If you thought Legends of Tomorrow was a superhero time-travel show, check again because now it’s a sitcom, a British period-piece and a science fiction space opera. Oh, also it’s a public access children’s show, but it’s dabbled in that genre before, twice. ‘The One Where We’re Trapped on TV’ is a trope stomping romp across shows and genre.
We’re welcomed into the episode in the ‘Historical Sanitation Department’ where Mona is recording historical documents. After scrubbing the content of anything scrupulous that could incite rebellion. The Fates, praise them, can’t have anything that might make the masses believe they aren’t truly free. (It’s all very Ministry of Truth-esque).
Mona’s co-worker questions if what they’re doing is wrong. Moments after the words leave his mouth Atropos appears. She says his time it up, which is a little convenient he was slated to die moments after he voiced the idea this world isn’t right. Oh, well, that’s the way the fate thread is cut.
On her walk home, Mona encounters resident crazy guy, Gary. He seems to recognise her but isn’t sure from where. She just avoids him, eager to get home for her mandatory relaxation time, eat some mush and enjoy the latest episodes on Fate+.
‘Ultimate Buds’ is a show about the loveable brother-sister duo of Behrad and Zari and their quirky next-door neighbour/actor Nate. They live in a glamourous apartment and all the hijinks ensue. All the staples of a TV sitcom, including the laugh track. Except, they don’t know they’re on a sitcom. That is until the air totem reacts, allowing Zari 1.0 to return.
OG Zari is back! And she has her old memories. Between the laugh track and impeccable apartment, it doesn’t take much for her figure out they’ve been loomed onto TV. While trying to jog Nate’s memories she namedrops Mona Wu, which catches the attention of Mona in the real world.
Zari blasts through a door that was never meant to be open, breaking right through into the next TV show. ‘Highcastle Abbey’, a charming period drama, complete with posh accents and historically accurate racist undertones. But historical BBC drama also means better set budgets and no convenient way out. Luckily this is the show Constantine and Astra are trapped in. Zari just needs to convince Constantine to spell them out.
The show adapts to their presence, the Tarazi siblings are now Persian nobles with Behrad betrothed to Astra. He’s still in sitcom mode so when Astra confides she wishes for a life of travel and adventure he encourages her (via Beyoncé lyrics no less). Meanwhile, Zari convinces Constantine to use his magic after learning he still has it here.
When she mentions Gary in her appeal to Constantine, Mona realizes the crazy guy might have been onto something. She brings Gary to her room, watching together as Constantine sends them all to Sara. Sara’s still a captain, but her crew and ship are a little different now. She and Ava are co-captains of the S.S Faterider and also the leads of ‘Star Trip’, a sci-fi space adventure.
The other Legends are a villainous race in the show. Zari barely stops a trigger happy Sara from blowing them up. But Behrad, eager to find out ‘what this button does’ accidentally blows up the Faterider. They teleport Sara and Ava to their ship, trying to convince them they’re really their crew. Since Sara and Ava are on the sci-fi show, where alternate realities and time travel are standard conventions they easily believe Zari and the others are their teammates from an alternate timeline.
In the real world Gary and Mona team up to uncover what’s really happening with their TV shows. They sneak into Clotho productions. Finding the control room, there’s a machine automatically producing the script for the shows. Seeing the fate threads hooked up to the machine, they realize there are real people trapped on TV.
Back in ‘Star Trip’, Ava shares a strange transmission they’ve been receiving. It’s the song to Mr. Parker’s Cul-der-sac, but none of them recognises it. They’re hesitant to follow it to its source, but the ultimate buds decide to do it anyway.
Teleported onto Mr. Parker’s they’re a little lost as to what comes next, all looking to Zari. She wishes they would remember who they really are, not knowing how to snap them out of their show personalities. She tries to remind them of the ethos behind the Legends, just a bunch of misfits doing their best to make the world better.
Zari’s speech inspired Mona to action. She takes control of the script machine, returning the Legends’ memories to them. Clotho shows up at the production studios furious the Legends know how they are. She made a deal with her sisters to keep the Legends alive. Their memories erased and they became the face of submission and conformity.
Taking over the script Charlie highjacks Mr. Parker, using him to send the Legends back to their respective shows. He sings a delightful song about repressing feelings as he does. Constantine and Astra, however willingly return so she can confirm if her mother on the show is really her mother.
Natalie doesn’t remember their previous life, but Constantine offers to stay in Highcastle anyway. It was his actions that lead to Astra’s and Natalie’s fates. Now he’s willing to atone for them, even if means being a butler for the rest of his days.
Ava’s having similar ideas. In the real world she saw Sara die but on ‘Star Trip’ they living their best fantasy. Captains of a crew that can’t die in a world where they never lose. Sara agrees this would be their best fantasy, but it’s not a full life. ‘Life is beautiful and terrible’. Ava wants to live that life, messy parts and all.
We finally learn what Mick’s been up to this whole time. He’s the big bad of ‘Star Trip’, Dhan. He fires on their ship. Sara realizes the way to escape is break the tropes of their own show. If they’re the captains who always win, they have to lose. They let Mick destroy them, ending up on an empty sound stage in the real world.
On Highcastle Abbey, Astra’s mother gifts her a ticket to London. She overheard Astra’s wish to see the world and she wants her daughter to be happy. The gift inspires Astra to do the right thing, she and Constantine escaping together. The Ultimate Buds break out of their show by upsetting the audience and insulting the Fates.
Charlie begs the Legends to return to their shows. She even splits Zari thread into her the different timeline versions of her trying to convince Behrad. But the Legends have made their choice. They won’t return to those shows now. They walk out, together, ready for whatever the Fates throw at them.
‘Life is beautiful and terrible.’ When it comes down to it, isn’t that what Legends is about. A mess of wonderfully tragic characters thrown together by circumstance and choosing to make each other and their world better. They more than anyone else understands hurt and loss, all those ‘bad feelings’, are inevitabilities of life. Just as the bad is inevitable, surely there will always be good to have too. And when the right people are around, call them friends, crew or family, they’ll never have to face bad alone.
Reminiscent of ‘Doomworld’ and ‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ getting to see the ‘what ifs’, there is always so much fun to be had. Especially when the actors are getting to ham it up in iconic roles. The TV show take for this episode also opened the way for refreshing camera work and music. They both adapted to the genres of the shows, making for some beautiful scenes, like the way the camera followed Zari and the boys into Highcastle Abbey before swing around to reveal their transition.
By using the tropes to establish each new show, made having the path to escape be breaking those tropes more impactful. Truly, only Legends of Tomorrow could make a fourth wall break to reveal a studio audience as impactful as it did here.
It was also a brilliant move to have Zari be the central pillar for this episode. Tala Ashe, always a tour de force, rivaled her ‘Here I Go Again’ performance. Rallying the Legends and reminding them who there are, no one else could have done it as she did. Plus she did it while stepping back into the shoes of Zari 1.0.
With one episode left, we’re gunning to the final confrontation with the Fates. Time to learn how a Legend kills a Goddess.
Only Legends Could
- The Fates’ opening filled with propaganda was a great touch.
- They may have rewritten the world, at least they kept Beebo.
- “Arrow, a show about a vi-ge-lan-te!” Legends really went ‘what fourth wall?’ this episode.
- About Zari: “Where is she?” “Not in the closet, that’s for sure”
- In classic Zari fashion, she’ll find the sweets on any mission.
- Did Charlie think Sara and Ava would enjoy their entire crew in short-shorts or was that something she put in there for herself?
- How has Legends not done a full musical episode yet?