blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s07e07 – A Woman’s Place Is in the War Effort!

So, A Woman’s Place Is in the War Effort! bombs Bechdel in a really, really bad way. Like, there better be a scene cut or some really good excuse because it fails it by not giving Kimleigh Smith a name. She’s a Black woman working in an airplane factory in World War II; the Legends end up there and need to work to steal parts so Matt Ryan can rebuild his time machine, and Olivia Swann has a giant arc with Smith. Swann lost her temper at the 1940s racism and had to take over the factory, so the Legends don’t unintentionally get everyone fired, and Smith’s trying to convince her to slow down on the progress. It’s an awkward arc, feeling somewhat dated, especially since World War II movies erase Black people in general and Black women in particular. Still, they eventually get to a good point. Lots of character development for Swann, who seriously feels like she’s being groomed to take over the show.

But no name for Smith. So an amazing Bechdel fail.

The shitty racist boss at the plant is guest star Jason Gray-Stanford, who looks really familiar (I think it must be from “Monk”), and he takes a relatively long break from the episode because there’s not really time for him. In addition to being trapped in the WWII Homefront, the Legends also have to confront Raffi Barsoumian, who went from being the season villain to the second biggest Legends fan after Adam Tsekhman.

There are now eleven team members this season. Eleven. They’ve got to be reaching some kind of breaking point.

The main plot is Swann, Caity Lotz, Jes Macallan, and Lisseth Chavez at the plant. Lotz and Macallan get to work the floor because they’re blond white women. Swann and Chavez get sent to janitorial because shitty racists, but soon discover Smith and the other custodians are helpfully engineering-inclined. Amy Louise Pemberton’s around as Gray-Stanford’s newest suffering secretary, and it’s a good A-plot. Lots of suspense, lots of drama, some laughs. Including Macallan doing an “I Love Lucy” homage and what could be a “Ted Lasso” but probably isn’t. “Lucy” for sure, though.

The B-plot is Shayan Sobhian trying to teach Nick Zano how to be a good host, Persian-style, so Zano can impress Tala Ashe’s family when he moves into the totem dimension with her. They really need to do an episode in the totem; so far, I think they’ve shown a single room and implied another identical room, and neither seems good for “moving in together.” Sobhian and Zano are using Barsoumian as a hospitality learning opportunity because even though he’s ostensibly their prisoner, he’s really just an entitled house guest.

It’s a good episode. It’s way too full—even with some okay scenes, Ashe, Ryan, and Tsekhman are lost in the shuffle—and it could be more ambitious in the factory stuff, but it’s a good episode. It’s Swann’s first episode where she gets to run her own plotline, hence the feeling she’s in line for a promotion.

We also get a big cliffhanger involving the rest of the season; no spoilers, but let’s just say someone’s got a Plan. It ought to be fun. And there’s a nice bit of emotional weight to a twist, which may have repercussions later. So not a big enough swing—and a startling kind of fail—but “Legends” remains in excellent shape this season.

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