The following contains Legends of Tomorrow spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 11
Six seasons into its run, Legends of Tomorrow is somehow a series that still manages to surprise us. Few other shows are still taking risks in the way that this little weirdo saga of time traveling space misfits attempts, fusing bonkers narrative plots with rich character dynamics that ultimately create something entirely unique in the superhero television landscape.
For instance, Season 6 Episode 11, “The Final Frame,” is technically a story about the apocalypse (maybe), just played out at a seedy, semi-desolate bowling alley at the end of time, in which a cutthroat league team delights in playing for the future of entire planets and forcing the losers to spend eternity in a trophy case.
Only on Legends of Tomorrow could an episode that combines wedding planning, an apocalyptic camping trip, and a homage to The Big Lebowski still manage to tell an emotionally resonant story about friendship, trust, and teamwork. (As well as the surprisingly eternal effectiveness of granny-style bowling.)
“The bowling alley ended up being surprisingly freaking awesome,” actress Jes Macallan tells Den of Geek. “I liked The Shining [feel]. Just creepy, creepy, creepy.”
Macallan plays Legends co-commander Ava Sharpe and “The Final Frame” marks her directorial debut, an event she says she “completely loved.”
“I’ve been chomping at this bit for a decade. I was so ready,” Macallan says. “I hope that I hit it out of the park. I was super scared, super nervous because it was wacky as all get out – 26 pages in a bowling alley! – and I just tried to find the most intriguing ways to tell the story and make the stakes [feel] as high as they needed to be.”
Given Macallan’s directing duties, “The Final Frame” is relatively Ava-free, save for a fairly hilarious sequence in which she and Gary attempt to find the perfect dress for her upcoming wedding to Waverider captain Sara Lance.
”The [wedding dress] montage was everything that I dreamed of; it was exactly how I cut it in my head it ended up being,” Macallan says. “We went whole hog; we had to. It was such a great time.”
But the dress sequence also held some emotional significance for Macallan itself and it gave her an opportunity to honor a loved one she recently lost.
“I requested from costumes – there’s a little owl in my veil, a little fabric owl with all the other birds in there. [It’s] for my mother-in-law, who passed away quite recently and she loved owls,” Macallan says. “So she’s there in the episode with us the whole time. A little Easter Egg [for me].”
But not to worry Legends fans, there’s every likelihood that Ava will head down the aisle in a much better dress than the tie-dyed tulle-laden monstrosity we see during this episode. Macallan is well aware of how highly anticipated the impending Avalance wedding is and how much fans everywhere have come to love the relationship between the two women.
“It’s such a blessing,” Macallan says. “I almost hate to use that word because it doesn’t even – it just seems such like such a hashtag or something, like “hashtag blessed”! But it really is. And in the time that we’re in, playing anyone LGBTQ, it’s a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot of weight of wanting to make everyone happy and feel like they can relate to this relationship.”
For Macallan, it’s always been important that Ava and Sara’s relationship feel “grounded and not forced,” that the pairing exists for more than simply checking the box of Legends having an LGBTQ romance.
“It’s just been such an awesome thing that we’ve been able to go where we’ve gone with it. And even further with the wedding, obviously,” Macallan says. “And then now that we’re [filming] Season 7, I can tell you – they’re just growing. In such a wonderfully simple way, simple and complex at the same time.”
Legends of Tomorrow, more than any other Arrowverse show, is known for its ability to tell universally relatable emotional stories through the most bizarre of narrative frameworks. After all, Ava herself is a clone and she’s getting ready to marry Sara, a woman who has died, been resurrected, and is now is a half-alien hybrid clone herself who may or may not be functionally immortal. Yet, the story of their relationship is still one that’s full of recognizably human problems.
And it sounds as though Legends will use the upcoming Avalance wedding as an opportunity to further explore Ava’s unique position as a woman who is one of possibly thousands of clones, but who has staked a claim to her own unique identity in spite of that fact.
“I was excited that at the back end of this season, we touch upon a bit of that…Ava’s history and [explore] the clone situation,” Macallan says. “But you see [Ava and Sara] trying to plan a life together, and then realize as Ava’s [emotional] bandaids start ripping off, she has scabs that aren’t healed.”
It’s not unusual for wedding planning to shake up the status quo for even the most established of couples, and Sara and Ava each have more than their fair share of issues to deal with, from basic questions like who to invite to the ceremony (do the other Ava clones count as family?) to more philosophical concerns, such as the fact that neither of them is completely human at this point.
“Ava never had a traditional family. She never had a traditional upbringing. She doesn’t know what that is. She doesn’t know how to do that,” Macallan says. “And that [insecurity] was a cool thing to bring up, [something that] kind of humanizes the clone thing because I think clones – it’s just a weird thing to try and relate to. But I think anyone in any relationship in any capacity, [has talked] about being together forever and what that really means. We’re all faced with that.”
Even at its most bizarre, at its heart Legends of Tomorrow has always been a show about identity, wrestling with the sort of big, emotional, and existential questions that superhero stories are uniquely equipped to explore. What makes us human? Are we primarily shaped by our own intrinsic natures or by the external circumstances we find ourselves in? Is it our ability to love that truly sets us apart?
“This is why our writers are geniuses because I’m reading the scripts going, how’s this going to [work]? Are we really bringing the clone thing up again?,” Macallan says. ”But it makes a lot of sense why Ava would still be really messed up, [why] both she and Sara are gonna be messed up. And wedding planning is hard for any two people. It’s going to be hard for them to figure the whole thing out. Nothing’s ever easy for these two.”