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Out of Time: Keto Shimizu on Legends of Tomorrow's Bold New Season

Out of Time: Keto Shimizu on Legends of Tomorrow's...

By Tim Beedle Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

After six seasons jetting through time, the scrappy crew of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is finally putting down roots, though not exactly by choice. Last summer’s season finale saw the Waverider destroyed by what sure looked like…well, the Waverider, leaving the Legends stranded on Earth in 1921. Tonight, when the show’s seventh season picks up on The CW, the team will be faced with their biggest challenge so far—getting back home.

But if you’re thinking it’s just a matter of calling the Time Bureau or having some friendly alien race cruise by and pick them up, think again. When the Waverider is destroyed, so is everything inside it, including the tools the Legends use to get themselves out of trouble. Rather they’ll be forced to rely on their intuitiveness, knowledge of the era and plain old-fashioned luck. And if you’re thinking that sounds like a fun, highly unique episode, think bigger. The Legends will be dealing with this for the entire season.

It’s a wholly different approach for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and makes for arguably the biggest change to the series since it shook up its initially serious take on superheroics for the more humorous direction it’s had since season three. Even more, it’s not the only change. Gideon is now human (played by Amy Louise Pemberton, the actress who has voiced the AI since it debuted back on The Flash). John Constantine has left the team, but Matt Ryan is back playing a mysterious new character. And all of this is to say nothing about Sara and Ava’s new reality as newlyweds.

In short, it’s an all-new Tomorrow for one of DC’s longest running TV shows, so we thought the time was right to sit down with executive producer and co-showrunner Keto Shimizu to find out what lies ahead for the Legendary crew in this strange new, non-time-traveling world.

It feels like you’re trying something new for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’s new season, with the show focusing on one larger narrative rather than a more episodic “adventure of the week” approach. Would you say that’s accurate?

I’d say it’s both correct and incorrect. It is a longer story—it’s basically an odyssey. These characters are all, like Odysseus, trying to get home, but along the way obstacle after obstacle is being thrown in their way. So, yes, in that regard it’s one long story that will take all of the season to wrap up. However, within that one long story we’re still going to have that episodic feel. You’ll still be able to identify episodes as, “Oh, it’s the one where this happened!” It’s both one and many stories.

What are some of the challenges in telling a story like that? You can’t just time travel and have an episode in some exotic or futuristic place. You’re a little more grounded.

I think (co-showrunner) Phil (Klemmer), the writers and I all felt a little bit unshackled by this new premise. It allowed us to explore stories in a very different way. Just as the Legends are having to figure out new ways of operating and new tools to use—they don’t have the resources they’re used to having at their disposal—so did we. We were just like them. We couldn’t just hop to a new place or ignore whatever mess we made and the consequences thereof. There’s no running from a consequence, like what happens in our premiere episode. You have to live with it and you have to keep going.

So, in that regard, it was a challenge, but also just a wonderful blessing creatively because it really let us dive into new challenges for these characters and new pressure point to push on and new dynamics to explore. For us, that’s always the most exciting thing and the thing that makes the creative process go smoothly—when we have something new to sink our teeth into. This season was definitely that. It’s new. It’s a different way of doing the show, but every episode that we’ve seen so far has proven that it works. It’s really exciting and I am so proud with what we’ve done this season and I really hope the fans like it.

As you alluded, if it’s taken you and the writing team a bit out of your comfort zone, well, it’s certainly taken your characters out of theirs. How can we expect to see them react?

Following the premiere, we have the team splitting up, where we have two parallel road trips happening. So, just by means of who is with whom, you have the ability to explore those character relationships. And in the same way, the fact that some characters are cut off from one another means that growth can’t really happen until they come back. You have Spooner and Astra—their friendship gets to go much, much deeper this season, and they have Gideon with them. Gideon has to learn how to be a human being. She’s been a computer. So, her getting to have these two women as her role models for what it means to be human—it’s a great start for her to get lessons from these two spitfire characters.

Then, on the other side, you have this newlywed couple who are trying to stay positive in the face of all of these crushing blows and trying to enjoy the glow of being newlyweds. But they can’t because they have this horrible thing they have to get through before they can really celebrate this union, and in the midst of all of that, they have to find the joy and the things to celebrate because sometimes you just can’t put that off. You’ve got to find the moment where you can, and they do.

You also have a deepening of friendships between Gary and Nate, and Nate and Zari 2. Meanwhile, Zari 2 and her brother are suddenly cut off from the things they kind of used as crutches—Zari and her phone and her obsession with her image and Behrad and his pot gummies. He’s not going to have those anymore. I think everyone is dealing with a different kind of obstacle that ends up being a gift over the full run of the season.

We don’t have John Constantine this season, but we do have Matt Ryan coming back. What can you tease about his new character, Dr. Gwyn Davies?

I’ll say that he’s completely different from John Constantine and that Matt’s performance as him is so distinct and unique to this character. Though they both have demons, they’re very different kinds of demons. Constantine’s were literal demons, but this guy is really dealing with some trauma in the wake of World War I. There’s a reason why he wants time travel to exist and it goes to this deep pain and repression that he’s had to face in the wake of the war. There’s a really wonderful story that we get to tell with him. He gets to be this sort of grandfather figure because he’s from one hundred years in the past. It’s sort of like this fun Back to the Future thing where Marty got to hang out with his folks as teenagers, our Legends get this character who would basically be their great-grandfather if we were talking real time.


DC's Legends of Tomorrow returns for its seventh season tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW. Need to get caught up on the crew of the Waverider? You don't need a time machine, you just need to visit our official DC's Legends of Tomorrow series page!