The circumstances that compelled Euripides’ Alkmaion to commit matricide appear laughable.
– Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics III.1
The Arrowverse shows have always been varied in tone, with Arrow at the dark, gritty, angsty end of the spectrum and Legends of Tomorrow at the goofy and bonkers end. But the current season of Legends has been goofier and more bonkers than ever before – while simultaneously incorporating a far darker/gritter/angstier arc than usual with the character of John Constantine. It’s a combination that shouldn’t work, but kind of does.
The goofy/bonkers trend reached its height in the midseason finale, “Legends of To-Meow-Meow.” While the episode was filled with parodies of other shows, in one crucial respect it was specifically, though less obviously, a parody of one of its fellow Arrowverse shows, The Flash.
[SPOILERS for Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash:]
Two seasons ago on The Flash, the villain Savitar was revealed to be a time-displaced version of the hero, Barry Allen, who had turned evil through losing his support group (a loss actually engineered, time-loop-style, by his future alternative evil self):
The notion that losing his connection to his loved ones would be enough to turn the Barry we know evil was never remotely believable; indeed, the oddness of evil Barry was recently lampshaded in the Flash episode “What’s Past Is Prologue,” where Barry’s archnemesis Eobard Thawne (in a delightfully chilling return) comments on it:
(For those unfamiliar with The Flash: Barry’s daughter Nora is named after his mother, whom Thawne killed; that’s the context of Thawne’s creepy line “At least you still have one.”)
It’s the unlikelihood of the hero turning evil so easily that’s parodied in “Legends of To-Meow-Meow,” where first we learn that a version of the timeline in which Sara was killed has turned the Legends into an evil mashup of The A-Team and Rambo – and then an attempt to avoid that timeline leads to a new one in which the deaths of Ray, Nate, and Mick have turned the surviving members into an evil version of Charlie’s Angels. Out of nowhere, both evil teams get their own bonkers credit sequences (with the second one explicitly imitating the Charlie’s Angels theme music):
Now admittedly we’ve seen similar craziness before, in the Flash / Supergirl musical crossover:
But in that story (as in the Buffy episode that inspired it), there was a supernatural force causing the characters to act as though they were in a musical. In “Legends of To-Meow-Meow,” by contrast, there’s no supernatural force causing Sara, Ava, and Gideon to suddenly turn around in the hallway and form the classic Charlie’s Angels pose. It’s just one of the things they now do because … their teammates’ deaths have turned them evil. One could just take this as sillier-than-usual Legends silliness; but I do think it’s also intended as a comment on the implausibility of Barry’s transformation into Savitar.
Speaking of superhero characters suddenly forming the Charlie’s Angels pose and/or breaking into song, let’s not forget the episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold in which Catwoman, Huntress, and Black Canary are caught infilitrating a gangster hideout and have to pretend to be a musical group:
(It’s striking how many sexual innuendoes these “Birds of Prey” manage to get away with, in what is ostensibly a children’s show.)
It may seem odd that I enjoy this sort of goofiness, given that of the various current and/or recent superhero shows, my absolute favourites are the mostly dark/grim/serious (and now mostly cancelled) Netflix Marvel ones. But hey, I am both gun and frock; I contain multitudes. (Though I confess I like the creepy Thawne scene above even better than I like the goofy Legends scenes.)