This Legends of Tomorrow episode review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5 Episode 11
“Ship Broken” feels a little bit like an experimental episode of Legends of Tomorrow. It’s a bottle episode, for sure, and that’s well trod territory. But it’s also different from most episodes of Legends in its structure: rather than weaving multiple plot threads around each other and timing the payoffs so that they meet up at the end, “Ship Broken” is built like a long joke: about 40 minutes of setup, with one huge punchline. And to no one’s surprise, it worked.
Mick gets Lita for the weekend and brings her onto the Waverider, where the gang has all the pieces of the Loom of Fate; Gary; Gary’s emotional support terrier, Gary Jr.; AND an extra Astra lying around. Behrad is also still dead from his run-in with Atropos a couple of episodes ago, and Sara, having seen Atropos’ true form, is in a coma in the med bay.
So while Mick takes Lita on a tour of the ship, the rest of the team joins Charlie to re-weave Behrad’s thread, after some squabbling about who goes first. Charlie can’t do it, and then the ship starts to break down in what looks like an accident at first, but we later discover is the result of sabotage.
Zari once again features in the story, but this time she’s played against Astra. Both are competing to go first on the Loom – Astra to get her mother back, Zari to see Behrad. The show does a really outstanding job of setting them up as believable opposites.
InstaZari has been slowly melting away over the course of this season, to the point where she’s casually hacking Gideon at one point in tonight’s episode, but the fact that they spend most of the episode having her go toe to toe trying to parry the former Queen of Hell’s manipulations shows just how much more to the influencer Zari of this timeline there’s always been. Astra keeps trying to spoil Zari by being shitty to her, and Zari keeps refusing to take the bait.
This ends up working for Astra, too. Since her initial introduction as Constantine’s foil, her motivations have shifted from revenge to an antihero’s purposefulness, but here you can feel her getting justifiably frustrated by the team insisting she’s not to be trusted. She is set up as the saboteur early, but it’s clearly not her from the start.
There are two setups in this episode that don’t really pay off, but it’s more than made up for by the one that does. In the first, Sara wakes up from her coma to discover that she’s blind. She starts to read people’s futures by touching them, but this happened well after I started screaming “ZATOICHI ZATOICHI” in my notes, and because the Legends creative team is full of smart, cultured people, it absolutely did turn out that Sara was every bit as badass blind as she was sighted. But her blind samurai moment is literally just that: a moment. In a world where Legends has the budget it deserves, that fight sequence is still going on right now, days later, and it is perfect. Alas, this isn’t a perfect world.
The other setup that wraps up in a hurry is Lita and Mick. She’s studying for a history test on the ship with Professor Steel and learning about her father’s work, traveling through history, killing things that escaped hell by using fire, and stealing prodigiously. Like, A LOT – Lita talks about Mick’s commitment to a Scrooge McDuck bit, and she’s not kidding.
The Waverider has a cabin filled with gold that Mick’s stolen from throughout history. But when she tries to talk to him about it, she gets shut down. There are a couple of breakthroughs during the episode, where he shows a little more emotional maturity and growth, but their relationship is clipped enough that it feels like they’re saving his story for later in the season.
The one setup that works REALLY works: Gary Jr. is Son of Sam’s dog.
Everything about this reveal is perfect. Sara figures it out when Gary hands her the dog to help her cope with the trauma of seeing all of her teammates murdered in the future. She reads the dog, hears it telling her to kill, and sees a vision of her snapping Gary’s neck and leaving him for dead. Then everyone else starts to realize what was going on – we see Zari’s hacked security footage of Charlie stealing the Loom rings, and Zari ripping power cords out of the wall, and in every shot, the dog is just on the edge, barking at whoever is being controlled. So when the camera pulls back a little, we see this cute little terrier barking like mad and wagging his tail like crazy.
If you’re a dog owner, you know just how incongruous this is – the dog orders Nate to kill Zari and Charlie, and his body language is entirely “happy puppy about to get lots of treats” and for some reason that just makes this even funnier that it’s a hell hound. The team eventually sends the dog back to hell, and Gary fishes the rings of the Loom out of the toilets and shares his new, non-hell emotional support bunny, Gary Jr. 2, with Sara and Ava.
That payoff was more than enough to make up for giving Mick and Lita short shrift. Plus the episode was full of killer lines, like Nate’s “not bad” bit, or Gary saying that rescuing a hell hound is better than going to a breeder. Even when Legends is moving a little slower than I’d like, it’s still warm and funny and an hour of a bunch of people having a great time with each other, so it’s hard to criticize it. Even middling Legends is one of my favorite hours of television.