amidst the Antoinette arc is Ashe’s misadventures as a rookie time traveling superhero, though some of those misadventures are because she’s also a 2040 social media influencer who wants to exploit history for likes. It works out, especially with the big gala event for the action-packed finale. “Legends” is doing an excellent job integrating the character development with the action this season.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e04 – Slay Anything

“Legends” does a double homage this episode–Slay Anything is simultaneously an eighties John Hughes homage and an eighties slasher movie homage. High school prom killer Garrett Quirk is the latest condemned soul sent back to Earth to reign Hell or whatnot. So what does a spree killer become once Hell-powered? A telekinetic slasher, out to get the final girl (Veronika London).

Caity Lotz, Jes Macallan, and Dominic Purcell are trapped in the high school reunion where Quirk’s back to get London—it’s also Purcell’s old high school and he runs into almost flame Lisa Marie DiGiacinto, giving Purcell a rather personable arc—while Nick Zano and Brandon Routh go back further in time to the first prom to try to stop Quirk from ever becoming a killer in the first place. I think it’s the first time “Legends” has used Back to the Future logic, but it fits so much I wish they’d homaged it better.

Complications ensue because Routh’s fairy godmother girlfriend Courtney Ford is visiting him and when she hears the pleas of Quirk as a teen–now played by Seth Meriwether—she finds herself bound to him. A slasher with a fairy godmother. It ends up being Ford’s best turn on the show; she does an excellent job.

Also doing an excellent job are Tala Ashe (obviously) and Shayan Sobhian. They’re hanging out on the ship while Routh and Zano try to save Meriwether from himself. Very nice sibling interaction and character development for Ashe and Sobhian. “Legends” ends up doing a lot this episode—though besides some fighting and being cute with Lotz, all Macallan gets is a reveal about her podcast, which is rater funny.

Meanwhile, apparently the show’s saving Maisie Richardson-Sellers for Matt Ryan’s plot lines, which this episode separates from the main.

The stylish opening titles are permanent now too. “Legends” is firmly footed this season; the showcase for Ford just makes it too bad she’s leaving at some point in the near future (along with real-life husband Routh).

Bummer. But until then… “Legends” is working just fine.

Nice direction from Alexandra La Roche this episode too; lots of effective slasher movie nods.

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e03 – Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me

It’s a strong episode. Like, really strong; great pacing too. It starts with Constantine (Matt Ryan), who teleported to Hell at the end of last episode, getting to Hell and having a chat with lost soul turned season villain Olivia Swann. It’s a welcome scene not so much for the content—Swann is better in her second appearance this episode, when Ryan’s actually able to surprise her—but for its presence. I was thinking Ryan was zapping off to Hell for an unseen adventure and would be sitting out this episode—he’s still credited as a “special guest star” or some such thing; he’s not a “Legends” star proper. But, as it turns out, he seems to be a regular because he doesn’t just get one of the biggest plot threads this episode, they also get him to start acting goofy.

Ryan’s never really been goofy on “Legends” before. But now he’s getting close.

His part of the episode involves him trying to get forties gangster moll Haley Strode to turn on Bugsy Siegel (Jonathan Sadowski); Bugsy’s this week’s back-from-Hell villain. Sadowski’s doing a Vince Vaughn impression but he’s not bad. He’s got a solid sense of humor, which is the most important thing for a “Legends” actor to have. Strode’s okay—she’s playing the Annette Bening part from the movie only without enough detail to be an actual historical figure—Ryan’s really good with her.

Meanwhile, odd couple Ava (Jes Macallan) and Mick (Dominic Purcell) are bonding over drinks, leading to some truly wonderful comedic showcasing for Macallan. It seems like it’s going to be good, then it just keeps getting better and better.

Caity Lotz and Brandon Routh are doing more serious (and less interesting) mission stuff, Maisie Richardson-Sellers is M.I.A., so the third major subplot has Nick Zano and new guy Shayan Sobhian visiting his family. Sobhian’s a new regular this season, in for Tala Ashe, who blinked out of the timeline at the end of last season. Only then Zano found a Princess Leia-esque message and now he runs into her at Sobhian’s parent’s house. Only this Ashe was never a superhero or Zano’s girlfriend, she’s a social media influencer in 2044 or something. It shouldn’t exactly work but… it does because Ashe’s amazing. The writing’s really good too—credit Ray Utarnachitt, especially on the bickering between Ashe and Sobhian—but Ashe playing lovestruck Zano? Just fantastic.

Between Ryan and—eventually—Routh playing Chinatown, Ryan getting some character development, Macallan getting to be hilarious, Ashe getting to flex her range… it’s a strong episode. It’s one of those, “Now, this is why you watch ‘Legends’ episodes.”

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e02 – Meet the Legends

Good “Legends” is both bad and obvious, and obvious. When the show hits the right notes, it keeps ringing the bell through the end of the episode. Once an episode of “Legends” clicks, it stays in that higher gear.

This first post-Crisis episode means there can be all sorts of new changes in addition to Shayan Sobhian being the new guy on the team only no one knows it because before they messed up time last season, Sobhian was Tala Ashe (who’d really gotten good on the show, even with the absurdity of her romance with hero bro Nick Zano) before. They keep the same powers. Sobhian’s likable—you can be middling on “Legends” but you can’t be unlikable. You’ve got to enjoy watching “Legends,” they work for it.

Anyway, it means there are changes to be watching for. But there’re also the first real episode of the season changes to be watching for. And then the show’s in a fake documentary form; Jes Macallan has to prove the Legends’ worth to the U.S. government so they want a documentary. The Legends are famous after saving the world least season, which is a bit of a blur. It didn’t end well. Starting with the documentary bit seems like a cop-out. Except they stop the format—the team fights a resurrected Rasputin (Michael Eklund) this episode; it’s fun. Eklund’s… a likable villain. Rasputin tries to become an influencer. It’s works just well enough. Throw in some good fight scenes for Caity Lotz, the right amount of Brandon Routh’s adorkable, occasionally Matt Ryan appearances (with Adam Tsekhman as his sidekick), and it works out well. Ramona Young becoming Dominic Purcell’s sidekick, however, is an unexpected delight. They give Young more than she tended to get last year and better material and she kills it; Macallan’s gotten funnier with being so serious, which is really nice because Zano’s only fun around Routh really, but Young’s the biggest success.

So bummer when she bows out for some of the season. A few of the other cast members go off on side missions so they can keep the casting budget down. But “Legends”’s budget constraints sometimes work out for it and having characters recur instead of loiter in the background… I’m going to be really bummed if Young’s not back soon. Like. No. They’re making Young’s not simple part—a superhero fangirl becoming a werewolf—work and they need to stick with it.

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