Over on The Flash, this season marks the last appearances of actors Tom Cavanaugh and Carlos Valdes on the show. Two of the original cast members leaving is a huge deal that feels like a sort of death knell for the show. Legends of Tomorrow meanwhile, is sort of a revolving door, and only two original cast members remain–something the show has to deal with. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 3, “The Ex-Factor.”
It’s time, Marty! Time to go back to the future! When a robotic alien crash lands in the year 2045, the Legends are called back to Zari’s world, where she reigns as queen of social media. The alien, Knoxacrillion, wishes to seek out and defeat the king of the planet when it spots a flyer calling Zari’s ex-boyfriend, DJ S’more Money, king of Da Throne. The team talks Knoxacrillion into competing in a singing competition to take the crown.
Meanwhile, aboard the Waverider, Mick Rory is in a funk; on some planet, somewhere, the carnivorous alien known as Gary Greene is trying to protect the poisoned/infected Sara Lance.
I know how music works
I always struggle to watch non-musical shows do musical segments. Unless they’re being played for pure laughs, as with Ava’s (Jes Macallan) musical number in the mobster episode Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me, I tend to cringe and look away. I can’t even bring myself to watch the musical episodes of Riverdale.
In the case of this particular episode of Legends of Tomorrow, I think it has something to do with the fact that these performances are supposed to be so good that the whole world is voting for them. I have a fair idea of what good music sounds like, and these sorts of sequences always come across as cheesy. The rest of the show is cheesy, so I’m not sure what my hang up is here, but it’s something I felt myself going into as I watched.
With that said, this episode is still a fun one full of good character moments.
Over on the Waverider, Mick is starting to notice Sara’s absence. That is to say, he’s realized he’s the only original member of the team left. We know Sara’s not going anywhere just yet, but Mick doesn’t. She’s always been around to lean on and work with. With her gone, Mick is adrift. Of course, with Mick Rory, this comes out as a surly attitude and lashing out at people he cares about.
This is an interesting sort of meta moment for the show. Legends has only gotten more and more meta over time. Gary and Mona understand fanfiction tropes. Ray and Nate know what a crossover episode is and when they’re not in one. Sara doesn’t like people talking about MacGuffins before she’s had coffee. But this is a little bit different.
Indeed, Lotz and Purcell are the only members who have stuck around since Season 1, and not all of those departures have been happy ones. Earlier this spring, Purcell wrote a distinctly Mick Rory-toned post to social media that talked about his time on Legends ending, hinting that the change was not one he’d asked for, or that circumstances had forced it. Purcell later backtracked, and he’ll be guesting during the show’s already-greenlit Season 7.
So for Rory to be throwing a grumpy fit about such a similar situation feels like the writers working through the question of the show’s revolving door through Rory. The episode was filmed months before Purcell’s post, so they’re not directly related, but both center on this idea of being the oldest kid at the party and knowing your time is not unlimited, making the storyline that much more resonant for long-time Legends fans.
Better safe than Zari
The episode’s main story has plenty of great moments. Tala Ashe is such a blast to watch as Zari. As social media mogul Zari Tarazi, she gets to preen, flaunt, sing, yell. Hacker Zari had her charms, but Social Media Zari definitely has more range, and Ashe takes advantage of it. Even if I struggle with watching these musical sequences, it’s not even a question to me that she nailed both of her scenes.
Meanwhile, the show is trying to let John Constantine grow, too. This can be tough with a character like this. While a character like Flash is all about his powers and suit, Constantine’s supersuit is a grimy button-down and a trenchcoat that’s more smoke than jacket, and what people really remember about him is his reticence to get involved in anything. It’s his attitude that people are attracted to, and so getting him to grow in a way that doesn’t put people off is tough.
Zari feels like a good foil for John because she doesn’t need anything from him. She’s rich, confident, intelligent, and attractive. Her life isn’t perfect, and we see how returning to 2045 affects her throughout the episode, but she’s not broken; Zari doesn’t have demons. She just has growing and maturing to do, and there’s nothing for John to fix, which means that if he wants her, he has to be an adult about it and say it, instead of turning it into a hopeless quest.
That comes to a head this week in another musical number that, once again, made me cringe. But that’s a me problem, and you can decide if it’s a you problem. It’s forward movement for a character that resists such things with the strength of a master of the dark arts.
I think sometimes about the characters I miss; Ray Palmer, Leonard Snart, Dr. Stein, Charlie. But Legends tricked me into loving Gary Greene and I’m already starting to like Spooner, who the show is propping up as the next Mick Rory, right down to her military jacket and penchant for pointing guns as a greeting.
Even with all these changes, the show has managed to keep a warm, friendly tone and weird sense of humor that few shows can manage for even one episode.