NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legends of Tomorrow” are present in this review
It’s always a treat when Legends of Tomorrow finally debuts its latest season. The Arrowverse’s cult favourite sci-fi dramedy series continues to stand as the crown jewel among The CW’s current lineup of veteran DC dramas, compensating for its lack of connection to most of DC’s comic book characters and storylines with a standout commitment to adorable weirdness and surreal lunacy. Despite some early reports that Legends of Tomorrow’s new sixth season may be downscaling that weirdness as well, this fortunately doesn’t appear to be the case for the show’s Season 6 premiere at least, which pits the dysfunctional Legends team against aliens.
In case you don’t recall Season 5’s ending cliffhanger, Sara has been abducted by these mysterious aliens, leaving the Legends without a leader. After trying to put the pieces together following an all-night party to celebrate Charlie’s new life with The Smell, The Hangover-style, David Bowie of all people eventually reveals Sara’s unfortunate fate to the team. This forces Ava to take charge, particularly after some video footage from Bowie shows her that Sara was planning to propose to Ava shortly before she was abducted. Aw, that’s sweet! Nonetheless, Ava seems apathetic about the Legends failing to come together as a unit, ultimately feeling that the team does their best work when they’re not intruded upon. How strangely enlightened of an otherwise neurotic character, eh?
In terms of how Season 6’s opening narrative plays out here though, well, it can be a little shaky. There’s a lot of left-field twists that this season premiere doesn’t spend much time fleshing out, leaving Legends of Tomorrow’s reliably kooky characters to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to engaging viewers. The show is also once again sinking pretty deeply into its weird obsession with romance storylines to boot, even if Ava humourously acknowledges that romance among the Legends is often juvenile and disposable, despite Nate still moping over the loss of Zari 1.0. Nate’s angst is ultimately overshadowed by Constantine, Zari 2.0 and Astra though, who quickly deduce that they can use history’s favourite occult enthusiast, Aleister Crowley, who is inexplicably never seen on screen, to conjure a spell that they can utilize to make contact with the alien vessel that abducted Sara.
Meanwhile, Sara awakens on an alien spacecraft that has freshly warped away from Earth, where she makes contact with a captured historical figure, Spartacus. Despite telling a comically careless Spartacus that, “Being an avenger is stupid” (wow, shots fired, DC!), and they should work to prevent each other’s deaths, Spartacus is nonetheless devoured by the ship’s alien captain, at which point, Sara slips away and corners the lesser alien onboard… Who is quickly revealed to be… Gary?! Yes, in one of this season premiere’s most bizarre, head-scratching twists, Gary was apparently an alien the whole time, and it was Gary that masterminded Sara’s abduction, to some unknown end. Gary also happens to be engaged to the alien captain, Kayla (yet another questionable romance subplot that Legends of Tomorrow tries to cram in with its veteran characters), but since he’s unhappy with that state of affairs, Gary decides to try and help Sara create a wormhole that will ultimately lead her home.
While that’s going on, Mick and Behrad pursue a random lead in present-day 2021, after Behrad finds a tabloid claiming that some woman named Esperanza Cruz, or, “Spooner” as she inexplicably prefers to be called, has alien technology in her head, which could point the Legends to Sara’s location. This left-field mission is humourously complemented by Ava doing the sensible thing, and trying to call the DEO in National City for help, only to awkwardly learn that the DEO was destroyed by Leviathan agent, Rama Khan in 2020, during the events of Supergirl’s previous fifth season. This is not only very funny, but also a cool way to acknowledge Supergirl now occupying the same universe as Legends of Tomorrow, following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, logically allowing the Legends to potentially rely on Supergirl characters and story elements for the first time whenever they’re in a pinch. Well, not so much in the DEO’s case, obviously.
Regarding Spooner, she’s the big new character that’s meant to be introduced into the Legends this season, seemingly as a sort of replacement for Charlie. Also like Charlie, Spooner doesn’t exist in DC Comics lore, and was made up specifically for Legends of Tomorrow. Her first impression is… Decent, but like many veteran Legends of Tomorrow characters up to this point, she’ll probably take some time to fully fit into the show’s ensemble. Spooner does at least prove to be a capable shot though, as demonstrated when she surprisingly cripples the Waverider while making first contact with Ava, after temporarily capturing Mick and Behrad. The Legends initially agree to try and get the alien transmitter out of Spooner’s head in exchange for her help, but Gideon fails to find anything abnormal in Spooner’s brain, once it’s examined. This is actually a decent mystery, and allows Spooner’s character to take a step forward as a new member of the Legends, though so far, it also feels a little head-scratching that she’s still on the Waverider at all.
Nevertheless, Sara’s tense initial battle against ‘Kayla’ results in a bunch of captured aliens being displaced throughout the timeline, alongside Kayla, right when Sara and Gary fail to make it through the wormhole they opened up. I guess the Legends are back to screwing up the timeline this season, or at least Sara is. Still, I guess this kooky new problem does feel true to Legends of Tomorrow’s eccentric style, especially with Ava taking the team’s new plight as an ironic symbol of hope that Sara still lives. Out of the many romance storylines being juggled on Legends of Tomorrow at this point, the Sara/Ava relationship is the one that feels like it works most and makes the most sense, though this also makes it all the more distracting that the narrative is going to spotlight a relationship denial storyline between Constantine and Zari this season. Seriously, why does network television always seem to want to demonize the idea of two characters just wanting recurrent casual sex? They don’t always have to fall in love!
In the end, “Ground Control to Sara Lance” doesn’t provide a very exciting setup for Season 6’s events, especially when it’s once again dogpiling more than one pointless romance storyline onto a really good show that doesn’t need to have its appealing characters constantly come off as pathologically lovesick. What this season premiere does do well however is continuing to flex the innate, kooky appeal behind Legends of Tomorrow’s characters and overall sense of humour. It is starting to feel like this long-running Arrowverse series is getting a tad long-in-the-tooth by its sixth year on the air, but Legends of Tomorrow is still offering one of the most fun and memorable turns for the Arrowverse in 2021, even if this year’s new Arrowverse series, Superman & Lois is already outpacing Legends of Tomorrow in terms of narrative appeal. Season 6 did just start however, so there’s plenty of time to mine more intrigue beyond some very funny gags with Ava and the rest of the team, along with eventually justifying why Spooner is a supposedly essential new addition to the Legends’ roster.