Sometimes I’ll watch a show or movie and not have a strong emotional response to it immediately. It’s only in retrospect that I can narrow down how I feel about it. The latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow left me feeling cold initially, but thinking about it has warmed me significantly. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, episode 9, “This is Gus.”
“This is Gus”
The premise for this episode is, like most other Legends of Tomorrow episodes, so silly that it borders on nonsensical. The team ends up in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2023. That is to say, the city that Legends and 3,000 other shows are filmed in, in a near-enough future that it hardly counts as a future. The alien they’re tracking is about to land very near the set of Behrad’s favorite show, Bud Stuy, a show about potheads who live in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, often called Bed-Stuy.
Especially this season, Legends has developed a deep fascination with marijuana, largely viewed through Behrad’s eyes. I’m not sure if it’s funny or cheesy, because Legends is always kind of riding that line, but this episode really dives in.
The second most huggable mascot
Just as the alien pod is crashing down, Spooner fires her super-pistol at it in hopes of killing the alien before it lands, but instead sends it careening off-course where it lands on the set of Bud Stuy, where an adorable alien crawls out. This show only has enough room for one huggably fuzzy little mascot, and its name is Beebo.
The showrunners, of course, love the little guy, while the stars resent it and the Legends are obligated to capture and remove it. If the show had misused the aforementioned Beebo, I’d be tempted to think this was a meta-commentary on the relationship between the actors and Beebo. That would totally track with the writing and tone of the show, but I don’t think that’s the case here.
Nature v Nuture
The unifying theme for the episode seems to, instead, be about how our environment influences us. There are two pregnant characters. One of them, incredibly, is Mick Rory. Oops, that’s what you get when you hook up with an alien, even a very sexy one. Meanwhile, the adorable little alien–GusGus–seems to bond to whomever feeds it.
Of course, this is the set of Behrad’s favorite show, and as the sudden introduction of an ALF-like mascot character changes the show, he begins to change, too. Anyone who grows up around pop culture has formative experiences with a show, a movie, an album. For Behrad, it was seeing other Middle Eastern-American guys on television being themselves and being something other than the typical ‘successful’ life path.
Behrad Goes Bad
As the timeline and show shift, so does Behrad, going from easy-going stoner pacifist to slicked-back smooth talker. Somehow he not only suits up but acquires an expensive car in just a day. While Behrad doesn’t understand what’s happening to him, his sister does; she sees how different he is from her, and how it looks when he starts to become the unhappy overachiever that she is, and is trying to shrug off. She sees how the Zari from the other timeline influenced him, and it’s genuinely heartbreaking. I felt really weird about Behrad at first, and about the new Zari, but both of them have grown on me in a way that only Legends can really do.
Off to the side of all this, Mick calls up his daughter, Lita, who says she needs to talk to him immediately. When Mick portals her into the Waverider, it turns out she’s extremely pregnant. It goes about how you’d expect to start, with Mick screaming about her bad choices (despite them largely mirroring his own) and about killing the guy responsible (despite the guy seeming present).
But this is Mick Rory we’re talking about, and while he might often take the most predictable first step, he never ends up where you’d expect. It might be the alien egg sack gestating in his inner ear talking, but what starts out as planned murder ends with Mick hugging the father of Lita’s child while he chokes back tears, realizing that he himself never had loving, present parents growing up.
The alien is hardly the point of this episode, but its whole deal is that it is (so far) relatively harmless aside from a truly ear-piercing scream and that it bonds with one person at a time. The show doesn’t go deep into what this alien is; it’s more of a prop and a MacGuffin to explore Mick and Behrad’s development, but even it ties into the parental contact aspect of the story.
The tail end of the episode has the two Zaris realizing that, now that there are two totems, they can take turns being outside the totem, as long as only one is out at a time. And so new Zari decides to take a totem vacation so that old Zari can see her friends–and Nate, of course.
Keeping it Fresh
Even an episode that felt off at first has managed to find a way to develop the show’s cast in meaningful, interesting ways that will affect the future of the show. This is what makes Legends such a joy to watch each week. Most CW Superhero shows grow stagnant because they ask their writers to continually develop an entire cast of characters across a half-dozen seasons while keeping them in the same room with the same co-stars. Legends avoids this first by having its continually rotating cast. While not all of the cast exits have been graceful, it means that characters who are done growing aren’t stuck running the place.
Second, the constant travel to new time periods means that Legends can explore different aspects of its characters without having to contrive some strange excuse or make it a Very Special Episode. In Legends, anything can happen so long as it works with the characters.
But now maybe the show can lay off pot jokes for a couple episodes.