The Legends get ready to fight the Encores. With a killer soundtrack.
The Legends get ready to fight the Encores. With a killer soundtrack.
Photo: Bettina Strauss (The CW)

“If you make life bleak enough, people become so focused on survival they forget they can revolt.” Zari may not have known those words would come out at a time like this, but the season five finale of Legends of Tomorrow delivered the message we all need: Sometimes a little chaos is the best way to enact change.

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Illustration for article titled iLegends of Tomorrows/i Timely Season Finale Celebrates Revolution

Over the last few seasons, Legends of Tomorrow has solved its various world-altering crises with cuteness—whether it’s opening up a theme park dedicated to magical creatures, or Beebo hugging a demon to death. The season five finale “Swan Thong” took a different route. There were still plenty of wacky moments to be found, like the Sisqo cameo we’ll get to in a bit, or Mona citing Mamma Mia 2 as proof that a free society creates beautiful things (which tracks because Mamma Mia 2 is perfect). But the Legends knew that being cute wasn’t going to fix a world under totalitarian rule. To stop a regime, you need a revolution.

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This episode may have been filmed months ago, but its message felt especially timely considering the protests against systemic police brutality and racism happening all over the world right now. The first scene of the episode is one guy spraying graffiti that says “Blue Mush Sucks”—a single gesture that hints at a growing wave of change. Legends presents its revolution in smaller moments of rebellion as the crew works to free the masses. This revolution won’t happen overnight, especially for people who are afraid of what will happen if they speak up for their rights. But it’ll happen so long as the cul-de-sac of time arcs toward justice.

The Legends, having emerged from last week’s TV reality, split into two groups so they can stop the Fates. Sara, Constantine, Behrad, Zari 2.0, and Astra go to a creepy Temple to destroy the Loom of Fate, while the others find themselves in a giant trash heap of contraband in search of the Waverider. Charlie is trying to cover up for the Legends’ disappearance as she and the other Fates “hold court” for their subjects, but it doesn’t take long for Lachesis to realize that the Legends are out there. After all, one of their subjects is wearing Constantine’s jacket—because a group of the Legends’ “fans” agreed to help them. Again, bits of rebellion slipping through the cracks.

That hair is still royalty.
That hair is still royalty.
Photo: Bettina Strauss (The CW)
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Atropos heads off to stop Sara and the others with her weird bone knives, but Sara’s ready for her this time. A decent fight scene ensues, as Constantine helps Astra access the less-destructive side of her magic. Its all ends with Atropos being thrown into the Loom of Fate, destroying it from the inside. Did it make sense? Not in the least. But it was gratifying. Atropos sucked, even if she did have amazing outfits. The Legends zip away on the Waverider and the day is saved, right? But wait! There’s 25 minutes left in the episode, and it’s Legends of Tomorrow. Of course it’s not saved.

It’s now four months later and the Legends find that the world is addicted to a smartwatch that’s (presumably) controlled by the since-reconstructed Loom of Fate. After the Loom was destroyed, the people of the world ended up suffering the same fate the Legends did during last week’s episode: all their mistakes and pain came flooding back. It was too much for most of them to take, so they turned to an easy solution. Now, the Temple is a museum that commemorates everything terrible throughout history, from Shake Weights to Vlad the Impaler. (At one point, Nate is tempted to press play on a “Thong Song” display of a robotic Sisqo surrounded by robotic women in bikinis. Nate is stopped, but you just know that’s not the end of it.)

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However, those aren’t even the worst things in the museum. We’ve got statues of the God Killers, a.k.a the Legends, as well as Charlie. But she’s not a wax figure. She’s under the smartwatch’s control, sentenced to spend an eternity sitting in the museum in shame as crowds come to heckle her. It’s the only way she can assuage her guilt over bringing chaos back to the world. But the Legends live for chaos! They try to remind her that without free will, without chaos, there’s no way to grow. Love wouldn’t exist, nor would pieces of art like Mamma Mia 2. And sure, Marie Antoinette may have been a tyrannical queen, but her reign inspired the French Revolution and brought democracy to France. Chaos brings pain, but it also brings joy. It’s a message we’ve heard over and over again, from Lois Lowry’s The Giver to, well, the world right now.

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The big twist though is that the Loom of Fate isn’t back. Instead, Gideon was reprogrammed to act like the Loom, issuing commands to people via the smartwatches to keep them complacent. Lachesis is a fraud, one who’s scared of what people will do when they’re not under control. It’s here we get the two best moments of the episode. Charlie heads to Lachesis, knife in hand, but chooses to forgive her as the two of them share an embrace. It was Charlie’s Labyrinth “you have no power over me” moment, where she chose empathy instead of revenge.

Before Lachesis and Charlie made amends, we also got one of the coolest fight sequences in the history of Legends of Tomorrow. The former deity revealed that most of the Encores wax figures in the museum were actually the real deal, kept on-hand in case of an insurgence emergency. The Legends prepare to face off against the Encores, and Nate does the thing we all knew he was going to do and presses play on “Thong Song.”

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He did the thing!
He did the thing!
Photo: Bettina Strauss (The CW)

As Robot Sisqo jams in the background, the Legends arm themselves with the worst gadgets in history, using pogo sticks and Shake Weights to bash history’s biggest baddies in the face. Museum displays are destroyed, characters flung across the room. Constantine does this super badass magic trick where he flings himself through dimensions to make one Encore stab another. It was awesome! Meanwhile, Nate chooses to rock it out with Robot Sisqo, doing some sweet fight dancing that would make Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle proud.

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Eventually, the world is saved (again) and the Legends celebrate by going back to where it all began. Charlie reunites the Smell (the band that had been killed by Atropos in a previous episode) and together they perform a punk cover of “Mr. Parker’s Cul-de-Sac” while the Legends mosh, showing that everything truly has come full circle. But it’s not a happy ending for everyone. It’s discovered that Behrad is at risk of dying if both Zaris continue to share the same timeline, so original Zari chooses to return to the Totem, sharing a tearful goodbye with Nate. In addition, Charlie chooses to stay with the Smell and forge her own path.

The episode ends with Sara being mysteriously beamed into space, in an effect that was so terrible it was brilliant. Could aliens be on the horizon for season six? It may take a long time to find out, but at least we’ll always have the Legends. Now, let me see that thong...

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We got a big of a surprise Encore with the return of Courtney Ford, once again playing Marie Antoinette.
We got a big of a surprise Encore with the return of Courtney Ford, once again playing Marie Antoinette.
Photo: Bettina Strauss (The CW)

Assorted Musings

  • It has been confirmed that Maisie Richardson-Sellers will not be returning for season six, as she’s focused on working more behind the scenes as a filmmaker. I didn’t care for Amaya, something I made abundantly clear, but I did grow fond of Charlie and this season was a great way for her to go out.
  • It was great to see Courtney Ford again as Marie Antoinette. Now bring back Brandon Routh’s Superman.
  • The Beebo Battle will always reign supreme as the greatest fight in the history of Legends of Tomorrow, but the museum fight in this episode is one for the books. I was impressed with how well they used the space, as well as how the fights continually intersected with one another. This wasn’t “each hero take on a villain.” This was a group fight.
  • I predicted last week that Zari 2.0 would be the one to leave by the end of the season, but I think they made the right choice by having original Zari 1.0 depart instead. She’s a great character and I will miss her, but there’s more room for 2.0 to grow and change over the coming seasons. That said, I’m happy that this episode gave the original the “swan thong” she deserved.
  • That song will be stuck in my head all week.
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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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