In all my favorite comedies, the jokes aren’t just in the dialogue. They’re in the background, in props, even in episode titles. Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 began (after the Crisis episode) with the episode “Meet the Legends.” Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 2, “Meat: The Legends.”
“Meat: The Legends”
Most of the CW shows have a pretty straightforward batch of sets to work on. There’s a superhero base, a condo that person definitely can’t afford, their workplace, and maybe one or two other sets. The Legends have the Waverider–which includes the bridge, the medbay, the lab, and some various quarters and engine rooms and the like. When they’re not on the Waverider, they could be in pre-revolutionary France, 1970s London, and 2021 America in the course of a couple episodes. That doesn’t even touch on the costumes, the hair styles, the cars…
The challenges the Legends crew–the one making the show, that is–are unique to this show when compared to the rest of the Arrowverse. This week’s episode takes Team Ava to 1950s San Bernardino, California, the birthplace of American fast-casual dining. The conceit this season is that, in her attempt to get back to the team, Sara Lance pushed a bunch of aliens out of the airlock, and the pods–instead of the ship she and Gary (dangit, Gary) were on–went into the timestream and got spit out who-knows-where.
Meanwhile, somewhere in space, Sara and Gary have crash-landed on a planet that looks a lot like a forest in the Northwestern part of the North American continent, but color-graded to look weird. Hey, you work with what you have, right?
You can have your cake and eat it, too
The San Bernardino section of this story is where most of the action is, anyway, and a reminder of how anything-goes Legends is. A not-insignificant portion of the story is devoted to Behrad’s zen devotion to burger-flipping, which apparently is his happy place. But at the same time, the show doesn’t ignore its characters. Ava and new crewmate Spooner are the emotional core of this episode. Ava is desperate to get her girlfriend back from outer space, and Spooner is frustrated from years of torment due to her ability to psychically communicate with extra-terrestrials. Avan is emotionally fragile, while Spooner is closed off enough that she could give Mick Rory a run for his money.
Legends is the only show in the Arrowverse that can pull off consistently the disparate tones of being a show where a giant bug-alien with a Godzilla roar can snap up a 1950s housewife in one bite in one scene, and then two characters can have a quiet drink and talk about their feelings the next.
The show also deftly evades so much of what plagues the other Arrowverse shows. When you’re a ragtag crew of fourth-wall-breaking time travelers, you’re not subject to silly drama like courtroom soliloquys or suspension-breaking technology mumbo-jumbo. This show is absurd and both the writers and the characters know it. It’s something that most of these other shows seem to have forgotten. Or maybe Legends is just so much better at it that they dare not try.
Also, Amelia Earhart tries to eat Sara and Gary.