DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 6 Episode 13
“Silence of the Sonograms”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow brings Bishop back into the mix as he preys on the issues and insecurities within the team in service of his own plan.
Around the time of The Dark Knight coming out there was a trope in genre entertainment where the villain would allow themselves to be caught as part of their grand plan. It happened in The Dark Knight, The Avengers, Skyfall and many others. It was a narrative trick to show that the villain was completely in control of the situation to the point that being captured was something they could turn to their advantage. It has fallen out of favour since then which means it’s less played out when something does deploy it but the proliferation of that plot does mean that any use of it makes the story being told predictable.
Predictable doesn’t mean bad as how the story is told can still be engaging. In the case of Bishop he has a built in connection with Sara and Ava that can be used and it’s unclear how he’ll go about carrying out his master plan so there remains a lot of potential even when considering how poorly served Bishop was earlier in the season. As a central antagonist he didn’t make much of an impact so it’s odd that he is even back at all. Everything appeared to be resolved where he was concerned so a return wasn’t necessary.
This episode amounts to the best use of him since his introduction. A few changes are made that made him more significant as a threat. One of which is that he is the last iteration of Bishop which removes his invincibility. Even though that doesn’t affect his personality at this stage there is the potential for him to face his own mortality possibly at a moment he realises he can’t behave as recklessly as he once did. That doesn’t happen here but it’s a natural development that will surely come over the remaining episodes. Bishop is the one to bring it up which is interesting in itself as he is volunteering that information when it would be better to keep it to himself. If the Legends wanted rid of him then they could simply kill him and Bishop wouldn’t be a problem for them any more. As a group they aren’t that bloodthirsty but Bishop should understand that it’s a possibility.
Another side of it is that volunteering that information may mean that the Legends won’t kill him as if he was floating around in cloud storage then killing him means he won’t be on the ship any more and they don’t have his death on their conscience. Playing on their morality means that they will keep him around so he can manipulate them so volunteering the information is actually a very smart move on his part.
Bishop spends most of the episode interacting with Ava and knows exactly what buttons to push to make her lower her guard. He preys on her insecurities about being a clone who has false memories of being raised by a family as well as her anxiety over planning the wedding. He mentions that Ava’s are programmed to not form strong attachments in the way that she has which explains her inability to make concrete decisions. Ava’s doubts over her own identity and individuality have been a consistent throughline since the truth about her was revealed and this is a natural extension of that. It’s difficult for her to hear that there’s inbuilt programming that works to prevent her from making her own decisions. No matter how far she has come there’s a continual internal struggle that will always impact her one way or another.
This is something that Bishop can easily exploit which might seem like an obvious tactic on his part but Ava being distracted by that is entirely understandable especially when considering the work put in to justify it. Sara trusting Ava to handle the situation even when she recognises that Bishop is doing also makes sense as she has absolute faith in Ava to not fall for any tricks he might have up his sleeve. It could be seen as a weakness on Sara’s part as she doesn’t see Ava as a clone so doesn’t consider that programming exists within her that she may struggle with. This means she doesn’t consider the possibility that Ava could be manipulated and assumes any signs pointing towards that are Ava manipulating him. The use of the chess game to illustrate that Sara assumes Ava is playing a long game with Bishop is obvious yet effective while highlighting that Sara is blinded to the reality of the situation by her connection to Ava. It’s really strong and compelling character work that shows their relationship is a strength as a well as a weakness for both of them.
Naturally it ends up being revealed that Ava has played right into Bishop’s hands. The reveal is really well done with the wedding details matching what Sara would want exactly. At first it seems innocent with Ava listing what she has decided and Sara approving with the side mention that Bishop came up with the suggestions. It quickly turns sinister when Gideon states that part of Bishop’s genetic makeup is Sara which gives him access to all of her knowledge and skills. This allows him to manipulate Ava as well as get around the security on the ship so that he can roam freely. It was a strong twist that was dropped at just the right time and adds weight to everything he does up until that point with the clarity as to how he was able to do it.
Another point of manipulation was Ava’s insecurity about her lack of upbringing. Bishop tries to position himself as a father figure since he did create her. He offers her a father/daughter wedding dance and generally labours the idea of him being her father up until the point that she starts to accept it. It changes their dynamic as it stops being an interrogation that Ava is conducting and starts to be a quest for approval along with making up for lost time in regards to forming a parental relationship. Bishop certainly seems sincere when working to win her affection and it’s very possible that he is but he also has plans of his own that take priority.
Surprisingly there’s still no mention of the metaphysical details associated with Bishop’s cloning process. The idea of him facing his mortality is in the background to be picked up later but it’s still unclear if he is the same soul reborn in different bodies or if he’s a copy with a brand new soul. The latter would mean that every prior iteration of Bishop was a unique individual that is lost forever. The same would apply to the original Sara who has been murdered and replaced by an exact duplicate if the soul isn’t the same one. John and Astra’s presence on the show lends itself to those ideas being explored so the lack of it even being mentioned stands out massively.
Bishop’s objective is actually a fairly simple one. All he wants is to get a hold of an earpiece to offer John the opportunity to get his magic back. It’s unknown whether that was always the plan or something he took advantage of once he understood the status of those around him. It’s likely it was something he came up with on the fly as he mentions not knowing that Mick was pregnant and it not occurring to him that mixing Alien and Human DNA the old fashioned way might work. It’s likely this was something he felt he could take advantage of after assessing the situation and he forms a plan on that basis.
Getting Mick’s earpiece involves inducing labour and being the only one around who can help him through it. Garry is on hand for advice, moral support and to gush over being named Godfather to Mick’s brood of baby Alien/Human hybrids but he’s ill equipped to deal with a Human birthing them. Bishop steps in and successfully delivers them while making off with the earpiece. It’s a very involved plan to simply gain possession of a communications device but is very in keeping with Bishop’s over the top nature. There isn’t much time to explore the fuller implications of Mick giving birth but his brief moment of doubt worrying that he wouldn’t be able to handle so many children was a really nice touch that highlights Mick’s well hidden compassionate streak.
John’s addiction remains a really fascinating story. The continuation of him being plagued by his dark side is brilliantly done and Matt Ryan excels in both roles. His performance as John consumed by addiction and unable to function is chilling. He comes across as really strung out and uncharacteristically vulnerable throughout the episode with no control over himself or his actions. He is very much at rock bottom and has come to realise this but is also unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Zari feeding into this plot by noticing how much he’s struggling and recognising that there’s more to it than being shaken by the game he concocted. John tries to dismiss it as a normal reaction to drinking from the fountain and just needing to find a different balance that suits his new powers but Zari knows a lie when she sees one and decides to do her own investigation that quickly leads to the truth about Spooner’s erased memory and confirmation from Astra that that the magical drug he’s using is dangerous.
She approaches dealing with it from a place of concern and tries to be the supportive partner who helps him through it rather than giving him a hard time for his lack of honesty. It’s a great approach because it shows Zari understands that John has been battling his inner demons and that his behaviour will largely be informed by that. She also understands that he has difficulty opening up to others as that’s something she also has trouble with so rather than getting angry at him she wants to help him. Among other things she stages an intervention which seems to go well as John understands what stage he’s at and is able to embrace the offer of help. Being beaten up and verbally abused by his dark side seems to be a powerful motivator. It’s something a comic book adaptation can make great use of and it makes for a very obvious yet incredibly effective addiction metaphor and prompts the sort of wakeup call that John needs. Zari’s ultimatum where she tells him he can choose her or the drug and he chooses her was a well earned moment especially after all the discussions about what defines their relationship.
All of this is really refreshing as Arrowverse shows have a tendency to manufacture drama through secrecy and characters refusing to discuss the issues that exist between them. This often drags on for many episodes when it could have been resolved quickly to leave space for further development. Mercifully this doesn’t happen here as Zari and John talk about his behaviour, she is clear on how and why it hurts her and he resolves in the moment to do better. It’s a strong discussion between two adults while still leaving room for the situation to rear its head in a different way. This is far more compelling than secrets being kept and tension existing because of how that secret ends up being revealed.
John’s fragile hold on his sobriety is easily exploited by Bishop even though he doesn’t directly manipulate John into relapsing it does factor into his darker side gaining the upper hand and encouraging him to turn back to the magical drug. The beating his dark side gives him is really brutal and it highlights how close to the edge John was despite Zari’s support. It’s truly tragic to watch him succumb to his inner demons and sets up the problem he has now become wonderfully.
A strong episode that makes good use of the trope of a villain planning to be captured while offering a tragic exploration of addiction through John. Bishop taking control of the situation as he is held captive is very believable because of the connections he has to the character. He manipulates Ava through her programming forcing her to be indecisive about planning the wedding. He preys on this through the pretense of helping her before revealing that having Sara as part of his genetic makeup allowed him to engineer wedding plans that Sara would like. Sara’s absolute faith in Ava ends up being an exploitable weakness because she doesn’t consider Ava to be a clone that has been programmed. It’s a great use of their relationship and one of Ava’s insecurities. Another thing Bishop can exploit is Ava’s desire for a familial connection. He does this by positioning herself as a father figure which flips their interaction from Ava interrogating him as a prisoner to a daughter seeking fatherly approval. It’s nicely done and all makes sense. Bishop’s elaborate plan to steal an earpiece is in keeping with his character while also feeding into the Mick plot naturally. There isn’t much coverage of his reaction to being in labour but him naming Garry Godfather and worrying about handling so many children were both nice touches.
John’s addiction is brilliantly handled. Matt Ryan’s performance as both John and his darker side is excellent. John is very much at rock bottom and uncharacteristically vulnerable as a result. His inability to function and having no control over his actions comes across well. Zari’s contribution to this plot is excellent because it explores their relationship and what makes it work. The intervention she stages and the associated ultimatum was well earned following those discussions. It’s refreshing to see issues confronted directly rather than being dragged out to manufacture drama. There’s still room for the situation to rear its head in a different way but for now it was a frank discussion about the impact John’s behaviour has on her followed by a promise to change it. John’s fragile hold on his sobriety is easily exploited by Bishop and the beating given to him by his darker side is incredibly brutal. The episode ends with John becoming a problem which sets things up for the coming episodes wonderfully.
- Bishop preying on Ava’s insecurities
- Ava’s inability to make wedding planning decisions being a function of her programming
- Sara’s absolute faith in Ava translating to a weakness
- the twist that BIshop has all of Sara’s knowledge and how he uses it
- Matt Ryan’s excellent performance
- his darker side providing a compelling metaphor for addiction
- Zari and John confronting the addiction in a mature way that furthers their relationship
- the brutality of John being beaten by his darker side
- limited coverage of the implications of Mick’s pregnancy
- still not addressing the issue of the soul in regards to cloning
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