DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is a show that learned to break out of its genre’s conventions and embrace the inherent weirdness of its concept. This is a show about third-tier superheroes who travel through time after all. At its best, Legends is a series that rolls with the utter silliness of its conventions and has a whole lot of fun doing so. At its worst, it feels like it is trying too hard. The trouble with breaking genre conventions and embracing weirdness is that you can wind up boxing yourself in ever more so than if you just stuck to the formulas of the genre. It is like a group of teenagers who are trying so hard to be nonconformists that they wind up looking and acting exactly like each other.
In my review of Season Six, I noted that the series was starting to feel a little strained. That the writers seemed to be trying too hard to be the weird, off-beat show it was beloved for being. Unfortunately, Season Seven continues down that road with some much-needed course corrections. Consider this a mixed review with some positive hopefulness.
Episode 1, “The Bullet Blondes” begins right were Season Six ended. The Zagurons have been dealt with but before the Legends can get on the Waverider and return home, a ship that looks exactly like the Waverider appears, blows up the Legend’s ship, and then disappears. Stranded in circa 1925 Odessa, Texas, Astra Logue (Olivia Swann) uses her newfound witch powers to attempt to rebuild the Waverider from the wreckage. Instead, she creates a human Gideon (Amy Pemberton). Well, she’s 100 percent human and 100 percent computer and if that math doesn’t work for you then this is probably not the show for you.
The team learns that a man named Gwyn Davies (Matt Ryan who you may remember as John Constantine in previous seasons) was the forefather of time travel and is currently living in New York City. They spend the first few episodes trying to get there and find him. Keeping the team in the same time period in relatively the same location actually works quite well. It reminded me of Jon Pertwee’s first season on Doctor Who where the Time Lords ground the Doctor on Earth forcing him to work with UNIT. Limiting where and when the Legends can go forces the writers to get creative and it works. Even when they are able to time travel (via a makeshift machine made from Gwyn’s plans), they don’t actually go all that far or travel that often with a couple of brief exceptions like Gary (Adam Tsekhman) inadvertently landing in caveman times.
Back in 1925 Texas, the team is tracked by none other than J. Edgar Hoover (Giacomo Baessato). He’s tracking the Legends because Ava (Jes Macallan) and Sara (Caity Lotz) have taken up robbing banks as the Bullet Blondes in order to raise the cash to get to New York. Nate (Nick Zano) accidentally kills Hoover during the chase. Later, a robot Hoover replaces the real thing and continues in his quest to stop the Legends.
As it turns out Bishop (Raffi Barsoumian) downloaded a copy of Gideon’s hard drive when he was on board the Waverider in Season Six. He uses it to build himself a Waverider and its version of Gideon decides that the Legends are too unpredictable and emotional and must be taken out. To do this, she builds robot versions of the Legends (with a few cosmetic tweaks like Nate’s giant muscles and Sara’s giant, um, well never mind). The rest of the season is spent with the Legends trying to get the Waverider back and return home and the robot Legends trying to stop. them. Naturally, there is plenty of weird, wild, silliness in between.
The best episodes are the ones in which the silliness is original and surprising. Like “Lowest Common Demoninator” in which the Legends realize they are part of a reality show created in Hell (aren’t they all?) and being filmed by ghosts. The game amplifies their emotions leading to a few revelations for the characters and a lot of laughs for this watcher. Or “Paranoid Android” which mostly follows the robot Legends who believe themselves to be the real Legends and allows the actors to portray amped-up versions of their regular characters.
The worst episodes are ones that dig too heavily into messaging and forget to tell a good story. “A Woman’s Place is in the War Effort!” finds the lady Legends working for a WWII airplane factory in order to make some parts to get their new time machine running again. That’s a fine idea but so much of the plot is spent preaching about women’s rights and especially black women’s rights. I’m all for those things and all for adding those themes to a television show, but when it feels more like an After School Special and instead of the best show in the Arrowverse, I start to tune out.
In my review of Season Six, I noted that I was having trouble vibing with the new characters. I’m happy to say I’ve come to love all of them and had no such difficulties digging this season’s only real new character Gwynn. It helps that he’s played by a familiar actor (although Matt Ryan does a good enough job that it took me a hot minute to realize it was him). It took me a long time to warm up to Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) and Zari Tarazi (Tala Ashe) but they’ve finally gotten there. It helps that by this season their more annoying edges (mainly Behrad’s constantly not funny references to his marijuana intake and Zari’s social media influencing) had been smoothed out. The ultimate praise I can give the characters on a show is that I genuinely hope the actors that portray them get many good roles in the years to come. After hearing that Legends of Tomorrow had been canceled, I immediately took to the internet to see if the cast had landed any juicy upcoming roles.
The series has been cancelled and that came after Season Seven had been filmed so there will be no official goodbye within the series. While the season did end on a cliffhanger, there was enough of a wrap-up and goodbyes said that I can allow the surprise ending to work as an ellipsis to the series. As if the show is saying the adventures will continue, just not on television. Maybe we’ll see them in the comics. I certainly hope so.
Season Seven of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow comes with a digital code so you can watch all the episodes online, a gag reel, lots of deleted scenes, the cast panel of the most recent San Diego Comic-Con, and a nice behind-the-scenes look at the series 100th episode (and no spoilers, but that episode is pretty great and filled with some terrific cameos.)
While it is a bit sad that the series was not renewed, it is pretty fantastic that we got seven seasons of a show unlike anything else we’ve seen in the Arrowverse or comic book television at all.