Last episode of Legends of Tomorrow gave us a lot of the backstory about some of the odd things happening this season. We learned a lot about Bishop, and, while I really don’t care for the character, it was an interesting insight into what was happening with him and how he arrived at certain decisions and points of view. The episode ended with the team about to jump again in Dr. Davies’ time machine and Bishop making an unexpected arrival as he fled from an evil Gideon of his own creation. Now, the Legends are in a different era with more problems to deal with in “A Woman’s Place is in the War Effort!”
They make a rough landing and Astra complains about ending up in the woods again. She’s really more of a city girl, and a lot of Arrowverse shows have similar settings since they’re filmed in Vancouver, Canada. The team gets a few surprises as they find Bishop emerging from some nearby wreckage and then hear an approaching patrol. By now, they’re experienced at distractions, and lead the solders away in a wild woodland game of Marco Polo before using John’s magic key to duck into hiding. Bishop babbles a bit, tries to tell them what’s been happening with him, and there’s some debate about what to call the other Gideon he created. After an in-joke about the departed Constantine, the new plan is for Sara and Ava to scout while the others hide in the mansion. On the one hand, sending two of the more competent members out makes sense, on the other, there are many points in history when woman aren’t exactly going to be in an advantageous position, so I guess the logic behind that is a wash.
The co-captains learn they’ve landed in homefront America during World War II, and the conveniently located aircraft plant nearby might be the key to repairing the time machine. Again. And it still needs a name. As the captains make their plan, Zari and Nate talk about their future and the next stage in their relationship. There are some preparations to be made, and Zari goes back inside the Totem to get things ready. The team comes back and Nate shares the good news, which overjoys almost everyone, although Davies is, understandably enough, more concerned about his damaged machine. He’s also less than thrilled to find out that the “War to End All Wars” very much wasn’t.
Given the strange realities of wartime America, the women go to find work at the plant while the men hide out in the pocket mansion. Oddly, Zari 2.0 reappears and also stays with them, although really, I don’t imagine she’d take to factory work well. At the plant, Staples, the manager, is very much a product of his time: sexist, racist, and generally unpleasant. I sort of wonder about some of the dynamics here, as he is played by Jason Gray-Stanford, ex-husband of Jes Cacallan, who plays Ava. The team settles in to their new roles, none of them happy about it, and there’s some more entertaining banter with Astra and Spooner, who make for some interesting, if very Odd Couple, best friends. While Astra confronts some of the realities about being a Black woman in the 1940’s, Zari and Behrad teach Nate about some of the ins and outs of Persian culture, so he can get on better with the ancestors in the Totem. Bishop, as obnoxious as ever, is an interesting one to practice hospitality rituals on. At the plant, Astra and Spooner make a discovery that is very useful to the plot and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense looked at logically.
As Behrad continues to instruct Nate, and Zari grinds her teeth over Bishop being, well, Bishop, Sara goes to check on things, leaving Ava to recreate a classic comedy scene from television royalty. Astra foolishly asks the kind of question you should never, ever ask she gets an idea to speed up the Legends’ departure from this time, and things immediately go from strained to catastrophic. There are a few amusing developments back at the hidden mansion, and Bishop is fascinated by “our” Gideon and her unusual state. Taking advantage of Astra’s mistake, she and Gideon do their best to improve the plant’s efficiency. Astra is not happy with certain elements of the status quo, and makes a fairly radical change for the time. It elates some, infuriates others, and the plant’s production schedule is put in jeopardy. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, the two things to remember are that the war effort was in full swing and any losses were bad at best, and that changes to history might well attract the attention of Evil Gideon and her very destructive Waverider.
At a loss, bits of the team try and figure out what to do, and Astra has a sort of debate with one of her bosses at the plant about the speed of racial equality and justice. It’s the kind of thing that easily could slip into being preachy, but I think they avoided that pretty well. After an inspirational speech, the remaining workers get a big production montage and Behrad helps out in a support role, an amusing reversal of a lot of cultural norms of the time. They recreate a classic picture from the era, and things are looking up, finally. Astra and Behrad get a nice moment together, and offer each other some insights, and Astra goes and gives a big motivational speech.
Drawing on his earlier talk with Bishop, Behrad finally stands up for himself, something he’s historically bad at doing. It turns out Bishop isn’t quite as bad as he seemed earlier, he’s just living up to the stereotype tv writers love so much of “I am very intelligent, therefore I have no social skills.” In fact, Bishop has been working on something that is going to help the team out a lot. The rest of the team has to stand up to the boss, recovered from his earlier incapacitation, and find a way to keep their new friends from getting in trouble for all the changes that have been made. They draw on something that was mentioned in passing earlier, and use a historical figure who was known to be ahead of her time in some aspects to apply the needed pressure.
After a few little celebration and parting scenes, the team is enjoying things and feeling good about themselves. Just at the same time Nate, the historian, realizes the importance of something they’ve done, a black ops team shows up and attacks. There’s a lot of running and dodging, the Legends near-constant of not using powers for no discernable reason, and then a very unexpected sacrifice. Most of the team makes it out ok, and we learn some very surprising things about the attacking force.
What I liked: The Legends off-beat humor is one of my favorite parts of the show. The few jokes they made about Constantine were amusing, worked for people watching long enough, but weren’t enough to make others feel lost. I’m enjoying the Astra/Spooner friendship, even if they don’t seem to quite know what to do with Spooner a lot of the time. The way they tied things together at the end was fun to watch and more or less worked. The surprise about the sacrifice in the final battle and the reveal about the attackers were nicely handled and I didn’t see either one coming. The Marco Polo bit at the start was fun.
What I didn’t: The “We need a part for our machine” bit is getting old fast. I’m not sure why they didn’t send Nate on the initial scouting mission, aside from they needed him to talk to Zari. I’m not quite sure I followed the logic as to why Astra’s co-workers had their big secret project which is just what the team needed. I get he was a product of his time and that they were making statements, but Staples was almost to the point of caricature, and I’m disappointed that most of the workers left the way they did.
The Legends are fun bunch, and I like that they’ve turned into a show that embraces their weirdness. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. Next episode should be really interesting.