In my reviews of previous seasons of Legends of Tomorrow, I’ve discussed my love for how this series understands how inherently ridiculous all superhero stories are and how it learned to embrace its utter weirdness. Yet, as the Sixth Season demonstrates, there is a difference between embracing your own inner weirdo and just pretending. It’s like how in school there is always one guy who is just genuinely strange, but who has come to terms with it and just lets it be. There is something really cool in that. But there is also often someone who wants to emulate that kid and tries too hard at being weird, and it just feels forced. Or to put it in TV terms think about the first three seasons of Community. For a time, it was one of the most inventive, interesting, and hilarious series on television. But with Season Four series, creator and showrunner Dan Harmon was no longer working on it. It wasn’t a bad season, but you could tell the writers were trying to imitate Harmon’s particular genius and kept coming up short.
There are moments in this season of Legends of Tomorrow where it feels like the show is trying to maintain its particular brand of ridiculousness but not quite nailing it. But there are other moments when everything clicked and it felt like old times. So call this a mixed review.
My biggest beef this season is more of a casting issue than anything else. It isn’t unusual for a series six seasons into its run to come into casting changes. Actors get tired of the grueling schedules such a series makes them undertake, and characters tend to flatten out rather than get more interesting after a certain point, but Legends has had more than its fair share of casting changes. Captain Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), arguably the show’s lead character, disappeared for large chunks of Season Two and was not even a main credit in Season Three. Most of the original cast (and quite a few replacements) have left by the time Season Six got started – something the show calls attention to early on when Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) is abducted by aliens leaving Mick Rory (Dominick Purcell) as the only original cast member left on the ship.
With so many characters coming and going, it’s difficult to maintain loyalty to the show as new characters are generally less interesting than the ones you’ve spent more time with. There’s actually only one truly new Legend this season. Esperanza “Spooner” Cruz (Lisseth Chavez) was recruited by the Legends to help find Sara due to her ability to psychically communicate with aliens. She’s fine. I liked her alright, but she feels like a fairly generic filler character.
Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) and Zari Tarazi (Tala Ashe) are back from last season and almost as annoying as ever. By season’s end, they had grown on me, but it took them a while to get there. Tala Ashe has been a cast member since season three, but last season her character changed from Zari Tomaz to Zari Tarazi, or rather I should say they are two completely different characters played by the same actress. Zari Tomaz, by far the more interesting character, is still locked inside a totem while Zari Tarazi is learning how to be a Legend. She is a social media star with the personality to match. I find her mostly annoying but eventually she grows and changes enough to be likable. In the same way, Behrad begins as nothing more than a stoner, and like most real-life potheads he can’t seem to go two sentences without making a pot joke. But again, as the season stretches out, he becomes more interesting.
So, yeah, I’m not in love with these new characters, and add that to the already mentioned tendency for the writing to feel like it trying too hard and this season is just a slight step back in quality. When it shines, like when the Legends are transported to a cosmic bowling alley and challenge a gang of villains to a match for the literal fate of the Earth, or when a giant magic mushroom protects the planet from an all-out invasion it is all aces.
Characters that have been around a while remain my favorite. Mick has softened up a bit since rekindling his relationship with his daughter, and there are new developments along that front that are equally weird, hilarious, and heart-warming for him. Sara and Ava (Jes Macallan) continue to be the cutest couple around and spoilers they get married this season. I have to admit I might have shed a tear during that scene.
This series works best when it surprises you with its silliness. It isn’t enough just to be weird, it only really works when that weirdness is something you could have never dreamed of. I don’t want to spoil the best surprises, but when it works, Legends of Tomorrow remains the best series in the Arrowverse. Even when it doesn’t, it is still a whole lot of fun to watch. There is still more that works than doesn’t, but that line is starting to get narrower.
It is difficult to review a series like this without acknowledging the havoc that COVID-19 has wrought over the last two seasons. I don’t know all the protocols put into place but it is easy to see things like how the blocking (especially in early episodes) tended to keep the characters fairly separated to understand how fundamentally different things were on set than they had been pre-pandemic. No doubt the stresses from COVID had an effect on all aspects of production. It led to a shorter season this year and there was no crossover event this season. One hopes as things get back to “normal” Legends of Tomorrow will get back to being its old self.
I’m ready for the next adventure, wherever it leads.
Extras include a gag reel, deleted scenes, Never Alone: Heroes and Allies, VFX Creature Feature, Animation Split Screen, and Actors Split Screen