Ah, the usual insanity that passes for normal around here.
In “Legends Of To-Meow-Meow,”* the Legends tackle some familiar Arrowverse stories and themes, but in a way that only Legends could. While the Danvers/Queen/Allen contingent was off swapping identities and battling the big bad Book Of Destiny, the folks above the Waverider made all that look like entry-level stuff. Bonkers 101. Introduction To Why-The-Fuck-Not. Barry and Oliver swapped places? Have two Garys and Three Constantines. Want to talk about death and darkness, re: your vigilantes? Let’s see the Legends gleefully butchering magical creatures and turning them into decor.
Interested in alternate timelines? We’ve got one where our heroes are puppets. It’s unlikely that credited writers James Eagan and Ray Utarnachitt were thinking of “Elseworlds” (save that one wink) when they put together this rambunctious, self-aware fall finale. This is pure Legends, start to finish. But it feels like something of a comment on those other shows, all the same. Finished Bonkers 101? We hope you’ll try our graduate-level seminar, Studies In Just Saying Fuck It And Using Puppets Because Why Not.
“Legends Of To-Meow-Meow” functions as a sort of companion piece to two of the best Legends episodes to date. Like “Here I Go Again,” it centers on a character (or characters) that hasn’t quite figured out if or how they fit into this team, and it uses various reboots of the timeline as a way for the character to better understand the Waverider’s crew. Like “The Good, The Bad, And The Cuddly,” it adopts a sort of more-is-more approach, folding in storylines, genres, and themes from without the season to date with reckless abandon. This episode isn’t quite as good as either of those, somewhat lacking in the cohesion and focus that made the earlier episodes zip along, but what it lacks in tidiness, it makes up for in playfulness and audacity, all while deconstructing the “psh-don’t-think-about-it” approach to body-count that many, if not all, of the other Arrowverse shows have embraced from time to time.
It’s so packed, in fact, that writing about “Legends Of To-Meow-Meow” is a big of a daunting task. How much should be said about, for example, the full opening title sequences created for both the Guardians Of The Galaxy-riffing Custodians Of The Chronolgy and the Charlie’s Angels-adjacent Sirens Of Space-Time, and how much about the reality in which Mick attaches himself to a fairy godmother and turns all his shipmates into puppets? What about the songs? (There are songs!) How long can one spend on the fact that all of the Legends seem to speak cat? Should we assume this is a feature the Waverider shares with the TARDIS? The baking, the reading, the plaques, the massive shootout, Gideon’s physical form, Marilyn Monroe and Garima... there’s a lot.
Yet while it absolutely feels like a lot, it doesn’t ever feel like too much. That’s due in no small part to the decision to focus this hour on the journeys of two of its characters, and so perhaps this review should do the same. When John Constantine breaks time—a rite of passage, as Zari rightly points out—it’s up to Charlie and John to try to fix it, weathering Zari’s disapproval (in and out of cat form) as they do anything possible to avoid having to do a hard reset on the timeline.
John’s means of navigating this is the more straightforward, and perhaps not coincidentally, also the most compelling. His plight is the most immediate, as he’s juggling two timelines at once in his head, and the consequences for him the most dire, whether they manage to save Des or not. Matt Ryan’s plate isn’t quite as full this week as it was last week, though he still gets some heartbreaking material (and a kiss that saves time, made all the more significant because it’s between two men). If the crowded plate of this episode could be re-portioned somehow, it’s this story that could benefit the most from an additional helping of time or attention—John’s transition from “I don’t give a damn” to “Zari’s right, hope is good” is awfully fast, and we also blow past the three Constantines pretty darn quick. But even with that said, it’s an affecting story, and a terrific set-up for what seems to be the season’s big bad.
As for Charlie, she gets plenty of time (though Maisie Richardson-Sellers isn’t quite as busy as her characters, given how often Charlie spends trying on the faces of other Legends characters). But perhaps because the show has made the argument that the loss of Charlie’s powers means she’s (very slowly) dying alongside the argument—much more interesting to me—that her powers are a fundamental part of who she is, her need to keep those powers from being stripped from her again feels both less urgent and less specific than it otherwise might. Thus her big discovery at episode’s end doesn’t pack the punch of Zari’s similar realization in “Here I Go Again.” Not only did Zari not have to compete against John Constantine, she was also up against imminent demise, not a slow meandering towards death.
But they’re minor complaints. What’s arguably the wildest episode of a wild series ends on an appropriately wild note, with a demon wearing the face of John’s lost love, which also becomes a puddle of too-thin pancake batter. Now all that’s left is to wait until April. Gideon: skip ahead five months?
* Updated season four episode title ranking — 8. Witch Hunt (too on the nose), 7. Dancing Queen (disappointing lack of disco, bonus for surprise appearance of the queen), 6. Tagumo Attacks!!! (love the exclamation points, dinged for lack of cheesy pun), 5. Tender Is The Nate (needed more F. Scott Fitzgerald, made me giggle), 4. Hell No, Dolly! (no musical numbers? You’re killin’ me, writers), 3. Wet Hot American Bummer (still laughing, weeks later; for a fun bonus, imagine Constantine doing Paul Rudd-style cleaning), 2. The Virgin Gary (solid contender for best Legends title, though nothing will ever beat Guest Starring John Noble), 1. Legends Of To-Meow-Meow (see #2).
- ICYMI: Check the #21 spot!
- Why the fuck not?: Um, this whole episode is pretty much one big WTFN, is it not? So instead of a big one, here are some minor, but wonderful, WTFNs: “Runner-Up Employee Of The Month,” Zari Cat in a pink cat carrier backpack, Ava grieving in her own way, Zari Cat comfortingly patting John on the arm, Charlie gets away from S.O.S. because the ladies are too busy smugly laughing and tossing their hair, Gary dies in a time courier accident at Mt. Vesuvius.
- Line-reading of the week: Tie. “Because of you dicks, I have been a cat for so long,” “Oh! I meant... ‘Wow,’” and “Please, gather around. Come listen.”
- Gideon, what’s the most meta moment?: “Sounds like the annual crossover.” “Yeah, that’s gonna be a hard pass. Did I tell you Oliver owes me money?” Honorable mention: Ava has no time for timey-wimey stuff.
- You’re... you’re just not going to tell us if Mona’s okay?
- “That’s a Moby Dick reference.”
- Possible song inspirations: “Puppets Of Tomorrow,” “You Gotta Ask For Help”
- Stefoff Beer.
- “Because Amaya is very hot?”
- Arrow corner: No need!
- Well, this is delightful. I think the best title won, but “Alternate Reality Bites” is pretty great, too.