NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
Legends of Tomorrow sat out the entire front half of The CW’s 2019-2020 season, making Sara Lance’s and Ray Palmer’s involvement during the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover the first time since last season when we could actually check in with the titular team. After airing a special episode during the previous week to wrap up said crossover as well, Legends of Tomorrow is finally kicking off its fifth season properly this January, not long after The CW already renewed the series in advance for the 2020-2021 season, alongside The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning and Batwoman. The network has claimed that the revised Earth-Prime that was created in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a key storytelling crux of Legends of Tomorrow’s new season as well. For now though, it’s business as usual in Legends of Tomorrow’s season premiere, and that means an emphasis on more zany humour, alongside a proper establishment for the new divine threat that faces the Legends.
Apparently, a lot has happened with the Legends off-screen since the show’s fourth season finale last year, namely that they’ve now become famous pop culture icons, despite the Time Bureau also having been shut down by the government. This immediately promises some significant changes for the show, especially since the Time Bureau has been such a key part of Legends of Tomorrow’s storytelling over the past two seasons. The Time Bureau’s shuttering does place Nate and Ava on the Waverider though, alongside the other heroes, which is indeed a welcome change. Ava is nonetheless determined to secure renewed funding for the Time Bureau however, leading to her authorizing a documentary film crew to come along on the Legends’ next mission, which is kicked off when a huge time quake rocks the Waverider, originating from Russia, 1917.
From here, two tandem storylines come together to establish the season’s new overall threat, which was already teased during the final seconds of last season. While the Legends proper are investigating what’s causing the time disturbance in 1917, Constantine, alongside new assistant, Gary (Gary apparently secured this new job with the help of his former fairy godmother, Nora Darhk), try to perform an exorcism on a young boy, only to learn that the boy is possessed by a demon friend of Constantine’s, Masher. This entire subplot is played for some admittedly great laughs, but it does nonetheless help to provide a reasonable excuse for how the Legends could learn about the ‘Encores’, a name that Mona first coins for the evil souls that Astra Logue unleashed from Hell at the end of last season. The first of these souls also happens to be famed Russian mystic, Grigori Rasputin, who re-awakens at his own funeral in 1917, and immediately plans to exact revenge on the royal Romanov family that had him assassinated.
The humour is laid on pretty thick in this core, mockumentary-style storyline with the Legends as well, which makes for a pretty fun season premiere, even if the dramatic material falls noticeably more flat. This is especially disappointing with how the show addresses Sara’s grief over Oliver Queen’s death during the crossover, something that Ray is weirdly unfazed by as well, even if only Sara was there to actually witness Oliver’s demise. Sara being annoyed at the camera crew is funny, and presents some very solid satire of reality TV, but it sucks that this season premiere doesn’t manage to reap real emotional fallout from what Sara experienced, even as it makes somewhat of an effort to do so. Even Nate learning of the over-written existence of Zari as a Legend through Rasputin, along with a confused, glitching Gideon, falls pretty flat, simply existing as a tired re-tread of the romantic arcs that already became too overbearing during last season.
Still, even if he’s a joke-driven villain-of-the-week, the battle against Rasputin is pretty entertaining, especially when he can’t be conventionally killed, due to the chit of his soul still being stuck in Hell. This leads to the Legends comically and inevitably botching their mission to take out Rasputin, something that’s nonetheless pretty action-packed, after Rasputin displays the ability to hypnotize people, including the Legends themselves! The final turnout of this storyline is still funny though, when Ray obliviously re-sizes after Sara throws him into Rasputin’s mouth, exploding Rasputin into a gory mess, which the Legends contain in various jars to prevent him from re-forming. This has one more disgusting payoff as well, when Constantine drinks a jar of Rasputin’s exploded remains in order to return to Hell, and confront Astra about the released souls. This makes Constantine seemingly leaving the Legends pretty moot, since it seems like he’s just going to get roped back with them anyway, but at least the off-the-wall humour was frequently at its best during the subplot he shares with Gary.
The show doesn’t even ultimately commit to the Legends being pop culture icons in the end either, even if it erases this story turn in a pretty humourous way. After the premiere of the documentary that showcases their mission to 1917, the Legends simply announce that all of the footage is fake, and that they’re proud frauds, which results in them hilariously ruining their own public image. This turn doesn’t affect Mona much though, since she actually does leave the Waverider, after Mick decides to hand his Rebecca Silver novels off to Mona’s care, declaring that writing is getting in the way of his thievery. Honestly, this is another solid turn for the show, since Mona’s character always struggled to fit in with the main Legends ensemble, despite functioning fine as a side character. Putting Nate back on the Waverider, alongside Ava, and moving Mona to a recurring storyline outside of the Waverider is a good change, even if Zari’s absence isn’t totally felt at this point, despite her brother, Behrad having a polar opposite personality, albeit also wielding the same wind totem.
Thus, as it stands, Legends of Tomorrow certainly kicks off Season Five on an entertaining note, even if its especially silly season premiere falters when it comes to truly addressing the fallout from Crisis on Infinite Earths, especially regarding how the loss of Oliver has no doubt profoundly affected Sara. The humour is nonetheless pretty funny though, especially in the Constantine/Gary subplot, plus the show has at least provided some dangerous stakes behind the new Encores, making them immortal, extra powerful, and highly dangerous, at least, if Rasputin is any indication. The Legends proudly tanking their own public image is amusing as well, but it sucks that the show never bothered to do much with the characters’ newfound fame. Still, the slight shuffle of nixing the Time Bureau, placing Nate and Ava on the Waverider, and taking Mona off of the Waverider (even if she remains a recurring presence on the series), all works well, without overcrowding Season Five’s revised Legends ensemble, even if this meant that Charlie and Nora sat out the team’s first mission of the season. Overall, “Meet the Legends” provides a funny and promising foundation for what’s to come in Legends of Tomorrow’s belated new season, even if its experimental, extra goofy mockumentary style might have thrived a little more if it wasn’t used for a season premiere.
- Slight, but effective shuffles to the Legends ensemble
- Especially funny Constantine/Gary subplot
- Nicely dangerous stakes behind the Encores
- Humour undermines Sara's grief
- Not much is ultimately done with the Legends' fame