DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 6 Episode 12
“Bored On Board Onboard”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow provides some downtime for the team in the form of a game that quickly turns deadly as the ship is infiltrated by an old friend.
The previous episode featured a high stakes game of bowling and now this entry features a high stakes game of Cluedo for the team to participate in. Despite the high stakes of the bowling tournament it was an overall light hearted outing where the Cluedo inspired adventure is a lot darker and more intense. It’s yet another testament to the skill of the production team and actors on this show to juggle tones while they still feel a natural part of the same show.
There are a couple of reasons for the game taking place. The in continuity justification is that the Waverider has a three week journey back to Earth since the jump drive has been damaged and the team are getting on each other’s nerves so Sara suggests playing a game to bring the team together as well as pass the time. Exploring John’s addiction and the impact that has on him as well as those around him is the real reason for playing the game and forms the main hook for the episode.
The in continuity reason works really well because it draws on the existing character relationships. It’s well established that the Legends are a family so a lot of time in episodes is spent showcasing how dysfunctional they can be. Trapping them in a confined space for a long period of time to increase tension is something this show has done repeatedly though it never comes across as repetitive because there is always a fresh angle to explore with different configurations of characters. It’s entirely natural that a group of passionate individuals would get on each other’s nerves if they were stuck together and the show always has fun with that idea when it goes to that well.
Some of the reactions are as expected such as Mick retreating into solitude so he doesn’t have to deal with anyone else but there’s some fascinating new material here. Sara and Ava butting heads over their wedding plans with Ava asking Sara to justify her side of the guest list is endlessly entertaining. It also features some Arrowverse name-dropping that makes sense in context because of Sara’s connection to the people being mentioned so it’s a natural use of a shared universe rather than referencing other characters clumsily. One of the interesting aspects of Ava and Sara’s relationship is that their personalities clash on occasion. Ava’s detail oriented personality is well suited to the extensive work she has put into planning the wedding where Sara’s more laid back attitude points to her being more casual about it. Both are equally passionate about getting married but Ava’s personality means that she expresses that excitement through planning where Sara expresses it by simply waiting for the event to take place. This clash in styles leads to disagreements that are very entertaining to watch and feel very real.
The rest of the team wind each other up in various ways though it’s John’s behaviour that is the catalyst for a lot of it. This is most clearly shown when he ruins Behrad’s yoga session and causes tensions to come to a head. It expands on Behrad noticing that John is behaving differently following his return from the fountain by having him become concerned. John is succumbing to his addiction by behaving in unstable ways which is now at the point it has become noticeable. Zari has been absent for a while and Behrad has had the most direct interaction with him so he is at the point of noticing that there is something different about him. Much of this is dismissed by the others as a consequence of being cooped up together but Behrad is recognising that there is something deeper going on and becomes deeply concerned for Zari.
Matt Ryan is predictably excellent in playing John as an addict. His performance is filled with so much unchecked energy and every line delivered is unsettling without being overt so that the change isn’t immediately noticeable to everyone around him particularly when their attention is diverted in various directions. Prior to trapping them inside the game John’s behaviour wasn’t concerning enough to raise major red flags but it’s starting to reach that point as the episode ends though there are other issues to worry about on top of that.
The idea of passing the time with a board game starts off innocently enough until John decides to spice it up by casting a spell that brings it to life for them. It’s a fairly standard murder mystery setup with those involved taking on roles within the game that match up to their personalities; something that is directly addressed by both Spooner and Astra who comment that they haven’t noticed any difference. Zari does comment that she feels more dramatic than she usually does so the basic idea is for the characters to become inflated versions of themselves. This doesn’t actually come across despite drawing attention to it which is unfortunate as there was potential to have a lot of fun with it. Characters like Nate and Behrad are completely unchanged with no real definition to their in game characters beyond lines of dialogue describing them so the idea of taking on roles within a board game is very much a missed opportunity.
It’s all in service of drawing attention to John’s addiction and forcing him to face up to it. The premise of the game is to find out who the “Beast” is before he or she can kill everyone else so some time is taken to address that it could be anyone with people being eliminated as they’re killed. It was never in doubt that John would turn out to be the beast but the point of the game is for him to discover that his addiction is damaging to those around him. He is confronted with his dark side and it points out uncomfortable things he attributes to himself such as being responsible for the death and suffering of those around him. John’s self loathing has been covered in detail before and the magic potion he has become dependent on will be amplifying that so there is a lot for him to deal with. Zari is the one to stab the darker side of him and end the game which points to her potentially being the one who can save him from himself. Their relationship could be a positive influence in his life that ends up saving him but there is still a long way to go before that can happen. John ends the episode shaken by the experience though that doesn’t necessarily constitute a wakeup call for him.
Zari’s investment in their relationship has intensified to the point where she has fallen in love with him. She admits to Behrad that he makes her happy because she can be herself around him and that she has never never felt that way about anyone before. It’s not something she feels comfortable telling him yet because being vulnerable with someone else is difficult for her but her feelings are real and she’s questioning whether their relationship is a doomed one because of the sort of person John is. Behrad supports her but also advises caution because he has recognised that there’s something off about him. A lot remains hanging in the air where John and Zari are concerned but it remains interesting because of their issues in being real with other people.
Another mystery is afoot on the Waverider when Kayla returns. The promise of the Kayla/Mick relationship has always been more interesting than what was actually delivered on screen. Their adventures were skipped as was the growth of their attraction so we as viewers are left taking the word of the characters that they have grown closer. The actors completely sell it but there’s a lot that hasn’t been shown and that becomes apparent whenever a plot relies on their connection to one another. In this case Kayla’s betrayal is supposed to be a major shock because it’s unthinkable that Kayla would betray Mick and work with Bishop but it doesn’t land because the groundwork isn’t in place to allow it to do so.
Mick is forced to revisit the pain associated with his decision to leave her behind when Kayla calls him out on it and resents him for what he did. It is something that Mick has been torturing himself over since it happened and now he finally has the chance to apologise for it but Kayla is at the point where an apology isn’t going to be enough considering the situation he left her in. All of this works well because the actors do an excellent job performing that friction. It informs Kayla’s betrayal being motivated by bitterness. Cutting to Gary looking obviously suspicious as Kayla tells her story is a really nice touch.
There is a lot of ground to cover in the Mick/Kayla relationship especially around how she reacts to his pregnancy. She attacked him after finding out as was foreshadowed by Gary but that doesn’t make for an actual reaction. It’s clear that there will be coverage of the implications of this for both of them in some way and that it’ll feed into Bishop’s return. As I’ve said it would be stronger if there was a better grounding for their connection though there is still time for the pregnancy plot to become meaningful.
A good episode that finds a creative way to address John’s addiction while reinforcing the dysfunctional familial dynamic that the team enjoys. John’s addiction is reaching the point that it is impacting those around them but most of the team are absorbed in other concerns that they haven’t noticed his concerning behaviour. Behrad has noticed that John is acting differently and is concerned for Zari because of her relationship with him. The point of the Cluedo inspired game is for John to address his darker side and face up to having a problem. This makes the identity of the “Beast” very predictable and the game itself feel like something of an afterthought. There is mention of personality traits being altered by the characters assigned within it but it doesn’t come across as clearly as it needs to nor is anything done with it. John facing his darker side who repeats back to him negative things he associated with himself is done really well and Zari being the one to stab the darker John suggests that their relationship might position her as the one to save him from himself. Added to that is Zari admitting that she’s in love with him but being uncertain about how to process those feelings as she has never had them before which combines with concerns over their relationship being doomed because of the way John is.. She talks about how he makes her happy because she can be herself around him but still can’t bring herself to tell him. By the end of the episode there’s the suggestion of a wakeup call on John’s part that might not pan out and Zari trying to figure out what to do with her feelings for him so there is a long way for them to go.
Kayla’s return and subsequent betrayal relies on investment in her relationship with Mick to land in the way that the episode needs it to. Unfortunately the groundwork isn’t in place for this to work despite the actors doing great work in putting it across. Enough is done to firmly establish that Kayla’s betrayal is motivated by bitterness. The tension associated with Mick’s decision to leave her behind comes across clearly and forms a strong basis for her betrayal. Kayla’s reaction to Mick’s pregnancy is left largely untouched though will clearly become important in the coming episodes and will tie into Bishop’s return in some way.
- reinforcing the family dynamic with the team getting on each other’s nerves when cooped up together
- Matt Ryan’s excellent portrayal of John descending into his addiction
- using the game as a way for John to confront his darker side
- the suggestion that Zari could be the one to save him from himself
- Zari struggling with the intensity of her feelings for John
- a strong basis for Kayla’s betrayal
- the game mostly feeling like an afterthought
- the amplified personality traits not coming across
- the Mick/Kayla plot suffering from the lack of groundwork
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