DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 6 Episode 2
“Meat: The Legends”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow heads back to the 1950s to investigate alien intervention in the birth of fast food.
It remains to be seen whether the shift to aliens as antagonists for this season will end up being a good choice or not but for now the show remains committed to being among the more fun viewing experiences on television. Oddly this episode is probably as close as it gets to being a standard episode of this show with a clue that leads the team to a particular time period where they all have to take on particular roles in order to get to solve the problem and many of them learn an important lesson along the way. Standard doesn’t always mean bad because shows like this live or die on their formula and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow usually manages to play around with that formula in interesting ways.
So far everything on the Waverider is motivated by the search for Sara. Ava is in charge and has committed the entirety of their resources to finding her which means jumping on any lead that points to extra terrestrial interference. It isn’t the first season to start with flimsy excuses to get the team mixed up in a hilarious adventure before transitioning into a connected arc of some kind. The show keeps doing it because it largely works and it keeps some focus on the central objective. In this case it’s about finding Sara and a few dead ends along the way are to be expected.
What makes it interesting is what this tells us about the characters. This show is a large ensemble piece so it’s rare for an episode to be about any one character but a lot of attention is given to Spooner in an effort to define her place on the team. For now her primary motivation is attaining closure and the way she thinks she can do that is by killing as many aliens as possible as revenge for the loss of her mother. This will end up giving way to a healthier coping mechanism as she spends more time with the Legends but for now she is on a killing spree and has no intention of changing her mind on that for now. Naturally this is rooted in loss and fear which is perfectly understandable given what she has been through and how isolated she has been for many years. One of the hallmarks of this show is that the team are a collection of misfits who end up making each other better despite the frequent lunacy they deal with so Spooner is ideally placed for self improvement.
The conversation where Ava convinces her to properly join the team feels well earned because of what it took to get there. Ava begins the episode seeing Spooner are little more than a tool to be exploited in order to get what she wants. As things progress she starts to realise that Spooner has her own baggage that she carried around with her and is dealing with a great deal of pain that she has no healthy outlet for. Every member of the team can understand that and as a leader Ava has to find a way to help people deal with their emotional issues in order for the team to function as effectively as it possibly can. Ava is intelligent but still has a lot to learn about emotional well-being as shown through the way she handles Spooner at first but the realisation that there is a person attached to her unique ability shows important growth for her as a leader. Having her mentor a new member of the team will be a great learning experience for her.
In her own way Ava is also looking for closure in the form of finding Sara. Looking for anything that will point her in the direction of finding Sara is how she can find that closure and her single minded determination is shown to be a weakness on her part that starts to blind her to other issues. It’s a strong character arc and it isn’t resolved entirely in the space of this episode which is certainly noteworthy. Sara’s absence from the team dynamic is unfortunate because it prevents her engaging with them but using it as a growth opportunity for Ava shows a desire to make the best of it. Bringing Sara back also ties into Ava’s desire for stability both within the team and in her own life. Agreeing to marry Sara highlights how much she values that stability in that she wants to make it permanent and her determination is clearly portrayed throughout the episode.
The desire for stability feeds into the plot of the episode particularly through the character of Rhonda (Jennifer Oleksiuk); the wife of the fast food restaurant owner, Burt (Greg Kean). They aren’t featured a great deal but there more than enough information to establish that they are struggling to hold onto their marriage as well as their business. The two pillars of their lives are incompatible and they are being pushed further apart because of the failures to be found in both aspects. Rhonda exploits the alien cocoon to manufacture a secret sauce to put on the burgers that drives customers to rabidly crave the product. It’s insidious and unethical but also perfectly understandable considering the personal stakes that exist for a married couple that also happen to be small business owners. There’s an implied send-up of capitalism, predatory marketing practices and the questionable reputation of fast food in its long history but the episode has no real interest in addressing beyond the surface level suggestion. They’re used as sound bites to capitalise on the viewer’s existing opinions of these things but meaningful commentary isn’t what the episode sets out to do. That isn’t really a problem as it’s very abstract to have secret sauce coming from an alien cocoon to segue into a nuanced exploration of capitalism and the fast food industry.
All it amounts to is marketing leading to consumer greed to the point that they become unthinking ravenous creatures consumed by their desire for the product to the point they’re willing to do anything to get it. In effect it’s an excuse for another zombie story and it’s easily solved by Zari manufacturing an easy fix that restores everyone to normal. It’s very anticlimactic but the intended point is still made and the focus remains on the people involved. Both Rhonda and Burt are destroyed by the choices they made in order to preserve their marriage and business which is almost tragic though it’s somewhat played for laughs. With some work it could have been a cause for concern for Ava as she could potentially see her future in this couple corrupted in the pursuit of success in both business and marriage. Once again it wasn’t what the episode chose to address so it’s not a failing but there was definite potential.
The giant bug alien looked great and was used well even though it was barely used. It was never the real threat as it was being used as a means to an end so arguably didn’t deserve the fate that it ended up getting though it probably represented a threat as its baser instinct was destructive even if it was in the name of survival. It’s definitely a testament to the talents of the production team to design such a visually impressive alien creature that looks like it comes straight out of a B Movie. It’s definitely the vibe the season is committing to and it’s reflected in the design of the aliens.
Behrad and Zari’s contribution to the episode was about learning to share. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is never above a childish subplot and having siblings incapable of sharing is a perfect example of that. Their main issue is around use of the totem. Zari feels some entitlement to use of the Totem because it’s a family heirloom but Behrad is reluctant to share because he feels that the Totem chose him and that Zari is able to contribute to the team in other ways. It plays out as expected with plenty of bickering as Behrad gloats about how great he is working in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant before he comes to understand that Zari has as much right to using the Totem as he does. This plays into the climactic sequence where Zari proves her ability to use it effectively and culminates in a conversation where they both insist that the other use it.
Bizarrely Zari 1.0 hears this from inside the Totem, grows agitated and splits it in two so that they both have access to it. Whether this halves the power of the Totem is as yet unclear but it doesn’t really solve the problem as they still haven’t learned to share. It also raises the question of whether Zari 1.0 is always aware of the outside world. If that’s the case then it could be the roadmap to her returning in some way or perhaps she will have a continued passive presence in the show. Having Zari 1.0 appearing even periodically would be a welcome addition as it allows Tala Ashe the opportunity to showcase her considerable acting talent through playing these very different characters.
Sara and Gary being stuck on an alien plant was definitely the weakest aspect of the episode because the plot itself had very little going on. Encountering the fake Amelia Earhart (Kirsten Robek) wasn’t quite as interesting as it needed to be though the reveal that she is actually an alien worked really well with the eerily repeated dialogue cluing Sara and Gary into something being amiss about her. Adam Tsekhman’s performance continues to impress as a similar yet very different take on Gary. The reveal that he has always been an alien in disguise still doesn’t work for me but the performance is noticeably toned down as if getting to be his true self is a calming influence on him. He’s still recognisably Gary which is as endearing as it always has been but there’s a significant difference in how he conducts himself that changes up his dynamic with Sara in a way that is very refreshing. The adventure they’re having may be failing to pick up steam but there is merit to be found in those scenes. Hopefully this separation plot doesn’t linger for too long as it’s unclear how sustainable the dynamic is long term.
A good episode that offers strong development for Spooner along with important leadership lessons for Ava with the backdrop of the trademark lunacy the show does so well. Ava’s fixation on finding Sara is a reasonable excuse for the team to get involved in various adventures and offers the opportunity for meaningful development. Spooner’s primary motivation is gaining closure through revenge and has resolved to kill as many aliens as she can in pursuit of that goal. This is founded on loss and pain and she has to find her way to a healthier form of closure but that will take time. Ava’s arc is around understanding that Spooner is more than a tool to be exploited for her ability and comes to understand that the emotional well-being of the team is important. Having her mentor the latest recruit will be a great learning experience for her. Ava’s fixation on finding Sara connects to her desire for stability in her life which feeds into the desire for stability that Rhonda and Burt have. Juggling a business and a marriage with neither of them working as well as they need to has taken a toll on them that they are unable to reasonably manage. There is an implied send-up of capitalism, predatory marketing practices and the questionable reputation of fast food throughout history through the secret sauce plot point but it isn’t something the episode is interested in covering which isn’t a flaw as it doesn’t really attempt to do so. All it really does is enables ravenous product consuming zombies which is exactly what the episode set out to do.
The childish subplot around Behrad and Zari learning to share was handled obviously but well enough. Their arguments about the Totem are valid on both sides and the culmination of the plot where Behrad accepts that it also chose her is as expected. The splitting of the Totem was an odd choice as it doesn’t really resolve the argument though having Zari 1.0 appear was a welcome addition that will hopefully lead to more appearances from her in the coming episodes. Sara and Gary’s plot was the weakest part of the episode in terms of the story being told though it does do well with their dynamic. The shift in Gary’s personality following the reveal that he has been an alien all along allows Adam Tsekhman to flex his acting muscles and deliver a similar yet different take on Gary that is interesting to see. The reveal of the fake Amelia Earhart was well done as well but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of mileage in Sara being separated from the team so hopefully it won’t last long.
- setting out Spooner’s arc and her strong contribution to the episode
- Ava learning that part of leadership is being aware of the emotional well-being of the team
- the opportunity mentoring a new recruit brings for Ava to grow
- her desire for stability being shown through her fixation on bringing Sara back
- Rhonda and Burt being motivated by a desire for stability when the two main pillars of their life are incompatible
- the bug alien design
- Zari and Behrad’s engaging childish subplot around learning how to share
- Adam Tsekhman’s similar yet different take on Gary
- the altered Sara/Gary dynamic
- the strong Amelia Earhart reveal
- the Sara/Gary plot being less than interesting
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