Sunday, July 11, 2021

REVIEW: 'Legends of Tomorrow' - The Legends Fight for Behrad's Quality of Life After Forgetting His Birthday in 'This Is Gus'

The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 6.09 "This Is Gus"

Behrad is disappointed because the Legends have forgotten his birthday, so when they track an alien pod to 2024 and wind up at his favorite television sitcom, he thinks it's really a surprise for him. Nate and Zari occupy Behrad by keeping up the ruse by attending a taping of the show while Ava, Spooner and Astra try to find the alien to get the timeline back on track. Rory's behavior has been a little off, so Sara and Gary become determined to find out what happened, but Rory gets some unexpected news from his daughter.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"This Is Gus" was written by Tyrone B. Carter and directed by Eric Dean Seaton

The Legends have fought to save Behrad's life on a number of occasions. The original Zari was willing to sacrifice her existence so that Behrad had the chance at a better life. And then, Behrad's death last season inspired the new Zari to step up as a member of the team. Those life-and-death stakes have always been present in his character journey. And yet, it's just as crucial to protect the quality of his life. He has integrated himself amongst the team. He serves a specific purpose. He has formed deep and lasting friendships. He has a new understanding with his sister. Everyone loves and appreciates that. Again, the Legends fight to save his life all the time. But they casually forget his birthday. The alien mission also just happens to take place on the set of his favorite sitcom. It was cancelled after two seasons and was only ever seen as a cult hit. It had a profound impact on Behrad because it allowed him to feel seen and represented in the world. As such, he had the freedom to express himself as he truly is. Of course, he still deflects from telling his family the truth because of the lofty expectations they have for his life. Those don't line up with the man he truly is. Zari sees that. But she has missed so much of what formed him as well. She is grateful to have him as her brother. She doesn't know the importance of this show. Behrad is the only person excited when he sees the set. He can recite the lines of dialogue as they are playing out in front of him. He knows when things veer off course. That comes with the crash landing of an adorable alien named Gus Gus. Now, all of this allows the show to be even more meta in its commentary than usual. The story is fundamentally about staying true to oneself in the face of massive pressure to conform in order to be considered a success. The sitcom's creator believes the alien must now be included in the story because it can immediately be a massive success that appeals to a broad audience. Sure, that means completely remaking the premise of the show after one season on the air. It's a creative left turn. It's seen as the necessary move in order to aspire to something greater than cult status. And yet, the star loves the show that has been made. It may only have niche appeal. That can still make a significant impact. Plus, all of this connects to Legends of Tomorrow itself. It too operates as broad extension of the successful superhero universe on The CW. However, it has the freedom to embrace its quirky and creative nature. It's playful while still grappling with serious stakes. It too can feel the pull to deliver a creature that exists as an adorable branding opportunity. The show has already done that with Beebo. Now, Gus Gus isn't the one exactly causing turmoil on set. It's seen as just a baby who latches on to certain people. Instead, the drama comes in the argument between self-expression and success. The sitcom changing also changes Behrad. He becomes a completely different person. One not destined to be a Legend. That dooms Zari's fate as well. The siblings are tied together in that regard. They have their independence as well. These bonds are foundational though. They mean something. As such, it's worth fighting for the life Behrad has claimed as his own. Not something that morphs because of messing in the timeline. That doesn't serve him well. In the end, everything is fixed. Plus, the original Zari gets the opportunity to spend more time with the brother whose life she helped saved. That's a very exciting and personal twist. It's grounded in the character dynamics. It means something when new Zari is willing to make that sacrifice. They are essentially stepping into the same life even though they are different personalities. That agreement is bound to have some learning curves along the way. The team is excited to embrace both versions of Zari though. It's a happy celebration. Meanwhile, it's just much weirder when Gary reveals that Rory is pregnant following his encounter with Kayla. That's ridiculous. It's much more tangential than the mission and the drama happening with Behrad. Rory has increasingly served in that role this season. One who isn't all that engaged with the core mission but weird things keep happening to him. That has been a bumpy journey without a clear and consistent storyline to ground it. But plenty of wacky things have happened on this show before that have worked because of the emotional investments in the characters. Hopefully, that can continue to be found across the board even when it's clear in certain moments that not all the characters are treated equally with engaging and meaningful story potential.