Memory is a funny thing. Let a bit of time get away from you and suddenly the memory of faces you haven’t seen in years shines like mad, your heart does that weird backflip in your chest, and a little sigh comes whooshing out of your smiling face.
Over a raucous six seasons plus two episodes, which makes it *does math* 99 episodes in total, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow has featured many faces: heroes, villains, vigilantes, geniuses, captains, bounty hunters, immortals, warlocks, aliens, time bureaucrats, et cetera. (Those pesky et ceteras!) All sorts of oddball goofs have come and gone or have had the privilege to linger onboard The Waverider to make dang sure that the timeline stays relatively stable. That is Rip Hunter’s legacy, and it has been a ride—bumps and all.
And that legacy has endured even with Legends’ famously tumultuous revolving door of series regulars, which can be jarring for certain viewers who hop off and on the series (like me!) only to find their favorite characters have been consigned to memory while the series keeps thundering on like it’s no big thing.
So it’s not so hard to imagine that Gideon, the AI that has kept The Waverider on course for all these seasons, might have been feeling the same about those we’ve lost along the way. Removed from physical reality, Gideon once floated in the digital ether, watching her fellow crew members leave the timeship and its mission behind again and again and again. Pleasant bows, quiet exits, violent ends—how do you reckon all that has sat with her? Do artificial intelligences dream of… their friends?
That brings us to episode #100, the ingeniously-titled “wvrdr_error_100<oest-of-th3-gs.gid30n> not found” (best episode title yet, and it’s gonna be a tough one to beat), which celebrates this weird time-traveling tv show with a small parade of former series regulars while also recalibrating the trajectory of its seventh season, to boot. It’s a 100-episode party for DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, and everyone’s invited! (Well, maybe not everyone.)
And what stodgier way to celebrate a television centennial than with a clip show? Lucky for us, Legends has something better in mind: a whirlwind jaunt alongside Astra and Spooner through the memories stored inside Gideon’s mind, which has undergone a bit of amnesia thanks to her newfound struggle with free will. (Good luck with that one, Gideon.)
A dramatic run through Gideon’s memories is a mighty clever way to structure this anniversary episode; it allows the series to reflect on some of its highs through the years with plenty of guest stars (a tv trope as old as the medium itself), and it also gives the show a chance to tackle the important character work that Amy Pemberton’s now-human Gideon very much needs. It’s fun but (surprisingly) it’s also business. Think of it as Legends letting us have our cake (and gingerbread men and fun-size candy bars) and eat it, too.
Directed by Caity Lotz and and written by Phil Klemmer and Matthew Maala, “wvrdr_error_100<oest-of-th3-gs.gid30n> not found” spins Astra, Spooner, and Gideon right ‘round (like a record, babe) through memory after memory after memory for most of its runtime. (There’s a sinister B-plot, and we’ll get to that in the Stray Observations.) The episode executes its ingenious meta-clip show thusly: stashed away in Gideon’s subconscious—courtesy of a chaotic mix of magic and telepathy—Astra and Spooner attempt to figure out how to restore Gideon without causing serious damage to her hard-won personality.
Luckily, hanging out within Gideon’s darkened memories of The Waverider is Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh), the better-looking half of the Firestorm matrix (with apologies to Victor Garber), who is incredibly helpful and speaks with a British accent now. “This is just how Gideon decided to remember me for some reason,” he tells us. “But I don’t mind!” (I don’t, either, Jax, it’s cool!)
The trick to getting Gideon back online (or, if you prefer, conscious) is to nudge the AI towards remembering her experiences onboard the timeship. She eventually comes to (thanks to a memory that takes place just after the Legends, um, kidnapped Spooner and stashed her on The Waverider), but there’s something keeping Gideon from achieving full awareness: a darker, awesomely lit projection of her positronic self.
Diving further back in mindtime means Gideon has a chance to fully regain her memories, but it also means that this anti-Gideon will only pursue them further, even turn Gideon’s memories against them. (The sheer sci-fi silliness of the concept gets but one pop culture jab, courtesy of Spooner: “This is why I skip Christopher Nolan movies.”) But what is the anti-Gideon’s game? Removing every influence the Legends ever had on Gideon, effectively turning her into what she was always meant to be—the optimum AI.
I’m going to reference Huey Lewis here, and I can’t imagine the Legends would mind if I did: the only thing that can repel the anti-Gideon is the power of love. Over the years Gideon hasn’t just guided the Legends from one time-hop to the next, she’s observed them, watched them grow: when Prof. Martin Stein danced and sang with his heart full of happiness, Gideon was there; when Rip Hunter broke the news to his Legends that The Waverider had but one bathroom, Gideon was there; when Leonard Snart sacrificed himself to thwart the Time Masters, Gideon was there.
She was there to give them their time coordinates, sure, but she also gave them advice, offered condolences during times of tragedy, hummed with energy behind the stainless-steel panels of the timeship as its crew enjoyed their revels. The Legends are a group of goofs, but they are Gideon’s goofs, and as a result of observing them over these many years she has become more—and more than an AI, Gideon became a person. Constructed by wires and stored within a complex source code, guided by love and support, Gideon grew.
The anti-Gideon tries to use some of the Legends’ darker days against her, but that only shows the gap that exists between what Gideon was and what she’s become. Every step, good and bad, that’s the sum of people. The memory of old faces is what brings Gideon back stronger than ever—and it turns out, good and bad, our memories of the same faces is what makes watching Legends Of Tomorrow so rewarding. (Note to the show: let’s have Brandon Routh back? Please?) Astra and Spooner may be newer recruits to this time-jumping game, but they’re good people at heart (yes, Astra too, even though she was originally cool with the idea of simply doing a factory reset on Gideon); now they’re yet another reason why Gideon lives to enjoy some strawberry rhubarb pie with her friends. Free will is more than “steal the pie, don’t steal it... don’t—pie.” Do pie, Gideon. Do. You’ll get there.
- Episode’s MVP: Gideon. The real joy of this episode was watching Amy Pemberton wander through Gideon’s memories of The Waverider and its many crew members like she was physically a part of their journey all along. She was—at least she is now—and watching her belt out showtunes with Victor Garber was a ding-dang delight. Welcome to the Legends, Gideon.
- Episode’s MVGuestStar: Rip Hunter. And it’s not simply because Arthur Darvill was there at the very beginning, either; Rip’s legacy is absolutely a crucial part of Legends, but the episode made a point to illustrate who Rip was and why he saw fit to assemble such a group of people to save the timeline, and Darvill brought his A-game for the proceedings. I’d love to see Rip pop up more often; gee, I’ve missed him.
- MVP Runners-up: Ray Palmer (I nearly fell off my couch when Brandon Routh began dancing with himself); Jax Jackson (and 90% of his British accent!); Leonard Snart. Whatever is going on behind the scenes at Legends, may Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell give The Waverider their unique brand of glower-power sooner rather than later. It was really missed this week.
- This week’s B-plot involved Bishop, who is currently struggling with mind lapses of his own (with Assistant Ava)! Armed with the Gideon AI source code, which he’s reset to ensure she’s all business, Bishop looks like he’s set up to be the big bad of season seven. We’ll see!
- Watching the OG Legends turn a disagreement into a rumble was a rambunctiously fun way to illustrate how much the crew (and the show!) has grown over the years.
- Astra, on the White Canary’s original duds: “White suede? That’s gonna stain.”
- Gideon: “What would any good Legends plan be without a dash of insanity?”
- Astra can’t get drunk because Gideon remembers that Ray Palmer had once replaced all the booze on The Waverider with kombucha. Legends!
- Gideon: “I always hoped I’d get to go on a Legends mission in real life. Always hoped it’d be one of the Westerns. But this is fun, too.”
- Ray: “My allergies are acting up.” Jax: “Yeah, it’s probably the bird dander.” Hawkman: “I don’t have dander.”
- (Did Franz Drameh get a tattoo in-between seasons? I don’t remember Jax with that tattoo, am I going crazy)
- Why was Gideon aiming the gun at the projection of anti-Gideon? That wouldn’t have done anything, that’s just light!
- So! 100 episodes! Tell me: what are you favorite memories of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow? What was your favorite Gideon-memory? Did you chortle at that Beebo cameo? Let’s share some feelings in the comments below.