Despite the drastic effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on TV schedules, somehow my two favorite shows from this season–Black Lightning and Legends of Tomorrow–are the only ones that got real endings. This week marks the season 5 finale of Legends of Tomorrow, in which Ava uses Shake Weights as a weapon and Marie Antoinette loses her head again. Spoilers follow for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 15, “Swan Thong.”
Legends of Tomorrow‘s fifth season has been almost universally great, to the point where I feel a little silly continuing to sing its praises. As I’ve come to just expect at this point, though, the Legends manage to pull off a touching finale that pulls the whole season together, gives a satisfying conclusion for multiple characters, and manages to do all that with a great sense of humor.
Having broken out of the brutal Soviet-style regime imposed by the united Fates, the Legends don’t waste any time in going after them. The team quickly disposes of the first fate, Atropos, somewhat by accident when they kick her into the weaving Loom of Fate, causing both loom and fate alike to self-destruct.
The team goes looking for the Waverider after that in a funny scene that has Mick walking around a junkyard clicking the remote lock on the Waverider’s keychain. I’m pretty sure the Waverider has never had a keychain, keys, or a modern-day remote lock, but that’s okay because the joke is good and we all know exactly what it means.
The team gets a short jump into the future by using Nate’s metallic form as a conductor. There, things look normal until they realize that Lachesis, the remaining fate, has everyone on Earth wearing Fate Watches that tell them what to do and how to behave.
The team tracks their quarry to a museum setup by Lachesis to extoll the virtues of fate and the ills of free will. In the museum, the heroes pass by bad ideas like the Shake Weight, the Flowbee hair vacuum, cigarettes, and Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” a display featuring a very life-like Sisqo.
The Legends discover a room devoted to all the worst people in history, such as Caligula and Marie Antoinette. The Legends themselves are in spot #2, while Charlie, or Clotho, lives in the chamber for #1 as the Loom Breaker, who brought chaos into everyone’s lives.
Astra challenges Lachesis to strike her down because they know she can’t; she’s replaced the destroyed Loom with none other than the Waverider’s computer, Gideon. Lachesis unleashes the nearby Encores on the Legends for the kind of bananas fight scene that only Legends can do, which features Ava fighting using Shake Weights and Marie Antoinette losing her head again while actual Sisqo plays the “Thong Song” in the background. It’s so weird and I love it.
Clotho spends much of this episode trying to stop the Legends, convinced that Fate is good. Chaos spawned all the bad people on earth, she explains, while the Legends try to refute it. It’s finally a conversation with Mick’s daughter, Lita, who lays out the chaos that created her and how happy she is to know her father.
The Legends win, and Clotho decides to let the now-powerless Lachesis live so that she can see what the world is like without fate.
Goodbye, kind of
With the Fates dealt with, though, the team still has to deal with misaligned timelines, and the show gets painful here. We have two Zaris, one from the current timeline, and the other from a timeline where her brother died. The schism starts to affect Behrad, whose ‘Timeline 1’ gunshot wound starts to manifest. The Zari from that timeline realizes quickly that she’s not going to get a happily-ever-after with Nate. The two have a tearful goodbye that might be some of the best work on the show by either of the actors, and one of the very best moments of the season.
While the goodbye for Zari is sad, it makes sense for the character; all she wanted to do was save her brother. She did it. She returns to the wind totem after a goodbye with the team. Finally, the team makes one last stop, reuniting Charlie with her band, The Smells, so that she can do a punk-rock show for the team. Charlie decides, though, that it’s time for her to pick a spot and stay, and she decides to stay with the band. Astra decides to try having a normal earth life, too, though she says she’s going to stay at Constantine’s mansion when she gives him his soul coin.
I hate watching tv characters pretend to party
As an aside, the timing of this musical number and another show I’m watching helped me understand an issue I often have with shows. I find musical numbers in TV shows incredibly cringe-y, and I’m watching them through my fingers. I wasn’t sure why until I re-watched an episode of Community‘s sixth season. In this episode, one character gets another to agree to have a huge party by telling him he can make a movie out of the party. He tries to capture the feeling of partying “like there’s no tomorrow,” but finds he can’t capture that on camera. I have no problem suspending my disbelief for most TV fiction, but for some reason these big concert rock scenes always ring hollow to me. I’m seeing the actors pretending to party for the camera instead of the characters partying. Even if having Charlie’s band play the theme from Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-Sac was an inspired choice, I struggled through the scene.
Afterward, as the team returns to the ship, Sara is caught up in a tractor beam. Legends always ends with a cliffhanger for the next season, and it looks like next year is all about aliens.
Looking back at this season
The biggest thing that stands out about this season of Legends of Tomorrow is just how many members of the team are stepping away in some way or another. Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford’s characters, Ray Palmer and Nora Darhk, left under apparently unsatisfying circumstances. Maisie Richardson-Sellers has played two different characters on the show–Amaya Jiwe and Charlie/Clotho–and has apparently been planning an exit for some time. Ramona Young’s Mona Wu took on more of a guest role. The story has also necessitated that the original Zari takes a back seat to Zari 2.0.
Meanwhile, the new additions just don’t feel quite as strong as departures like Ray Palmer and Charlie. Behrad has charisma to spare, but his main feature as a person seems to be that he likes getting high. The new Zari is an awesome character in terms of seeing Tala Ashe play someone so different from her previous character, but the “ew, I’m popular” schtick gets tiresome at points. There’s a lot of room for growth with this Zari, though, where there wasn’t so much for the other. This Zari’s drive is intrinsic instead of extrinsic. She wants to grow for herself rather than living for her brother. I hope she can take on more of Zari 1.0’s personality and features, though, so that she can feel more like a part of the team instead of a socialite hitching a ride.
Even with the departures, Legends still has a strong cast of characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again next season. I hope the show can find more for Behrad and Zari 2.0. If I had to guess at next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see John Constantine’s time on the ship winding down. His romance with Zari brings some new life, but John is a magician and season 6 is going to be about aliens, and I can see the clash there. I also would expect either for Mick to step away from the crew to be with his daughter–or his daughter to take a gap year before college and join the Waverider for a while. I’d prefer the latter, as Mick has been one of the best characters on the show and is one of the few original team members left.
Regardless, it’s impossible to deny how much I enjoy this show each year, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming.