I’ve been struggling with enjoying a lot of the CW’s DC shows in recent seasons. The Flash and Supergirl have both meandered through their last couple seasons, and Batwoman‘s reset didn’t help it any. But in all that time, my love for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the stupidest and best show on television, hasn’t wavered even once. Spoilers follow for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 1, “Ground Control to Sara Lance.”
“Ground Control to Sara Lance”
Legends isn’t like anything else on the CW. Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s trying to adapt comic book storylines anymore, and it’s totally irrelevant because I’m not trying to justify its weird decisions. Legends of Tomorrow has a formula where something bad happens, they try to fix it, and it makes things worse. That’s how it always starts. But Legends is a constant argument for what can happen when you give good writers and actors the space to make something weird.
Last season ended with Sara Lance being abducted by aliens, and things pick up right there, and go in all kinds of crazy directions. Ava has binders ready and a checklist to track the mission. The checklist has entries like “ask John to do magic” and “Let Mick drink until he cooperates.”
Meanwhile, Sara wakes up on the alien ship and breaks out of captivity, frees none other than Spartacus himself, and tells him that “Avengers are stupid, be a preventer,” and then watches as he is eaten by an alien almost immediately.
I don’t want to spoil every joke on the show, but it’s hard not to. The show isn’t quite funny at the pace of something like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny throughout the episode, working with visual gags, recurring jokes, and blink-and-you’ll-miss it lines that make me think about rewatching the episode the moment it ends.
Even John Constantine deserves to grow
But what underlies all this is that the show has a really good heart with fun characters that drive it home. John Constantine is unabashedly himself, grumpy, horny, and drunk in appropriate measure, but Legends isn’t afraid to grow him. It turns out his acerbic wit is a perfect match for the genuine earnestness of someone like Ava Sharpe. Behrad–of whom I was deeply suspicious at the beginning of Season 5–is silly and relaxed in a way that balances out Mick Rory’s surly need to solve every issue with percussive maintenance.
But on top of them being good matches, the show takes time to build up relationships. Sara and Ava’s relationship is one of the most organic, real, and heartwarming on all of these shows. Supergirl is in its sixth and final season and still doesn’t know what to do with her (she loves Lena, you dummies). Barry and Iris are a fairly good match, but that’s as much because of comic book predestination as it is anything else. Oliver and Felicity were a pretty good match, but the latter grated on many fans. Sara and Ava didn’t start out giving each other heart eyes, and they’ve had trouble since then springing from their own hang-ups. One of my favorite episodes had them stuck in a never-ending House of Leaves-style IKEA that acted as a metaphor for Ava’s worries about being a clone.
The Time Idiots are back
And so when Ava sees Sara propose to her on a video shot by David Bowie in punk-era London–of course–it hits. It hits hard. I want these characters to be happy. The same way that I wanted Mick to embrace his love of writing romance novels which was revealed in a time loop episode of all places.
Legends consistently finds ways to make its characters more quirky and then lavishes love on that quirkiness. We’re never laughing at the Legends. Except Gary. Gary deserves it.
Another thing Legends does right is move quickly. I look at all the other CW shows and how they have this habit of separating their heroes from their supporting characters for five or six episodes at a time. While Legends doesn’t reunite Sara with her crew immediately, she does find Gary (dang it, Gary) and her team makes what feels like meaningful headway instead of just keeping characters separate and boring.
I’m glad my Time Idiots are back.