Saturday, June 12, 2021

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 6, Episode 4: Bay Of Squids

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, we get a decent, if unremarkable episode that comes dangerously close to being filler, but manages to advance the story somewhat.

Bay Of Squids is a very busy episode, one that somehow finds a way to give every character something relevant to do. Maybe that's because a third of the cast is AWOL this week! 

Constantine and Astra (if she's even still part of the show) are both absent, as they're presumably off puttering around in the House Of Mystery. 

More surprising though is the fact that Canary & Gary don't show up in this episode at all! And this after barely appearing in the previous one. That's puzzling to me, as I assumed that Canary's "Lost In Space" storyline would be the prime focus of this season.

This is all a sure sign that the Canary arc doesn't contain enough story to fill eight episodes, so the writers are forced to stretch what little content they have. I said it last week, but it's worth a repeat— I assumed the show was gonna adapt the Warworld story from the comics, so I've been VERY disappointed so far with what they've given us so far. Feh.

On the plus side, there's a lot of fun historical stuff this week, as the Legends meet JFK, Fidel Castro and get tangled up in the Cuban Missile Crisis! Let's get to it!


The Plot:
There's a LOT going on in this episode as it jumps back & forth between multiple plotlines and locations, so bear with me.

It's October 16th, 1962. Somewhere in Cuba, an alarm sounds in an underground bunker. Two Communist soldiers see something moving fast on their radar, and assume it's an American missile. They brace themselves for impact, but all they hear is a dull thud. They rush outside and see one of the alien pods from Kayla's spaceship lying in a crater. As they get closer to it, they see a tentacle slap against the pod's glass door. One of the soldiers tells the other to sound the alarm, as the "invasion" has begun.

Elsewhere, it's morning on the Waverider. Steel runs into Zari 2.0, who hasn't applied her extensive makeup yet. He note that she looks exactly like HIS Zari— the one who's currently chilling inside the Air Totem.

Heat Wave calls everyone to the Bridge, where he tells them he got a hit on Kayla. Apparently she & her pod showed up in heavily redacted documents in 1962. He says if they locate Kayla, she can tell them where to find Canary. Sharpe wants to swing by and pick up Constantine & Astra, but Heat Wave says there's no time and sends the ship to 1962.

The Waverider arrives and Sharpe, Heat Waves, Steel, Zari 2.0 and Spooner head out into the dense jungle. They hear a convoy approaching, and assume it's transporting Kayla's pod. Heat Wave blasts it with his flame gun, while Steel steels up and attacks several of the soldiers and Spooner grabs one of their guns and opens fire. They commandeer the lead truck and drive off.

Eventually they outrun the rest of the convoy, and stop to check out the truck's cargo. Instead of a pod they find a crate containing a Russian nuclear warhead, and realize they've landed in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Gulp! Sharpe asks if Heat Wave remembered to cloak the Waverider, and he fumbles a weak no.

Meanwhile at the White House, military advisor General Kilgore informs President John F. Kennedy that government surveillance has spotted a new Soviet bomber parked in Cuba. He then shows him a photo of the uncloaked Waverider.

Back on the ship, Steel (who's an historian) briefs the others on the Cuban Missile Crisis, pointing out that the US and Russia came very close to engaging in all-out nuclear armageddon. Sharpe comes up with a three-pronged plan: 
Heat Wave and Spooner will return the warhead to the Russians, in order to protect history. Steel and Zari 2.0 will go to DC and make sure JFK doesn't start WWIII. And she and Behrad will infiltrate the Cuban bunker in order to recover Kayla. 

Steel & Zari 2.0 arrive at the White House, where they run into JFK. He assumes they're supposed to be there, and invites them into the Oval Office, where they meet Robert Kennedy and the rest of JFK's brain trust. Based on the presence of the Waverider, General Kilgore wants to go to Defcon 3. Steel downplays the ship, saying it's clearly a fake. He tells JFK that in a nuclear war, both sides lose.

Sharpe & Behrad approach the bunker, where they're stopped by a guard. She pretends to be a Russian scientist, and is immediately allowed to enter. She's taken to a lab where Kayla's laid out on a table. A doctor hands Sharpe a scalpel, believing she's there to vivisect the alien to find out what makes it tick.

Unable to think of a way out, Sharpe makes a tiny incision in Kayla's torso, which starts gushing silver blood. This makes Behrad sick, and he grabs a guard's hat (in order to throw up in it) as he runs from the room. He eventually collects himself and puts the hat on. He's then mistaken for Che Guevara, Fidel Castro's right hand man.

Behrad's taken to see Castro, and tells him he's Che's cousin Jay Guevara. Castro apparently believes him, and says the Americans are sending mutant warriors to kill him.

In the Oval Office, JFK speaks with the Russian Ambassador, who claims a "steel man" stole one of their nuclear missiles. Once again, Steel tries to downplay the incident by saying the steel man's a hoax as well. Kilgore says DARPA's been developing a such a program themselves, and suggests they attack Cuba. He tells JFK it's his call. JFK grimly tells him to raise the alert to Defcon 3. Steel & Zari 2.0 realize things are spinning out of control and history's changing.

Back in the lab, Sharpe gets a brainstorm and cuts a nitrous line, flooding the room with laughing gas. Everyone beings giggling and eventually passes out— except for her (?). She pushes Kayla out of the lab on her gurney.

Heat Wave & Spooner return the missile to the camp, and are hailed as heroes by the soldiers. Spooner's implant then activates, and she says there's an alien nearby.

Elsewhere, Castro tells Behrad he has a nuclear missile and he plans to use it on DC. He sees Behrad gulping down some of his marijuana candies, grabs the bag and begins eating them.

inside the bunker, Kayla wakes, jumps off the gurney and attacks Sharpe. Just then Heat Wave appears and blasts Kayla with his gun, causing her to run off.

Meanwhile, Castro get high from the candies, so Behrad sees his big chance. He picks up a handy guitar (?) and plays Cat Stevens' Peace Train. The song moves Castro to tears, and he says he's going to call JFK and make nice with him. He then opens the door, and is shocked to see Kayla standing in it. Behrad saves him by using his Air Totem to blow Kayla away and shut the door. Castro says JFK clearly sent the "mutant" to kill him, and says the attack's back on.

Heat Wave & Spooner take Sharpe back to the ship to treat her injuries. Behrad calls & says Castro's prepping to nuke DC. Sharpe realizes they've screwed up, and hopes JFK won't counterattack.

In the Oval Office, Kilgore gets a report that Castro's prepping his nuke, and says their only option is to counterattack. JFK starts to crack, unsure what to do next. Steel tries to de-escalate the situation, but JFK gives the order to go to DEFCON 2. Zari 2.0 gets a brainstorm, and offers to enter the order into the teletype machine. She secretly types in orders sending everyone on leave.

Back in Cuba, Castro gets a call from the actual Che Guevara. When Castro mentions his cousin Jay's there, naturally Guevara has no idea what he's talking about. Castro instantly assumes Behrad's a CIA agent. Behrad uses the Totem to escape, and Castro screams that'd he'd better tell his bosses to call off their mutant or he'll launch his nuke. 

Back on the ship, Sharpe overhears Castro threatening Behrad. She tells Heat Wave their only choice is to kill Kayla in order to prevent Castro from destroying the world. Heat Wave balks, saying the alien's their only shot at finding Canary. Sharpe realizes that, but preventing all-out nuclear war comes first.

Heat Wave accuses Sharpe of thinking of him as a hired good who's only good for killing. She agrees, saying that's exactly what she needs right now. He grimly says it's good to know where he stands, and stalks off to kill Kayla.

Heat Wave & Spooner find Kayla snooping around the missile. Spooner senses she thinks the missile is some kind of escape pod. Heat Wave yells at Kayla, saying she can't ride back to her planet on a nuke. He tells her he has a ship of her own, and offers to take her wherever she wants to go. 

Elsewhere in the bunker, Castro gets fed up and launches his missile, to the horror of his staff.

Back in DC, Kilgore gets a report that the missile's on its way and urges JFK to launch a counterstrike. Steel tries telling JFK that the Russians don't want nuclear war any more than he does, and to call Khrushchev to negotiate.

Kilgore grabs the "nuclear football" (which is just a briefcase with the launch button inside) and says he's initiating the counterstrike himself. There's then a very silly scene in which JFK's men face off against Kilgore's in a deadly game of touch football, for possession of the button.

Steel eventually grabs the football and hands it over to JFK. He says the Cuban launch was a mistake, and just because they're going to die when it hits, they don't have to take the entire world with them. JFK agrees, and deactivates the football.

Steel and Zari 2.0 then hold hands as they prepare to die.

Kilgore says he's not gonna go down without a fight, and runs out on the White House lawn. Now completely insane, he begins firing at the approaching missile with his handgun. It lands right on top of him, but for some reason doesn't explode.

We then see why, as Heat Wave, Spooner and Kayla (!) walk down a corridor of the Waverider. Heat Wave's carrying two cases filled with the plutonium he stole out of the missile, which rendered it harmless.

He then opens a portal and pushes Spooner through it and off the ship. He & Kayla then go to the Bridge, where Sharpe's waiting for them.

Kayla begins working on the Bridge equipment, and Heat Wave explains she's turbocharging the ship. He says he made a deal with her— get her back to her own ship, and she'll help him find Canary. He says he doesn't trust her though, so he has to do it alone. Sharpe thanks him and leaves.

The rest of the Legends return to the landing coordinates, only to find the Waverider's gone. Sharpe tells them Heat Wave took it on a special mission. Zari 2.0 asks where they're supposed to live now, and Steel says they can hang out at Constantine's House Of Mystery.

On the Waverider, Heat Wave warns Kayla to keep her tentacles off his beer. She shrieks something at him, and he says he doesn't speak alien. She then activates a control and morphs into the form of a sultry human woman. She grabs his beer and chugs it, impressing him.

• This is the first episode of the entire series that doesn't feature Caity Lotz, aka Canary (even though her name appears in the credits). That leaves Dominick Purcell, aka Heat Wave, as the only actor who's appeared in every episode.

• Whoever wrote this episode did their research (or at least paid a visit to wikipedia). The Cuban Missile Crisis did indeed begin on October 16, 1962.

• On the Waverider, Steel runs into Zari 2.0 (who looks exactly like his true love Zari 1.0) and they have the following conversation:

Zari 2.0: "Oh, you're not used to my nighttime makeup. I mean, no makeup. Sorry to ruin the illusion."
Steel: "No, you, um... you look just like her."
Zari 2.0: "Oh. You mean the other Zari."
Steel: "Yeah."
Zari 2.0: "I could change my hair if it would help."
Steel: "Help what?"
(She indicates his crotch.)
Zari 2.0: "Whatever's happening down there."
Steel: "It's not my fault."
Zari 2.0: "Mm."
Steel: "I was sleeping."
Zari 2.0: "Yeah."
Steel: "It's natural."
Zari 2.0: "Whatever you say, Steel."

So yeah, thanks a lot Legends Of Tomorrow, for introducing the concept of "morning wood" to prime time. 

• Heat Wave briefs the Legends and says he managed to locate Kayla's pod in 1962 Cuba. 

That's odd, since back in Ground Control To Sara Lance, we saw Canary open an airlock and jettison Kayla (along with several alien pods) into the Temporal Zone. Make no mistake— she's clearly tumbling end over end, completely unprotected through space.

So how the hell did she end up INSIDE a pod in Cuba?

If you watch the video very closely, right before she's sucked into the vortex you can just make out a couple of her tentacles reaching for one of the pods. I guess it's possible she latched onto it, opened it up, threw out the occupant and climbed in herself.

• Also during the briefing, we get this exchange:

Heat Wave: "Well, Gideon helped me find this photo buried amongst some old KGB files. Report about a crashed space alien. It was redacted until Putin was ousted from power in 2044.
Sharpe: "Redacted?' 'Ousted?' 
Where are these words coming from, Rory?"
Heat Wave: "I know words."

Seriously? Why's she so surprised that Heat Wave can be literate when he needs to. Did everyone forget that he was a best selling author a couple seasons back? Why wouldn't he know words?

• Heat Wave, anxious to start the mission, sends the Waverider to Cuba before the rest of the Legends have time to get dressed. This puzzles Spooner, who says:

Spooner: "Okay, hold up, I thought this was a time machine. Why not bring us back an hour earlier? That way, y'all can change out of your PJs."
Zari 2.0: "Oh, girl, we don't ask those questions."

I see what you did, Legends Of Tomorrow writers! You KNOW your damn show doesn't make any sense, so you just lampshaded the problem so I can't call you on it!

• Gideon's talents truly know no bounds. Not only does she synthesize marijuana gummies for Behrad, she even designs customized packaging for them as well— complete with her own brand name and logo!

• The Legends arrive in Cuba and attack a convoy that they assume is transporting Kayla's pod. Amazingly, Steel actually steels up as he battles Castro's troops! Wow! This is the second week in a row that he's used his superpower on this superhero show. 

Even more incredibly, this week the writers remembered he's an historian, and he actually used his considerable knowledge to help save the world. I should point out though that Steel studied at Oxford, and wasn't a fellow Harvard man as he tells JFK.

• The Legends steal a truck, believing it contains Kayla's pod. Heat Wave pries the lid off the crate, as the others anxiously peer into it. Something about this shot seemed familiar, but I can't quite remember where I've seen it before...

There it is! Looks like this week's director is a reeeeeeally big fan of Tarantino and his infamous "trunk shots."

• Steel, Sharpe, Spooner and Zari 2.0 are all shocked & stunned when they realize they've captured a nuclear warhead in the middle of Cuba in 1962.

Honestly I'm impressed that the Legends (sans Heat Wave, of course) had all heard of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Especially Zari 2.0— not only is she from further in the future than the others, but she seems like the type that wouldn't be interested in anything that happened more than a month ago.

• Heat Wave takes control of the mission, landing the Waverider in the jungle during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He then conveniently "forgets" to activate the ship's cloaking device, allowing US spy planes to get a good look at the futuristic ship and assume it's a new Russian weapon.

Gosh, it's really too bad that no one on the team has any way to contact the sophisticated AI that controls the ship, so they could order it to activate the cloak.

Legends Of Tomorrow has always had a VERY poor track record when it comes to casting actors resemble historical figures. And so it is with this episode. This is supposed to be John F. Kennedy. Jesus Christ! There's no way in hell anyone would have guessed that unless told.

Even worse, actor Aaron Craven doesn't even attempt Kennedy's voice! Seriously? JFK had one of the most distinctive and recognizable accents in presidential history. Heck, little kids can even replicate his nasally "Pakh the cahh in the yahhhd" Boston accent with ease. 

So why didn't Craven try it here? Could he not do it, or did the producers think it'd sound silly?

JKF's brother Robert Kennedy was a huge fail as well. Actor Preston Vanderslice looks like more like an Omega House reject than the US Attorney General.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tim Perez makes a pretty decent Fidel Castro, although honestly it'd be tough to screw up his trademark look.

And Behrad really does look like Che Guevara! Or at least his cousin "Jay."

• Steel & Zari 2.0 infiltrate JFK's Oval Office in a desperate attempt to prevent nuclear Armageddon. I'm sure it's no accident that Zari 2.0's fetching little outfit resembles Jackie Kennedy's omnipresent pink suits.

• JFK's military advisor is the aggressive, gung-ho General Kilgore. Seriously? KILGORE? Who named this character, Charles Dickens? Subtlety, thy name is Legends Of Tomorrow!

• Sharpe poses as a Soviet scientist to infiltrate Castro's base and abduct Kayla. She does a pretty good Russian accent— To my ears at least. I have a feeling a real Russian would probably disagree though.

While in the base, Sharpe's forced to perform a vivisection on Kayla. Turns out the alien has silver blood, just like a unicorn! Who knew?

• In order to escape with Kayla, Sharpe secretly cuts the nitrous oxide line, flooding the room with laughing gas. Right on cue, everyone in the room starts giggling uncontrollably and eventually passes out— except for Sharpe, who's apparently immune. What the hell? Are clones unaffected by nitrous?

When Sharpe cuts the nitrous line, everyone in the room starts laughing uncontrollably and eventually passes out-- except for her. Are clones immune to laughing gas?

• When the Russian Ambassador accuses the US of attacking them with a "steel man," Steel downplays the incident as a hoax. General Kilgore says he believes the report, claiming DARPA's been working on a serum to turn a soldier's flesh into metal. A couple things here:

First of all, the mention of DARPA seemed suspect to me, as I was under they impression they've only been around twenty years or so. Turns out they were founded in 1958! So they were definitely around in '62.

Secondly, Steel actually got his powers from a serum! Way back in Season 2's The Justice Society Of America, the Legends went back to WWII to prevent Eobard Thawne (aka the Reverse Flash) from giving a super soldier serum to a Nazi officer named Baron Krieger. 

During the mission, Steel— who suffered from severe hemophilia— was injured and began bleeding uncontrollably. Atom stole the super soldier serum, modified it and injected it into Steel to save his life. The serum cured his hemophilia, but inexplicably gave him the power to transform his body into living metal.

Is it possible that DARPA somehow heard about Atom's serum and are trying to reverse engineer it for themselves?

• Did Behrad secretly the song Peace Train? While hanging out with Castro in his bunker, Behrad grabs a guitar and sings the song in an effort to calm the dictator and convince him to not start WWIII. 

Cat Stevens wrote Peace Train back in 1971. But what if someone in the bunker heard it and started singing it later, and at some point Stevens heard it and claimed it as his own?

By the way, Behrad has a pretty decent voice. And it looks like he was really playing the guitar, not just faking it.

• Did the editor mix up some scenes in this episode? While Behrad's busy singing Peace Train, we're treated to a montage of Cuban soldiers 
unboxing and prepping the nuclear missile, and aiming it toward Washington DC.

In the very next scene, Kayla escapes from the lab and tries to kill Castro. Fortunately he's saved by Behrad, but Castro blames Kennedy for the assassination attempt and tells his men to launch the nuke.

Why would they prep the nuke BEFORE Castro flipped his lid? Shouldn't these two scenes have been reversed?

• JFK gives the order to go to DEFCON 2. Zari 2.0 offers to enter the order into the teletype machine, so she can issue fake instructions and stall the end of the world. She then proceeds to type 120 words per minute— with her thumbs! HAW! Looks like all those years of texting really paid off!

As funny as this scene is, this raises a good question— do they no longer have computer keyboards in 2044, where she's from? Seems like she'd have encountered one at some point in her life, and know how to type normally with all her fingers.

• When JFK decides not to retaliate, General Kilgore goes nuts and steals the nuclear football— which, as I mentioned before, isn't a piece of sporting equipment at all but just a briefcase containing the launch button. 

Kilgore grabs the "nuclear football" (which is just a briefcase with the launch button inside) and says he's initiating the counterstrike himself. There's then a very silly scene in which JFK's men face off against Kilgore's in a deadly game of touch football, for possession of the button.

Only a show as nuts as Legends Of Tomorrow could take the term "nuclear football" literally, giving us JFK's squad facing off against Kilgore's in a deadly, over the top scrimmage.

• More historical accuracy: During the impromptu touch football game for control of the nuke button, JFK screams in agony as his back goes out. 

This is consistent with the facts, as Kennedy famously suffered from back problems his entire life. It started when he was injured during a football game (!) at Harvard, and was exacerbated during his service in WWII.

We also see JFK's iconic rocking chair in the Oval Office. Kennedy had it brought in because he claimed sitting in it relieved his chronic back pain.

• As the Cuban missile arrives, the deranged General Kilgore gets a very Dr. Strangelove-esque comeuppance. Nice!

• At the beginning of the episode, Steel sees Zari 2.0 without her makeup, and notes that she looks just like HIS Zari— the one he clearly still has feelings for. When Sharpe sends the two of them to the White House together, it's a dream come true for Steel, as he's obviously pretending Zari 2.0 is the version he knows and loves. He even holds Zari 2.0's hand when the nuke approaches and it looks like they're about to die.

Once the crisis is over, this happens:

Zari 2.0: "I look like her again, don't I? I hate that I'm a reminder of everything you lost."
Steel: "You're not. I mean, I guess at first."
Zari 2.0: "But now?"
Steel: "Now you just remind me of you."

I'm pretty sure Steel's line was meant to show us that he's finally over losing Zari 1.0. But it could also be taken another way, and indicate that after sharing a near death experience with her, he's now got the hots for Zari 2.0. 

I guess time will tell which it is.

• All through the episode, both Sharpe and Heat Wave try to convince Kayla to help them find Canary. Yet at no time do either of them refer to her by her name. Heck, at one point, Heat Wave even calls her "Dummy!" 

Wouldn't they be more likely to convince her to help if they actually called her by her name?

Plot Trickery Alert: At the end of the episode, the Legends all rendezvous back at the Waverider, only to find it's not there. With nowhere else to go, they decide to hang out at Constantine's House Of Mystery.

Gosh, if only they had some sort of device that could open a portal onto the ship. Ah well.

Yes, I get that the writers want to split up the team and prevent them from returning to the Waverider for story purposes. The problem is they had an easy way to get back on it— one that the show hoped we wouldn't remember.

• At the end of the episode, Heat Wave and Kayla set out in the Waverider to find Canary. At one point Kayla's tired of not being able to communicate, so she uses a holographic imaging device— just like the one Gary has— to transform herself into a sultry and formidable-looking woman.

This was obviously done for two reasons: 1. It's much cheaper to film a human actress instead of someone in complicated and expensive alien prosthetics, and 2. They wanted to give Heat Wave a new love interest who's his physical and spiritual equal. Look for yet another relationship on Legends, as we get a Heat Wave/Kayla pairing next week!

This Week's Best Lines:
Nothing much this week really, except this exchange between Behrad & Sharpe:

Behrad: (on comms) "Guys, thought you might like a little update on El Comandante."
Sharpe: "Wait, you're with Fidel Castro?"
Behrad: "Yeah, we're super tight, but the problem is, he thinks the alien was sent to kill him."
Sharpe: "Why would he think that?"
Behrad: "Because it tried to kill him."

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