DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 5 Episode 12
“Freaks and Greeks”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has the team going back to college because the only way to progress in their quest to rewrite fate is to navigate the Greek system.
I’m from Scotland so the Fraternity/Sorority system is all Greek to me -pun intended- which means that I find it difficult to connect to stories that involve them because it’s nothing like anything I ever experienced in my university days. Most of what I’ve seen parodies the idea in some way so I can never comment on whether this show portrayed it fairly or not. I can comment on whether it worked in terms of what this episode was trying to accomplish and I think it does this fairly well.
By now we all know the drill when it comes to this show. Most episodes involve the team splitting up into different configurations, getting involved in zany antics while some of them end up learning something profound from the experience. In this case the focus is largely on Astra who still resists the notion of working with the Legends. She sees her alliance with them as a temporary necessity in order to get what she wants before she forgets she ever knew them. As the episode begins she’s angry and impatient with her go to solution to any setback being violence or murder. It’s played for laughs as most things are though it’s jarring to see how casually the team reacts to her suggestions. Zari is the only one who expresses any frustration towards Astra which does provoke a few laughs especially when she whispers “she’s exhausting”. It’s a good summary of how repetitive Astra’s violent tendencies are. The point is that she has been conditioned by Hell to react this way and doesn’t see how things can be resolved differently. Her learning curve over the episode is about understanding that there are other ways to do things and that she can rely on others.
The mistake made by members of the team like Zari or Ava is that they unconsciously assume the worst of Astra and casually condemn her behaviour which leaves her feeling ostracised as anything she says is automatically dismissed without much follow-up In fairness she has tried to have them killed several times, constantly talks about leaving them behind once she gets what she wants and even makes reference to killing them in this very episode so it’s not all that conducive to encouraging them to include her. Her behaviour is understandable to some extent because she has never known what it’s like to be part of a team due to being raised in Hell so has no baseline to draw from that can help her fit in. The only one to understand that and react accordingly is Charlie; she was in Astra’s place not so long ago as a former antagonist looking for a place to belong and having to figure out how to do that. She gives Astra the usual speech about relying on others and being a part of a group with the assurance that no matter what, the Legends has a place for her. It’s what Astra needs to here because she hasn’t had any reason to feel like she belongs before this point which is a big part of the reason she acts out the way she does.
Charlie supports Astra by suggesting that the team listen to her suggestion when they need to lure people to a party. Astra modifies her tactics to be less violent or lethal while still being on the theme of sabotage so that shows she has learned something and is able to be flexible. It’s the first sign that she could be a Legend and that she is able to bring a unique spin to their crazy plans. It’s a strong arc for Astra that could have had a little more consistent development throughout the episode. Her violent suggestions became a bit repetitive after a while and the fact she was feeling excluded only became apparent shortly before it was resolved so it does feel abrupt. It was still well handled and Olivia Swann did a great job adding extra layers to Astra especially when she put on the “Sorority Girl” persona in the first attempt at the plan.
One character that could have used a lot more work in this episode was Nate. I’m unclear on whether the point of his role in the episode was that he resents the fact that he’s getting older and is desperate to hold onto his youth and relevance or if he’s in need of another “bro” connection now that Ray and Behrad are no longer around. Either way it translates to him being brainwashed and looking like that sad older man who still thinks he can keep up with the kids. There are some strange decisions such as him being called “Pops” and tossed a beer randomly so that he can prove how youthful he is by drinking it quickly. This show isn’t known for its realism but that stands out as something that most definitely wouldn’t happen on a college campus in that setting. Nick Zano fully commits to everything he has to do in this episode but it just looks a bit sad when Nate is constantly trying to act “cool” and it’s very questionable to have his mind altered by a magic drink even if it doesn’t have an extreme or long term impact.
There was a missed opportunity to further explore the idea of outsiders finding a place in the three girls that were selected to join the Sorority that the Legends had to form. Silvia (Brianna Skye), Inez (Jennifer Tong) and Lisa (Jade Falcon) all have trouble being accepted for different reasons so are in keeping with the ongoing theme this show has about misfits finding a family and a sense of place. It’s good on paper but in practice they were background characters with one defined personality trait to help them be distinguished from the other two. It’s a lot of fun to see Zari lead the charge on shaping a Sorority and the team promotes a healthy message about inclusive sisterhood that is really positive but they’re not characters and are never given the opportunity to become anything more than what they are supposed to represent. This show has a large cast so I can understand the difficulty in making sure that guest characters have enough time to develop especially when there are ongoing arcs for the main characters to service but it’s still disappointing to have such obvious potential go unused. It’s possible they could return with their Legends inspired Sorority which wouldn’t be a bad decision.
This episode stands out in that it doesn’t have an antagonist in the traditional sense. Dionysus (Drew Ray Tanner) or Dion has to be beaten but there’s nothing evil or malicious about him. He is motivated by wanting to preserve the status quo through maintaining free will and making sure that his endless party lifestyle never stops. In the advent of free will he chose to set up shop at a college, be worshipped as a party animal and is fully content with that immortal life. He knows and trusts Charlie but is initially reluctant to give her and the Legends what they want because there is the potential to lose a lot. It’s odd that he uses mind altering IPA to encourage people to follow him given his stance on free will but that could be read as geared towards releasing inhibitions that get in the way of people having fun. Dion is a fun presence and allows for all sorts of shenanigans to play out. The climactic sequence involving a blind Sara using her newfound prediction power to beat him at Beer Pong is nothing short of inspired and Dion’s generally positive attitude is infectious. It’s also worth noting that he has a very inclusive attitude to his partying which is nice to see especially when other depictions of the Greek system can often be portrayed as elitist.
The emotional core of the episode is once again Mick and Lita who are starting to get into a rhythm as father and daughter now. Lita’s desire to go to college factors into this plot naturally and a tour adds to her insecurities because she is faced with privileged people with a far greater chance of acceptance than she is. It doesn’t go into it in great detail but it’s basically a “plight of the working class” type story where those of means are treated better in society than those of lesser means. Not much is known about Lita’s home life but the suggestion is that her mother struggled when raising her. She mentions that she can’t afford to go to this college which gives the biggest clue as to her financial position. Mick feels insecure because of what he hasn’t been able to offer her so tries to make up for that by helping her get into college. This includes allowing people to believe that Nate’s her father rather than him and going back in time to donate so that a building is named after him. His approach is aimless but it’s the only way he knows how to process what it is he’s dealing with and what’s important is that he has a genuine desire to have a meaningful connection with Lita.
Once again their problem is communication and Mick does a lot better when he actually takes the time to listen to her. When he does he finds out that she’s a very solitary individual who clawed her way through high school because of the promise that she could one day escape and find people who understand her. Mick spent most of his life as a societal outcast so can relate to her on that level. By the end of the episode they have reached a greater understanding and Lita is definitely more comfortable around him. Her declaration “best father/daughter weekend ever” feels earned. A gap year as a Legend before college for Lita perhaps? I’d welcome that!
A fun episode that uses Astra really well, has plenty of laughs and manages to seamlessly include a heartfelt father/daughter story. Astra’s learning curve leading her towards accepting relying on others and being part of a team works really well especially with Charlie offering the benefit of her experience of being a former antagonist who struggled to fit into the team dynamic was an appropriate touch because her advice was more meaningful. When she assures Astra that there is a place for her among the Legends no matter what it’s more meaningful because she has been there. Charlie also recognises that Astra’s suggestions are dismissed and asks for her take at a key moment which encourages Astra to adjust her approach. Astra’s development wasn’t as consistent as it should have been but it still worked well enough. Nate is a character who needed work as it’s not clear what the purpose behind his behaviour in this episode was. There are a couple of options but it’s not clear and handled poorly. The fact that his mind is altered is also very questionable even if Nick Zano fully commits to the craziness.
There was a missed opportunity to further explore the ideas of outsiders finding acceptance through the Sorority recruits. They all have trouble being accepted for different reasons and find a sense of belonging in the Sorority set up by the team. The episode promotes positive Sisterhood messages and the fact that they choose to continue the Sorority is a good thing but they are only defined by one trait and occupy the background which is a pity. The episode stands out by not having a traditional antagonist. Dionysis or Dion is a fun presence that fits in well and offers an obstacle to be overcome. His commitment to free will isn’t as strongly portrayed as it could be but the climactic sequence being a Beer Pong match between Dion and Sara is inspired especially with it being the first proper test of her new ability. The emotional core of the episode is Mick and Lita. Their connection is consistently great and the continued issues they have relating to one another make for compelling viewing. By the time Lita says “best father/daughter weekend ever” it feels earned and their emotionally driven plot fits into the episode seamlessly.
- Astra developing towards accepting the team and different ways to do anything
- Charlie being the best choice to help Astra through her arc
- an inclusive approach to exploring the Greek system
- Dion as a fun presence
- the climactic sequence being a Beer Pong match between Sara and Dion
- Mick and Lita continuing to develop their connection
- failing to address that Dion actually removes free will
- Astra’s develop not being as consistent as it should be
- a missed opportunity to characterise the Sorority recruits
- Nate’s odd behaviour
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