Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 20, 2020)
The most rollicking of the superhero series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns to us with Season Five. This three-disc set includes 15 episodes.
As usual, we find a “crossover” event that merges with other DC series. The plot synopses come from the package’s liner notes.
Crisis on Infinite Earths: “The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) sends Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson) to gather the worlds' greatest heroes – Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash (Grant Gustin), Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Batwoman (Ruby Rose), White Canary (Caity Lotz), The Atom (Brandon Routh) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) - in preparation for the impending Crisis. With their worlds in imminent danger, the superheroes suit up for battle while J'onn (David Harewood) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) recruit Lena to help them find a way to save the people of Earth-38.”
As mentioned at the start of the review, “Crisis” offers a five-episode “crossover” that spans Legends and four other DC series. This package presents “Hour 5”, the portion that ran in S5 of Legends.
This 4-disc S5 set includes all five episodes of “Crisis” on the fourth disc. It makes sense that this package offers “Hour 5” on its own, since that’s how it appeared during the season, but I can’t imagine many will watch it isolated from the other four shows. That’s how I viewed it, as I skipped the isolated “Hour 5” and took in “Crisis” all in one fell swoop on Disc Four.
I’ve enjoyed prior crossovers, and this one comes with a decent level of excitement and fun, some of that sparked by clever cameos. However, “Crisis” also comes burdened with messy storytelling, a factor that means it can become tough to follow and semi-incoherent. “Crisis” still entertains, but I don’t dig it as much as I hoped.
Meet the Legends: “The Legends become famous and invite a film crew aboard the Waverider.”
The use of the “documentary” to update us on the Legends may not seem like the most original form of exposition, but it works, and it allows S5 to catch up after the crossover.
All the other DC series placed their “Crisis” episodes nine shows into their seasons except for Arrow, which made it eighth. Season Eight of Arrow stands out because it only spanned 10 shows, as Flash, Batwoman and Supergirl all ran “Crisis” midseason.
Because “Crisis” becomes the season-opener for Legends, this semi-reintroduction to the characters feels logical. It allows us to catch up with the roles after the big events of “Crisis” and open the year on its own note. The documentary format may feel a bit contrived, but “Meet” still becomes a fun opener.
Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me: “Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) meets Behrad Tarazi’s (Shayan Sobhian) rebellious sister Zari (Tala Ashe).”
After a brisk launch to S5, “Miss” works less well. While it moves along some plot elements in a competent manner, its visit to gangster material feels overdone, and “Miss” doesn’t bring much to the plate.
Slay Anything: “The Legends crash a high school reunion to stop a killer.”
“Slay” allows the series to embrace two campy elements: the 80s and slasher movies. It doesn’t go too overboard in these domains, so it becomes a fun ride.
A Head of Her Time: “Captain Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) is called away and leaves Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan) in charge.”
If nothing else, “Head” would delight due to the presence of Zari’s boyfriend “DJ S’More Money”. We also get a clever look at “social influencers” and Marie Antoinette’s reign in this good episode.
Mortal Khanbat: “The Legends find an Encore in 1990s Hong Kong: Genghis Khan (Terry Chen).”
The setting and era allows “Mortal” a chance to spoof that period’s John Woo movies, and that adds some fun. Otherwise, the episode feels a bit lackluster, as it doesn’t quite come together as desired. The show does push toward future themes, at least.
Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac: “Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Nora Darhk’s (Courtney Ford) date night goes awry thanks to an Encore.”
The return of Neal McDonough as Nora’s father adds punch to the episode, and the spoof of Mr. Rogers brings amusement as well. “Cul-De-Sac” offers a lively rebound after the mildly disappointing “Mortal”.
Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness: “The Legends hunt for remnants of the Loom of Fate and locate William Shakespeare (Rowan Schlosberg).”
Shades of Shakespeare In Love! Well, a little bit, as we only get hints of that 1998 Oscar winner.
Much of “Dawn” focuses on the Ray/Nora relationship and its ramifications for the Legends. Parts of it work, but too much of it feels like it milks lackluster comedic misunderstandings. I do like the show’s overt acknowledgement that the Loom acts as a MacGufffin, though.
Zari, Not Zari: “While Zari goes on an inner journey, Ava helps Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell).”
Though Zari has been a good addition to the series, that “inner journey” feels a little dull. The Rory side of things works a bit better, though, and we do get some dramatic elements that accelerate the season.
The Great British Fake-Off: “Zari and John Constantine (Matt Ryan) go in search of the Loom of Fate.”
At the start, I feared “British” might just become a tedious take on Jack the Ripper, an overused character across various horror and sci-fi efforts. Happily, “British” finds clever twists and fares better than anticipated.
Ship Broken: “The team must decide whom to bring back with the Loom of Fate.”
For the most part, “Broken” becomes a plot-thickening episode. That means it relies more on exposition than adventure, but it still moves along matters.
Freaks & Greeks: “The Legends go to college to retrieve an ancient artifact.”
To the surprise of no one, “Greeks” emphasizes comedy over action, and it does so well. This becomes a brisk, lively episode.
I Am Legends: “The immortal Legends face a zombie apocalypse.”
Given how overexposed the are in TV and movies, zombies offer a tedious theme. Nonetheless, “Legends” finds some decent new twists.
The One Where We’re Trapped On TV: “Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) scatters the Legends into various TV shows.”
Though the episode’s use of the Legends in series based on Friends, Downton Abbey and Star Trek leans gimmicky, “Trapped” manages to work in a clever way. It becomes a good lead to the season finale.
Swan Thong: “The Fates resurrect the Encores once again.”
S5 comes to an end with a bang via this big wrap-up of the year’s themes. It does so successfully, though I admit I could live without the cliffhanger tease.
Still, all the DC series do that, and at least “Thong” formally wraps this season’s narrative, as the last shot simply points toward another adventure for next year. S5 works well and I look forward to S6.