Legends of Tomorrow cares about its characters in a way that feels really rare for a television show. The timeline is important, of course, but compassion is, too. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 7, Episode 4, “Speakeasy Does It.”
“Speakeasy Does It”
PROTECTION — When the Legends arrive in Chicago, they come across a speakeasy that caters to a diverse crowd, however their presence results in upsetting a mob who in turn burn down the club. Wanting to make things right, Zari (Tala Ashe) demands they help to fix the club by throwing a party, with a special performance by The Bullet Blondes, to help raise money to rebuild it. Coincidentally, Astra (Olivia Swann), Spooner (Lisseth Chavez) and Gideon (Amy Pemberton) are also in Chicago and feel compelled to help a female musician sever ties to the mob, while also trying to reach the Legends. Meanwhile, Gary (Adam Tsekham) points out something that Nate (Nick Zano) never realized about his relationship track record.
I remarked to a friend while watching this episode of Legends that it does a better job fleshing out the bartender they meet for this one episode, who is on-screen for just a few minutes, than Marvel’s Eternals does its main characters across a nearly three-hour picture. While that is a dunk on Eternals, it’s just as much a compliment toward Legends.
The heroes are still split into two groups; Astra, Spooner, and Gideon are headed to Chicago on a train, while Sara, Ava, Nick, Behrad, Zari, and Gary are trying to scrape together enough money to make it to the Big Apple. Both stories center around the crew making things right despite the timeline, leading to some classic Legends moments.
Seeing the world as it was, not as we want it to have been
When the crew tries to help a bartender out, they inadvertently run afoul of the mob, and the bartender ends up taking the heat for it. Earlier, the bartender and Zari were talking and saw kindred spirits in each other–outsiders in a world designed for white people, primarily white men. In this short conversation, we learn about the bartender’s outlook on life and get a feel for the important parts of his background. The writers do enough work that when he gets beaten to an inch of his life half an hour later, I cared about him.
One of the problems with time travel stories is that they often end up ignoring what a time traveler who isn’t a white man would experience the world. Legends handles this deftly while making sure that these moments matter to the story and aren’t just shoehorned in. Zari’s experience with a racist shop owner feeds into her feeling of obligation to help the bartender when a mob boss punishes him for trying to find success in the world.
Meanwhile, Astra’s life growing up in literal hell has trained her to spot a person trapped in a rigged system, and she can’t help but focus her energy on the vocalist that saves her, Spooner, and Gideon from an overzealous train conductor. In both stories, the Legends go out of their way to support each other and the people they encounter who need it.
This extends to a great conversation between Gary and Nate. Nate notices Gary developing a crush on Fancy Zari and points out that the character likes being bossed around by powerful women. Nate frames it as being weird, but Gary rightly points out that he knows what he wants and is living that truth, while Nate is avoiding his own truth. The historian-turned-hero is reticent to agree; Gary explains that through his time with the Legends, Nate keeps choosing relationships with women he can’t actually develop actual lasting bonds with. Amaya was always going to return to her own time. Then, Nate tried to make things work with Flannel Zari even after it became clear that her time outside the Wind Totem was going to be extremely limited.
Moments of insight like that are one of the things I love the most about Legends of Tomorrow. This is a show about time-traveling and jump-kicking. In this episode, the heroes have a rad party and capture Robot J. Edgar Hoover while their ship’s computer, who is now a person, sings perfectly for a packed club. It’s absurd and silly, but the consistent, well-drawn characters make all of the absurdity connect.