I feel I owe Legends Of Tomorrow an apology. That apology is not for telling people to skip season one. It’s not because I occasionally still dunk on season one. It’s not even because I’ve been pining for Beebo merch even though capitalism is a scourge. No, it’s because I’ve been watching (and reviewing) Legends for years, and yet I still assumed we were headed for a Kayla pregnancy. On another show? Sure. On this one? The show that made an ongoing, serious-business storyline out of Gary’s nipple being consumed by a malevolent, hallucinogen-spewing unicorn*? How dare I sell Legends so short?
So Mick’s pregnant with a brood in the form of an egg-sac placed in his head by one of Kayla’s many tentacles—an image conjured vividly via Adam Tsekhman’s bendy arms—and that’s just one of the hugely significant things that happens in this rich episode. Credited writer Tyron B. Carter (a reliable Legends heavy-hitter) fits in a lot of plot, but amazingly, this is an hour defined by its character beats, not its storyline. Somehow, the Mick-is-brain-pregnant episode is also a thoughtful origin story for Behrad, a moving look at the relationship between the Tarazi siblings (including the one in the totem), and an argument for the importance of representation both onscreen and behind the camera. It is very good at being all of those things.
But it’s also a loving tribute to the shows you watch over and over again at 2 a.m. when you can’t sleep! And it’s got Baby Yoda with a little touch of Alf! And it’s the episode where Zari 1.0 comes back! And Lita is also pregnant! And it also serves as meta-commentary on Beebo, Baby Yoda, the role of merchandising and mass appeal in the creation of art! The list! Goes! On!
You’d think such an episode would be seriously overstuffed, but instead, Carter gives us some of the best character work of the season so far while also embracing that “classic Legends romp” energy. It’s a hell of a balancing act, and it would be all too easy, with so many plates are spinning, to allow one or two of them to go a little cock-eyed, or to go for the obvious answer. But Carter and the rest of the Legends writers keep all those plates going. Even Spooner and Sara, the two non-Constantine players largely sidelined for this episode, impact the plot in a way directly linked to who they are and where they’ve been. Who sends the pod rocketing through the Vancouver sky and into the soundstage for Bud-Stuy? Spooner, when she uses her souped-up gun to try to keep the alien as far away from the inside of her head as possible. And Sara a) takes the threat to Behrad and the timeline seriously because she, too, remembers “Raiders Of The Lost Art,” and b) is the one to figure out that Mick’s gonna set poor Niko on fire because, well, assassin.
But this episode is really about two very different family dynamics: the Tarazis and their close personal totem-boning friend Nate Heywood (with bonus Astra); and Lita, Mick, and Auntie Ava. The latter story leads us to that big reveal at the end, but takes up the least amount of the episode’s emotional oxygen, in part because Legends continues to do something it rarely does: rather than drawing the audience into the Mick/Kayla relationship, it simply keeps telling us it was significant. Dominic Purcell is great in this episode, justifying all of Mick’s outsize emotional reactions by showing us Mick’s confusion about the strength of said reactions. But it’s as if somewhere along the way, we skipped a whole episode of Mick and Kayla traveling the galaxy. With Mick and Lita and even Lita and Ava, the show can get away with including only a handful of scenes and still arrive at a place of emotional resonance, because’s there’s history. Not so with Kayla—not yet anyway.
Behrad, Nate, Astra, and the Zaris suffer from no such deficiency, because those relationships are either plenty complex already, or they’re just getting started. (Behstra lives!) Carter takes all the twisty little threads that bind these characters again and weaves them together in a new way. He links Behrad’s birthday to Zari 2.0's complex feelings about Zari 1.0, among them guilt, inadequacy, and a lot of confusion. He ties Zari’s ascension as Dragon Girlboss to the spectre of Behrad 2.0, who makes “money moves.) He even finds a way for the arrival of Behrad 2.0 to push the Behrad-Astra ’ship a little further down the river, as his general suckitude makes it clear that she actually wouldn’t much care for him if he were more “driven” and into synergy and stuff. It is, in some ways, very simply—but the more you watch, the more whole the episode feels. It all belongs together.
And on top of all that, on top of the unexpected resurfacing of Zari 1.0 and the brain pregnancy and all the rest of it, it’s also an empassioned argument for the importance of diversity and representation in shows like the one we’re watching. It trumpters the massive impact a character like Behrad can have on those watching at home, especially those who fear or assume that some options aren’t availble to them, that such options might not even exist. And it’s a celebration of shows like Legends, the “too niche” oddballs that may not live long. They might not rack up the Emmys, but when they connect with someone, they really, really connect. Joy is, after all, a hell of a drug.
* — It’s a retcon, and this is a nitpick that matters not at all, but: since Gary’s human form is a shimmer, what did that unicorn bite off, exactly?
- Loved this interview my pal Chancellor Agard did with Shayan Sobhian. A must-read, for info on the Gus puppet (four puppeteers!) and how Sobhian approached Behrad 2.0.
- Does Nate use his extremely helpful superpower in this episode? Not unless you count being straight, white, and male as among his superpowers. (See above.)
- Episode MVP: The Tarazi siblings both triumphed (and both played multiple versions of themselves) but Tala Ashe has been the MVP like 900 times so let’s say Shayan Sobhian, who is very good as original recipe Behrad and as business bro Behrad. One is supremely lovable, the other is the worst, and Sobhian is great both ways.
- Why the fuck not?: Uh, all of it?
- Line-reading of the week: “They’re attached to their parents at the hip because that is where the teat is.” Pro tip: The more times you listen to Adam Tsekhman say “teat,” the funnier it becomes.
- Gideon, what’s the most meta moment?: I would say, “uh, all of it?” but I already used that so let’s say “Is this for The CW?” but also “This show is too niche, we need something to make it a mass hit” but also “Little tropey but I guess we’re doing a sitcom mission” but also the third largest metropolitan area in Canada but also the golf cart chase but Nick Hunter but “sounds like a season of backstory and mythology” but but but really it’s “If I was rebooting a show with a flop first season, he’d be my pick.”
- Episode title ranking: 1. Stressed Western. 2. This Is Gus. 3. Meat: The Legends. 4. Ground Control To Sara Lance. 5. Back To The Finale: Pt. ii. 6. Bishop’s Gambit 7. Bay Of Squids. 8. The Satanist’s Apprentice. 9. The Ex-Factor.