Legion “Chapter 20” Review- Now With More Time Travel

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Suzanne Tenner/FX

There’s a beauty in watching any episode of Legion. Any show that displays the amount of confidence that Legion does demand your attention, and when the narrative is as complex and intricate as this you better be paying attention. Otherwise, it’s easy to get swept up into the chaos of David Haller’s mind. But the beauty lies in the unexpected. Legion is as unorthodox as television gets and instead of pulling back the reins and allowing a more viewer-friendly experience it almost willingly doubles down daring you to try and follow along, and that in itself is rewarding. Part of the beauty of the experience is working out what’s important, what’s fabricated, and what is just off the walls bonkers for the sake of bonkers. Something like female robots with pencil thin mustaches with digital voices for example. Don’t get it wrong though, Legion isn’t trying to push viewers away by constantly upping the ante, no, the show expects a lot from its audience and in turn, we expect a lot from the show. It would be boring if this was just a procedural drama going from point A to point B and on and on and on. No, we want the random dance battles or musical numbers. We want giant pigs spouting drug fog from its nipples. We fell in love with Legion for what it is not what it should be.

Heading into its final season, Legion kicks things off in typical Legion fashion. Meaning, starting in the most unconventional ways possible. Saying season two ended on a downer of a note would be a massive understatement. Turns out David has been the villain this entire time, and instead of seeing a heroes beginnings we’ve been watching the birth of a villain. The problem with David as a villain is that he doesn’t even know. In his scattered, fractured mind, David truly believes that what he’s doing is the right thing and that everyone else is wrong. His actions in the season finale are deplorable. The sexual assault on Syd was disgusting, and has not aged well over time… like at all. David may believe his heart was in the right place but in order for that to be true, he would have to understand how emotions work. The fact is David comprehends emotions and applies those definitions to his life, but as far as actually feeling things… I’m not sure David has a lot of experience in that department.

Suzanne Tenner/FX

With season two ending with David and Lenny, now living in David’s sister’s body (?! I think…) on the run while Division 3 is now in hunt mode for the world’s most dangerous mutant, it would have been very easy for the show to pick up with that thread. But this is Legion, nothing is that cut and dry. Instead, we get twenty minutes with a character we’ve never seen before who keeps finding time traveler recruitment flyers all over town. It seems that David and Lenny need a time traveler for the cult they started and this girl, who is giving off some serious Jubilee vibes, seems to be gifted with this particular talent. Turns out that she’s not Jubilee but Switch and is completely different from her comic book counterpart in just about every way. We follow Switch down the literal rabbit hole as she follows a number of clues posted throughout the city that reminded me of Stephen King’s Low Men and how they communicate with Lost Pet signs.

Leave it to Legion to pull us away from the action and narrative, allow us to get invested in this new character while mapping out the premise of the season. Or at least part of it. Time travel. Those two words can be volatile to any piece of fiction as the rules of time travel can be dense, unforgiving, and push away a casual viewer. There’s a lot of overthinking when it comes to time travel, paradoxes everywhere, and with a show that operates on such a high caliber as Legion, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities to believe understanding time travel in this universe would be enough to literally melt your face. Oddly enough, time travel in Legion is reasonably accessible. Maybe it has to do with the rules playing out across the screen in fun subtitles making it easier to comprehend or possibility the visual weigh station that allows Switch to choose just how far she wants to go back with warnings of disrupting a demon. Either way, it was pleasantly surprising just how easy time travel played out across the episode. Adding the little bit about not going back far enough could just bring about the same results but going back to far could disrupt everything was a nice touch that played well into the tension of the episode.

And while David needs a time traveler, we’re still not exactly sure as to what for. It seems plausible that David would want to go back to the moment in time before he betrayed Syd, but I don’t think that’s enough to redeem him now. It’s evident that the time traveler is able to maintain memories of the past, why else would you time travel, so while David would make a different choice it doesn’t necessarily absolve him. It’s like playing a video game, understanding you messed up, and resetting to try it again. It doesn’t change the fact that you already screwed up, you just take that knowledge and go forward with it. Meaning, David would just be lying to Syd all over again under this new false reality. Nothing changes. Well, everything changes but there’s zero growth for David. He just becomes a super-powered mutant who manipulates the world for his own benefit. Not really the action of a hero. 

Of course, he needs to believe that Switch can actually travel through time. You would think that her pointing out, twice, that Division 3 is on its way and has killed him, twice, would be enough proof for David and if the ending of the episode is any indication, it is. Syd is out for revenge and even though she says David isn’t the first man to take advantage of her, there’s something that rings hollow. As much as this is about preventing the future where One Armed Syd is from it’s also about revenge. David’s betrayal is the ultimate betrayal, and if Syd’s new tattoos are any indication (“Me First”) this isn’t just a man taking advantage of her. This is a man, which she loved, taking something that didn’t belong to him. This is Syd trying to heal those scars… while trying to save the world in the meantime. No big deal.

Suzanne Tenner/FX

Farouk on the other hand, his motivations in teaming with Division 3 seem less clear. It would appear that he wants to stop David, but does stopping David now open the door for Farouk to claim the show’s throne as villain? Who can stop the Shadow King if the world’s strongest mutant is dead? Especially with his interest in the time-traveling Switch. It’s clear that Syd isn’t giving David any time to explain himself either. In both realities that Switch altered, Syd comes out blasting and kills David with a well-timed shotgun shot to the chest. There is no conversation to be had here. David must be exterminated before he can infiltrate anyone’s head or finger gun someone to dust. One has to wonder if that’s Farouk’s attempt at a power move or Division 3 doing what’s best for the world. What if through time travel David is able to view a greater threat then himself? If it benefited Farouk, wouldn’t he want that silenced? 

At the end of the day, it’s just wonderful having Legion back on our screens. There is truly nothing else like it on television. And that’s the beauty. The unexpected. The emotion. The rich character work and stunning visuals. Legion is in a class of its own and will leave quite the void in its absence. There’s just something about hyper-stylized, compelling television that leaves you wanting more. What better note to go out on? 

There you have it Geeklings, the final season of Legion is upon us. How are you feeling after this episode? Is David in full villain mode? Can he be redeemed? Can Division 3 stop him? Sound off in the comments and throw your theories my way. If you’d like to talk more Legion with yours truly then you can find me over on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll be here each and every week until the series finale breaking this showdown with yous. Get yourselves ready because it’s sure to be one trippy ride. I can’t wait! 

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