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Legends of Tomorrow: The Fungus Amongus

"We are so screwed."

That was actually a much better wrap-up than I would have thought possible, given how bad all the lead up to it was. I enjoyed almost all of it a lot.

There were a lot of cards stacked against this season finale going into it. What a pleasant surprise to see how well they stuck the landing.

If you haven't been keeping up with my reviews of the episodes leading up to this one, here's the problem in a nutshell. The over-arcing villain of this season sucks. And not in a way that's interesting, compelling, or conducive to good storytelling. They've yet to give him anything approaching a coherent backstory, his current evil scheme changes entirely at any given moment for no reason whatsoever, and his characterization is a profoundly lazy jumble of irritating hipster stereotypes that stop the entire show dead for long stretches of the time on the assumption that we'll all be so enthralled by his preening that we won't notice. Or worse, that we'll prefer to watch it over anything interesting or well structured involving characters that we actually like.

Ahem. Excuse me. That is not alum or cream of tartar that you're smelling, that's me that's bitter.

In any case, as I said, that was the hurdle going into the finale. How do they satisfactorily wrap up the storyline of the season when the season hasn't really had a coherent storyline to wrap up outside of a profoundly irritating villain sitting around congratulating himself on how awesome he is?

The solution, as it turns out, is to keep him the hell away from the episode as much as humanly possible. Huh. Thank you show. I honestly wasn't expecting that. It was much appreciated.

Outside of an amazingly irritating pre-recorded video call toward the beginning of the episode, Bishop is entirely absent in this one until it's time for him to show up at the end, at which point he is almost immediately eaten whole by Mick and Kayla's newly hatched babies. Which I did not hate watching. Again, thank you, show.

Of course, while Bishop himself is mostly absent, they do manage to feature his primary problem pretty prominently. Yep, his ultimate goal has been revealed yet again to be something completely different out of the blue, and yet again we're just told about it by a character that happens to know about it as opposed to, you know, discovering it dramatically somehow.

God, Bishop, why do you make everything so lazy? Why?

So, in the aforementioned pre-recorded video Bishop announces that because he and Sara share 6% of her DNA that means they totally share exact minds now and that's why she can now announce that Bishop's real plan, for sure pinky swear really this time, is to have everyone else on Earth killed leaving only Sara and himself to be new Adam and Eve and replenish the species. Which, aside from being super gross (which is in and of itself not really a problem for a supervillain plan as long as the story seems to understand that it's super gross) is also yet another colossal moving of Bishop's goalpost.

And it's worth mentioning again here, that is not how DNA works. At all. Not even a little bit. By that logic you can argue that if you give me a kidney or a large enough skin graft I'll be able to psychically watch you shower for the rest of our lives, which I have to imagine would have a negative impact on the National Donor Registry.

But it's at this point that we start getting into what this finale does so, so right.

First off, when I say that Bishop is absent I of course mean that the Bishop we know is absent. As Nate has a kind of awesome idea. Bishop says that he's the only one smart enough to come up with an antidote to the poison that's killing the Fountain of Imperium. No problem, Nate figures, and goes to grab Bishop from an earlier point in his timeline when he was all about the science and had not yet become a gigantic douche.

And it's at this point that I need to give a long overdue shout out to Bishop actor Raffi Barsoumian. I should have made it clear ages ago, he is in no way the problem with the character. He's clearly a good actor, and the earlier Bishop we see here just confirms that he bears absolutely no blame for the horror show that has been Bishop's plotline. This Bishop is still obviously a little arrogant, but seems like a generally good dude at that point in his timeline. His bedside manner when curing Spooner is kind of charming, and the way that he concludes that Nate and Ava have been Christmas Carol-ing him and now he can go back and not become the jackass he just saw is a really nice moment.

But the best decision they make here is also the riskiest one. Sara and Ava's decision to spend what might be their final hours alive having the marriage ceremony they've been discussing all season is plot gold. It gives the Legends some badly missed character moments such as Astra magicking the floral arrangements and Behrad doing the catering, it ties in organically with Mick and Kayla's gradually cementing relationship, and it allows them to lean in really, really hard to the potentially eye rolling message that our connections to one another are what really matter. That's the metaphor of the fountain, that's what makes the reveal of Spooner's new power swapping power so satisfying, and the way it's constantly underplayed as foolish stoner jargon right up until the end is what allows us to believe in it.

There's one scene in this one that made me forgive everything I've complained about this season. And surprisingly enough, it involves Gary of all people. When he explains to Ava exactly how everything is going to be all right it makes explicit one of the underlying themes that I suspect they've been trying and failing to convey for most of the year. The people that we love empower us to be able to do things that we would not be able to do without their love. Period.

That's why Sara was able to prepare her vows in advance. That's why Ava was able to improvise hers in the moment and speak from her heart. That's how Sara taught Mick to be there for his family. That's how Spooner's Mom leaving (and thus remaining safe) was what allowed her to stay and fulfill her potential.

And most importantly, that's how they were able to pull off the most explicit example of 'and they were all saved by the power of their love' that I've ever seen without it being the most insufferable thing ever broadcast. 'Saved by the power of love' is a hacky trope. Perhaps the hackiest of tropes. But it 100% works here because the love in question is the love that Sara Lance and Ava Sharpe have for one another, combined with the love they have for their team, and the team has for them, and we are all, collectively, so invested in those relationships by this point that we can't help but root for the enemy being defeated by nothing more that the sheer intensity of our investment in them.

And so we clap. We do believe in fairies. Finally, thanks to that ending, after all the disappointments this season has brought, I again believe in Legends.

Seriously though, seeing him get eaten by baby octopuses did not hurt my level of good will.



Everybody remember where we parked:

Everything this week took place in Odessa, Texas, 1925. Exactly where we left them last time.

Well, with the exception of whatever all happened to John Constantine off screen. One assumes he bounced around a bit between Hell and the Mushroom dimension.

Which makes me wonder how Ava and Sara will deal with anniversaries. Ah, the exigencies of time travel.



Quotes:

Gary: "We just have to save the fountain slash Spooner before the armada of carrion lizards overruns the planet and kills everyone. Easy peasy."

Gideon: "Ahhh. I’m back. Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me."

Younger Bishop: "You’re a working Ava."
Ava: "Well, I work. But I don’t let my work define me."

Behrad: "I spoke to John! He IS in the mushroom! He wants to talk to us. And we all gotta eat him."

John: "Sara... Sara... Eat me..."

Sara: "What else do we need?"
Ava: "I don’t know, maybe for the world not to be ending?"


Bits and Pieces:

-- Since I know someone is going to comment on it, yes, 'octopuses' is the proper plural. Or at least it's a proper plural. Octopus comes from the Greek, not Latin, which means that technically 'Octopi' is incorrect, as that's the plural ending for Latin roots. Of course, the technical correct ending for Greek roots would make it 'octopodes,' and nobody wants that. Generally in English 'Octopuses' is broadly seen as 'correct,' whatever that means.

-- Mick would absolutely not be 'OK, just a little singed' from that initial explosion. That kind of flame would be a minimum of 500-700 degrees, but based on the acceleration and not knowing exactly what the fuel source was I'd estimate more likely in the 1500-1700 degree range (all temperatures given in Fahrenheit, I apologize for being American). He'd be looking at third degree burns, minimum. More likely the heat will have singed off the cilia in his lungs, leaving him unable to properly take in oxygen from his breath. Which is a miserable way to die.

-- Speaking of, fire follows the path of least resistance, which in this case is exactly where the rest of the team is standing after they 'ran out of range,' so they're all looking at a minimum of first or second degree burns as well.

-- I loved that Mick walked Sara down the aisle. It felt so right. I do wish we'd seen the scene where she asked him, but there's also something to be said for it just being assumed that he would. Of course he would. Similarly, the final goodbye scene between Sara and Mick was just perfect. It was absolutely right to have it just be the two of them. Whatever is going on with Dominic Purcell in real life, he leaves with my good will. I hope he's OK, and I'll miss him.

-- John Constantine having had an entire side adventure selling his soul to demons to get his life back without our seeing even a second of it feels very on brand for him. I'll miss John Constantine. Glad we still get to have Matt Ryan. And what's up with that key he gave Zari?

-- The tentative way Kayla reached over to hold Mick's hand during the ceremony kind of melted me. As did the stunning dress she was wearing.

-- Other things that made me cry this week - the way Spooner leaned into that hug with Astra, absolutely defeated emotionally and relying on her friend to hold her up. See: Above comments on theme.

-- One other thing besides Bishop's ultimate goals that was a little muddy in the way they handled it – when nicer-Bishop cured Spooner it's not at all clear what that means vis-à-vis the Fountain of Imperium. We're kind of told in the follow-up that it cured the Fountain as well, but that it doesn't want to help humanity fight off aliens anymore because we're all assholes. Which, you know, fair point.

-- Astra wins the award for 'Most gratuitously expository monologue' early on in this one for her summing up of what happened to John and the space mushroom.

-- I feel the need to point out again that Shayan Sobhian clearly can actually play the guitar and can play it well. He certainly wasn't actually playing the music as we heard it during the wedding scene, but he was reproducing the fingering for it flawlessly, and it was fairly complicated stuff. I would totally go see him play if he came to my town and gave a concert.

-- I'm sure this makes me a bad person, but I feel like they should at least have considered the option to just kill nicer-Bishop and thus prevent this timeline from happening.

-- Absolutely killer final sting setting up next season.


Legends of Tomorrow let me down this season. In so, so many ways. And yet, it brought it all back home in this one. I've seen a lot of people discussing whether this season or Season One of Legends is worse. I think this season had much higher highs and much lower lows than Season One ever came close to. Which means it was trying harder. I'll take that. And after all, it restored amends to us in the end, didn't it.

Four out of five bittersweet farewells.

See you all next season! Which is all of three or four weeks from now. See you there!

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.

8 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Thanks for hanging in throughout a not-so-great season, Mikey. I enjoyed the finale for the most part. I hope that next season will be better, without covid-19 and with some cast changes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for covering this season so well. I adore how Ava and Sara's love saved the day.
Loved how Bishop got eaten.
Will miss Rory, but that was a good ending for him.
So John just ups and leaves Zari? That's on brand.
I'll be back for next season if only to see who Matt Ryan is then.

Anonymous said...

Season 6 is saved !!

My thought at the end of the episode. That wedding scene will become a classic. Love those Legends !

Mikey Heinrich said...

Aww, thanks very much, Anon #1.

Yeah, it occurs to me that what we just saw was a textbook example of every relationship John C. has ever had, it's just that we've never been invested in the person he was dating prior to the relationship before. That makes it seem so much more brutal, although I'm sure Dez would argue that what happened to him was just as brutal from his perspective.

Strange how our own biases aren't always obvious

magritte said...

Good heavens. I've never watched this show, but the fungus amongus is a real blast from the past. So...which one is the fungus?

Mikey Heinrich said...

Sentient space mushroom with a lattice-like network throughout Earth protecting us from alien invasion.

That is until it meets John Constantine, decides the human race isn't worth protecting, and basically says 'well fuck you guys then.'

Fortunately the world is saved by a really lovely outdoor wedding ceremony. As happens.

Josie Kafka said...

Mikey, thank you for hanging in there on this season, which was rough.

I'm choosing to think of this season the same way the Legends think of their new recruits: screwing up just means they belong on the team. This season was the equivalent of a screw-up, for the most part, but things will definitely improve with the next season.

(Which, thank goodness, is premiering really soon!)

Mikey Heinrich said...

That's a really lovely way to think of it.

I'm choosing to just remember that this season gave us The Final Frame and most of Bored on Board Onboard, which were just about my favorite things the show has ever done.

Plus it gave us Astra and Spooner's friendship, which I'm also a big fan of.

Maybe let's not have aliens for a little while though :)