DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 7 Episode 6
“Deus Ex Latrina”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has the team stuck in another unforgiving time period as Bishop’s plan is made clearer.
Having Bishop back as an antagonist isn’t something I found particularly exciting as the character grated on me in the previous season. It definitely seems that there’s an awareness of this on the part of the writers and a real effort to frame him very differently judging by the unexpected turns this episode takes.
Unsurprisingly it turns out he’s behind a lot of the setbacks encountered by the Legends during their extended stay in 1925. He destroyed the Waverider with his own that was built from plans provided by his copy of Gideon, he’s responsible for the creation of Robo-Hoover and Robo-Edison and worked to bring them down every step of the way. Amusingly this all comes from his cavalier approach to time travel and ignoring the fact that actions can have widespread implications on the timeline. He hears Gideon’s warning about taking care, ignores it and destroys the Waverider because he can’t see beyond his need for revenge.
This reckless action results in a mess that needs to be cleared up. Hoover’s death is the first hurdle to overcome which prompts him to create a robot version programmed with a historical to do list. When the first model is destroyed he creates another with the directive to kill the Legends before returning to the historical path Hoover followed. The same applies to Edison so the timeline is preserved by having copies of these important figures doing what they need to do.
As explanations go it works but is very low key considering how prominent the mystery has been though it’s very much on brand for Legends to favour simple answers over convoluted plotting so that the focus can be on the characters and how they react to events. For this show it’s certainly the preferred approach and neatly closes the 1925 arc to set up further developments.
With the answers know, the focus shifts to Bishop and his motivations. Knowing that he was kidnapped by the Legends and had his memory of the experience erased leads him down the path of revenge. This episode brings him to the point of realising that he is proceeding on a false assumption due to not having all the facts. He does learn that the Legends recruited him to help deal with a corrupted version of himself and re-evaluates his opinion of them. He comes to see what happened to him as being given an opportunity to redeem himself and feels that the Legends are good people after learning more about what happened.
His main obstacle throughout the episode is his version of Gideon; a factory reset copy that doesn’t have the humanity of the original. As such she conducts herself in a cold and calculated way with everything being in service of upholding her protocols. She recognises Bishop as a Time Master so expects him to behave in certain ways. Her protocols dictate that the ship is manned by one person so Assistant Ava is an unauthorised presence that needs to be dealt with. Gideon arranges to have her blown out the airlock because she deems it necessary to keep Bishop on mission.
This is brilliantly executed; Bishop’s Gideon isn’t “evil” even though her actions can be interpreted as such. All she’s doing is following programming that apparently has no ethical limitations built into it. Considering how unscrupulous the Time Masters were all the way back in season 1 that comes as no surprise and this version of Gideon only serves to highlight how far the original Gideon has grown.
Every threatening artificial intelligence will invite comparisons to HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey and this episode contains some deliberate nods. The voice being attached to a simple static visual is a particularly clear reference that gives Gideon a defined presence that makes her feel like far more than a disembodied voice. She is a tangible threat and Amy Louise Pemberton’s passionless performance adds to the danger.
Bishop’s change of heart works really well. Learning about his future after Gideon creates a copy of him to take his place comes across as a sobering realisation combined with disbelief as to how his life is fated to turn out. With the copy taking his place in the timeline he has an opportunity to become better which makes him a natural candidate to join the Legends as he has become a misfit and those tend to fit very well with that group.
This positions the factory settings Gideon as the main antagonist for the season. She is driven to bring down the Legends because she sees them as a destructive influence on the timeline which runs counter to her base protocols. It’s likely she will install herself in a body to make the threat more varied. This is a really strong idea especially with the Human Gideon joining the team with lots of potential for exploration.
The Legends end up in 1986 just before the Chernobyl meltdown though don’t learn about this until very late on. This is clumsily established and in theory acts as a ticking clock but the urgency doesn’t actually come across. Dialogue states they have very little time to fix the time machine but the execution is off because the danger never feels imminent. It acts as an incidental detail that might as well not be there entirely.
Thankfully it doesn’t matter a great deal because the characterisation is so strong. The current predicament is the perfect opportunity to gain further insight into Gwyn and his history. He opens up to Zari about an incident that happened during the first World War that cost a group of soldiers their lives while he survived. He was very close to one of those soldiers and wears his dog tags as a constant reminder of that loss. Gwyn is motivated by survivor”s guilt and suffers from extreme PTSD over this loss. It was a major motivation for him to invent time travel as he wants to put things right. Matt Ryan is great as this new character with a very powerful performance as Gwyn talks about these feelings. Gripping the dog tags as he talks is a really nice touch as it highlights what Gwyn associates with those feelings. They represent doubt to him as well as a promise to never forget what was lost.
Zari as the sounding board for his feelings works brilliantly for a number of reasons. For one thing she dealt with survivor’s guilt for a long time and was motivated to join the Legends because she saw time travel as the way to save her brother’s life so she understands the impulse to want to put things right and doesn’t tell Gwyn that he’s wrong to want to do so. She’s supportive and encouraging to him while acknowledging the time period he’s from by telling him it’s ok for him to be open with his feelings. It’s an impressive detail to consider that takes account of the historical stigma attached to men being open while recognising Zari’s previous difficulties being open with others. She doesn’t want Gwyn to feel that isolated so makes it clear that he can talk about it. She also picks up on him being in love with Alun; the soldier’s dog tags that he wears and makes it clear that those feelings are valid despite the historical attitude to them.
Nate spends much of his screen time mulling over the pros and cons of living in the totem with Zari. This approach is very mature and measured rather than having Nate make an impulsive emotionally driven decision. He recognises that he loves Zari and seeing her every day would be undeniably a good thing but he has concerns around adapting to live in the totem and considers what that would mean for him. He decides to do it which opens up further questions around what that means for him and his presence on the team. It’s a fascinating relationship development for them that will undoubtedly continue to be interesting as it progresses.
Ava teaming up with Astra who encourages her to vent her frustrations by chopping wood to let out everything that has been eating at her is a small yet fun detail that makes a slight commentary on the burden of leadership and the emotional toll recent events have taken from her. Wielding an axe and chopping wood clearly helps her and Astra’s recognition of the need to release was a really nice touch.
Pairing Gideon and Gary was a surprising engaging decision. One thing Legends does well is recognise complimentary characteristics and turning them into engaging character dynamics. In this case the two of them find common ground through presenting as Human without actually starting out that way. They discuss what they love about being Human and Gary shares some details as to how the mechanics of his outward appearance works before Gideon bluntly asks him to try sexual intercourse with her. It makes sense as a suggestion from a curious former artificial intelligence looking to experience everything being Human has to offer and it’s unclear at this point if Gary has much experience in that area as a Human either so the two of them pairing up to conduct this experiment makes sense. There is a suggestion that this will develop into actual feelings as time goes on as well and that’s a compelling prospect. This show continues to astound.
A strong episode that offers some surprises in the villain story, adds further excellent texture to Gwyn and continues to excel with general characterisation. The shift in Bishop from desiring revenge to recognising that the situation isn’t what he thought it was worked really well and the growing threat of his version of Gideon complimented this journey wonderfully. It’s a compelling new direction for Bishop that positions him as an engaging potential addition to the Legends roster with the other Gideon becoming the main antagonist. The other Gideon is interesting because she is acting based on nothing but her programming which enables her to commit morally repugnant acts. Amy Louise Pemberton’s detached passionless performance is brilliant and a strong contrast to the Human Gideon.
The Legends being threatened by the imminent meltdown of Chernobyl never reaches the level of being urgent. It’s very much an afterthought that would have made no difference had it been left out of the episode entirely. Fortunately it doesn’t matter thanks to the excellent characterisation. Gwyn opening up to Zari about the loss that motivated him to invent time travel was excellent. Zari encouraging him to open up while being mindful of the stigma associated with men being open about their feelings was a nice touch as was her connecting with him over being similarly motivated. She also picks up on Alun being more than a lost friend to him. Nate mulling over the pros and cons of living with Zari in the totem was a measured and mature approach to this notion that considers a number of angles. His decision to try it makes sense and sets up further compelling content around this. Ava venting her frustrations by chopping wood after Astra encourages her to do so was an impressive if brief commentary on the burden of leadership and how recent events have taken a toll on her. Gary and Gideon bonding over their love of Humans and all they have learned by becoming was was an unexpectedly charming pairing. Gideon’s blunt suggestion that they have sexual intercourse was amusing and the hint that feelings might emerge is engaging so far. This show continues to astound.
- Bishop’s journey towards understanding the truth behind what happened to him
- his version of Gideon growing into an antagonistic presence
- setting Bishop up as a potential recruit to the Legends team
- insight into Gwyn’s history and motivations
- Zari connecting with him because she understands what he’s going through
- recognition of the stigma around men opening up with their feelings
- Nate’s measured and mature approach to deciding to live in the totem
- Ava venting her frustrations with an axe and Astra encouraging her
- Gideon and Gary connecting over becoming Human
- the Chernobyl detail being largely redundant and failing to come across as a threat
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