Legends of Tomorrow: Paranoid Android

Something seems… different.

One of the great strengths of Legends of Tomorrow is their willing to play with the status quo and take some risks with their episodes. Throughout the current season, it’s become apparent that someone or something is working against the Legends, and last episode ended with the shocking reveal that there are dopplegangers of the team working against them. Now we see some of the events from the season from a different perspective as we spend some time with the ersatz Legends in “Paranoid Android.”

The opening has a different voiceover, as we hear the season recounted in a very different way, with new credits showing things focused on the dopplegangers. I have to say, this must have been a fun episode to film, but then, I suspect most of the ones on this series are. The early part of the episode is dedicated to retelling of the events earlier in the season, from the point of view of these robotic duplicates. We get a feel for how these versions differ from the originals and the differences are amusing and striking. The relationships among them mirror the real team in some ways, but are very different in others. On the trail of the originals, with some really interesting motives, the duplicates go to Russia, trying to sort out what’s happening at Chernobyl. While the reasoning behind what they’re trying to do makes a kind of sense, their methods leave a lot to be desired as they attempt to undo the most recent efforts of the Legends.

Even a copy of Sara is a formidable force, and she’s beginning to realize something seems off about their mission and the parameters of it. There’s a lot of tension between Ava, here known as Dr. Sharpe, and Sara, and we quickly see the not-so-good doctor is keeping a lot of secrets. In the Ukraine in 1986, the team splits up, and we see some more both similarities and differences between this group and the originals. Points to the actors, they really throw themselves into being almost caricatures of their characters. There’s also an ongoing rivalry between two of these Legends who don’t really interact that much in their original versions. Sara deals with the most important of their prisoners, and becomes even more troubled by what she learns both from him and via coms from Zari. The scope of events keeps growing, and the team has to take increasingly desperate measures. Most of the team seems fine with ruthlessly pursuing their new tasks, although Sara is developing some very understandable qualms. When Gary gives in to some of his baser instincts (really, who thought programming him this way was a good idea?), Sara gets hurt in the chaos, and Ava insists on her coming to the medbay for treatment. Suspicious, Sara plays possum and witnesses something that stuns her.

Once she’s free of Ava’s attention, Sara does some scouting around and light burglary, and brings her newly acquired toys to Zari for help. It seems this Zari has the tech skills of the original, rather than the social influencing skills of the second, although how they managed to access that template I’m not sure. Zari and Sara’s speculation gets interrupted by Gideon announcing they have a new mission, following up on their last one. There’s a scientist on the loose with data that’s been judged dangerous, and it seems Sara’s particular skills are required, much to some of the rest of the team’s disappointment. After some more plotting with Sara and Zari, the Waverider jumps to Oslo in 1992.

The team is treating the mission like cheap entertainment, complete with popcorn and bets on the method of execution. Sara, her doubts upgraded by an order of magnitude, starts playing a dangerous double game. Her suspicions prove well-founded as Zari contacts her and shares the newest disturbing things she’s learned. Sara and Zari try and parse out the meaning of what they’ve learned and Sara sets up a diversion, which fools at least most of the target audience. Deception accomplished, Sara returns to the ship and gets congratulated by her team. As soon as she can, she slips away to discuss options with Zari. They go over more things Zari has learned, and both of them start to realize just how much in the wrong they are. After some worried discussion, the two come up with a new plan and hurry off to accomplish their new tasks. While Zari goes off to play tech support, Sara has a pointed discussion with her team.

After some initial confusion, Sara manages to explain to the rest of them what’s actually been going on. There’s a lot of shock and disbelief as they try and process this. While Sara gives them all a crash course in reality, Zari goes about her work, but gets an interesting new offer. After several reversals, events begin moving forward again. Under new leadership, the faux-Legends make the adjustments they think are necessary and carry out the new agenda as assigned. The episode ends with a very entertaining PSA parody of the old “The More You Know” series.

What I liked: The show isn’t afraid to take risks and shake things up, and the actors really committed to the new status quo. The PSA at the end was really entertaining. They actually gave the bad guys some believable motives, and did a great job of showing things we’d already seen from a different perspective. There were a lot of little in-jokes that worked nicely.

What I didn’t: I’m not sure how they copied Zari 1 instead of Zari 2, who has been “out” a lot more lately. And yes, I might be overthinking that. I don’t quite understand how Zari and Sara got as far as they did on their planning considering who they were up against.

I don’t know how they’re going to resolve where they left things, but I suspect it’s going to be fun to find out. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. I do hope the real Legends get their ship back soon, though. Although I have no idea what that will mean for Gideon.

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