Legends of Tomorrow has always been the weirdest member of The CW’s Arrowverse line-up, a mostly fearless series that’s unafraid to engage in downright bizarre and sometimes wacky storytelling even as it investigates deeper and more complex emotional truths.
After all, a couple of displays are brave enough to sideline one of the principal characters when they don’t have to. Supergirl’s choice to leave Kara Zor-El in the Phantom Zone for half its final season is a glaring example of how such a transfer can go wrong despite the best intentions. Still, Legends goes for it, stranding team captain Sara Lance within an alien spaceship a hundred light-years away from her friends even since it utilizes her absence to research more truths about the two, who she is, and who she is becoming.
The search for Sara has been the driving force supporting Season 6 so far, introducing new characters (Spooner, Gary’s alien ex Kayla), enabling new group dynamics to flourish (Hellstar forever! ), and giving Ava Sharpe a chance to step forward as a leader in her own right. “Back to the Finale: Part II” is a very entertaining homage to the Back into the upcoming franchise, which exemplifies the absolute ridiculousness of time travel as a narrative trope, even as it gives fun meta-commentary on Sara’s disappearance and permits us to see her lovely, heartfelt proposal to Ava unfold into something near the way it was supposed to have gone down the first time. (Had she not, you know, been abducted by aliens)
But Sara’s long-awaited return into the Waverider also serves as yet another source story for a woman who is faced death and resurrection at least half a dozen times throughout her run in this universe. The icing on the cake is that she’s now a half-alien hybrid that may or might not be functionally immortal at this point.
In the end, Legends of Tomorrow has ever been a show about individuality and the things that make us who we are. Zari Tomas and Zari Tarazi may be two quite visually distinct versions of the same person, but they share the same bare soul and many of the same traits and needs. Ava may be one of the hundreds, maybe thousands of clones that look like she does. However, she is still managed to maintain her identity. And Mick Rory might be a former offender who believes humanity, in general, is crap, but thanks to Sara, he found something more significant than himself to think in any way.
These are the sort of complex philosophical questions humanity has fought to reply to because of the dawn of time: What makes us human? Are we defined by our natures or our external circumstances? And to what extent can we choose the people we become?
Is it Sara’s love for Ava that makes her individual? Does her ability to sacrifice or her love for her friends define her? How much of what’s “Sara” — her entire body and the specifics of her DNA- could be removed before she becomes someone or something else? These are the questions that Season 6 has become uniquely set up to research, which the Arrowverse has not tried to wrestle with before.