Legends of Tomorrow has developed a reputation as a warm, silly, and fearlessly weird show compared to its CW brethren and, honestly, just about everything else on TV. This season has been a somewhat weird one, surely due in part to the effects of COVID-19 on production. It’s impossible, though, to say how much. Season 6’s penultimate episode is a weird one. Let’s dive in. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 14, “There Will Be Brood.”
“There Will Be Brood”
John’s addiction is in full control of him this week, and this is a fast-moving episode that wants to get a lot done. Things split quickly into three groups and get off and running. After a confrontation with Zari, John joins Bishop to abscond with the Waverider without realizing that Spooner and Astra, Legends‘ latest besties, are onboard. They land in Texas in the 1920s, and the two couples sneak off. Meanwhile, the Legends are back at John’s place in modern day trying to figure out how to time travel without a time machine, eventually deciding to deceive Rory’s baby mama, Kayla, into showing up with her ship.
The location the Waverider ends up in, the next known appearance of the Fountain of Imperium (John’s white whale for getting back his connection to magic), also just happens to be where and when Spooner’s mother lived. In the past, John learns that the Fountain isn’t just a power source, but a sentient alien. Bishop explains that mushrooms are a benign and benevolent alien species that protect Earth, which feels like it’s probably kind of true in the real world, too. Did you know there’s a fungus colony in Oregon that’s two and a half miles across? Mushrooms are weird.
All about Spooner
At the same time, Spooner and Astra slowly discover that Spooner’s life-defining event, when her mother was taken from her and she was cursed with her powers, didn’t happen quite like she thinks. Spooner was taken away from 1920s Texas and sent forward in time, getting the fountain’s power in the process. Spooner wants to save her mother, while Astra–who lost a mother herself–sees things more clearly. The episode becomes a race between Bishop and John trying to get the Imperium’s power and Astra and Spooner to stop them while the other Legends try just to catch up.
The episode ends up being truly brutal. John tries to betray Bishop, only for the evil genius to turn it back on him. John dies, for real, in Zari’s arms, along with the Fountain itself. On the Waverider, Bishop has rigged up Rory’s eggs to explode to distract the rest of the team. Rory is caught in the explosion as he tries to save his and Kayla’s eggs. This is one of the darkest Legends episodes in a while.
The real treasure was the friends we made along the way
Through these plotlines, the episode explores some interesting themes, including the inevitable endpoint of untreated addiction and the meaning of connections we make.
The latter is the more interesting. Spooner initially wants to save her mother, who she’s found out from John is murdered that night by a greedy oil man. In doing so, though, Spooner would stop herself from going forward in time, from meeting the Legends, and from taking part in all their adventures–throughout which she’s been a key player. In other words, in undoing her past, Spooner would not only change herself in countless ways, it would ripple out to affect others around her.
All of the trauma Spooner went through became a part of her, and helped her to become close to the Legends, who have more or less become her family. Undoing who she is would take all of the good stuff away from her along with the bad, but it would also take that away from others around her.
John, meanwhile, is a cautionary tale. Constantine is a loner by nature, but his time aboard the Waverider has connected him to other people. When addiction pulls on him, though, he doesn’t reach out for help. Instead, he convinces himself that he can beat the addiction out of a combination of shame, temptation, and hubris, which pushes him into Bishop’s manipulative orbit. Instead of getting help from his friends, John chose power and, ultimately, death.
Killed By Committee
It’s a pretty dark turn for this show, which is often so focused on friendship and healing. If you’d told me that Legends was going to do a John Constantine addiction storyline and ask how it ends, I would imagine some situation where the team comes together to support him, allowing him to play the defining role in some epic battle. Instead, John dies lonely and desperate in the dirt while his girlfriend holds him.
It’s hard not to look at the reported HBO Max show starring another version of Constantine and wonder if this is executives not wanting to have two versions of a character on the air. While they had to concede this for a while with The Flash, it seems like the studio may be pulling back and trying to avoid doubling up on characters. That actor Matt Ryan is coming back as another character–something Legends loves doing–only furthers that idea in my head. It would’ve been easier to have John leave the team. Killing him is meant to seal off the idea of a return. It feels like an ignominious death for a character that deserves better. The character apparently appears in the next episode, but it seems like it’ll be a manifestation of the Fountain or something like that, rather than a resurrection for the character. I could be wrong, of course.
Lights and Colors
With that said, this episode is gorgeous, full of colors and glowing lights that make the character look great and the whole situation feel otherworldly and magical.
It’s also touching to see Spooner work through her frustration and fears with Astra; Legends has a special talent of being able to bring in new characters constantly and turn them into core characters. I’ve gone quickly from finding the two a little grating to loving the way they work together.
Again, though, we’re in a dark place going into the finale this Sunday, with one character dead and another caught an explosion. I’m curious to see where it goes.