Tuesday, May 26, 2020

REVIEW: 'Legends of Tomorrow' - The Legends Buck Conventions of Different TV Shows in 'The One Where We're Trapped on TV'

The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 5.13 "The One Where We're Trapped on TV"

After Charlie does the one thing that goes against her nature when it comes to her sisters, she tries to protect the Legends by scattering them in different television shows. Of course, in true Legends style some can't just be blissfully ignorant and happy but figure out a way to end up messing with the system.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Legends of Tomorrow.

"The One Where We're Trapped on TV" was written by Grainne Godfree & James Eagan and directed by Marc Guggenheim

Typically, a show being cancelled would be seen as a bad thing. It indicates that the series may not have had the ability to tell a proper and final goodbye for its characters and stories. Moreover, "cancelled" has invaded the English vernacular to now indicate when someone is being called out for heinous behavior through public shaming. This hour sets out to attribute new qualities to that term. It's a fascinating and extremely meta episode. It is set in a world where the Fates have won. They have created a society without free will. One that is grey and full of mush. Television is seen as escapist amusement meant to keep the masses in line with what the all-powerful gods intend for their reigns. And yes, television does serve that purpose. It entertains viewers. It helps people escape the burdens of the real world. However, it is informed by real-life events as well. There is that always present push-pull dynamic between what is happening in life and how storytellers can craft those stories into compelling entertainment. On the surface, this episode could be a lot of fun simply because it provides spoofs of several hit television shows - including Friends, Downton Abbey, Star Trek and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. It goes so much deeper than that though to examine just how ideal these circumstances happen to be for the central characters. This new reality offers them a chance to live again. The previous episode ended with all of the heroes essentially dying. It was always a false cliffhanger because the audience knew some twist would happen to undo all of that. That happens here with Charlie making a deal with her sisters to ensure that her friends are save within these television shows. However, they don't have any control over their lives or their fates. As such, it's a parable for the journey Gary and Mona are going on in the outside world as well. They believe that they can't question anything about what they are being asked to do. Mona is tasked with rewriting history while Gary is meant to be nothing more than the crazy man on the corner shouting out conspiracy theories. They challenge those notions though. They aren't immediately punished for that either unlike Mona's co-worker at the start of the hour. Lachesis and Atropos lord over humanity. They decide how long a person can live. It makes it easy for them to eliminate their enemies. Charlie believes she is saving her friends. She has found a way to bring them back to life. That includes Behrad and the original Zari. Tala Ashe has done a phenomenal job this season in creating a new version of the character. But now, it's just as rewarding to see her tackle the differing perspectives. That inclusion is the incident that allows this artificial reality to fall apart. It's still a real and heavy choice for the characters to make though. Charlie argues that she has given them all they have ever wanted. Zari has her brother again. Behrad and Nate can keep having a fun, carefree life as best friends. Astra gets to live with her mother again. Constantine gets to live in service to Astra to make up for his past actions. Sara and Ava remain co-captains but have the assurance that nothing bad will ever happen to them. And Rory gets to be a criminal once more. These are the basic instincts for these characters. It's not their reality though. Real life is messy and complicated. One that doesn't guarantee anything. It's scary to explore. However, that's the freedom that should be enjoyed. People still have to be fundamentally safe. Sacrifices made can't come at the expense or harm of others. The Legends reunite in order to save humanity. That is the motivation for stepping out of these seemingly perfect lives in the television. It is frustrating to Charlie who feels comforted knowing her friends are safe. This puts them in danger. It's true to their human nature though. They fight back. They are Legends who ensure that the world continues to operate with grand opportunities for as many people as possible without life being cut short because of time assassins, demons, encores or any other nefarious threat. They don't demand the credit either. They have strong personal bonds. That helps them reach out and build these connections that create a wonderful and joyous world. The fight with the Fates may be daunting. Not everyone may survive. The Legends can't be bought off either. Two Zari's may exist now. That is full of storytelling possibilities. That's the energy this show always reliably brings. It's unpredictable and meta. It tackles ideas of isolation and heroism in ways that are absolutely applicable to the real world despite just how insane and outrageous the onscreen situations become. This is simply one of the best episodes Legends of Tomorrow has ever produced. It's an hour about personal choice and free will. Life can be confining. Each person has to be happy with the choices they make and do so with the absolute clarity that it creates a more prosperous and loving future for everyone. It's fine to escape every now and again. However, one has to be cognizant of the entire world and the burdens being faced by more than just one individual. The Legends operate with that certainty and will fight against anyone who tries to oppress the masses to a singular mentality.