Before we do anything else, there’s one thing we should get out of the way. If you’ve been holding in a squeal of joy, go ahead and release it on three.
Sara Lance has died a lot, and death has trailed her even when her pulse hasn’t been an area of concern. Friends have died. Family members have died. (Like quite a few Arrowverse viewers, Nate seems confused about exactly which Lance family members are alive and well in this timeline.*) She’s killed and chosen not to; she’s fought to save people and grieved when she realized she couldn’t. And she was a death witch for a minute.
Death is kind of Sara’s thing, is the point. And no small part of her power (speaking of emotional strength here, not bulletproofedness) comes from that intimate relationship with death. It’s like she says to Spooner here, in the lovely little scene they have together, a perfect example of a Sara-comforts-a-Legend-by-just-being-open-and-listening scene, this time with someone she’s never met. She’s not afraid, she’s intrigued. Sara’s only really scared of herself: of who she’ll hurt, of what she’ll become, of who she’ll fail to save, etc. Not death.
But there’s a world of difference between not fearing death and actively choosing a joyful life. Even as a clone.
“Back To The Finale: Pt. ii” isn’t a perfect episode of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. It’s an episode (credited to writers Morgan Faust and Mark Bruner and directed by Glen Winter) both somewhat overstuffed and at times a little thin. It’s also occasionally rushed. But it’s a gem all the same, thanks largely to the show’s understanding of Sara Lance and of the story that brought her to the Waverider. Like Buffy summers, she died a lot. Like Oliver Queen, she wanted to make amends for the mistakes of her past, and for a long time thought she wasn’t capable of doing good, nor of deserving happiness or love.
But look at her now. Sure, as we learn from her conversation with Spooner, she’s nervous that as she keeps changing, she’ll change into someone Ava can’t love, but she’s not afraid she’ll stop loving Ava, nor that she herself isn’t deserving of love. Yes, she tries to sacrifice herself for the 252nd time, but it’s to give “human” Sara—a version that’s not self-healing or anything else that Bishop wrought upon her DNA—a chance to live a happy life with Ava. And even that plan gets abandoned when Mick Rory, of all people, gives it to her straight. “I see Captain Lance,” he says. “I see my oldest friend.”
Dying, then coming back (either as someone new or not ) is an Arrowverse tradition, and Sara Lance is one of its originators. But as with the show’s farewells to Martin Stein (grief through time travel + Beebo) and Ray Palmer (an oh-no-the-love-of-my-life-is-leaving episode, but centered on a bromance), the Legends take on this Sara resurrection is appropriately screwball without losing its emotional core. Ava spends the episode watching Sara talk to David Frickin Bowie on a loop; the rest of the team spends the episode attempting to keep her from getting spacenapped in the first place. It starts with Behrad and the stripe on the wrong side (and his thinking weed). It ends with a dumpster full of love fireworks.
The dueling A stories—Sara escapes from Planet Bishop and the Legends badly attempt to change the past—at first seem like polar opposites. Yes, Bishop is wAcKy (thanks largely to Raffi Barsoumian’s winningly manic performance) and the Avas wear some truly terrible wigs, but the stakes are clear and high. In contrast, the Legends do nothing but screw up from start to finish. At no point is their plan anything but doomed, and even the bits that work (mostly just Spooner talking to Sara, which she’s supposed to avoid at all costs) don’t come close to solving the problem. In fact, Behrad’s attempt seems (to him) to cause the spacenapping in the first place. It’s not screwing things up for the better, it’s a desperate attempt to do the impossible, and it never comes close to working. It’s just a lot of sadness and Nate eating mushroom curry (and then showing up from an alternate timeline).
That shouldn’t work. But it does, because they’re really just grieving. The plot doesn’t spin its wheels. It just hits a wall over and over again because not even a time machine can solve everything. Sara needs to save herself in the present, with the help of a couple friends, a bloodthirsty alien queen, and a planet full of Avas.
It’s great. And even the season-long “wow, Legends, dark” vibe works perfectly here: it’s not an entirely happy ending, as they’re forced to leave Kayla behind (and Mick is not happy about it). Gee, I wonder if that will be important later?
She gets home, to her home, having died once again “I die about once a year and my girlfriend’s a clone,” Sara tells Bishop disdainfully when he thinks he’s truly shocked her. He has, but it takes more than a shock to stop Sara Lance. She’s been through a lot, and she’ll have to go through more, but for now, it’s love in a punk club parking lot as a terrifying lady mannequin explodes in a shower of beautiful fireworks.
*— Quentin/Dad—died but is now alive. Laurel/Sister—dead, but just the version from our earth; the Earth-2 Laurel (aka Not-Laurel aka Black Siren) is here instead, living life as this Sara’s Laurel. Dinah/Mom—never died, just lives in Central City and so is apparently dead to all other Lances unless they need an engagement ring for their girlfriend, and then it’s Hello, Sweetie.
- Behstra is back on, baby!
- I would like Zari’s cheetah sweater please and thank you.
- The ending is solid, but Mick/Kayla still feels like a story that should work but doesn’t, as if all involved (rightly) assumed that the pairing would be obvious and then (wrongly) decided they didn’t have to work too hard to justify the relationship.
- It took those idiots an embarassingly long time to realize that Spooner could slip in there without a problem.
- Does Nate use his extremely helpful superpower in this episode? He does not, unless he steeled up while taking a curry shit.
- Episode MVP: Caity Lotz (and Jes Macallan).
- Why the fuck not?: Nate goes full time-travel shenanigans and comes back as Nate cosplaying as a one-eyed John Constantine. Then he gets blooped out of existence. Also, dumpster full of love fireworks!
- Line-reading of the week: “You have an unorthodox comforting style.”
- Gideon, what’s the most meta moment?: All the finales are great, except the one where Nate died.
- Episode title ranking: 1. Meat: The Legends. 2. Ground Control To Sara Lance. 3. Back To The Finale: Pt. ii. 4. Bishop’s Gambit 5. Bay Of Squids. 6. The Satanist’s Apprentice. 7. The Ex-Factor.