This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 4 Episode 6
It’s been a minute, but man is it good to be back and with a show that hasn’t even missed a beat. And there’s something to be said for taking a break – I’ve basically been watching this show weekly for two years now, I think, as TV has hardened into a binge pattern around us. So coming back from this extended time away from the show gave me an opportunity to experience it in a different way, and that helped me understand some of what makes it so strong. Conveniently, all of these traits were made perfectly clear in “Tender Is The Nate.”
Legends of Tomorrowis a show where the cast and crew have the utmost confidence in their characters. So often in shows that run for a while, you see writers and actors trying to force the action by making someone behave out of character just for the sake of the plot. Despite multiple opportunities to do that, I didn’t see it once in the first six episodes of the year. Even tonight, putting Nate next to his old man could have had him turn into anything from a pathetic class clown to a bullying toad. Instead, he’s a little timid and intimidated before finding his voice and growing.
Which leads to the next point: the show finds a way to organically grow its characters without sacrificing what makes them interesting. They’re never closing off story potential, just expanding it. Mick is a perfect example: “Mick writing trashy bodice ripper fantasy” was a great throwaway gag last season. They turned it into a character moment for him last week, as he accepted himself as an artist (and they threw in a little commentary about not being too judge-y when it comes to defining art). And then this week they roll it hard back into the jokes, first with Woke Mick (“Isn’t [gay Paris] impolitically correct?” is maybe the line of the night) followed by Mick and Hemingway deciding to go be Men together.
The show is also just funny as hell. Nate’s “I’m a grown-ass superhero…trying to play the lute for a minotaur” is a close runner up for line of the night, along with Mona revealing that her fallback plan if working for the Time Bureau doesn’t work out is to go to Yale Law. That’s a nice touch for her character, and an absolutely savage burn on the law school industrial complex.
The make the humor work because the crew knows the tropes they’re screwing around with. Part of this is Ray’s fourth wall breaking, perfectly in character for him but also a nice way for the show to lampshade their work. Think about how many tropes went into tonight’s episode: Nate discovers Charlie on the Waverider because his boss/Dad wants to head out on a ride along, so the team tries to steer him away from the lab so they don’t run into each other. That’s at least two sitcom episodes worth of stuff, and we’re not even ou of the first 10 minutes of the show – the Mona/Nora/Ava girls night, and Sara trying not to get caught sneaking into Ava’s office for nooners are probably two separate sitcom b-plots, too. But none of them felt like gratuitous wheel spinning (though I will admit Legends does sometimes fall prey to this).
I could go on – the heart and secret message behind the show (this episode was secretly about criminal justice reform don’t tell anybody); the fact that it’s largely a show about well-adjusted-ish people being nice to each other (it’s the Parks & Rec of the Arrowverse!); the sheer volume of jokes or the fact that everyone on the show seems to be having an infectious blast making it – all of these things make it a weekly destination. But seeing what I saw watching six episodes in a week actually has me wanting to go back and binge some stuff I already saw, just to catch things I missed in a new format.