This DC’s Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
There’s a lot to like about “Meat: The Legends,” the second episode in Legends of Tomorrow’s sixth season. The problem is the good bits are generally disconnected from the main plot of the episode, and the rest of it just wasn’t very good.
Our first episode to really jump into the season’s arc picks up right where the last one left off: with an alien floating through the timestream, getting smushed on the windshield of the Waverider. From there, the gang picks up a sign of trouble from October, 1955, where they find a newly retconned massacre in San Bernardino that points to an alien culprit. We see a local fast food joint that is rapidly taking off, and some people in town with very mysterious cravings for meat, so the team splits in two: Mick, Constantine, Ava and Spooner (who finds out backhandedly from Behrad that there’s no alien communications device in her brain for Gideon to take out) head out into town to find out more about the alien, while Nate, Behrad and Zari stay at the burger joint to see what they can discover.
Eventually they find out that the cravings are coming from the restaurant’s “secret sauce,” and Ava runs it back to the restaurant owner’s wife, where she discovers an alien cocoon, leaking pus through their house’s air ducts, which the wife jars and hands off to her husband. This obviously outstanding idea ends up shockingly backfiring when a giant alien moth bursts out of the cocoon and eats the wife before bursting through the roof of the house to go eat the rest of the town, which it has intentionally been fattening up for the slaughter.
Honestly, I think my biggest issue with this episode is how close it came to being great. The whole episode is laced with metaphors for the awfulness of unrestrained capitalism – there are MULTIPLE cracks about wage slavery and fast food’s awful history, and the restauranteur and his wife are barely hanging on to work and each other because neither part of their lives is working on its own. Meanwhile, there’s a predatory insect ready to devour everyone whole, and the only ones who can stop it are basically a space hippie commune. But the individual parts are all really clunky and on the nose, and there’s nothing really knitting it together to form one cohesive, clearly stated point. The metaphor is completely undercut by two choices: the wife’s performance leans into the crazy monster movie human enabler archetype, instead of pushing the quiet desperation of a collapsing suburban family that might have sold it better. And Zari’s weirdly yay-girlboss attitude through the whole thing just doesn’t work. It’s the one part of the story that is clearly stated, when she sees that the restaurant gets bought by the head waitress post-”butterfly attack” and turned into the eponymous Big Belly Burger and actually mutters “you go girlboss.”
There are still parts of the episode that worked. We get a decent amount of Behrad character development packed into a couple of interactions – we find out that he wasn’t happy living in Zari’s shadow, and that’s led to some reluctance on his part to give up the Air Totem. It’s a nice moment for him, some depth that we’re certain to follow up on after the end of the episode, where pre-Crisis Zari (now living inside the totem) decides to make a copy for Instazari so both her and her brother can be superheroes. And Sara and Gary – crashed on a planet and tricked into having dinner with an alien who appears to be Amelia Earhart – get a couple of nice, quiet character moments as well.
Unfortunately, those moments are too few, and too surrounded by inexplicable, ineffective choices (Where the hell does Mick wander off to? Why would they use the Godzilla noise for the alien? Why immediately lampshade that choice?) for this episode to be very good.