Legends of Tomorrow: Ship Broken

"This is not a dog place."

Remember last episode? When it was really good, and well done, and I loved everything about it? Those were good times.

The first time I watched this episode I came away from it thinking, 'eh. That was pretty good. Could have used some structure.' Then, upon a couple of re-viewings, I discovered that this was that rare beast, an episode that I dislike exponentially more every time I watch it.

Let's start with some positives, since one of the things that irritated about this is how many positive things there actually are going on if only the script could stop dragging them behind the shed and shooting them like Old Yeller. Sorry, Spoilers for Old Yeller.

OK, the final scene between Zari and Astra was note perfect, as Zari tentatively reached out to Astra in a gesture of something approaching friendship and Astra rejected the offer. In fact, the entire comparison of their two characters throughout the episode was interesting and largely well handled. Contrasting the way they each manipulate others to get what they want is fertile ground, as 'manipulative' is one thing that the previous Zari definitely was not but this new version kind of is. Not in an evil way, just in the exact way that a person accustomed to being the face of a million dollar brand identity would absolutely be used to doing. That's interesting. They also both share an interesting edge of fragility that makes them pair up in a fascinating way. I like the Zari/Astra pairing a lot and I want to see more of it, although please don't have Astra end up joining the team.

On a shallower note, Olivia Swann looked devastating in that red pantsuit, and her shoes were so wonderful that I want an action figure specifically of them. Charlie's ripped tights look was similarly fantastic, and I'm really starting to like her hair, although I still say it was a strange time for her to do it.

They finally remembered that Nate is an historian, which I really enjoyed, but then immediately undercut it by having him ditch the legit interesting topic Lita was supposed to be studying in favor of talking about snacks. I really wanted a full on history geek-out from him. We haven't had any of that in a very long time, and it was kind of supposed to be his role on the ship once upon a time.

Sara's blindness and its consequent recasting of her as a sort of 'Daredevil who can see the future' has a lot of potential, and I hope they keep it around for a while to see how it goes. Let's not have her go all Birdbox every week just so Caity Lotz doesn't have to wear the contacts.

On the other hand--

The concept of 'Son of Sam's Dog' as a villain is a lot of fun, and I strongly suspect he was originally supposed to be one of the Encores earlier in the season. I wish we'd gotten that as an episode instead of this, because that would have been a lot of fun: having the Legends running around trying to figure out a murder spree only to discover that the adorable Jack Russell they've been seeing everywhere is behind it all would have been a great episode, and the moment when the dog suddenly starts telling them to kill each other would have been a great reveal if it had been structured properly. But instead we get Gary reduced to a level of caricature that would have felt unrealistic even during the Scrappy Doo era of Scooby in order to get the dog on the ship, then immediately it's left off camera until it's time to have the big reveal of him talking to Sara.

Fortunately, they fill that time by alternating between implying that Sara is going to turn dark and kill everyone (again), Mick and his daughter having a sub-plot that's actually on the ship, in a bottle episode, with literally no where else to go, and yet still manages to be completely unrelated and irrelevant to the main plot going on, and the members of the team doing the one thing that I've always praised them for not doing for nearly a full half an hour.

Everyone here is behaving as stupidly as possible for the sake of the plot to drag out, and that's unforgivable on this show. Why on Earth does Sara make the completely out of character decision to hide the fact that she's having visions from Ava – the person she trusts most – and John Constantine – the person most likely to understand what's happening to her and be able to help? Because we have to have ten minutes of 'Have a vision, 'Did you just have a vision?', 'Nope, I did not have a vision', 'OK, we'll ask no further questions.''

Then, once they hear about the visions – from Charlie, who should be a trusted source on this kind of thing – their solution is to lock Sara in a room (admittedly by her request) and shrug and say, 'oh well, guess she's crazy. Doo de doo de doo...' Meanwhile, next door, Nate, Zari and Charlie decide their best course of action is to stand around saying, 'Well, that Astra sure is guilty of doing all this somehow. Let's stand here and look sternly at her while doing nothing to fix the situation. Doo de doo de doo...'

And speaking of the situation, why is the dog even doing any of this? His stated plan is to have them kill each other. Why in the name of all that's tingly and delicious would he waste time screwing around with destroying the loom – which he cares nothing about – or the food machine – which he also cares nothing about. When did any of that sabotage even happen, since we see the ship get damaged when the loom blows up, are told the ship was damaged by the loom blowing up, which happens with Zari present, but then later she goes and sabotages the ship somehow because the dog wants her to, for... reasons?

And the wildly out of character stupidity does not restrict itself to the A-plot. Mick's sudden shut-down of Lita's ideas when she mentions the fairly reasonable – and let's add, legal – idea of investing his loot comes out of nowhere, and while I get that they were trying to go for a 'Don't grow up like me, kid' thing, it falls flat because, A. Mick has always been more of a 'Yeah, grow up like me, kid' kind of guy, even in other parts of this episode, and B. He freaks out about it out of the blue after the first actual legal thing that's been suggested all day.

And where the Hell did his Scrooge McDuck room appear out of? The Legends are all cool with his stealing now and in fact use it to finance themselves? That's news. And completely inconsistent with most of what we knew about them. But sure.

And Ava's line about the Stabcast podcast about Son of Sam could not have been more awkwardly crowbarred in if Jes Macallan had taken out a literal sledgehammer and driven it into Gary's head. Something that I was, in fact, wishing she would do after the whole 'Oopsie, I brought a dog back from Hell, isn't that a silly mistake?' reveal.

And I realize that I'm starting every paragraph with 'and' at this point, and that that's both stylistically incorrect and lazy as a writing tool, but I'm just so irritated by this episode that it feels like the only way to rant properly about it.

I hate hating this show. It's so much better than this.



Everybody remember where we parked:

We had exactly one scene this week off the ship, which was at the opening with Mick picking up his daughter for the weekend. It was in a park in 2020. I think Lita lives in Central City, but honestly, I can't bear the thought of going back to check at the moment. I absolutely despise the joke of opening up the ship with a 'bleep bleep' car remote. I even hated it when David Tennant did it.

The rest of the episode took place on board the ship in standard, cost saving bottle episode style. No new sets. The only additional cast is Lita and the voice of the dog.




Bits and Pieces:

-- The final Gary joke about getting a rabbit from a mysterious carnie and referencing Gremlins made me want to throw something large and solid through my television set. I'm amazed they didn't add a trumpet 'Wha wha wha whaaaaaa.' sound effect.

-- They were clearly rotating cast members in to have scenes with Mick one on one, which tells me that for whatever reason it wasn't possible to schedule him with the rest of the cast all at once. What the Hell is going on there?

-- I've never heard of ants on a log before. Is that a real thing?

-- So the individual rings do correspond with specific Fates. Didn't Charlie say earlier that she'd hidden the pieces as rings? Now they were rings all along? It's not a deal breaker, but it's clumsy.

-- I really liked the visualization of how the loom worked. I should have mentioned that earlier in the positives.

-- I can't be the only one assuming that Behrad's thread was all jacked up because it had already been overwritten, right? It feels like a 'Darla's already living her second chance' thing to me.

-- Which means that Astra was basically right. If Charlie had started with an easier change she could have worked up to this one. If the team had been acting like their usual rational and adult selves they might have even considered that while selecting who to do first.

-- A couple of reviews ago we talked about the concept of 'Message from Fred', and we got a great example tonight. Sara's line citing all the professors and engineers previously on the team really underscores how much they are currently lacking someone in that role. Maybe that's how they'll bring in Ryan Choi.

-- I thought that originally the ship had two jump ships, both of which we've seen destroyed. Are there more now? Can you order those on Amazon?

-- In an uncharacteristic moment of nice subtlety, if you go back and re-watch the argument over who to loom first, Zari is clearly upset that Constantine didn't take her side, on a personal level. But seriously, you don't have to go back and re-watch it, just take my word for it.

-- 'Ship... broken.' Get it? Because, like, the ship... is broken? And there's a peeing dog? Get it?

-- Truthfully, the above title thing wouldn't have bothered me at all if there weren't So. Many. Things. already hocking me off about this episode.

-- Hey Lita, you know what's really cool about there being a woman in charge of the ship? The fact that the show has never once felt the need to stop and congratulate itself for it before. Again, in character thing for Lita to say. It just pisses me off because they usually do such a good job of not even giving the issue the dignity of being addressed.



Quotes:

Mick: "Sorry I missed your thing last week, I was stuck in Hell."

Astra: "I bet you’re the only one on the ship happy to see me."
John: "Oh nonsense. As far as this sorry lot is concerned, as soon as anyone stops trying to murder them on a weekly basis, they’re best friends."

Lita: "Um, did the computer just say ‘loom of fate’?"

Sara: "And nobody knows how to fix the ship like I do. Except maybe Ray and Jax. And Rip... and Stein. I guess Behrad’s not bad either."

Mick: "Punched him. Elbowed him. Ooo, made out with her."

Ava: "What, do you mean we die in 50 years, or we die with me wearing this exact outfit?"

Astra: "I never should have trusted you."
John: "Did you really, though? Or did you just run out of other options?"

Nate: "Well, it’s all right there in the surveillance footage Gideon apparently records of our bathroom."


This is without question the most negative review I've ever written here, and I hate feeling like this. Nobody likes a poopy-pants, and right now I'm the pants-poopiest. But the things that this show consistently excels at all failed simultaneously this week, and I hate that. Do better, show. We all know you can.

Let's just hope that they saved enough money on this one to get some really cool stuff into the finale and speak no more of it.

One out of five puddles of puppy pee.

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.

15 comments:

percysowner said...

Ants on a log are an actual thing, celery stuffed with peanut butter and raisins on top. It's in the "how to get your kids to eat something green" playbook.

I admit, I think Legends likes Gary a whole lot more as a character than I do, so that is a bit of a problem with Gary centered episodes.

I'm getting the feeling that Astra will one of a new triumvirate of Fates to work the Loom. Charlie will be one, Astra has been being groomed so she can be a Fate already so she will be the second and I'm guessing Sara will the the third. I do think they are moving toward Astra joining the team, as it were, but I don't know who, if anyone will leave the team to make room in the budget for her to do so. If Dominic Purcell hadn't publicly said that he's not leaving Legends, I would say Lita is being used as a reason for him to leave and go be a father to her. Actually Purcell said he won't quit, but since Brandon Routh didn't quit that might not be a sure thing. I think they are having problems finding something for Nate to do, so he could be expendable. I really want them to bring back Behrad, but I'm not holding my breath.

I looked and Purcell isn't shooting anything that I can find and I don't see anything indicating that he's not available, so I don't know what the keep Mick to the side is all about.

Billie Doux said...

I didn't hate this episode while I was watching it, but Mikey, every single one of your points is valid.

Percysowner, I don't like Gary, either. And this episode made him seem even stupider.

Mikey Heinrich said...

Yeah, I didn't hate it on first viewing, and if I'm being fair there's too much good in it to really say I hate it now. But after a couple of viewings the stalling for plot convenience stuff just drove me crazy. Mostly just because they don't usually do it.

I usually like Gary well enough, but yeah, his stupid level was cranked up to Max this week and it grated.

I wonder if Dominic Purcell's tweet about his contract was actually the end of the situation, and the production staff was deliberately isolating him as a combination of 'just in case he walks' and leverage in negotiations with him. I'm not sure how long ago these shot.

CoramDeo said...

Percysowner, I like your Fates theory. One extra wrinkle: I think if that happens, Zari will also be a potential new Fate. I wonder if they're setting up some conflict or at least mystery over which three characters it will be.

percysowner said...

@Mikey Heinrich These were filmed a while ago, just shortly after the Crisis series was shot. They were prepared for a fall premiere. It's one reason we will have a full season that has shot everything that the show runners planned because it had wrapped before the shutdown happened. They may have been preparing for Mick to leave.

@CoranDeo I can see Zari being one of the Fates as well. It will be interesting to see how they construct new Fates, if they do go that way. If Zari is a Fate she could find out that she can't bring Behrad back, which would make me sad. I like Behrad. If it's Astra, she may have to settle for bringing her mother back, but not being able to return to being the child that didn't go to Hell. Basically I can see tension with either character helping to use the Loom.

Of course, they may go a completely different direction. I never saw Beebo vs Mallus coming, so they could pull something out of left field here, too.

Anonymous said...

I think the rotation was less likely to be about Dominic Purcell's shooting schedule and more about them having to line up his filming schedule up with Mina Sundwall's availability. She mentioned living in LA in her Instagram takeover for this episode so she was probably flying up to film.

Josie Kafka said...

I didn't dislike this episode as much as you, Mikey, but like Billie said: all of your complaints are valid. (And I love a snarky review!)

I'd add one more complaint: "Professor" is a job title; you can't just call anyone with a PhD a professor. And since Nate doesn't seem to have any university affiliation, he really shouldn't ask people to call him that.

(Am I being petty? Yes. But I'm not wrong!)

The moment that drove me really crazy, though, was one you highlighted: Lita saying how cool it was that a woman was in charge. I would like the writer to produce ONE (1) real young woman Lita's age who would say that in 2020.

I check out Dominic Purcell's Instagram fairly often, and the one contribution I have to all this theorizing is that his mother passed away in [checks Google] February. Maybe he was spending time with her while shooting episodes?

In happier news: you should try Ants on a Log! It's a fun snack even without the ants.

Anonymous said...

Legends needs to let Gary go like they did Mona. It's not funny anymore.
I do enjoy the odd snarky review and this ep had it coming, don't worry.
Astra was right, who knew?

CoramDeo said...

I think part of the problem with Gary right now is he kind of has no purpose. The Time Bureau is gone, so he isn't working for them, and he's not really studying under John anymore. If they don't get rid of him, he at least needs somebody to work for.

On the other hand, one of the things I admire about Legends is its unique ability to unceremoniously jettison elements or characters when they get stale, and sometimes before. It's about time Gary joined the Hawks, Rip Hunter, Jax, Mona, and *sniff* Ray in sharing that fate.

Mikey Heinrich said...

I'd be happy if John had him be his mansions caretaker, and we just saw a brief bit of him once in a while

Robin said...

I quite enjoyed this episode, though I do acknowledge that Sara could and should have been more up-front about the fact that she was experiencing weird visions. That said, I appreciate that the possibility that she was the one who murdered her team is the thing that made it real and brought her down to earth on that.

I will say that the father-daughter bonding between Mick and Lita really worked for me. I get the sense that Mick wants his daughter to have a more wholesome and upstanding life than the one he lived, that her being interested in time-travel abuse + white-collar crime would totally freak him out, and that Mick certainly wouldn't have the tools to communicate his anxiety productively. (Like Gary said, the Legends desperately need a therapist.)

Billie Doux said...

Robin wrote: Like Gary said, the Legends desperately need a therapist. Not to mention a second bathroom.

Robin said...

It wouldn't be nearly so bad if it had multiple stalls like a dormitory or something, but MY GOD, two sinks, one standing shower (sans tub), and a toilet WITHOUT A DOOR??

Mikey Heinrich said...

And apparently video surveillance. Who designed the Waverider, R.Kelley?

Ellie said...

I agree about too much Gary, I always take my dislike of him as concern about him taking about John's choice when he got Nora to make him his assistant. And it concerns me that this was accepted. John seemed ok working with him when he could, and it was his choice, now hes stuck with him it bothers me a lot.

Hes also not learnt or grown since season 3.

He should be off screen more than on it, mostly tidying up after the Legends.

Im wondering if hes going to mess stuff up again like last year.