DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 6 Episode 4
“Bay of Squids”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes a trip to 1962 and has the team interfere in the Cuban Missile Crisis with Mick taking the lead as only he can.
It was only a matter of time before Legends got around to doing a Cuban Missile Crisis episode; the only surprise is that it took this long to get there especially considering all of the other notable historical events the writers have forced these characters into. As expected it’s handled with the lunacy that makes this show endearing while also having something to say about at least some of the characters involved. It may not be top tier content for this show but it’s still immensely watchable. Quality is a relative term on Legends as it’s never bad but there are things that aren’t handled quite as well on occasion.
The episode falters when it comes to Behrad in terms of creating a connection between him and the story being told. His participation seems to be almost entirely founded on the fact that putting a beret on his head makes him resemble Che Guevara which means he can get close to Fidel Castro (Tim Perez) and attempt to convince him not to launch nukes against the United States. It’s all part of the expected lunacy and this show always builds up enough good faith to make such a nonsensical plot detail something that the audience is willing to accept. In this case it can be accepted at face value but it doesn’t give us anything new where Behrad is concerned. His pacifistic nature has been previously established so preventing nuclear destruction should be something he has a vested interest in -basically everyone can get behind the idea that nuclear War is a bad thing- but it doesn’t come into play. The conversations Castro and Behrad -or Jay Guevara- have don’t have any weight because Behrad’s character doesn’t come through.
There was something to develop here from the mention that he required marijuana infused sweets to help him sleep as mentioned by Gideon along with his heart clearly not being in the mission being presented to him. Time is taken to strongly suggest that Behrad is out of sorts for some reason and being in a heightened state with Castro would have been the perfect forum for him to open up about that. Instead they have fairly meaningless conversations then Behrad sings him a Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam song and is eventually found out to be a fraud prompting him to run away. His failure ends up inspiring Castro to launch the nuke but there’s no weight. It amounts to the episode filling time with something inconsequential. It’s still entertaining and Shayan Sobhian remains as engaging as always but there are opportunities the episode fails to capitalise on.
Fortunately the rest of the episode fares significantly better in terms of connecting the characters to what they’re doing. Mick being the catalyst for the mission starting in the first place and his actions constantly threatening to escalate the situation to the worst outcome is perfectly on brand for Mick. His passion is clear in everything he does and ties into his desire to get Sara back. It’s an unconventional way of showing his affection for Sara but also fits him perfectly as he has never been one to be verbal about his feelings. He lets his actions do the talking and behaves recklessly because he lacks the patience to approach what he wants to achieve with any level of finesse. Dominic Purcell’s performance as Mick being a complete loose cannon is excellent and there are some very clear facial expressions where his tough exterior melts away for an instant to betray how concerned he is about Sara’s well-being or that he has regrets about how his actions are endangering the mission. Those expressions make for a great contrast with him only knowing one way to operate and help to humanise him.
Another strength is how his friendship with Ava evolves. Ava is growing as a leader with each passing episode with her learning more about how to manage this particular team. In this case she continues to understand that there’s no way to control Mick and that he can be very useful if allowed to operate as he sees fit. Her first instinct is to be wary as he appears to be rushing in with no thought to the consequences which makes sense as that’s exactly what he’s doing but she also has to realise that there is a method to his madness. His standoffish nature hides the fact that he cares about the team and doesn’t want a mission to fail. In his own way he knows what he’s doing and the situation at play here seems to bend to his will.
This clearly happens by accident but the old adage of “screwing things up for the better” where these characters are concerned definitely applies. Ava’s key lesson is about trust and that she should loosen up because there are things about the team that she will never be able to control. Arguably Mick is a dangerous presence but the point being made is that he gets results with his unorthodox way of doing things if he’s given the latitude to take the action he feels is right. Ending the episode with him on the Waverider without the rest of the team with only the alien Kayla (Aliyah O’Brien) for company has a lot of potential based on the single scene they share where she appears to operate on his Wavelength. It does seem to connect to his fantasy of adventuring with a warrior alien as depicted in his novels so it’ll undoubtedly be a lot of fun watching this play out. The rest of the Legends moving in with John and Astra has equally strong potential.
Teaming Nate and Zari up allows for exploration of Nate’s feelings of loss around the other Zari. Early in the episode he sees Zari without makeup and is reminded of the other one as she favoured a more natural look. It throws him through a loop by offering a sobering reminder of the fact that Zari 1.0 is no longer around. There’s a maturity to this as he doesn’t resent Zari 2.0 for simply existing so he has an intellectual understanding of the circumstances of her existence not being anyone’s fault. It’s simply that he finds it difficult to cope with her presence because he reminds her of the Zari he lost. None of this stops him being friendly to her or accepting her right to be on the team.
The episode builds to the point where Nate is able to honestly say that he only sees Zari for who she is rather than the woman he lost which isn’t entirely earned as an emotional beat on his part but works in the moment because Nick Zano’s performance sells it. Their interactions throughout the episode don’t really support him coming to that understanding as she is largely on the sidelines being deployed in particular ways though the idea is that this experience is used for Nate to understand exactly why she isn’t the same person. It doesn’t entirely come across but the intent is clear. Their shared acceptance of the inevitability of death was a really sweet moment even though it was obvious that it wouldn’t be the end for them. When faced with their end they come together as teammates and it really lands as a shared character moment.
Nate becoming one of John F. Kennedy’s (Aaron Craven’s) advisors is really strong as well as being a lot of fun. His function is to essentially act as the angel on Kennedy’s shoulder who reminds him of what he already knows to be the right thing. Trigger happy military advisors constantly recommend a more violent approach where Nate appeals to JFK’s better nature. It’s clear that JFK is less inclined to either start or participate in a nuclear War and Nate’s urging helps give him the confidence needed to stand by his convictions. The episode is loosely providing commentary on America’s tendency towards flexing their military muscles but it’s not an issue that there is any appetite to explore. It’s established as a problem that needs to be overcome with the increasing paranoia creating a loud contrary voice designed to distract JFK from what he knows to be right. Nate is the voice of reason and exactly what JFK needs in that moment.
The sports analogies building up to a literal game of football over who gets control of the nuclear football was an inspired choice and a delightfully absurd sequence that belongs in this show. Having something like this be the climactic action beat of the episode is expected at this point and it’s always incredibly satisfying even though it defies all laws of common sense in order to exist in the first place. This show never fails to entertain.
A good episode that makes great use of Mick’s unorthodox way of doing things, develops the Nate/Zari connection in meaningful ways and continues to exhibit the level of lunacy that makes this show so great. Mick taking charge of the situation is a great opportunity to showcase his unique way of solving problems. On the surface he’s reckless and dangerous but there’s a method to his madness and his determination is his way of showing his affection for Sara as well as the rest of the team. Using this as an opportunity to develop Ava’s relationship with Mick as well as have her learn more about leading this team. Her lesson here is to understand that there are things about the Legends she can’t control and that her instincts need to be ignored at times. In this case leaving Mick to his own devices results in a positive outcome. Dominic Purcell’s performance is excellent with layers added to Mick through how he reacts to setbacks. Facial expressions alone sell his feelings on the escalating situation and offers a strong contrast to his standoffish attitude. Ending the episode with him going on an adventure on the Waverider with Kayla links nicely into the fantasy he presented in his novels and has a lot of potential as does the rest of the team moving in with John and Astra.
The Zari/Nate team-up allows for exploration of Nate dealing with the loss of Zari 1.0. A reminder is provided of how difficult being around her can be due to the obvious resemblance and by the end he understands that they aren’t the same person. The realisation isn’t quite earned and their plot doesn’t entirely support that but the intent is clear and Nick Zano’s performance sells it. There is also a really sweet moment where they come together in acceptance of unavoidable death. Nate becoming one of JFK’s advisors works brilliantly with Nate taking on the role of the angel on his shoulder making sure he always remembers what he thinks is right. His other advisors continue to recommend violent action but Nate reminds him what the more sensible decision would be. Having this culminate in a literal game of football to determine who gains control of the nuclear football is the sort of wonderful lunacy that only this show can provide and it’s great to see. The only real misstep is with Behrad who has no emotional hook in his plot. There is a suggestion of something going on with him that needs to be resolved but his interactions with Castro don’t develop that in any way. They are fairly meaningless interactions that don’t say much about Behrad as a character. They’re entertaining and acted well but superfluous especially when compared to routinely strong character work elsewhere.
- Mick’s unorthodox way of doing things creating momentum
- using his actions to highlight his affection for Sara
- Dominic Purcell’s excellent performance
- Ava continuing to learn that there are things about the Legends she has no control over
- the Nate/Zari team-up resulting in Nate understanding that Zari isn’t the person he lost
- a sweet moment of connection as they face death
- Nate acting as the angel on JFK’s shoulder to remind him of what he knows to be right
- a literal game of football in the Oval Office to decide who controls the nuclear football
- Behrad’s contribution having little weight and not developing him as a character in any way
- Nate’s realisation not being entirely end
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