The Legends have been to the old west, World War I, literal Hell, and countless other strange places and times throughout their adventures. If Sara Lance and Mick Rory want to say they’ve seen it all, you best believe them. But you know what the Legends have never done together? They’ve never gone bowling. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 11, “The Final Frame.”
“The Final Frame”
The Waverider is home to nine misfits (ten if you count Gary), and while it’s great to see them all together, it doesn’t make sense from a story point of view to try to have nine weirdoes all trying to be weird at the same time. This week, the team is split into three very different storylines.
Sara, Rory, Spooner, and Astra are searching for the next scattered alien right here on present-day Earth. Eventually, they find the capsule with a light-up cube inside. Anyone who has watched even a trailer for Hellraiser knows that moving parts around on a mechanical cube of mysterious origin is extremely bad business, but the four end up tinkering with and fighting over it, and find themselves transported to, no, not a grotesque, hellish place designed to torture them, but rather to a bowling alley.
Okay, maybe it’s not that different.
Meanwhile, Nate and Zari–called “flannel Zari” by at least one of her shipmates–are out on a camping trip. The star-crossed lovers have just 24 hours left before this Zari has to return to her place among her ancestors in the Wind Totem, letting the other Zari back out. Of course, this is Legends, so they can’t just be left alone to have a sweet day alone together.
Finally, that leaves Ava, Gary, Behrad, and John on the Waverider. Ava is trying to pick out her dress for her marriage to Sara Lance while John is playing a game of chicken with some very dangerous magic that he can’t truly control.
Gambling in the Alley
Of course, this isn’t just any alley, it’s a cosmic bowling alley, the alley at the end of the universe. When the foursome shows up, a bunch of pin sharks in purple bowling shirts are wrecking another team. As they win, the red team dissolves into the form of a red ball in a lit-up display cabinet.
This storyline does a few things that I really enjoy. You don’t always need outrageous CGI to do something weird. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive went deep into weird over and over again with minimal visual effects. Using a well-lit, seemingly timeless bowling alley is a great way to make such a high-stakes story–the Legends are literally bowling for the continued existence of Earth–feel that much more unnerving. It’s weirdly calm and quiet, and everything is so brightly colored, but every little move matters and what’s actually happening would be truly terrifying.
While that’s happening, Zari and Nate hike to their campsite only to find that there are not only people there, but they’re glamping rather than camping, turning a few hundred feet of the forest floor into a circus. This storyline is all about them exploring their extremely long-distance–like cross-dimensionally long-distance–relationship.
I like that the show only casts doubt on it for a split second. Nate in particular has had tough luck with relationships and while Zari being stuck in the totem is hardly ideal, I like that they’re solid. Legends of Tomorrow is better at building and maintaining relationships than lots of shows at this point, and playing with the dynamics of a steady, on-going relationship without making it self destruct. Other shows seem to stumble and lock up when two characters finally hook up–either they break them up, or they forget about them, but Legends tends to do more, acknowledging even that rock-steady relationships still have bumps along the way.
But things get weird when we find out (major spoilers here) that the bowling ball the aliens are using is actually Earth itself with three giant holes carved into it. Seeing the entire sky covered by a fingerprint is deeply unsettling in the best, Doom Patrol-iest way.
Back at the Alley
The other thing the alley does is highlight aspects of each character. For Sara it’s fairly standard leadership stuff, the kind tone that Caity Lotz has gotten very good at over the last five or so seasons. The interactions between Mick and Spooner are some of my favorites, though. They’re very much two peas in a pod to the point where they come off more like long-lost siblings. We find out that Spooner goes hard on bowling, while Rory struggles. He wears gloves throughout the series, and isn’t willing to take them off to fit his fingers into the bowling ball. He explains to Spooner that some parts of his past aren’t for everybody to see, while pulling back his gloves to show a bit of the burn scarring he hides from the world.
Rory’s frequency of vulnerable moments has definitely grown as the show progressed, but this one felt really intimate and personal. It wasn’t played for comedy, it was just an admission from one hardened loner to another.
Meanwhile, Astra has never bowled in her life–growing up in, again, literal Hell will limit your options for fun–and covers her shame with haughtiness despite the stakes of the game. When Spooner smashes her finger between two bowling balls, Astra has to step up and bowl granny-style, and it’s great.
Say Yes to the Dress
Through all this, Ava is trying on dresses for her upcoming nuptials with Sara. Gary uses the event to distract Ava from the fact that the Waverider can’t find Earth (because it’s currently a cosmic bowling ball), showing the lengths Gary will go to to protect his friend’s feelings. While Gary’s loyalty was questionable in some earlier seasons, I love that he’s fully on Team Avalance to the point where his loyalty was never in question even when we found out he’s been an alien the whole time earlier this season.
If Legends of Tomorrow was going to crossover with any non-DC show, it’d be perfectly at home rubbing elbows with Doctor Who. They share some of the same DNA just by virtue of the time travel aspect of each show, but more important is the way each is willing to go to truly weird places to tell its stories. Legends is the kind of show where its fans see that an episode is going to take place in a bowling alley at the end of the universe and collectively pumps its fist in excitement.
Not much happens in this episode that furthers any plotline, but it’s still a satisfying ride all the same.