Warning: this review contains full spoilers for the Season 6 premiere of Legends of Tomorrow. If you want to see our thoughts on other recent Arrowverse premieres, check out our reviews for Batwoman: Season 2, Episode 1, The Flash: Season 7, Episode 1, Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 1 and the Superman & Lois series premiere.
Legends of Tomorrow started its life as a fairly straightforward sci-fi/superhero mashup series. It’s all about a bunch of costumed morons fighting to protect the Arrowverse timeline from outside interference. But over time, the series has drifted in more of a fantasy-oriented directions, with later seasons focused on magical creatures or the opening floodgates of Hell itself. Now the series has seemingly looped all the way back to becoming a sci-fi show again, with Season 6 turning its attention to alien abductions. But as great as it is to see Legends is still a show hellbent on reinventing itself every year, it remains to be seen if this latest premise is really one for the history books.
This pivot toward an alien-centric conflict comes across as strange given that aliens have always been the purview of Supergirl. Maybe that show’s impending end freed up the Legends crew to dip their toes in these waters? Whatever the motivation here, it is strange to see “Ground Control to Sara Lance” make such a big deal out of aliens. Supergirl and the DEO exist in this world now. Why does Sara’s abduction need to serve as the foundation for an entire season? Even the attempts to tie back to the events of Supergirl: Season 5 and explain why the DEO isn’t getting involved feel a little forced.
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Perhaps the bigger issue is that the premiere doesn’t do a great job of establishing what the core Season 6 conflict is meant to be. Is this some sort of riff on Star Trek: Voyager, with Sara and Gary inching their way back toward Earth? What are the Legends doing in the meantime? Are all those jettisoned space pods meant to be plot catalysts for future episodes? The premiere doesn’t give us a very clear idea of the bigger picture here, and that hurts the show’s early momentum.
The good news is that Legends has never really lived or died on the strength of its plot. It’s all about the team and their kooky, close-knit dynamic. And that much remains intact in Season 6. If anything, it’s a testament to this show’s ability to thrive no matter how many faces come and go. Legends is now down to two original team members – Caity Lotz’s Sara and Dominic Purcell’s Mick Rory. Even Purcell looks to be on his way out after this season. But the series has done such a fine job of integrating newer characters like Jes MacCallan’s Ava Sharpe and Matt Ryan’s John Constantine that no one character will ever make or break the show. Well, it’s hard to imagine Legends without Sara at its core, but we’ll see if that ever becomes an issue.
The premiere taps into that fun, dysfunctional family vibe very well, with the early scenes doing a great job of reintroducing the whole gang and showing them in the midst of a raucous post-victory celebration. New developments like Constantine’s romantic fling with Zari promise to spice up the group dynamic this season, as does Ava’s discovery of Sara’s would-be proposal. There’s just the right blend of zany humor and heartfelt bonding. The fact that Mick is now cast as the straitlaced adult in a ship full of unruly teenagers only adds to the hilarity of it all.
It’s a shame, though, that Astra’s tenure as a Legend looks to be very short-lived. No doubt the writers probably felt it redundant to include multiple spellcasters on the team, but there would have been a lot of potential in keeping Astra in the mix and having a character who sees right through every bit of Constantine’s BS. The jury is also still out on the Gary of it all. With all the evolutions this dorky but well-meaning pencil-pusher has undergone over the course of the series, revealing him to be an alien in disguise might be a step too far.
This episode does add one significant new face to the mix in the form of Esperanza “Spooner” Cruz (Lisseth Chavez). Again, the whole alien conflict is so vaguely defined that it’s hard to know how Spooner will fit into the overall puzzle. It’s not even clear whether she’s inspired by an existing DC character (not that it really matters, given how loosely some of these characters adhere to the source material). But Chavez at least proves she has the right energy for the show, with a gruff but energetic demeanor that should make her an entertaining foil for many of her shipmates. This episode also makes strong use of its two historical guest stars, whether it’s Thomas Nicholson’s hilariously spacey David Bowie or Shawn Roberts’ himbo rendition of Spartacus. Where the plot comes up short, the characters and humor still deliver.