As with any dysfunctional family there are three main psychological profiles. We have our Persecutor (See: Liliana, Bolas, Nixilis), our Victim (See: Jace, Chandra), and our Rescuer (Gideon, Nissa). Each of these roles within a family are acceptable within certain parameters, however the triangle can become one of extremes, where each personality can become toxic, a situation which I believe our Gatewatch has already reached. The first profile we’re going to run with is that of our Rescuer and most bland empty hero within the modern storyline: Gideon Jura, or as he was once called, Kytheon Iora.
Gideon’s origin story sets him up as a fairly interesting character with deep potential character arcs, however in some of the earlier stories and within some of the more recent stories, he has comically been referenced as “meatslab” both by the writers and the readers. The general consensus is that the most hate is directed towards Jace; however I find my own distaste quickly honing in on Magic’s most one-dimensional character besides ol’ Ob Nixilis. Recent stories including the fight against Emrakul indicate an internal conflict with Gideon, struggling to deal with his past, however every other piece of writing indicates that he has about as much personal depth as a potato.
In the Karpman drama triangle, the Rescuer’s typical line is “Let me help you”, very much orientated in the “my line of thinking is correct and if you could just see things my way and follow me everything will be better”. Rescuer’s feel implicit guilt if they are not able to rescue someone, yet their incessant behaviour has dire effects. It keeps the Victim role dependant on them as a Rescuer (which we see with Chandra throughout the story), and also gives a Victim permission to fail. Fundamentally, the act of rescuing a Victim moves the focus from them to the Victim – this in turn allows them to ignore their own anxiety and issues. The pivotal role of being a Rescuer is that their primary interest is in avoiding their own issues. The Victim enables the Rescuer and vice versa, until a point when either reduces their profile in said roles. When this occurs with the Victim, the Rescuer will still relentlessly pursue issues with a victim to enable themselves.
How did old meatslab become such a toxic white aligned character? As with any other psychological profile: childhood trauma.
Wizard’s had a strange obsession with removing any historical information on most Origins walkers, and I mean OG walkers, before the nu-Origins stories started. Jace fled Vryn with no mention of family at all due to memories being erased, at least until recently with the stories mentioning a red-headed mother. Liliana killed her brother. Ajani found enlightenment following his brother’s death and the inability to integrate with his tribe. Sorin was ageless like his grandfather who thus far has been handwaved away as “being on Innistrad”, no mention of anyone else. Nissa, well, she had quite the number of retcons from her origins to her nu-origins, but little was mentioned. Chandra’s parents were assumed dead (now we’ve had a reunion and her mother conveniently telling her to get the hell off Kaladesh because she should explore (actually she did tonnes of damage and for Christ’s sake just go away and take your meddling kid friends with you)). What of Gids? Well his father left before he was born, and his mother died when he was “young”. A convenient subplot to allow an Origins Five walker to roam the Multiverse unanchored by such troubles as family. It’s also a fairly good starting point for childhood trauma, since growing up with no parents has a tendency to affect one’s moral character.
But noooooo, not our puritan child Gids. Little Kytheon joined a gang and became it’s leader, encouraging them to do good-bad things instead of bad-bad things. Steal from the rich and give to the poor, Wizard’s took a fairly hefty leaf out of Robin Hood’s book to make early Gideon some sort of saint in the making. This is usually a pretty difficult kind of character to build without some outside influence, but the plot corrects itself by providing one in Hixus, the Prison Warden. This is where I can only describe Gideon as a Scottish Sheepdog (or Border Collie if you prefer) – highly energetic, intelligent, but mostly problematic if you don’t focus their unending energy to do things constantly.
Scratch that, Gideon has no intelligence to observe.
Mini meatslab kept trying to escape, so our teacher of humble origins arrives to put our boy back on his path Karate Kid style. Only instead of Judo chops, he gives the damn boy a whip made of blades and death, like the ultimate papercut sword from Eldrazi hell. Nothing screams hieromancy and justice like rending your flesh to shreds. Hixus recognised that our lad with the personality of a peanut was probably a planeswalker, and when Gids walked to Bant and back, that was the point when he decided to gift him his old master’s weapon of whirling death. As it turns out Hixus’ old master was a planeswalker too, a Hieromancer no less, and this is where the plot neatly ties in Gideon and Chandra. Hixus tells supermeatboyman that his old master was killed by a pyromancer. Hoh boy do I hope it was Jaya Ballard. Anyway, onto the deep and meaningful story before Gideon becomes a faceless cog in the machine of colours.
Gideon is now Indestructible. Because the well-known issue of “Superman” characters isn’t a well detailed subject on how not to write a character.
The city ends up under attack; Hixus frees the prisoners willing to defend the place, including Gideon (still called Kytheon at this point). Gideon saves the day (supah-Gids) with his old pals the Irregulars. Heliod, the God of all things white then champions him and gives him his spear to defeat Erebos’ Titan. Using the spear Gideon succeeds (of course…), and then he gets a bit cocky. It’s at this point that in most Hercules plots, the young lad wizens up and humbles himself. Not in this case. Gids, with his newfound big balls decides to throw the spear at Erebos…
Ya dun goofed.
Erebos redirects it and kills all the Irregulars. HAH. Gideon is shocked and appalled. SHOCKED I SAY. He planeswalks away to Bant to hide his shame and become a faceless soldier, his default setting in all things. The locals can’t say Kytheon Iora for some reason so he gets called Gideon Jura. Remember in my last article we were talking about name’s being of significant psychological influence? We’ll this is just one neat way of running away from one’s past.
Now we delve into canon but not canon but half confirmed The Purifying Fire. Now references were made to this book in recent stories, but this is basically where Gideon meets up with a big bad pyromancer and she very conveniently confirms how reckless and dangerous they are. It then becomes a story of misunderstanding and a whole lotta death actually, as well as a whacky trip to Diraden that follows a similar plot to Raiders of the Lost Ark – essentially Gids and Chandra dick about with cunning plans and stuff but they don’t really matter in the end, and despite the constant reminder that Chandra doesn’t have access to her mana, she somehow casts a spell anyway and kills the glorious leader Prince Velrav.
The plot is a bit boring (like Star Wars Episode I with trade negotiations), but we notice a link between Gideon being a member of an order called the Order of Heliud (geddit, Heliod?), which shows the evil side of white. Essentially Chandra wanders about causing mass destruction accidentally on purpose and just sorta whoopsies a few buildings and living beings, all the while Gideon watches in his typical judgemental fashion. They get close, serendipitous mistakes are made. Gideon ends up taking her to see the head of the Order, Walbert. Walbert goes on about his magical Purifying fire and how she needs to confess all her sins or it’ll burn her alive.
Gideon sends her down the stairs to the cave with Walbert in it and walks away; assuming things will totally go fine.
PLOT ARMOUR STRIKES AGAIN, IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE.
Things do not go fine.
Miraculously Chandra bears all to the Purifying fire about her being responsible for the death of her family (she’s technically lying because this information is later retconned. Purifying Fire cannot in fact break the fourth wall and cross reference with later information). So she doesn’t die. Instead she gets filled with a bunch of superpowers and obliterates the whole fucking cave and the temple above, killing everyone but herself. Gideon runs in and sees her passed out, and says he’ll let her live if she leaves and never comes back.
So a pyromancer, whom he was warned about, destroys Gideon’s second chance at being in a stable position within a mostly evil (but white!) but well-ordered group. Being the super nice guy he is, he lets said person leave. Welcome to the budding Victim-Rescuer relationship. But he doesn’t just like to Rescue people, oh no. It’s gotta be bigger than that. Meatslab whiteboy wants to rescue some planes. Two at a time no less. He follows Chandra’s trail to Zendikar because he misses the chaotic child because reasons. He witnesses the release of Memerakul and then fucks off to Ravnica to find a group of planeswalkers on Ravnica that can help.
But… a group of planeswalkers on Ravnica doesn’t exist yet. So I don’t really know where he heard this idea from. Regardless, he stays on Ravnica and finds the Boros. Yet another delightful White group he wants to align himself with because Gideon just needs that strong and stable leadership to point him in a direction and apply some good old white liberty to anyone looking in dire need of “correction”. He discovers over time that the red aspect of the Boros is somewhat alarming to him, so he considers buggering off with the Gateless (people without a guild) so he can be a pariah-on-a-pedestal for them instead.
It’s at this point I begin to wonder just how easily the Nazi regime might have been able to recruit our indestructible peanut of a planeswalker. Frankly, at this stage, Gideon was one heil away from “just following orders”.
In typical Gideon fashion, he continues to try and save the poor people of Multiverse all at once. He’s fighting two fronts on Zendikar and Ravnica because he thinks he’s the only important planeswalker in the universe. And to him, frankly, the entire universe needs a bit of Gideon in its life.
In all his travels, he has clearly not come across the word hubris. (If he did, he probably tried to rescue it).
Within the Zendikar storyline a great many things happen, mainly to Gideon’s ego. First he goes to recruit Jace and Chandra. Jace accepts, Chandra doesn’t. They arrive just in time to see Sea Gate get banana’d. Gids rescues Jori En in hopes that she can help Jace. Those two bugger off to The Eye of Ugin while Gideon stays behind and builds and army of survivors. Hubris kicks in, and he decides to go on the offensive and take back Sea Gate. This. Fucking. Guy. Kiora, a female blue-green aligned Gideon in the making arrives and help Gids and Co. drive the Eldrazi scum from the city. Nissa also helped because creative needed a way to shoehorn her in gently. They all party hard, fuelled by Gideon’s inherent cockiness. Basically Gideon has surrounded himself with people of his own ideals, a self-made echo chamber. Then Ulamog arrives, and despite a magical plan made by the planeswalkers and various legendary characters being thrown around, as well as an epic tentacle punch by Gideon, Kozilek comes to help the nearly-trapped Ulamog and wrecks shit. Even Kiora, asshole number two, who also thought she could take on a god, gets a lesson when her precious sea monster gets sautéed by Kozilek.
Ob Nixilis released Kozilek and comes in a wrecks the three planeswalkers despite Gideon being…well, indestructible. He tortures them, two dimensional bond villain style, and Chandra comes in a coolwhips the demon’s ass. Nixilis leaves “I’ll get you next time gadget” style.
Then the enormous travesty of the OGW storyline happens and the four of them kill two Eldrazi titans even after Kiora does a pre-revision Nissa and is all like “let ‘em go guys! They’ll just run away!” They each pledge oaths to over exaggerate their capabilities to the entire multiverse from that moment on, and Gideon essentially makes himself a defacto leader alongside Jace.
Are you absolutely sick of him yet? It’s OK he gets a slap on the wrist soon, and, well… penetrated.
The team gets a lesson on how they can’t use the same tactic twice, and Gideon soon discovers that while he is indestructible, he is not, in fact, a wall. They get overrun by Eldrazi horrors on Innistrad after a long and lengthy emo storyline involving another two childish white aligned planeswalkers. Liliana comes along and rescues them all, kind of, while Jace does the actual rescuing, following by Tamiyo doing the actual actual rescuing. Basically Emrakul seals herself while forcing the Gatewatch to live through their nightmares. Gideon’s? Watching his irregulars get pistol whipped by Erebos as she asks him what his goddamn issue is. Gideon asks Tamiyo if she would like the pleasure of joining their entirely flawless and cringe inducing team, and she sensibly declines. Instead we get Liliana. Gids is none too happy, but even representation of colour identities dictates we needed a black aligned character in the Gatewatch.
Kaladesh happens, Chandra and Gids get close, as do Nissa and Chandra. We see potential for an awkward love triangle but then it’s gently written away. Gids and Chandra become an explodey missile (no really, literally a missile), and then they recruit Ajani cause he knows these damn kids need a lesson in humility. Immediately after recruiting a big lion dude, one of the only two people that has defeated Nicol Bolas, they then ignore the lion man’s suggestion that they don’t take Nicol Bolas head on. Jace and Gideon dude bro a bit together and suggest they should go to Amonkhet and slap about a dragon. I mean, they killed two Eldrazi titans and nearly got reduced to Eldrazi mush in their last battle. What could possibly go wrong?
Amonkhet focuses more on developing Gideon but only succeeds in spectacularly outlining all the issues we’ve already come to the conclusion of ourselves. Gideon “witnesses” Oketra (shiny and chrome) and decides to throw himself into yet another very neat, strong and stable system, and takes the five trials. Yet another god of a plane takes a liking to him, and Oketra talks to him a bit. He then joins a crop with Dejuru and badmouths the black god Bontu, because nothing bad ever happened when you fucked with a black aligned god amirite Gids? You tool.
He does the challenge and it turns out to be horrifying for our precious meatslab and his morals. Instead of bitch slapping Gideon for his insolence in refusing to take part in the trials, Bontu simply says he’s a jerk for judging a culture he never grew up in. The guards and the god restrain him, despite only a few stories before he was able to punch back the tentacle of an Eldrazi god. Power creep recedes in the story at last, I guess. Gideon continues to interfere, and when the Gatewatch is dumped a giant battle with all their powers subdued, he throws himself in front of Hazoret’s spear to stop Dejuru from receiving his final reward. Yet another person (Hazoret) tells him he isn’t a god, and that he’ll die by the hands of an immortal. At last some good news. Sadly he isn’t killed by Bolas, but the dragon does manage to penetrate through his indestructible barrier with his claw and tell him to get off his sandy lawn.
When I think of Gideon now, all I can hear him saying is “muh freedoms” while applying his sural of democracy to a savages face.