It’s not uncommon to say Legends of Tomorrow went to some weird places this week — it’s easily the most bizarre superhero show to ever hit the genre — but this latest episode might just be the wildest, and best, of the series’ run.
Spoilers ahead for “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which aired May 26, 2020.
It’s somewhat rare that one episode can so fully encapsulate the heart of what makes a series tick, but that’s what we got in this week’s Legends. This is a show about misfits fighting long odds, and we got that in heart-on-your-sleeve spades this week. After Charlie cut a deal with her sisters to use the Loom of Fate with them, we wake up to a very different world that’s been fully rewritten by the Fates. It’s basically a 1984-esque dystopia, with the Fates watching all, squashing any whiff of rebellion from the history books, and making the masses eat varying colored versions of mush.
We get to see this dreary world through the lens of our old friend Mona, who spends her days toiling away at the Historical Sanitation Office, rewriting history books. She runs across Gary (who is now a crazy man screaming on the street corner, which is about as On Brand as you could get) and they start to realize something is amiss on TV…
As for the Legends, they’ve been banished to the realm of television, written into the Fates’ streaming service that functions to comfortably brainwash the populace into submission. Nate, Behrad and Zari are in a Friends knockoff; Sara, Ava and Rory are in a Star Trek riff; Constantine and Astra are in the poor man’s Downton Abbey; and then the whole gang gets dropped into a twisted version of Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-sac along the way. This is a show that’s never shied away from riffing on the meta things that make TV tick, and this was probably the most deft and earnest take yet.
In a surprise return, it’s the OG version of Zari who manages to break through the TV character brainwashing, jumping into her old body when she realizes something is wrong. She then leads the mission to reassemble the Legends, even if they’re still hilariously confused and playing out their assigned TV trope roles. Constantine is a butler trying to bury his temptation to the dark arts; Nate and Behrad are silly dude bros (okay, not a stretch there), while Sara and Ava are co-captains of a star ship who always win the day (and Caity Lotz gets to show off her Shatner-esque delivery to great aplomb).
After reuniting and having their memories restored due to a timely rewrite from Mona on Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-sac, the Legends are once again tossed back to their respective shows, as Charlie tries to lock them back down for what she sees as their own protection in this new world. And oh man, those sing-along tunes will haunt your dreams for days.
There are plenty of laughs as the Legends bounce from show to show reassembling the team, but the heart comes in the moments in-between. Matt Ryan will positively rip your heart out, as Constantine bears out that Astra really is his original sin, and if she wants to stay in this TV show world with whatever version of her mother exists there, he’ll happily do it if it will make some tiny amount of amends for ruining Astra’s life. After everything we’ve seen Constantine go through, it’s an earned moment and a raw one.
As for Sara and Ava, once their memories are restored Ava worries that escaping the show would mean Sara being dead once more. But, a fake life together is no life at all — the living is in the risk, the unknown, so they allow Rory’s hilariously hair Khan-ilte to blow up their ship and “cancel” their show. Astra comes to a similar conclusion after getting a chance to talk with this version of her mother, and realizes she’s not the real thing — though she does get some closure to at least be able to talk with her in the first place.
OG Zari takes charge of her TV pulpit to foment a full-fledged uprising for the masses. Even better? Charlie uses her newly-restored Fate powers to split Zari’s thread — meaning both versions of Zari are now living, breathing and walking around. Yeah, things are probably gonna get a bit weird for Constantine and Nate. But hey, it’s great to see both versions of this character get a chance to shine. Because they’ve both earned their place on the Waverider.
By episode's end, the Legends get all their shows “cancelled” (though thankfully, Legends itself is already renewed for next year) and walk back into the real world, even if it is now a dystopia. Long odds or not, the Legends are ready to take back reality.
Next week: The season comes to an end with an all out battle with the Fates. It’s gonna be a wile ride. Hopefully all the Legends, two Zaris and all, make it through alive.