This article contains Legends of Tomorrow spoilers. Lots of ’em.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 6 Episode 6
So far, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow season 6 has been almost nothing but shtick. We’ve had the ‘50s horror movie episode, the ‘70s punk episode, the political thriller, the reality game show episode, and last week’s Disney princess episode. “Bishop’s Gambit” is the first episode of the season to not obviously be doing a bit, and by a weird coincidence, it also does maybe the best homage yet, while also doing exceptionally well by the characters and the season’s overarching plot. So par for the course for this show.
“Bishop’s Gambit” is all about accelerating the search for Sara. Mick and Kayla are on Bishop’s planet looking for her and Gary is trying to help Sara break out, while the rest of the gang is hunting down Amelia Earhart for clues to Sara’s whereabouts. They pull Amelia out of a sanitarium in 1950s upstate New York, bring her to the House of Mysteries, discover that she stole the Waverider from Mick and Kayla and crashed, and then bring her onto the ship. From there, this half of the episode becomes a nearly note perfect homage to Aliens.
It’s in Spooner’s scenes with the Amelien (Alhart? No, Amelien is the better portmanteau I think) where the episode’s DNA becomes really clear. Astra conducts a magical interrogation of Amelien because of the resolution last week – John can’t access his magic beyond cheap illusions.
That interrogation gives the team pieces of Sara’s story, and a much fuller picture of Amelien’s, but ends with the alien fully transformed, broken free of its restraints, and threatening the entire crew. Spooner squeals something at the alien in its own language, and then gets dragged out of the room by the team as the door closes behind her, and the blocking, lighting, camera work and editing all feel like different bits of Aliens – parts of the scene where Ripley and Newt are dodging the face hugger; parts where Ripley’s being dragged away from Newt’s jacket; parts where Carter is trying to escape the battle.
But it never feels like it was directly cut and pasted from the source material. It’s very subtle, and very good, even better than Legends of Tomorrow typically does.
Later, Spooner directly faces off with Amelien and gets more of Sara’s story, and this is where the show pulls its second best trick of the night: Amelien tells Spoons that she killed Sara, setting the viewers up to spend the next ten minutes saying “no that thing was a liar and I guess much more villainous than we previously thought,” only to pull the rug out as the episode closed: she did in fact kill Sara, and the one running around the alien planet murdering all the Bishop clones is herself a clone.
I said at the start of this season that Legends of Tomorrow is the kind of show that revels in its comic bookiness without being a slave to the source material, and this is another example. Swapping clones in for the main character is something that has happened countless times in comics history, both for good (this plot is basically ripped from the last two years of X-Men comics) and bad (RIP in peace Ben Reilly). But it’s done so casually and so effectively in Legends that it renders all of that trope’s history inert. Legends does it here the same way it typically does it: good character work and a couple of jaw dropping gags.
The show isn’t especially elaborate about it, but “Bishop’s Gambit” is a Mick episode. It is as terse a show can be about doling out character development, but form matches function here: that’s exactly how Mick is. He’s paired off with Kayla, and we get insight into why he’s so dogged in trying to get Sara back.
Again, the show does a ton with not a lot of space, because Mick gets a couple of lines that provide such depth in such little time. He justifies his search by telling Kayla that humanity is disappointing garbage, “but not Sara.” The line delivery from Dominic Purcell is perfect, only topped later when he decides to have weird tentacle sex with Kayla as they hide from a monster attack. Please note: this actually happens. On a major-ish network show. It’s awesome.
The tentacle sex bit is one of two home runs this week. The other is Gary climbing out of Sara’s toilet, a visual only matched on this show by Gary screaming “WHERE’S MY NIPPLE?” in season 4.
Kayla’s (ex?) fiancée is working to help Sara escape, and he doesn’t accomplish much here yet, but don’t be surprised to see him leading an Ava revolt later in the season. Nice bit of character development for a guy whose previous existence was all about being taken advantage of by serial killer’s dogs. But by now, that sort of thing should be expected from the best superhero show on television.