Warning: this review contains full spoilers for Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5, Episode 1. We’re checking in with all the Arrowverse shows this week to see how they build on the fallout of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. You can check out our reviews for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 10, Supergirl Season 5, Episode 10, Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 10, and Arrow Season 8, Episode 9.
While this isn’t the first new episode of Legends of Tomorrow to drop in 2020, you can’t really count the finale of Crisis on Infinite Earths as a proper season premiere. That’s the job of “Meet the Legends,” an episode that helps viewers get reacquainted with the team as they deal with the aftermath of Crisis and the fallout of their supernatural shenanigans in Season 4. The show’s charm and whimsical sense of humor remain in full force, even if that humor threatens to drown out everything else from time to time.
The immediate impact of Crisis has been surprisingly lopsided thus far, with Supergirl and Arrow dealing heavily with the fallout and the rest of the shows… not so much. You’d think a series like Legends, which is so steeped in both time travel and the magical realm, would be dramatically affected by the collapse and rebirth of the multiverse. But apart from Sara mourning the death of Oliver Queen and Nate overcompensating to hide his disappointment over not being invited, there’s not much to tie this episode back to the crossover. That said, you can forgive the show for not diving headlong into Crisis territory when the entirety of Season 5 was actually filmed before the crossover. Plus, Marc Guggenheim confirmed Crisis has a direct, critical connection to Legends’ Season 5 narrative, even if it’s not necessarily apparent just yet.
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Instead, “Meet the Legends” is more about easing viewers back into this oddball Arrowverse series. Legends has become progressively more bizarre with each new season, and that’s to say nothing of its erratic schedule. It really does help, being able to step back, see the various characters moving about their daily lives, and remember what makes Legends so entertaining in the first place.
Amusingly enough, the new season introduces a markedly different status quo in which the team members have become major celebrities in the wake of the Hey World incident. Even as the Time Bureau collapses, the Legends themselves finally have some of that fame and validation they’ve always craved. Similar to Arrow’s 150th episode, “Meet the Legends” employs a mockumentary approach that shakes up the usual formula. That approaches enhances the humor quite a bit, as we see some characters preening for the camera and others lashing out at the unwanted attention. And through it all, having a camera crew present while a group of costumed idiots face off against Grigori Rasputin only serves to make the conflict that much more surreal and hilarious.
Again, though, the rampant silliness does work against the episode at times. “Meet the Legends” focuses so much attention on being irreverent and self-aware that it struggles to conjure any sense of drama. That’s become something of a problem in recent years, especially in the Season 3 and 4 finales. As entertaining as it is to see Rasputin cast against type as a bumbling fool twisted by love, it really seems like the show could have done a lot more with such a fascinating historical figure. The Russia storyline is mostly an excuse for goofball humor, with the pressure falling on the two main subplots – Constantine’s investigation and Nate’s struggle to remember Zari – to provide the drama the main plot lacks. There is Sara’s emotional plight, too, but this episode plays that a little too maudlin and over-the-top for it to truly connect.
On the other hand, the self-aware humor helps the series deftly avoid what could have been a major storytelling problem. As fun as it is seeing the Legends enjoy their newfound fame, this team doesn’t really work unless they’re the unappreciated losers who save the timeline despite themselves. Plus, it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile this series with the rest of the Arrowverse when the existence of magical creatures and time travel become public knowledge. In acknowledgment of all this, the episode wisely ends with the Legends torpedoing their reputation at a glorified Comic-Con panel. That they use many of the same criticisms aimed at the show itself – the dodgy special effects, the lapses in logic, etc. – makes that scene click all the more. It’s a smart, silly way of restoring a bit of balance to Legends of Tomorrow and making these characters underdogs again.
The premiere is also notable for giving us our first real taste of how Shayan Sobhian’s Behrad fits into the group dynamic. Zari’s sacrifice injected a dose of much-needed darkness into the otherwise lighthearted Season 4 finale, and that undercurrent of tragedy continues to benefit the series now. Behrad himself is likable and silly enough that he immediately feels at home among the Legends. Yet even as he settles in, the knowledge that he doesn’t truly belong and the need to see Zari restored to her rightful place brings a quiet sense of urgency to the piece. And as both that story and Constantine’s investigation rise to the forefront, we can hope the series will be able to reclaim a better balance between humor and drama.
Source: IGN.com DC's Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5 Premiere Review