Six seasons in, Legends of Tomorrow is starting to run out of ideas. Oh wait, no it’s not. It’s time for an animated Disney Princess story. Because of course it is. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 5, “The Satanist’s Apprentice.”
“The Satanist’s Apprentice”
Life on planet Earth is tough. We get used to the difficulties one at a time, though, as we grow up. We learn how to do the dishes and laundry. We make mistakes with money. We deal with mean people. We learn to account for the weather, how to feed ourselves. By the time we’re actually adults, we have at least the basics of life skills figured out. But what if you got dumped into it all at once? And what if you had unimaginable power just a few short months ago?
That’s the bind Astra finds herself in. While the Legends were off fighting wars in Cuba and Washington D.C. last week, sometimes-Legend Astra was trying to adapt to life on Earth after growing up, quite literally, in Hell. There, Astra clawed her way to power and prominence–only to give it up for a chance at life as a normal person. But it turns out that the skills you learn in Hell and the skills you need on Earth don’t match up, and she finds herself outmatched by the basics of transportation and retail exchange.
Meanwhile, Sara Lance meets the season’s apparent Big Bad, a manbun-sporting guy named Bishop that seems like he’d be more at home in Silicon Valley than on an alien planet. But just like a Silicon Valley tech executive, he mistakenly believes that he’s going to save humanity, somehow, with a little help from his army of Ava clones.
Mr. Crowley, did you talk to the dead?
For Astra, the answer to her prayers comes when she’s exploring John Constantine’s attic. There, she finds a talking painting–Aleister Crowley. Constantine once summoned the legendary occultist from Hell and, once he had what he wanted, trapped him in a painting. The painting talks to Astra, and has a creepy but cool animated oil-painting look. Incredibly, this isn’t the only animation in this episode.
After swapping Crowley and Constantine’s souls between the painting and his body, the plot here is fairly rote. Astra gets overconfident and turns the Legends into a binder (Ava), a block of cheese (Nate), a candle (Behrad), a bejeweled flip phone (Zari), and a fork (Spooner). Crowley takes advantage of her, and she has to get out of it. Okay, some of that isn’t super rote, but the overall arc of the overconfident student getting into hot water definitely is. When Astra fights back, Crowley turns her into a Disney-style princess, complete with animation and–of course–a big blowout musical number. Weirdly, this one actually worked for me when they so often make me cringe. Maybe the animation thing helped.
The animation is surprisingly high quality for what amounts to a silly bit, and left myself hoping for a little bit more than we actually got.
Sarah’s sequence is equally straightforward; she tries to convince one of the Ava clones to help her escape, only to be betrayed. She does some classic Sara Lance ass-kicking, and it’s a great fight scene as you’d expect.
The biggest part of this storyline is the introduction to Bishop. He’s charming and graceful in ways that make me think of Oscar Isaac’s character in Ex Machina dancing. You know the clip. He’s frightening the same way a rabbit hanging out with a pride of lions might be. He’s so mundane and confident of himself despite his surroundings that it makes him that much more disturbing.
Both of these storylines are kind of downers, though. Astra’s mistake ends with John losing access to years of built-up magical power, and Sara’s escape ends with her still frustratingly isolated from her team. It’s a funny, fun episode, but the down ending of both storylines left me wishing for a little bit of that Legends positivity.
Even so, this is better by a country mile than, you know, The Flash. Sorry, Flash.