When it comes to artificial intelligence, the question of nature vs. nurture becomes very different. Humans are created (ask your parents), but an artificial intelligence is built. It has specific programming. The line between what an AI is and what it can become as it learns is easier to find and manipulate. Now that Gideon, the Waverider’s computer, is human, where is that line? Spoilers follow for Legends of Tomorrow, Season 7, Episode 3, “wvrdr_error_100<oest-of-th3-gs.gid30n> not found.” (Yes, that’s the actual name.)
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LEGENDS OF PAST AND PRESENT IN THE 100th EPISODE — With Astra (Olivia Swann), Spooner (Lisseth Chavez) and a now-human Gideon (Amy Pemberton) trying to save the Legends, Gideon becomes overwhelmed by her new human choices sending her into a catatonic state. Astra and Spooner combine their powers to enter Gideon’s mindscape and discover that a virus is trying to erase all of Gideon’s memories. Acting fast, they devise a plan to defeat the virus before it’s too late. Meanwhile, the Legends are about to go up against a powerful new foe.
The best kind of clips episode is the kind where none of the clips are from the actual show. I loved it when Community did it far too many years ago, and I enjoyed it here, too. This week’s episode celebrates 100 episodes of Legends of Tomorrow in the kind of silly, metatextual way that only Legends can do and still make sense.
Jax is Bax
As the episode title suggests, Gideon is having some trouble. Placed in a (minor) moral conflict by Astra and Spooner, Gideon collapses, and the two jump into her head with the help of Astra’s magic, bringing us back to the comfort of the Waverider after two stressfully Waverider-free episodes, even if just the Waverider that exists in Gideon’s mind.
The writers use this conceit as a way to take a literal walk down memory lane. There’s a virus at work inside Gideon’s mind, trying to attack and destroy her memories. Doing his best to keep things running is Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, who left the Waverider during Season 3 following the Crisis on Earth-X event. However, Jax now has a British accent because actor Franz Drameh is actually British, and because Legends loves to slip in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jokes that depend on the viewer knowing about meta aspects of the show.
Jax acts as a guide for Astra and Spooner as they first work to wake up Gideon’s subconscious, and then to walk her through her memories. Astra and Spooner are the perfect pair for this, and I love how well thought out it seems to have been to bring them there. Aside from Sara Lance, Gideon is the only sentient being who has been with the Waverider since Season 1, Episode 1. Astra and Spooner, meanwhile, are the newest members of the crew. It’s easy for someone who has been there the whole time to miss the little changes that occur in people over time, but these two didn’t know Sara back then.
Memories make the personified artificial intelligence
The trio goes through about a dozen memories from the Waverider, reintroducing us to Rip Hunter, Hawkman, Captain Cold, Victor Stein (as well as the American version of Jax), Ray and Nora, and others from important moments on the Waverider. Very few–if any–of these moments happened on-screen. These are returning actors coming back to reprise their roles to tell the story of the history of this show that, by all means, shouldn’t exist. It’s a bunch of characters from other shows, smashed together, with a pretty bad first season. By all means, we shouldn’t have 6+ seasons of history to go back through, but here we are, and the show does a great job of honoring it.
The virus assaults Gideon with some of the most difficult times on the Waverider–Rip adjusting her programming to make her put the Legends above the timeline, Behrad’s death, and so on–before Astra and Spooner then guide her through a bunch of happy memories, like a time when the Legends celebrated every holiday at once. Gary sets out a plate of gingerbread cookies and explains that “When eating a person, you should start with the limbs and work your way to the head.” It’s a sort of retroactive foreshadowing that gives a good laugh without getting in the way of the story.
Bishop is back
Throughout all this, we get our first idea of who the villain for the rest of the season will be: Bishop. Wait, what? Yeah–it’s the version of Bishop they kidnapped, used, and mind-wiped to beat future Bishop. Apparently, he snatched a copy of Gideon before they mind-wiped him, and woke up with it in his lab coat. In other words, in kidnapping Young Bishop to defeat Old Bishop, and then wiping Young Bishop’s mind, the Legends created Old Bishop and inspired his obsession with Sara.
While I struggled with Bishop at first, I like this kind of cause-and-effect coming back around on the Legends. Usually, their existence outside the timeline isolates them from this kind of thing. Having them out of the Waverider with this bearing down on them is a significant shift, and I hope they can pull it off.
This episode is pretty cheesy, but that’s okay. It’s a nostalgic call back to six seasons of rotating cast and increasingly bizarre storylines. There are little gaps here and there–Dominic Purcell’s Mick Rory-style exit from the show means that we see the back of a stunt double’s head a couple of times. Maisie Richardson-Sellers, who played Charlie and Amaya, was strangely absent, too, despite being on the show for three seasons. She’s directing an upcoming episode, so it’s not like there’s bad blood as with Purcell. Even so, seeing all these cast members back and helping to create all of these important moments for Gideon is a blast.