Legends of Tomorrow: Terms of Service

"The power is in the Palm(er) of your hands."

Is it rude to point out that the Emperor has no clothes, if you point out at the same time that the Emperor is super ripped and has been clearly doing a lot of cardio?

Because.... Damn, Emperor. You got it going on.

Which is, of course, my frivolous and subtextually homoerotic way of saying that there's an embarrassment of riches in this episode when it comes to things to like, but they all kind of rely on some serious glossing over of problem spots.

The problem in a nutshell can be boiled down to one thing. The basic opening foundation for this episode doesn't match at all with where things were left at the end of the previous one. I'm tempted to assume that I'd missed an entire episode worth of plot development, except that I know perfectly well that I didn't. It's almost as if the writers room broke a 17 episode series of stories and then just completely excised one of them when they found out they were only getting 16 to air.

For the love of God, CW, please start giving Legends a full boat of 22 episodes. It's getting embarrassing.

OK, so here's what I mean. A not insignificant portion of the plot development tonight entirely relies on the fairy godmother currently being under Gary's control. That's actually an inspired plot development, and his relationship both with Tabitha and with the next inheritor of the fairy godmother mantle were pure gold as far as both comedy and plot development goes.

The problem is, when exactly did Fairy Godmother bond herself to Gary? He calls to her at the end of the previous episode and she saves him from Mona as if their relationship was an established thing, but unless I missed something significant completely, that was not a thing they'd ever set up.

I'll be fair. I drink a lot of wine. If I missed something that explains this, please do let me know in the comments.

Additionally, at the end of 'Nip/Stuck,' Mona ate off Gary's evil nipple – not a sentence you get to type every day – and Gary was rushed out of the Time Bureau with unconscious Mona, Tabitha, and Neron in Ray's body. The implication strongly was that Gary's nipple was behind the mass hypnosis of the Bureau, and now that it had been destroyed the bureau was saved. Left behind to witness the bad guys escape was Nora, Ava, and Sara.

This week we open with the bad guys still in possession of the Bureau, only now it's due to Gary's influence over the fairy godmother rather than his fancy hypnotic nipple. Not only do we see no evidence of the bad guys leaving the bureau together, they aren't even all in a group anymore. Mona is imprisoned in the Bureau cells, which makes no sense if they were fleeing with her body ten minutes earlier. Neron and Tabitha aren't even there anymore as they're busy setting up 'PalmerX 2019,' a low key tech con with only one panel and one guest. Ava and Sara are back on the Waverider as if they'd never liberated the Bureau in the first place, and Nora is Die Harding her way to rescue Mona with no mention of how she got separated from them.

I'm sorry, show, but I have to ask. Did you smoke a gigantic bag of crack between these two episodes, or what?

It's all very frustrating, because I said earlier, where they take all of those plot threads is fantastic. Neron's plan to create fear using the monsters so that people will download an app in order to locate the monsters and in doing so sell their immortal souls through a lengthy terms of service agreement is both goat-shit crazy and completely brilliant. What's more, it would absolutely work. If you doubt it, just consider how much none of us noticed when the guests of PalmerX were shown agreeing to a terms of service agreement that they didn't read. Seriously, go back and look. The camera shots practically luxuriate on people swiping through the TOS as fast as they can, but nothing about that reads as unusual or sinister to us anymore and so we just blanked it out.

Similarly, Tabitha's plan to trick Nora into taking on her fairy godmother mantle was inspired, despite being lifted pretty completely from genie-lore, particularly Disney's Live Action Aladdin Soon in Theaters Near You. And God bless the show for keeping Jane Carr around as Tabitha. I absolutely expected that they'd find an excuse to recast Tabitha into the body of someone younger and sexier as soon as they possibly could, because that's the kind of gross thing that network execs tend to insist on. I love, love, love that they're keeping her around as Neron's love interest. And while we're talking about it, it's such a good choice for them to show that Neron and Tabitha do genuinely love each other. It would have been so easy to tumble into the cliché of a villain team eager to backstab one another.

But the best choice this episode made was in the nature of Gary Green himself. Wonderful reveal that Gary was perfectly aware the entire time that the fairy godmother was trying to get him to wish hurt on the Legends and so he was deliberately just focusing on wishing to hang out with them as a way of defying her. Even when 'Dark Gary' finally gets called forth, his glorious flow of vengeance never goes further than acne and tap dancing. Gary is a good man, fundamentally. And he's absolutely right, he does not deserve to be laughed at. I've been saying since the beginning of the season that the Legends need to face a consequence for the way they're played Gary as convenient bait that can be had for a little flattery. I think they finally learned that lesson here.

Which brings lastly to John Constantine, in a plotline I like to call, 'This should absolutely have been an entire episode all on its own.'

When they mentioned Hell's Triumvirate I briefly entertained the thought that they might be about to do the good parts of 'Dangerous Habits' that everybody always leaves out when they try to adapt it, but alas, no. It felt right that he chose Astra over Ray, as much as it broke my heart, and it felt equally right that Astra betrayed him. Can't wait to see what will happen there when Nora gets to Hell to rescue John. I do, however, which that they'd gone with the imagery from the comics and had Astra only have one arm.



Everybody remember where we parked:

There was actually shockingly little travel this week. The Waverider just hung around Washington D.C. in 2019, and a couple of our heroes went to Hell, which may or may not equate to the same time zone, it's hard to tell.

What is interesting is the reveal that Zari grew up a little outside of D.C. Did we know that already, or was that a reveal of convenience this week? Zari appeared to me to be in the 8-10 range, although I am a notoriously bad judge of age so she might be a bit older. That actually answers a couple of longstanding questions I was pondering last year about what baby Zari might be up to in our time period.

Zari mentions that it's only a few years away from when ARGUS takes over everything and creates an anti-Meta, anti-Muslim Dystopia. We're all kind of assuming they're just never going to deal with that, aren't we?


Quotes:

Sara: "Mick, Nate, do you think you can handle Tabitha?"
Mick: "Granny’s dead."

Sara: "OK, can you guys stop being dragon baby crazy right now?"

Gary: "And now I have three nipples, because a spare never hurts."
Having a third nipple was historically a sign of witchcraft. There is a zero percent chance the writers don't know that.

Calibraxis: "You’re dead, demon hunter!"
Constantine: "I was gonna be a demon proctologist, but the pay wasn’t as good."

Calibraxis: "I’m a demon, not a pirate, John."

Zari: "It’s a demon app. I’m gonna read the fine print."

Charlie: "If I die, I’m gonna come back and haunt you."
Zari: "I would love a ghost friend."

Nora: "Gary, you dick!"

I cannot say enough good things about this dress
Bits and Pieces:

-- This season has for some reason brought up a lot of embarrassing confessions from me. Adding to the list that already contains my love of semiotics and the assembly of flatpack furniture, this week I have to tell you how much I love logo design. Honestly. I bring this up because the PalmerX logo is a masterwork. The solid 3-D cube implied by the background framing device conveys an unspoken implication of solidity and dependability with the third implied square breaking the frame and shooting 'toward' the viewer implying a daring willingness to work outside conventional rules and by implication 'think outside the box.' The coloring, meanwhile, subtly underscores the 'Palmer' portion of the name, thus reinforcing the higher brand. Honestly, and with no ironic joking involved, the PalmerX logo is a f*cking masterpiece of work.

-- I actually have a startling number of opinions on the quality of logo design. Feel free to ask, but I warn you that the answers get lengthy.

-- I get that they were underscoring the connection between Tala Ashe and Zari's younger self, but that hairstyle just fundamentally did not work for her. That's actually kind of rare and notable for her. Just about every hairstyle they've ever given her has looked gorgeous.

-- Looks like Wixtable the dragon is hatching in time for the season finale.

-- I went back and forth on whether or not it was smart or stupid for Zari to have brought the egg with her on the mission. Ultimately, I think there was no guaranteed safe place for the egg, given how often messed up stuff happens on the Waverider when they aren't there.

-- I hope Nate is understanding about Zari leaving the egg behind.

-- So many questions about why Nate has a 'Kid Steel' costume hanging around. And why Gary picked it.

-- This week's fabulous dress watch. Jane Carr looked stunning in that evil black number she adopted once she'd ditched her godmother duties. Also, the designer of that asymmetrical sheath number that Nora wore to PalmerX is underpaid. Regardless of how much he or she is paid, they are underpaid. That dress was amazing. Please, please, Courtney Ford, tell me that you stole that dress and have it in your personal collection. Also, call me. We'll brunch.

-- They're really getting their money out of the Stein puppet. Bless.

-- Hell's triumvirate included Satan, not Lucifer. Which means a crossover with Lucifer is still possible. Fun fact, in the comics the triumvirate in Hell stepped in to rule when Lucifer left to go open up his nightclub in LA. Which means it all totally works together if they can get Tom Ellis to make a stop in the Waverider. And then possibly he and Matt Ryan could share a torrid embrace and... I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?

-- That's like the third episode in a row where they've mentioned Damien Darhk. Dare we hope to see him again next season?

If you squint at it and assume that we missed an episode of plot development, this would easily be a four. Sadly, we can't, and so I can't in good conscience give it more than three out of four fantastic logos.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, volunteer firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

9 comments:

percysowner said...

I'm actually thinking that Young Zari will find herself bonded to a dragon, that may follow her around like a duckling and THAT will change the future for the world. I mean they let Stein keep his daughter, who was an anomaly, so why not get rid of the dystopia, especially since it's been set so close in the future. What that does to Zari's role on the Waverider would be up in the air, but I have faith in the writers.

I'm less on Gary's side than you are. Yes, The Fairy Godmother WANTED him to wish evil for the Legends, but she couldn't make him do that. He COULD have wished for the Time Bureau to be freed from the spell of his evil nipple (or possibly the spell of the FG, they really did skip over some important exposition). I like Gary, and I see why he and you think the Legends treated him badly, but they had to say Ava mistreated him off screen more than we have seen AND make the woman who had a huge problem with Sara not following the rules, suddenly doing something she believed was illegal. What pushed Gary over the edge was that RAY, who had no reason to LOVE Gary, said he liked Gary, but didn't love him enough to lose his soul if he killed Gary. But Ray didn't OWE Gary love. Mick doesn't treat Gary any worse than he treats anyone. Sara treated Mona as dismissively as Gary until Mona EARNED her respect, and not by trying to kill her and Ava. I don't remember Nate interacting with Gary that much at all. Sadly, for ME, Gary cam off as a Nice Guy (TM) who thinks he was entitled to friendships with the Legends that he didn't earn. And then the show validated that. So I don't feel that bad for Gary. He made bad choices and is getting rewarded in ways that I'm not thrilled with. OTOH, I have liked Gary as a character, so I'm willing to go with the flow.

Billie Doux said...

I really love reading your reviews, Mikey. :)

I didn't know all that stuff about Lucifer. I also really loved what they did with the Fairy Godmother and yes, I also expected they would find a way to change out the actress with someone young and was pleased that they didn't. And Courtney Ford in that black and white dress -- absolutely gorgeous. Total agreement.

But I still don't like Gary. And Mona. I wish they'd both disappear, and it keeps not happening.

Mikey Heinrich said...

I admit, I might be over-identifying with Gary. And your points about him are totally valid. I've just never really gotten over the way that they tricked him into being unicorn bait by promising friendship that they never intended to deliver.

You're totally right about Ava, btw. The line about the unpaid overtime was radically out of character for the sake of the joke

I read Gary's reaction to Ray's lack of loving him more as Gary being jealous of how strong Nate and Ray's bond is. Hell, I'M jealous of how strong Nate and Ray's bond is.

Nate and Gary spent a fair amount of bonding time early on this season, when Nate took the job at the bureau to be near his dad.

I'm totally rooting for young Zari and her dragon to be a thing now. Love that.

Billie, I think part of the issue with Gary and Mona - and Nora to a lesser extent - is that the show is waffling a bit on whether they're part of the team or just side characters at the bureau. That makes it feel like the moments when they are being treated as Legends haven't really been earned by them. Just my 2 cents. :) I can't help but think we're going to lose a couple characters in the finale. There are just too many right now. It better not be Ava, I'm just saying.

Robin said...

I always love reading these reviews!

Mikey, what are your thoughts on the logo for the "Eyes" app, staring out from the home screens of the damned?

To answer your question, Zari was brought up as living in the DC area in the tag at the end of 4x01, when Zari brings Ray to watch her mother pushing her on a swingset and laments that she can't do anything to save them. I think the Wixtable development at the end of this episode might mean that she's broken that rule without even meaning to; can't wait to see what happens tonight!

One thing that I think a lot of people (including me) missed on first viewing about the unpaid overtime was that Ava didn't ask Gary to do overtime without pay, she apologized for letting him, which I think implies that he asked to do it or insisted on doing it? YMMV, but that strikes me as the kind of thing that Ava would simply relent on because she has bigger things to deal with.

I'm really intrigued by percysowner's take on Gary. I think there's something to the idea that Gary's not treated by the Legends *quite* as badly as he thinks (and often in ways that are proportional to the boundaries he bumps against), and I would have liked to see the show make the suggestion that Neron got Gary to focus on the slights and not on the overall picture. I mean, Nate went to bat for Gary with Mona back in the first half, and Zari was totally onboard with starting a crochet club with him; there's been some kindness mixed in with the mistreatment.

And that's a really interesting point about third nipples, thank you for teaching me something new!

Mikey Heinrich said...

Thank you so much, I'd totally forgotten that tag scene with Zari watching her mom. In hindsight they were totally setting up that piece so that they could come back to it at the end of the season, weren't they. That's an admirable long game.

As to the eyes app logo, I'm not a huge fan. Primarily because it doesn't really communicate anything through its design structure. The color pallate of the eye image is too muddy to create brand identification, and while I get that they were going for a stable/symmetrical feel with the verbiage they completely undercut any feelings of stability that the symmetry might generate by using a hyperfluid sans serif font which conveys transience and motion. The closed off left side of the focal word (on the E) leads the eye to the uncovered open side of the S, which conveys a feeling of energy bleeding out of the system, a feeling not helped by the curved corners of the font.

In short, everything that the logo is telling me subtextualy is exactly the opposite of the way that a security app should want to make me feel.

Good God, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed analyzing that :) Thank you so much for asking!

Anonymous said...

Gary forcing Ava and Sara to dance sexily for him was peak Nice Guy. The entitled guy who wants the prom queen to be into him cause he's into her.
Nope, not on his side. Liked him fine earlier, but not now.
mazephoenix

Raya said...

From someone who hasn't watched a single episode on Legends of Tomorrow, these reviews are absolutely hilarious.
(I like reading Doux reviews of random shows I don't even watch. It relaxes me.)

I just love how you're all having serious conversations about an evil hypnotic nipple, but only suspect the writers of smoking crack when they make continuity errors.

This show must really be something.

Billie Doux said...

Raya, your comment made me giggle. How delightful that you read random reviews of shows you haven't watched!

Phyllis Strickland said...

I agree with you 100%. After 10 minutes of this episode, I re-watched the previous episode to see what I missed. Then I searched episode lists to see if the CW app missed an episode - nope. It was a great episode but very frustrating because there were so many continuity holes. You review is spot on!!