[Review] Legends of Tomorrow Episode 6×03: “The Ex-Factor”

written by Kate Danvers

I’m going to be honest with you all up front. I can’t stand talent reality shows. From American Idol all the way to…whatever the latest clone is. They have more prepackaged artificial drama than actually scripted shows and they make horrible people household names. I’m so glad a sentient boil like Piers Morgan was elevated into the collective consciousness just so he could tell twelve-year-olds they can’t sing.

What was I talking about? Oh, right, Legends.

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

In 2045, a robotic alien enters a convenience store in Palm Springs demanding to see Earth’s leader. He sees DJ S’More Money sitting on a throne on the cover of a magazine and sets off for Hollywood.

Zari and Constantine are making out to “Ever Fallen In Love” by the Buzzcocks but Zari keeps getting calls on her many phones. She finally answers the one Behrad brings her – it’s her assistant and friend Les-lay calling to tell Zari that her ex-boyfriend, DJ S’More Money, has been eviscerated. Personally, I would have gone with “toasted.” S’More Money was killed live on the show Da Throne in front of millions of viewers. Behrad explains to the other Legends that Da Throne is a singing competition that’s singlehandedly keeping network television alive in 2045.

Huh. Not much changes in twenty-four years.

Saving a reality TV star from being killed by an alien? Sounds simple enough. Ava orders Mick to help Spooner QB the mission and show her the ropes. Mick just wants to take the day off. Nate thinks Sara’s abduction is hitting Mick hard. He’s reminded that Ava exists, so he assures her that Sara is probably off pulling a Thor: Ragnarok and beating up aliens. So I guess the Marvel Cinematic Universe exists in the Arrowverse? That raises so many questions.

In 2045, Da Legends brush up on The Throne…I may have gotten that backwards. Each year, the show has a secret celebrity contestant. Last year, it was President Dwayne Johnson. Zari uses her own celebrity to distract the guards at the door long enough for Behrad, Ava, and Nate to sneak in. They arrive in time to see the alien, Lord Knoxacrillion, take to the stage to challenge S’More (current holder of Da Throne) to the death. Nate and Behrad intervene, but the fight is seen as a performance that gets rave reviews from the audience and the Golden Buzzer from S’More, sending Lord Knoxacrillion into the finals.

I present to you the voice of a generation.

Spooner tries to get Mick to teach her about being a Legend, but he just wants to drink. Is this some kind of hazing? Ava can’t possibly think Mick is the best Legend to teach the newbie. Spooner has heard that Mick is the last original Legend and realizes that’s what’s getting to him. Mick blows it off like he doesn’t care. Okay, yeah, Carter died, Leonard died, Carter came back and he and Kendra left to be completely forgotten by every CW show, Stein died, Jax retired, Rip died, Ray retired, and Sara got kidnapped. But at least you still have Gideon!

Ava tricks Lord Knox into boarding the Waverider and traps him behind a force field that he easily disables with his superior technology. He declares that if he wins a duel to the death with Earth’s “king,” he’ll call his armada to invade the planet. If the challenge is forfeit, he’ll call the armada to destroy the planet. The Legends change tactics and tell him that Earth doesn’t do duels to the death; they do singing competitions. He accepts.

Zari finds out her brand is tanking because she hasn’t been around in the public eye to promote it, so when Ava calls to tell her about Lord Knox joining Da Throne, she announces to social media that she’s the secret celebrity wild card contestant. Also her boyfriend “Johnny C” sets S’More Money’s head on fire. She does a song and dance number that almost turns me around on the whole talent competition trend.

Zari is a good fit for this mission. Her social media influencer status means she’s used to dancing with the stars.

Sara is too weak to fight whoever is coming for them, so she convinces Gary to attack them in her place…the same way Kayla took out Spartacus a few episodes ago. Alien form Gary lies in wait in a tree, and when armed soldiers approach, he attacks with tentacles and devours some of them. A delirious Sara thinks she sees Ava and follows her deeper into the forest. Gary unmasks one of the soldiers he didn’t eat to find that she’s an Ava clone.

Nate and Behrad decide that what Zari needs to boost the numbers of her finale performance is an interview with her new boyfriend at her side. They drag Constantine off to give him a makeover as Zari’s mother arrives, sad that Zari’s been dodging her calls and asking questions about her “street magician” boyfriend. Zari apologizes for being out of touch and promises that Constantine is “just a fling” that won’t last. Unbeknownst to either of them, Constantine is outside listening.

Zari and Constantine do an interview with the host of Da Throne. Zari claims to have been doing some self-care and traveling with friends, and seeing historical sights. I mean…that’s mostly true. When the subject changes to her relationship with “Johnny C” and the possibility of getting married, Constantine storms out.

Backstage, the two argue. Constantine accuses her of only caring about her social media image and using the mission to get back on top. Zari counters that they’ve all been caught up in his bullshit numerous times. Both agree their “relationship” is a fling and Constantine breaks it off. S’More Money swoops in to cheer Zari up by giving her an empowerment song to sing in the finals.

Amazing that this show would even let a masked singer perform. Are there no background checks?

During Lord Knox’s interview in which he mentions being abducted by Kayla, Mick gives Gideon a command word that causes one of the Waverider’s weapons to lock onto Knox. Detecting this, Knox calls his fleet into Earth’s orbit and they all aim weapons at the planet. If the Waverider fires on Knox, the fleet will destroy the Waverider. If they pull anything else like that, he’ll start the invasion.

Ava stops Mick in the hallway and he pulls his flamethrower on her for a moment. He says if Ava had been the one kidnapped by aliens, Sara would have found her by now. Ava is tired of Mick’s bad attitude, drinking, and poor hygiene. He seems to be upset because Lita is too busy with college to take his calls. Ava is only slightly sympathetic, telling him to straighten up or get off her ship.

Constantine learns from Les-lay that breaking Zari’s heart is actually good for her image, which iSs why S’More Money cheated on Zari with Les-lay and leaked the photos to the press. In S’More’s dressing room, he gives Lord Knox the same song he gave to Zari. Knox synthesizes 500,000 of Earth’s best vocalists. Once the alien leaves, Constantine, Behrad, and Nate ask S’More what he’s up to. He’s sabotaging Zari by giving both contestants the same song and arranging it so Knox goes first. Behrad knocks out S’more and Nate steals his costume.

Lord Knox goes first, and that’s how Zari finds out that he’s using the same song. It’s seen by the crowd and the host as a gender-bending diss track since it has lyrics declaring that “the real Dragon Girl’s here.” Yeah, that tracks. Of course the audience isn’t going to notice an alien synthesizing a voice through his suit’s technology – most of the singers they listen to are probably autotuned to fuck.

So you think you can dance? Check out this alien’s moves.

Constantine takes the moment to ask Zari why she told her mother they wouldn’t last. She says it’s because they can’t even commit to taking the first step and both of them are just going to screw it up anyway. Constantine wants to try, though. Zari doesn’t respond, and takes the stage. She starts to sing “Ever Fallen In Love” and Constantine joins in with a guitar to sing a duet. The crowd votes and Zari comes out on top. Knox bows to the queen and his armada retreats.

LORD KNOXACRILLION: “I am your humble servant, Queen Z.”
ZARI: “Okay.”

I love her.

Back on the Waverider, the Legends congratulate Zari. She thanks her team and her boyfriend. Lord Knox’s helmet suddenly opens and a tiny alien hops out of what is revealed to be a human-sized robot suit. It reminds me of the Arquilian from Men In Black, and I’m sure that was their inspiration. Spooner tries to shoot Knox, but the others tell her to put her gun away. Behrad gets down on the floor to talk to the tiny alien just as Mick comes in and stomps on it. He has a plan: find Kayla, they find Sara.

Meanwhile, “Ava” leads Sara to a ship. Sara knocks out the clone because she can tell the difference between her Ava and an impostor. Inside the ship, Sara finds a seemingly human man who says he’s been waiting for her. Also, he’s maybe listening to “Space Girl”? I couldn’t tell if that was diegetic or if that’s just Sara’s theme for the season.

This guy’s got talent. He’s the real x factor. He’s this planet’s idol. >.> The Sing-Off, World of Dance, The Four: Battle for Stardom, The Masked Dancer, Fame, Nashville Star, Rising Star, Eurovision, The Glee Project, Last Choir Standing, CAN. YOU. DUET???? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sorry, I got a little carried away on that last image caption. How we all doing? Other than the premise really not being my thing, I really enjoyed this episode. The songs were decent, the cast looked like they had fun with the performances and the setting, and the nods and references were great.

My only problem is that Sara’s subplot is moving at a snail’s pace. I think overall we got four scenes with Sara and I was able to summarize them in two paragraphs. The Legends act like she’s been missing for weeks, but what we’ve seen from Sara’s perspective, it’s been like a day and a half. There could be some shifting timeline thing going on, or maybe Mick just goes into breakdown mode very quickly.

I would normally complain about the “hetero nonsense” of Zari and Constantine’s “will they/won’t they” subplot, but honestly, I kind of like it? They both acknowledge that they’re kind of screwed-up people and they’re afraid of committing to something they think they’re going to sabotage. I especially like the end where after announcing that they’re an item to the other Legends, they quietly admit to each other that they’re both terrified at the prospect of their relationship. They’re both disasters, and it kind of works.

Next time: OH MY GOD, will you idiots stop traveling back to the Cold War? Not because you keep fucking it up, but you’re going to start running into yourselves over and over.

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Legends of Tomorrow airs Sundays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate’s main beef with reality TV is the “confessional” segments where the stars spout every insipid thought that goes through their heads. Read her own insipid thoughts on Twitter @WearyKatie

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