The Legends, thanks to the weird, metatextual life they live, have had brushes with a few different genres of television, from a Star Trek ripoff to a Friends rip-off, to a show controlled by an alien named Gus Gus. So maybe it’s time for a little dose of reality. Television. Oh no. Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow Season 7, Episode 9, “Lowest Common Demoninator.”
“Lowest Common Demoninator”
When Gideon jumps the time machine into the Manor Dimension, which lands in Hell, and Astra (Olivia Swann) realizes that a damned 90’s reality show crew has snuck into the manner to cause havoc. Unbeknownst to the Legends, the reality tv crew is causing emotions to spike, and Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ava (Jes Macallan) share their true feelings about their roles as Co-Captains. Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) seeks advice about Astra from Nate (Nick Zano) and Zari (Tala Ashe), but Behrad finds that his past is put on display instead. Meanwhile, when Gideon’s (Amy Pemberton) opinions are ignored and her relationship with Gary (Adam Tsekhman) is dismissed, no one could have anticipated what happens.
The synopsis for this episode is unusually revealing and tells you everything you need to know about the episode. The crew, stuck in John’s pocket dimension house, ends up on the reality TV show from hell. The curse of the TV crew filming the Legends quickly begins to twist them into caricatures of themselves. Sara’s stress turns her into a Real Housewife planning the ultimate posh vacation. Nate’s body seems to spray tan itself more with every argument he gets into. Spooner’s survivalist instincts put her into a distinctly Survivor-esque mindset.
Message in a Bottle Episode
This is, by and large, a silly episode, but as usual, the writers find ways to bring heart and character development into it. It would be easy to do a bottle episode like this and just have the characters comment on how crazy it was that they all got weird for a day. But crucially, two of our characters have already been on a reality show. This version of Zari is a social media queen a la Kim Kardashian, and her family had a reality show called Keeping Up With The Tarazis. Meanwhile, the group being stuck in Hell puts Astra back in her old stomping grounds, but she’s no longer a resident and doesn’t hold the same sway that she used to.
Astra and Behrad form the emotional core of this episode as their pasts come back to haunt them. Zari offhandedly mentions that Behrad was recast on his own reality show, but what sounds like a side comment actually unearths old trauma for the abnormally chill character. Behrad has been an unrepentant pothead since his very first appearance on the Waverider, popping gummies to celebrate every occasion, including the sun rising or setting. This, we find out, is a trauma response to the cruel way the Tarazi reality show and its audience treated him–a much-needed bit of pathos for an otherwise straightforward character. There’s a reason Behrad needs to be unflappable, it turns out.
Astra, meanwhile, has to wrestle with her time in Hell. She’s an expert on the topic and knows exactly what’s going on. We’re not left in the dark wondering why the Legends are acting weird for very long, but now Astra has to figure out how to navigate Hell without her credentials and with a new collection of weakpoints–the Legends themselves.
Astra had a good episode just a couple weeks ago, but Behrad has been somewhat neglected, serving more as comic relief in serious situations than as a character with lots of depth. Shayan Sobhian shines as he reminds the Legends that he knows better than they do what it’s like to have your life on display and to wonder what that kind of exposure makes people think of you.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of the crew is now relegated to comic relief. The way the different characters inherit their reality show roles makes a good reminder of the fact that reality shows are themselves deeply performative. As Spooner goes full Survivor, she discards her clothing, dons a headband, and finds every excuse to hide behind a plant and talk about alliances. Nate’s New Jersey accent seems to take over his whole person. This seems like it could be problematic, but actor Nick Zano is from New Jersey, so it’s actually perfect. Gary, on the other hand, is far too earnest and anxious to succumb to the reality show weirdness and is a sort of cipher for the audience as he watches everyone around him go bonkers.
This episode does literally nothing to advance the plot–it’s the very definition of a bottle episode, taking place almost exclusively inside John’s mansion and depending on performances. We don’t get any updates on the Evil Robot Legends or anything like that. It’s just a silly aside that develops Behrad, Astra, and, to a lesser degree, Gideon. When you have a strong cast that’s up for whatever weirdness the writers want to throw at them, though, that’s just fine.