[Review] Legends of Tomorrow Episode 6×09: “This is Gus”

written by Kate Danvers

Episode 6×09 deals with a fake sitcom set in apartment 420.

Nice.

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

Behrad wakes up late for a team meeting. After he takes a few minutes to locate his totem, Gideon wishes him a happy birthday. At the meeting, the other Legends are too distracted by the pod tracker to remember his birthday. To be fair, Behrad himself needed Gideon to remind him.

The pod’s trajectory shows it’s going to land in Vancouver in the year 2023. Should be a short trip – that’s just outside the Waverider set. Ava tries to give a Sara-style sendoff, but falls flat. Sara offers “Raincouver,” which feels like the first of many fourth-wall breaks this episode. Zari and Behrad pull a “Tornado Twins powers, activate!” to summon Nate from their totems mid-date with Zari 1.0.

Mick calls Lita, who is surprised to hear from him – apparently the time jump to two years in the future messed with personal timelines and she hasn’t seen him in over a year. He opens a portal for her and she walks out onto the Waverider looking very pregnant. Mick ain’t happy about that and an argument starts, but Sara has assigned Aunt Ava to referee the family reunion.

The ground team ends up outside a studio taping Behrad’s favorite sitcom, Bud Stuy. He assumes the Legends just pretended to forget his birthday and faked a mission as an elaborate setup to surprise him with tickets to a taping. Everyone goes along with this rather than admitting that as time travelers, they have no concept of time. Sort of like working weekends.

Behrad explains that Bud Stuy was important to his formative years. It was canceled after two seasons, but watching the reruns left an impression on him. He says the show’s charm was that it wasn’t trying to appeal to everyone. Yeah, I get that. I’ve latched onto a very niche show within an already niche genre about superheroes traveling through time, and it takes itself just as seriously as it needs to.

If I’m being honest, I also would have latched onto this show. It has a very early WB-era sitcom vibe to it.

Sara and Spooner go out to intercept the pod, but Spooner shoots it and knocks it off course, sending it crashing into the set of Bud Stuy in the middle of the taping. The rest of the live audience thinks the baby alien who emerges is part of the show, and the director rolls with it. Since the audience loved the alien, Kamran Saeed (the director) decides to add the alien to the show. The main star of the show, Kamran’s brother Imran, is reluctant.

Lita is still going to school and is living with Nico (the baby’s father), but has no plans to get married. Mick grumbles some more, but finally calms down and asks Lita to tell him all about Nico.

Zari asks Nate how the other Zari is doing. Zari 1.0 has mainly been asking about Behrad, wanting updates on her little brother. It also seems that along with Gideon, she was one of the few people to remember Behrad’s birthday. Behrad and Astra infiltrate the writers’ room to ask about the alien, but only overhear absurd ideas for how to fit the alien into the show.

CAITY: “Any luck?”
SHAYAN: “Negative. But I did get a peek behind the curtain in the writers’ room. Trust me, you do not wanna know how the sausage gets made.”

…Wait, sorry; that should say “Sara” and “Behrad.” For some reason I confused that with behind-the-scenes chatter that somehow made it into the episode. Anyway, the Legends eventually locate the baby alien on the craft services table, but when they try to grab it, it shrieks so loud it temporarily deafens them, allowing Kamran to take the baby alien away.

Oh great, now The CW is going to start selling Baby Alien Bananas for $50 a bunch.

The next day, changes to Behrad’s appearance and personality indicate that his personal timeline has changed, and that means the Legends have to sort things out before the timeline catches up to them. Gary identifies the alien as a Gusarax, and Behrad coins the name “Gus-Gus.” The way to get Gus-Gus back to the ship without making him cry is to get him to bond with one of the Legends the way he bonded with Kamran. Since the show is casting a new “nosy landlord” character, Zari goes in to audition, but loses out to Nate.

ZARI: “Finally, a win for straight white men.”

See? This is another reason why I love Legends. They can get away with a sarcastic joke like that because the show is low-profile enough that the guys making ten videos a week about “SJWs ruining entertainment” don’t even know the show or that line exist.

Behrad tries talking to Imran directly. He tells the actor what Bud Stuy meant to him.

BEHRAD: “Growing up, my mom and dad looked at me and saw a future business school graduate. The world saw a weird Muslim kid they couldn’t bother to figure out. But seeing you on TV, Imran, was the first time I saw me.”

DO I NEED TO TAP THE SIGN AGAIN? This really hits on a lot of the same points as Season Two’s “Raiders of the Lost Art,” and I’d like to touch on something I said in that review. Art doesn’t just inspire more art; it can inspire advances in technology and medicine, or inspire someone to do other good in the world. But it can also inspire us to become who we truly are. Behrad saw a guy on TV who wasn’t conforming to societal expectations and that took a lot of pressure off of him. The characters and stories we watch or read about don’t have to be heroic or idealized – sometimes they can just be a reflection of who we are.

I hope there are young people who see themselves in Behrad Tarazi.

Imran tries talking to his brother again, but Kamran isn’t budging on the alien. Imran quits, resulting in Behrad becoming Business Behrad. He sabotages the meeting that Zari and Astra arrange with Kamran to talk about future merchandising. The totems disappear from Zari’s and Behrad’s wrists because in the timeline that’s taking over, Behrad never stole the totem. Zari blames herself for not knowing her brother as well as she thinks she should.

Sara sees the obvious signs that Mick is going to try to kill Lita’s boyfriend, so Sara, Gary, and Lita go out to find Mick before he can kill Nico. Mick didn’t kill him, though – they sat down and talked it out. Mick wants his grandchild to have something he didn’t: two loving parents. Also, in the conversation that ensues, everyone learns that Mick slept with Kayla, something that greatly concerns Gary. Mick starts crying and walks off.

Zari talks to Kamran and tries to convince him to talk to Imran, but he’s busy filming the newest episode “First Contact High.” Five bucks says the Legends writers wanted to use that name for this episode but the network said no.

Astra tries to get Imran to come back by chasing him down in a high-speed cart race around the studio. Nate improvises during filming and pretends to be a government agent looking for the baby alien. Imran crashes into the set and Gus-Gus goes flying into Nate’s arms. To prevent the baby from crying, Nate gives him one of the prop pot gummies…at least I think it’s a prop. Imran said something about his stash getting mixed up with the prop stash before. Imran sends Nate and Gus-Gus on their way.

The audience just rolls with the improv. Imran and Kamran make up, and the Legends throw a birthday party for Behrad, who has returned to his normal self. Zari 2.0 is in the totem talking to Zari 1.0 about their brother. She tells 1.0 that she should join the birthday party. 2.0 had a talk with the ancestors, and because there are two air totems now, Behrad and the timeline should be okay as long as at least one Zari is in the totem at a time. They’re going to try switching out for a few weeks so 1.0 can see her brother on a regular basis.

If this becomes the new thing, I might have to start calling 2.0 “Zari” and 1.0 “Z” because I already confused the numbers like three times writing that last paragraph. Z joins the party, catching up on everything and even making the ship name for Sara and Ava (Avalance) canon. Gary stops Mick from drinking – Kayla laid eggs in Mick’s head and now he’s pregnant. Cue the laugh track! …Oh, that’s just Gideon using her programmed laughter.

Dang, Gideon, that’s cold.

I went into the representation stuff earlier, so I won’t do that again, but it was really cool to see a bit of what made Behrad who he is. I compared the episode to “Raiders of the Lost Art” earlier, but there’s also a bit of “Phone Home”, where we saw everything that made Ray the optimistic goober that he was. From the moment Imran walks onto the set at the first taping, it’s clear how similar Behrad is to him.

Now, I’ve already mentioned two episodes that this one is similar to, so some might read that as this being just a retread of old ideas, but “This is Gus” works on a different level while still touching on similar themes.

I didn’t touch on the conversation between Zari and Kamran because I wanted to discuss it here. Zari understands Kamran’s desire to make a hit because “our hard work is rarely celebrated.” Kamran counters that the original format of the show wasn’t exactly something they could be proud of. Zari says Imran “doesn’t have to be a torch-bearer for all of us. That expectation is, honestly, unrealistic and frankly, annoying.”

I may not understand that point of view from a Muslim perspective, but it sounds an awful lot like what I’ve observed in expectations for LGBTQIA+ media. There’s such a dearth of proper representation that when it does come up, there’s a lot of pressure put on the thing to get it right. That lack of representation puts far too much pressure on niche representation, and minority representation in media isn’t given the second chances that the status quo is.

I was so disheartened by LGBTQIA+ people turning their backs on Batwoman without even giving it a chance, just because it wasn’t perfect. I was disheartened because if it failed, it wasn’t going to get a second chance. When you fail at adapting Spider-Man, Batman, or Superman five times in a row, you get five more chances. If you fail at adapting Batwoman once, you’re told that lesbian superheroes don’t sell. And I think that’s what Zari and Kamran were getting at. If Kamran didn’t produce an instant hit, he wasn’t going to get a second chance.

And how fucked up is that?

Next time: Constantine is back and in the middle of the Spanish Civil War, and Mick is dealing with pregnancy symptoms. Speaking of niche shows, am I right?

PREVIOUS | NEXT

Legends of Tomorrow airs Sundays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. Kate grew up with shows like Family Ties and My Two Dads, the latter of which wasn’t about a gay couple but rather two dudes who spent three seasons not taking a paternity test. Kate mostly just wanted their sweet car-shaped chair. See how car-shaped chairs have influenced her personality on Twitter @WearyKatie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.