When it comes to moving the overall narrative of season two Legion doesn’t seem to be in any rush, and that could be something that could deter a lot of viewers. Why do we watch television if not for the stories and watching how it and the characters progress. With Legion though, the narrative is important but so are the characters. So are these moments found in episodes that don’t do anything to further the narrative but instead leave you more invested with the universe you’re viewing. Legion is not like any other show on television, and that’s ignoring the fact that there are three women who have mustaches and talk with robotic voices, the presentation is gorgeous and layered. The story structure is strange, confusing, and complex. The characters have a depth that almost rests on the surface but leaves you wondering just who these people are. Yes, I want to see this narrative progress but honestly, I can care less when we get to it as long as Legion keeps providing episodes like “Chapter 14”.
The beauty of this episode is the grief that surrounds it. Television characters, especially secondary ones, are expendable at best. Their deaths are used to either further develop a character, drastically change them, or maybe give the show the ole rating boost. With the apparent death of David’s sister Amy last week we the audience were left feeling okay with it. The shock came more in the twist of how she died opposed to her actual death. David, on the other hand, was devastated. All his life the only person who had ever been there for him was his sister. That was all the family he had. All the family he needed and while we hadn’t seen much of her this season, her death had a profound impact on our main character. An impact that I wonder will lead to the future that Future Syd is warning us about. As a viewer, I have no problem when a show gives a character we only sort of know and gives them a death that has gigantic ramifications for the show going forward. That’s the art of good storytelling where as a viewer you feel the impact of the death. It signifies that you’re invested. What Legion did with “Chapter 14” was take that premise and flip it on its head.
It’s safe to say that if you’re reading this column then you love or admire this show. That the detours from the overall narrative don’t push you away each Tuesday. You come here to be awed by Legion and season two has not disappointed. “Chapter 14” takes the idea of grieving a character to an entirely new level while showcasing the importance of Dan Stevens who absolutely kills it in this episode. It’s easy to be dazzled in the performance of Aubrey Plaza or just get lost in the trippiness of Noah Hawley’s writing and presentation. With all of those factors it’s possible to overlook just how terrific Dan Stevens’s performance as David is, but “Chapter 14” gives you no room to ignore it. Dan Stevens is not only engaging in his many performances but downright breathtaking. This is a deeply emotional episode that depends on Stevens’s ability to draw us into the many different faces of David, and he not only breaks your heart but rejuvenates your love for the show.
Last night’s episode was all about grief. Farouk has told David, “You decide what is real and what is not, your will“, and that is the running theme for “Chapter 14”. We actually start to get a hint of just how powerful David is. Within the moment that he finds out that Lenny has stolen his sister’s body, he constructs almost infinite different timelines where she’s still alive. These timelines serve as a hope that maybe he can find her again. That maybe he can live in a world where he still has his sister. We only get to see a few of these timelines playout but we’re given the impression that while Lenny is holding a devastated David that he’s living them all and finding they’re no better than his current state. In all of these timelines, he loses Amy. Not only does he lose her, but he has nothing else to fall back on. While Amy’s death in our timeline is crushing, David is not alone. He has the Summerland people to fall back on. He has Syd. The creation of these timelines highlights the fact that sometimes your present is a better alternative than anything else that could have possibly happened. This is a realization that is heartbreaking in its realness. Who among us wouldn’t want to try and change either a pivotal moment in their life or the loss of someone important? David actually gets to try this and the result is no better.
Throughout these multiple David’s we see one that is married with children and we see another that becomes the richest man in the world. We see a man who needs his medication and is only able to stack milk crates and we see a man who goes insane and wonders the streets in the hope of rest. We also see a David that is still controlled by the Shadow King, but through all these David’s we start to get a sense of his true power. We’ve been told over a season and a half of Legion just how powerful David is, but it’s the construction of these multiple timelines that really give us an idea. In a scene that mirrors A Clock Work Orange, we see David denigrate a group of hooligans; a trick that he does again in a different timeline when a police officer shoves Amy. We see a David who can squeeze your brain just by thinking about it or throw you into the sky as easily as lifting a finger. David’s power is on full display in “Chapter 14” and it’s not only eye-opening but seemingly as infinite as the timelines he’s constructing.
I’m sticking by the theory that Future Syd is trying to prevent Future David from killing everything. That she’s using David as a pawn to be defeated by the Shadow King. Perhaps the Shadow King is a force that can be potentially defeated by Division III and Summerland whereas they don’t stand a chance against a David who is unhinged and unleashing his power in intervals that can’t be stopped or contained. “Chapter 14” may have given us a glimpse of that potential future, but more importantly it should the biggest way to prevent it. In each of these timelines, David ends up either dead, alone, manipulated, or crippled either emotionally or physically. With nothing to fall back on David becomes lost and uncontrollable, but in the end, he chooses our reality. He chooses to come back to a world where his sister is dead, and that gives me hope. A hope that David isn’t fully lost. That he can be saved. That this possible future can be prevented by the strength of love.
David decides what is real and that realness is the pain of a lost sister, and while it sounds perverse, it’s that decision that leaves me hopeful for his future.
There you have it Geeklings, what did you think of last night’s Legion? Where you as wowed by it as I was? What was your favorite timeline? Do you have a deeper appreciation for Dan Stevens now? Sound off in the comments below. As always, if you’d like to talk more Legion with me you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. Until next week Geeklings, best of luck navigating the maze!
Images from FX