DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 6 Episode 8

Jun 28, 2021 | Posted by in TV

“Stressed Western”

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes a trip to the Wild West to ease Sara back into Legends business as animosities among the team start to come to a head.

You could be forgiven for thinking this is an episode where very little happens because in many ways it is. There’s no sense of an ongoing season arc, it’s a fairly standard Legends mission in terms of setup and no deeper revelations about external problems are to be found in the plot. On the other hand a lot happens where it counts; with the characters.


Time to readjust

A period of adjustment is needed for the team following the intensity of the previous seven episodes. Sara has returned to the Waverider and is a lot different to how she was before, relationships are changing, Spooner is finding her place on the team, John is without magic, Astra is learning magic and everyone is still acclimating to dealing with aliens rather than the magical threats they have become used to. The basic structure of the team -and the show- remains the same but a lot has changed and as people they need time to adjust.

The episode chooses to make Sara the central figure to explore that adjustment in the early part of the episode. Ava is working to find the best way to ease her back into life on the Waverider as well as rekindle the absent passion due to her not being around. She starts with breakfast in bed, catching her up on the gossip she missed and quickly getting to the rekindling of passion. Sara almost immediately admits that she’s a Human/Alien hybrid clone to get that out of the way and asks that she keep it to herself for now so that she can experience some normality within the team. Other Arrowverse shows frustratingly go back to the well of characters hiding information in order to manufacture drama but in this case it makes sense because the name of the game is adjustment. Sara needs to adjust to her new normal and that means she wants to ease into it becoming common knowledge. Telling Ava is something she prioritises because they’re engaged and blurting it out is a brilliantly natural way to impart the information without the tedious delay associated with waiting for the right time. Sara is honest with Ava and that further highlights how strong their relationship is. She also intends to tell the rest of the team but that is something she needs to work up to.

An alien in the Wild West is the prompt for their mission and the team go for the well trodden tactic of pairing off to figure out what’s going on. Of course they largely stumble into the answer while they get distracted by the usual lunacy as would be expected. There’s comedy to be found in how wholesome this legendarily brutal town is with a selection of rules on the wall forbidding Wild West mainstays like gambling, fornicating and spitting. The bar serves milkshakes and root bear and everyone is eerily pleasant which immediately raises red flags. It’s handled with the usual Legends touch of being just the right level of ridiculous that still allows for tension to break in while having plenty of fun with the setup.


Zari knows best…says Zari

The main pairings are Astra/Spooner, Sara/Ava, John/Gary and Zari/Behrad with poor Nate left on the sidelines like an unappreciated babysitter. Astra and Spooner’s dynamic is notable particularly with this being the first opportunity to see them work together in such a way. They irritate one another immensely but end up having a lot to teach each other. Astra learns to pay more attention to the world around her and be patient when it comes to trying to make things happen where Spooner learns to embrace the things about her that she fears. Arguably she learned that in the previous episode but such profound trepidation is rightly not tempered by a single life lesson. She doesn’t understand her powers and isn’t clear on what she’s capable of so is understandably afraid of it. Astra encourages her to take ownership of that and use it to her advantage which Spooner does in theory though the episode doesn’t make it as profound as it needs to be as it lacks a proper connection to the alien plot.

Zari and Behrad’s pairing is a brilliantly executed sibling argument around Behrad’s love life. It works so well because it’s so believable with Zari coming from the perspective of believing herself to be the enlightened sibling that has mastered a functional relationship where Behrad is stuck in an unfulfilling repetitive cycle of always going after unattainable bad girls. This comes after she notices some flirtatious banter between Behrad and Astra which fills her with sisterly concern. When Behrad is less than receptive to her unwanted pushy advice they both resort to childish bickering particularly when she considers her point proven after the woman he set his sights on to prove her wrong turns out to be a villain.

Irma may be a means to an end but AnnaLynne McCord plays that “bad girl pretending to be good” affect to perfection. It’s a small but memorable role. There is no resolution to this sibling squabble beyond something of an understanding that Zari attempting to control Behrad’s life will be met with hostility and Behrad’s realisation that she may be onto something. Both were already keenly aware of these things anyway but irrational sibling arguments take very little to trigger so they will end up back at square one.


Where is the gold coming from again?

The Sara/Ava pairing focuses on Sara trying to get back to normal while failing to understand that what previously passes for normality no longer can. She thinks donning a Stetson and getting into a Wild West duel is the best way to find her time legs again but all it does is confirm to her that things are different. Being shot through the head and surviving is a major indicator that things have changed though she does come to immediately embrace that this is who she is now. So far she appears to be happy enough to accept this new normal even though she has concerns about the depths of her new abilities along with her lack of understanding of exactly what she is now made of. Ava is more concerned with Sara’s craving for cherries being a recurring detail that she feels may have a deeper meaning. They end the episode agreeing to accept their new normal because normality has never been something they could associate with themselves anyway so it makes sense to embrace it. Their reignited passion suggest that they are on strong footing for now.

John and Gary spend most of their time talking about a magical fountain that John believes can restore his magic. Gary lies to him about the existence of the fountain at first until John prods him and learns that it does exist but he doesn’t know where it is. It’s a fairly uninteresting plot detail but the exploration of the engaging friendship that exists between these characters framed through John’s frustration at Gary’s dishonesty works brilliantly. He’s bitter that Gary lied to him about being an alien and dislikes that he lies to him about the fountain. John would never say it out loud but there’s a strong indication that he valued his friendship with Gary and feels betrayed that he was lied to all this time. It’s a rare display of vulnerability from John and it’s good to see on the rare occasions he allows himself to reach that point.

Nate is sidelined and his feelings around that are connected to the alien worm, The worm is attracted to anger which exists in abundance within the team as the resentments come to a head over the course of this mission. Nate is the one tasked with keeping everyone calm and he reaches a point where he’s sick of it. I’m very outspoken on my struggles to engage with Nate as a character but I found myself relating to him in a big way. He’s in an outsider position where he witnesses the rest of the team forming relationships, getting engaged, forming close dynamics and generally moving on with their lives where he has come to define himself by what he has lost. Over the past couple of seasons he lost his father after finally finding common ground with him, he lost Zari 1.0 in favour of Zari 2.0 who exists outwith the Totem and lost Ray who left the team to be with his wife.


He looks familiar

He looks at the rest of the team and feels that he’s alone where they all have someone or something to focus on. It’s a really tragic character beat and his outburst is completely understandable as everyone else is so concerned with their own issues that they’ve largely failed to notice what he might be going through. There is a resolution to this with Behrad recognising that he need to be a better friend and allowing him to visit Zari 1.0 in the Totem but there’s a deep loneliness to Nate that is coming to a head and that’s a fascinatingly relatable development for him. His outburst does go a long way towards saving the team by his intense anger drawing the worm to him and distracting it long enough for Astra to work her magic so he proves his value even if he feels marginalised.

The episode contained a significant missed opportunity through the use of Bass Reeves (David Ramsey); a character who should have more significance but oddly doesn’t. His resemblance to Arrow alum John Diggle is briefly commented on by Sara but it never comes to anything and he doesn’t play a major role in the plot. If the character were cut then there would be almost no difference to how things played out though David Ramsey’s performance in his brief appearance was excellent and very different to the typically stoic John Diggle. It’s unfortunate that more time wasn’t taken to have fun with this character.


Remain calm!


An engaging character driven episode that focuses on the need to adjust and heightened tensions coming to a head among the team. Sara adjusting to being back among the Legends through regaining her time legs by going on a standard mission is a reasonable setup that allows her to work on adjusting to her new normal with a Wild West visit. Ava tries to help her settle back into the Waverider by bringing her breakfast in bed, team gossip and an attempted rekindling of passion. Sara blurts out her big secret in a way that is entirely natural and highlights the strength of their relationship. It’s also natural to want to keep it a secret from the team for now as she tries to adjust to it herself rather than being a forced way to manufacture drama. The team pairs off to investigate the source of the alien alert while exploring their dynamics. Astra and Spooner are an engaging pairing with Astra encouraging Spooner to embrace her power rather than fear it with Spooner encouraging Astra to consider her next move more carefully. It doesn’t culminate in the way it needs to but it’s engaging all the same. Zari and Behrad’s sibling bickering is brilliantly done and very real. It is resolved though it’s very clear they were both keenly aware of the lesson they supposedly learn that will often be forgotten due to sibling rivalry. Sara tries to act as normal while Ava worries about her and her cherry addition. It becomes clear that what once passed for normal is no longer possible when Sara heals from a fatal gun shot. Ultimately they decide to embrace the new normal and passion is rekindled. John and Gary’s conflict over the fountain that can restore John’s magic prompts John to be vulnerable around feeling betrayed by Gary lying to him all this time. It’s great to see John allow himself that vulnerability.

Nate on the sidelines finally snapping because he feels so left out of the relationships and other life events happening around him. It’s a highly relatable position where Nate feels left out and ignored as everyone around them moves on with their lives. Meanwhile he’s dealing with a lot of loss over a short period of time and isn’t getting the support he needs. He feels taken for granted and finally lets the team know about it. This is a strong showing for Nate that plays into the alien plot nicely. There is a resolution of sorts where Behard recognises the need to be a better friend to Nate but it’s clear a great deal remains unresolved for him. It’s a tragic character beat that is handled really well. David Ramsey’s Bass Reeves is a massive missed opportunity. If he were removed from the episode very little would change and his resemblance to John Diggle is barely referenced. David Ramsey’s performance is excellent but the character is largely superfluous.

  • 8/10
    Stressed Western - 8/10


Kneel Before…

  • focusing on taking the appropriate amount of time to adjust to the new normal
  • Sara’s desire to return to normality being slowly proven to be impossible
  • Ava’s concerns about Sara and her realisation of how different she is culminating in acceptance of this new normal
  • the perfectly played Zari/Behrad sibling squabble
  • Astra and Spooner’s engaging dynamic
  • John becoming his version of vulnerable due to feeling betrayed by Gary for lying to him
  • Nate’s relatable outburst feeling sidelined and taken for granted by the team


Rise Against…

  • the Astra/Spooner dynamic not culminating in the way it needs to
  • the missed opportunity that is Bass Reeves


What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

User Review
7/10 (1 vote)

We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box

If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.