DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 7 Episode 3
“wvrdr_error_100<oest-of-th3-gs.gid30n> not found”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow celebrates 100 episodes with a look at the past through the eyes of one of the few remaining series mainstays.
Gideon has been a big part of the show since the very beginning. She started out as the faithful A.I. guiding the team on their missions, providing them with food, taking care of their medical needs and joining in on some banter from time to time. She has certainly grown over the run of the show and become an important part of the team. It has certainly been established that the other characters see her as much more than an artificial being so this season is taking that a step further by having her become Human.
The transition from digital to physical won’t be an easy one for her and the difficulties associated with it forms the basis for this episode. Astra and Spooner enter Gideon’s mind when she collapses in order to figure out what’s wrong with her which results in them getting taken on a tour of her memories. It’s standard practice for a 100th episode of a show to act as a celebration of it in some way. Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl reflected on their legacies in their own way and now it’s Legends turn to do so. The show has had a varied history with a revolving door of main cast members as well as a massive shift in tone and style following a problematic first season so there’s a lot to look back on.
Gideon is the perfect character to do this with as she has been there since the beginning albeit not in a physical sense. She has witnessed arguments, levity, conflict, friendships, heartbreak, loss, happiness and everything in-between. As an often passive observer she has witnessed the team grow and become a family so her memories are very valuable in terms of keeping a record of the history of the show and the characters that inhabit it. Fittingly this episode is about memories and how important it is to hold onto them. There’s the suggestion of possibly exploring the existential question of whether a person is more than the sum of their memories or if identity is more than that. If someone is defined by the sum total of their memories and experiences then in theory the loss of any memory means that the person that was is lost. Equally the creation of a new memory potentially creates a new person. This episode doesn’t explore that idea in any meaningful way but it’s part of the texture of what it’s getting at.
Being a former artificial intelligence memory doesn’t work in the same way for Gideon as it does for the other characters. Hers are stored as files on a hard drive that runs on the Waverider where the others have their memories stored in their brains. It’s a painfully obvious point to make but it’s part of the framework of this episode. Gideon remembers absolutely everything just as it was where with people memories change as they move further away from when they were created. Things are forgotten, misremembered, substituted or reinterpreted depending on additional information, changes in emotional state and a whole host of other factors. This will happen to Gideon now that she has become Human but for now her recall of events is accurate and the episode is about her reconnecting to them to affirm her identity.
It’s a fascinating character study because we get to see Gideon’s take on the fluctuating and evolving team dynamic. Memories set during the first season are all about conflict with the team constantly at odds with one another due to the strong personalities on display. Snart, Carter and Sara need almost no motivation to want to assert their dominance by fighting while even bringing Ray down to their level. This prompts Gideon to threaten to flush them out an airlock which encourages them to stop. It’s a great snapshot of what a lot of season 1 was and highlights that significant growth has been achieved since then. Sara’s pointed statement about how ludicrous it would be to choose to captain a group like this is a clear indication of how far she’s come since the days of believing her worth was only tied to her ability to kill. It is why she was recruited but she is so much more than that now so it’s great to see the raw version of Sara to point that out. It’s from Gideon’s perspective as well so Sara -and the others- are seen from the outside looking in.
The representation of Jax -with a British accent for some reason- guiding Astra and Spooner through Gideon’s memories was a nice touch as both a reminder of days gone by and an excuse to keep the plot moving. He exists to remind them that there are stakes and that there is limited time to save Gideon. Head trips are a common trope in the Arrowverse but this is a particularly strong example because it is firmly rooted in character. The evolution of how the memories are presented works really well. Early scenes are rooted in conflict and growing pains where later scenes focus on the strong connections. It forms a natural through line towards Gideon’s recovery; when she is at her most damaged she remembers strife and when she’s starting to heal she remembers love. It’s simple, elegant and meaningful so it resonates strongly.
An antagonist exists in the form of a virus that represents Gideon as she was designed. One of the memories showcases Rip Hunter installing a protocol within Gideon that forces her to accept and protect the Legends. This creates an existential crisis as she now has to consider whether her connection to them and her humanity is real or simply the result of a program. The additional associated question is around whether that matters. Evil Gideon tries to use Rip’s protocol to shatter Gideon’s resolve and force her to accept that she’s nothing more than a collection of programs. If she accepts that her connection to the Legends is artificial and meaningless then the virus wins but if she pushes beyond that to embrace what she has become since that protocol was installed then she gains a true sense of self. It’s a powerful internalised conflict and it plays out brilliantly. Amy Louise Pemberton excel as both the cold calculating Evil Gideon and the emotionally driven Human Gideon. She believably conveys the war that exists between two distinct forces within Gideon and the writing is more than strong enough to put across the major existential issues that it causes.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Gideon will come to realise that her feelings for the Legends are real regardless of where they came from. Rip installing a protocol that forced her to look out for them is immaterial because the end result is that she became part of a family and is fully accepted by them. What facilitated that isn’t important because the important thing is that the connection exists. External factors constantly influence and change relationships so Gideon is no different in that regard; the only difference is her behaviour was driven by software until recently. Evil Gideon does try to convince her that she hasn’t actually evolved but it’s a tactic to undo all that she has become and Gideon comes to realise that.
The way she realises it is excellent. Hopping between memories of the Legends simply enjoying being around one another. It’s a beautifully delivered montage of love and friendship through the years. It makes for a perfect celebration of what the show has become by showing how much the characters mean to each other. It’s great to be reminded of the purity of Nate and Ray’s friendship or see Sara loosen up around the people she loves. Gary being welcomed into the fold, reminders that Mick -sorely missed for this celebratory outing- became so much more than a thief and all the other major positive developments that happened to these people by virtue of simply being together.
Gideon makes herself take on a greater role in those memories by joining in the karaoke and declaring that she both loves and hates a song. It’s such a small thing but Amy Louise Pemberton’s performance as Gideon realises she has a tangible emotional reaction to something is excellent. This defines her as she realises that she’s Human, has opinions, has desires of her own and that she wants to be part of the team. Her reaction to this is to sing which adds Amy Louise Pemberton to the growing list of Arrowverse actors who are talented singers.
Her journey ends with her accepting that the Evil Gideon is a part of her and that people are defined as much by the bad things in life as they are by the good. She understands that all aspects of who she is need to be embraced in order to be complete and forges ahead with renewed confidence that she can find herself. The representations of the Legends explain the fullness of being Human and all that it means. She is told that it often won’t be easy, she will make mistakes, she’ll be challenged by darkness and there’s no set path to follow. Being alive is messy but it’s also not about being perfect, it’s about doing what she feels is right, drawing on what those around her can bring to help her grow, having fun and learning who she is. The representations offering pointers connected to who those characters are was a really nice touch and the scene itself was a beautifully affirming moment that highlights exactly what exists at the core of this show.
This experience is an important one for Spooner and Astra as they both see that everyone went through a similar adjustment period when they joined the team. Astra likely sees a lot of herself in the season 1 version of Sara as both are hostile and emotionally driven so it helps her understand that the strong bonds within the Legends didn’t form immediately. They all had to find their own way to belong and Astra is very much in the early stages of doing that. Seeing that even Sara had her struggles gives her a clear showcase of how possible it is. Spooner isn’t having the same difficulties but is also at that early stage and has similar challenges on finding a way to feel like she belongs. It’s meaningful for Gideon while also being meaningful and instructive for those helping her.
Surprisingly, Bishop makes his return. He is the past version who helped out at the end of last season and is having flashbacks to the events that were erased. These flashbacks distract him from the launch of the Ava clones as well as fill him with constant feelings of terror. It is revealed that he downloaded a copy of Gideon and in his quest to learn the truth behind his frightening visions he manages to restore the copy to factory setting. It looks like Bishop is being positioned as the main antagonist for the season once again which may not be a bad idea as long as the angle is very different to last season. This plot feels at odds with the main thrust of the narrative though there is some connective tissue to be found in characters trying to discover the truth about themselves. It doesn’t entirely match up and comes across as a clumsy addition to an otherwise excellent episode.
An excellent celebration of the lunacy that is this show to mark its 100th episode with a great performance from Amy Louise Pemberton. Using Gideon to reflect on the show as a whole is a great idea as she has been there from the beginning, witnessed everything the team have experienced and achieved her own growth as time has gone on. Going back to season 1 and seeing how things have changed over the years works really well as a way to highlight that growth. Sara is an excellent example with her pointed dialogue that she couldn’t imagine choosing to captain this team. Her growth is clear and being reminded that her self worth was once tied to her ability to kill really hammers how how positive an influence the team are on one another. The whole episode amounts to a fascinating character study for Gideon because we see her take on the fluctuating team dynamic. Memories set during the first season are focused on internal conflict with the episode neatly transitioning to them being a family. Structurally it highlights Gideon becoming more comfortable with herself and narratively it charts the progress of the show. Facing down an evil version of herself bent on convincing her she’s nothing more than a machine works well though the episode could have gone deeper into the existential questions that come up as a result. It builds naturally to the realisation that she is a person and cares about the team regardless of how that began. The manifestations assuring her that things won’t be easy but she has support and should trust herself to do the right thing is a great conclusion to Gideon’s arc while brilliantly using the characters that come with the words. As a celebration of 100 episodes this works brilliantly.
It’s also an important journey for Astra and Spooner who are the newest members of the team and trying to find their place. Astra seeing Sara being so hostile shows her that the connections didn’t come easily. Seeing that Sara has her struggles tells Astra how possible it is. Spooner has far less trouble adjusting but is still working to find her place so seeing how it happened with others is important and useful to her. Bringing Bishop back to set him up as the main antagonist for the season is a clumsy addition to this episode that doesn’t quite connect to the main narrative despite attempts to do so.
- using Gideon as a natural point of reflection on the history of the entire show
- showcasing the growth of the characters through flashbacks to the conflict driven interactions of season 1
- Sara acting as a pointed example of how much growth has been achieved
- the wholesome montage showcasing how strong the character connections are
- Gideon learning about herself by facing against her evil self
- strong lessons around identity and belonging learned by Gideon
- clear affirmation of Gideon being part of the team and having a long way to go in learning to be Human
- Amy Louise Pemberton’s excellent performance
- Astra and Spooner seeing that everyone had to adjust to being a Legend
- a great celebration of 100 episodes of this show
- some ideas not being explored fully such as the broader existential questions
- the Bishop plot not organically connecting to the main narrative
What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below
User Review( votes)
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.