Thursday, May 30, 2024

Anxieties Go Nuclear on Legends of Tomorrow

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We open in 2214 with Bishop and Assistant Ava. Bishop is introducing Ava to the secret project he’s been working on: a new Waverider, built using blueprints provided by the factory reset Gideon. Bishop plans on using this ship to destroy the Legends. He makes the Time Masters oath to protect the timeline, and his first act as a protector of the timeline is to destroy something. The OG Waverider in fact, in the same scene we saw from the finale/season premiere, only now we get to see it with the added perspective of Bishop’s point of view.  

Bishop and Clone Ava
For a (not yet) evil genius, Bishop really should have known better than to trust an emotionless AI.

Factory Reset Gideon, who will henceforth be known as Evil Gideon isn’t pleased by Bishop’s careless actions (although it’s hard to read any emotions from her at all). Bishop assuages if any issues come up, they’ll just fix them. When Hoover turns up dead several decades before his time Bishop proposes making a clone of him, but Evil Gideon rejects this idea because of the chance of a human clone diverting from Hoover’s intended path. So Bishop concocts a plan that combines the best of his evil plans, making a robot combined with his clone technology, programming the robot to follow Hoover’s intended path.

When that robot explodes, Bishop learns the Legends are still alive by accessing its last recording. He sends another Hoover into the timeline, this time with the protocol to destroy the legends, in spite of Evil Gideon’s insisting against this. As we already know this version of the Hoover-bot is also destroyed and takes out Tomas Edison with him. Growing frustrated by the Legends continuing to evade him, he and assistant Ava come up with the idea to weaponize the robots.

Evil Gideon, unable to let these ideas stand because of their threat to altering the timeline, ejects assistant Ava into the temporal zone and sedates Bishop as she enacts her own plans, replacing Hoover and Edison with robots.

Meanwhile, the Legends are stranded, again, with a busted time machine. Davies blames them for throwing him off course because his machine was calibrated for so many extra riders. Worse yet, with the machine broken, he has no way of knowing where or when they are. Gary examines the local plant life and guesstimating they’re in prehistoric times.

Davies doesn’t know if he can fix the time machine, given the lack of tools, but Zari and Behrad volunteer to help. Their trio heads off to look for magnetic materials in the natural environment. The team’s dejected by their current predicament, but especially Sara and Ava who have been trying to keep the team’s morale up this whole time on top of their own.

Spooner, Nate and Astra
Big ‘siblings spying on moms argument’ energy.

Nate, with some help from Spooner’s empathy powers, sees how stressed the captains are so he asks Spooner and Astra to separate them before their tensions run too high. Spooner and Sara head off on a hunting mission while Astra and Ava go looking for firewood. Gary and Gideon try checking in with Nate and his current relationship status. He tells them about the potential move into the totem and also about his hesitance. But this time, he wants to think through things on his own, without an overeager sounding board so he sends Gary and Gideon out to forage for food.

Zari and Behrad are trying to get Gwyn to work on the time machine, but he’s completely resigned to failure. With the knowledge that his original attempt was doomed and now, being stuck, he believes it’s god’s will that he fails. Behrad tries to encourage him with his own story about following his heart and leaving business school that led him to the Legends.

Gwyn snaps at Behrad and Zari, insulting their intelligence and their ability to help. Behrad wants to leave Gwyn to his own devices to cool down, but Zari isn’t about to take an insult lying down. What none of them notice nearby, is what is definitely not a prehistoric sign for nuclear radiation.

Behrad, Zari and Gwyn
From left to right, the optimist, the pessimist, and the fatalist

Meanwhile, Ava is venting to Astra about the stress of their situation. When she tries to claim that she’s fine, Astra points out she clearly isn’t, but she knows how to help her. Using magic, she makes an ax to let Ava channel her inner lumberjane lesbian to let out some of that frustration. Elsewhere, Nate’s working on a shelter for the team, while also working on a personal pros and cons list for living with Zari in totem.

Speaking of Zari, she’s running down Gwyn because she’s the only one allowed to insult her brother. She’s ready to give Gwyn as good as she got until she realizes his words were a cover for his own anxieties. Seeing that he’s clearly been through some shit, she softens. Remembering he’s a man from the early 1900s (i.e. very emotionally repressed), she prods him gently to open up.

He tells his story of his time during the first world war. He and a fellow soldier were tasked to deliver a message to the general, a request for reinforcements. But they encounter enemy soldiers along the way and his friend was gunned down. Gwyn was shell-shocked at the moment, unable to move. By the time he did get the message to the general, it was too late. His unit had already been whipped out.

Since then, he’s blamed himself for their deaths and saw it as his divine duty to create time travel to save them. Zari commends his bravery for sharing the story. But the moment is interrupted by Russian guards. Gwyn, who knows Russian, tries to talk their way out, but being confronted by armed men gives him a PTSD flashback to the war. Hidden nearby, Behrad watches Zari and Gwyn being taken captive by the guards.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team is busy with their own tasks. Sara and Spooner have embraced their persistent hunter instincts to round up squirrel for dinner. An unsuspecting tree becomes the conduit for Ava’s frustrations. Astra is especially impressed by her cathartic scream, and she would know, having caused many a scream in her time. Gary and Gideon are sharing their favorite anecdotes about being human while collecting berries. Oh, and they decide to have sex. And yes, Gideon proposed this just as bluntly.

Astra and Ava
Ava: 1 Tree: 0

Bishop meanwhile has realized this Time Master position is more permanent than he prepared for. He makes a device to call an Ava in 2214 for help, but the person who answers the phone is Bishop. Realizing Gideon made a Bishop-bot, he looks at the robot’s to-do list, aka the plot events of season 6. He’s horrified to learn of his future actions, coming to the conclusion that the Legends took him to show him the wrong of his ways. Only now, the Bishop-bot will live out those events and the real Bishop can be a Time Master with Gideon. Forever.

At the Russian base, Gwyn’s panic attack gets worse when they’re locked in a room. Zari gets him to talk about his fallen friend to help him calm down. From the way Gwyn describes him, in a soft voice, eyes distant and lost in the memories, Zari can tell Gwyn loved this person. She asks him as much and at first, he hestiates at the question, flinching back at the insulation until Zari assures him it’s alright. He admits he did love him, loved him in a way that everyone and everything from his time period must have said was wrong.

Gwyn and Zari
Where can one procure an emotional support Zari? Asking for a friend.

The pendant Gwyn’s been wearing this whole time is the man’s dog tags: Alun Thomas. Behrad’s hopeful personality reminded him of Alun, which is why he lashed out. Zari shares her own story of how she lost Behrad but the Legends helped her find a way to save him.

Behrad followed them to the base and he’s able to sneak in, stealing the parts they need to fix the time machine and locate where Zari and Gwyn are being held. But he also makes an unfortunate discovery. Their where and when is Chernobyl, 1986, the same day as the meltdown. They need to fill Gwyn in on why this is a bad thing. When they explain about the nuclear meltdown and immense loss of life because of it, Gwyn wants to use this chance to save everyone by giving them forewarning.

Zari and Behrad don’t take much convincing to save everyone, but they need to be ready to run, knowing the evil Waverider will be able to track them down with this big of a change to the timeline. Gwyn makes the announcement and in the chaos of Chernobyl being evacuated, their trio steals a car to get back to the Legends.

In the forest, unaware of the impending meltdown only minutes away from happening the rest of the Legends are enjoying the fire. Time moms are proud to know their kids have grown up enough to handle themselves. They also suspect something happened between Gary and Gideon but surely they couldn’t have hooked up?

Zari, Behrad, and Gwyn arrive, giving the team the sparks notes version to get them caught up. They hurry to fix the time machine while the others lookout for the evil Waverider. And because Nate apparently can’t wait another moment more, he tells Zari right there and then he wants to move in with her.    

The Legends of Tomorrow
This retro time machine is great for interesting group shots.

Bishop has the perfect chance to kill the Legends, but he doesn’t take after learning they’re the good guys who stopped his future self. Instead, he runs to the one place on the ship he didn’t install cameras in for Gideon. The bathroom. Bathroom/emergency escape toilet in this case. He falls right on top of the Legends moments before they timejump away.


I almost take for granted at this point, the way this cast can shift one role to the next flawlessly and embody a new character who’s often drastically different from the first one we met them as. Watching Matt Ryan and Tala Ashe interact in this episode it’s impossible to not get absorbed into their dynamic and the parallels between Gwyn and Zari. Of course, they would find connection through their shared understanding of losing a loved one (also, the old Legends buddy system subtly coming into play again but giving them one on one scenes together). It’s easy to forget that not too long ago both these actors were playing lovers as two very different characters.

In the same vein, Jes Macallan and Amy Louise Pemberton killed their performances in this episode. It’s not the first time we’ve seen Macallan embody the AVA clones, but they’re so strikingly different from our Ava. And Pemberton as ‘Evil Gideon’ is on another level because with just her voice it’s clear that this Gideon isn’t any version we’ve ever known. She’s regressed beyond even the first of Gideon who was introduced to us with Rip when she was still apprehensive about the Legends. If she’s really going to be our big bad for the season, making the 100th episode focused on the aspects that make Gideon human become all the more poignant.

Now, a good Legends episode is going to have some semblance of shenanigans (see Gideon and Gary hooking just because or Sara and Ava taking on their frustrations on nature) with bonus points awarded if they screw time up for the better (evacuating Chernobyl early, check). But the episodes of Legends of Tomorrow that elevate this formula are the ones that add a deeper through-line. ‘Deus Ex Latrina’ has several of its characters dealing with their anxieties one way or another. Sara and Ava having to step back from the team for their own mental resets. Nate having to work out for himself if he wants to live in the totem. And the linchpin for this particular through-line that touches on anxiety is Gwyn.

Gwyn’s journey has only just begun, so it’s fitting this was only the first part for him. He’s acknowledged his traumas and maybe admitted some things about himself out loud that he hasn’t before. But at the end of the episode, he seems more receptive to the idea that this bunch of misfits can help him. Welcome to the Legends Gwyn.

Only Legends Could

  • “Waverider? Oh! Because it’s shaped like a boat, because it rides the waves.”
  • Gary cannot bring up his nipples without making me flashback to the time he had an evil nipple. The image of it still haunts me.
  • Zari: “You can’t talk to my brother like that. That’s my job.” This is the most sibling thing.
  • Bishop: “There can only be one me!” Yeah, this line of thinking doesn’t stick around for long.
  • Evil Gideon is hardcore. She’s here to forcefully correct the timeline and cuddle Beebo, and she’s all out of Beebos.
  • So that’s what the red button in the bathroom does.

Images courtesy of the CW

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