NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
Legends of Tomorrow has been struggling over the past couple of weeks, as if it’s not really sure how to organically lead into the climax of its current season. Finally though, the series got back on track for Season Five’s penultimate episode this week, one that delivers another bonkers premise, after the Legends all seemingly met their demise during last week’s zombie attack. “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV” is pretty aptly named, because, in a last-ditch effort to save her friends, TV is exactly where Charlie/Clotho has stashed the Legends! That’s only the tip of the iceberg however, considering that the Fates have ‘won’ their desire to take free will away from the world, leaving it as a 1984-esque dystopia, where the Fates’ will is absolute.
This is yet another drastic, reality-altering change that the rest of the Arrowverse shows will presumably never talk about, and never recall. It’s a double slice of reality-bending pandemonium as only Legends of Tomorrow can deliver, and it all begins with Mona, now an employee of the Fates that’s charged with scrubbing history of any known dissent, having to rescue a plant from a co-worker that Atropos very publicly kills, as an example to never question authority. After a day like that, Mona decides to unwind with her, and the rest of the world’s, favourite sitcom, Ultimate Buds, a transparent Friends knock-off that just so happens to star Nate and Zari… And Behrad?!
It turns out that Charlie did at least one fate-altering favour for the Legends after remaking the world with her sisters, since Behrad has been restored to life, and happily lives in the world of Ultimate Buds with Nate and Zari. Things initially seem perfect, until the Tarazi family totem reacts, and allows the original Zari to possess the second Zari’s body. Since the original Zari fully recalls Earth-Prime’s ‘real’ timeline (alongside Gary, who is inexplicably saved from his death last week, though humourously made into a deranged sandwich board truther that the Fates presumably allow to live for amusement), she begins to warn Nate and Behrad that they’re not living in the real world. Sure enough, Zari soon after discovers a door of static as well, which takes her, her brother and her former flame to another fake TV show, Highcastle Abbey, a very obvious Downton Abbey knock-off, where Constantine serves as the faithful butler of Astra and her mother, who is also restored to life.
It’s cool to see how Charlie has creatively used the premises of several popular TV shows to give the Legends exactly what they said they wanted at the pub during last week’s Legends of Tomorrow episode. Sara and Ava, meanwhile, are living it up on a Star Trek clone called Star Trip, where they enjoy exciting adventures as co-captains, and always win against their adversaries. This not only creates a humourous device though which Zari has to keep trying to wake up the Legends to their former lives, but also provides no shortage of hilarious opportunities to make more meta jokes about the culture behind television in general. It really is amazing to see Legends of Tomorrow finally bringing back its A-material, cheekily jabbing at the fourth wall, while also managing to layer in a surprisingly heartfelt ode to the Legends’ usual love of chaos and accidental fortune.
There’s even an awesome callback to a former episode from earlier this season after the Legends mostly re-assemble, namely when the Legends end up trapped in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood stand-in, Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-Sac, yet again. If you’re thinking this is where you’ll finally see Mick however, the one outlier in the TV worlds, he’s weirdly absent throughout much of this episode, and that’s rather head-scratching. Maybe the writers just didn’t know how to properly work Mick into the TV liberation storyline, but nonetheless, Mick weirdly feels like an afterthought in what’s supposed to be a pretty pivotal episode for Legends of Tomorrow. We only see him show up towards the end of this episode in fact, as a Khan stand-in on Star Trip, with his gift from Charlie being the fact that he’s allowed to be a criminal again. Speaking of Charlie, she eventually tries ordering the team back into their shows as Mr. Parker, since it’s the only way to keep the Legends alive now, while the Fates control the world.
While Mona, Gary and everyone else around the world bear witness however, the Legends eventually defy even Charlie’s idyllic TV worlds, declaring that they want to live life on their own terms, and they’ll no longer obey the Fates. This turnout is rather predictable, but it is nonetheless an inspiring way to prime the Legends for the climactic battle against Atropos and Lachesis, during next week’s season finale. There’s even an especially standout moment between Constantine and Astra around this point, when they debate staying in the world of Highcastle Abbey, so that Astra can be with her mother, and Constantine can make things right for the both of them for all eternity. Astra ultimately decides to leave Highcastle Abbey despite this offer though, choosing life over living in the past, and thus, she and Constantine also join the rest of the Legends, walking away from Charlie’s TV realms forever.
This supreme act of defiance against the Fates no doubt won’t go unanswered, and that’s great, because Legends of Tomorrow is now exceptionally primed to cap off its fifth season in style next week! “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV” finally gets Legends of Tomorrow back to top form, despite the weird shafting of Mick in the writing this week, thanks largely to the show’s latest creative reinvention, even as it’s all but forgotten about the Encores at this point. The Legends’ reunion in the Fates’ dystopian world is funny, clever and often heartwarming, and the creativity through which it’s all executed is pretty exceptional too. Again, it’s both amusing and a little sad that the Legends’ reality-altering antics will no doubt never be addressed on any other Arrowverse show. The rest of Earth-Prime no doubt won’t remember being turned into a totalitarian nightmare run by the Fates after the world is inevitably put back the way it should be, but this also nicely calls back to Legends of Tomorrow’s original idea of making its lead anti-heroes unsung do-gooders whose efforts are never really known to the world at large. I guess it goes to show that for all of the crazy ideas that this series still proudly goes all in on, it’s also still a fantastic anthem to self-empowerment and self-acceptance, and probably everything that the Fates can never stand for.
- Very amusing parodies of several beloved TV shows
- Original Zari is creatively used to bring the team back together
- The Legends confronting their perfect existences, and rejecting them
- Mick being inexplicably neglected