Legion: 3.01 Chapter 20
Legion is back for its third and final season as it remains unlike anything else on television. It's an X-Men TV show on acid; mind-bending realities, robots, slapstick comedy and big musical numbers are a big part of the season opener. As a huge fan of the first season, I was wary of how Legion embraced the inner madness and surrealism tenfold it its second; was it going to go down the same somewhat indulgent route of Hannibal's third season - a show that veered too much into art house for the sake of storytelling? In truth, Legion requires the audience has to embrace that madness. This is a very weird and wonderful show. But once you're on-board with that, the pay off is spectacular.
The vignettes of season two gave us some of that run's best moments and there was something of that in the opening act that delved into the logic and chaos of time travel. Because a man that warp reality with his mind isn't enough! In its final run, Legion seems to be given us somewhat of a timey wimey acid trip too, albeit with a few rules to keep the narrative on track. The newest member of the cast, Lauren Tsai, was the audience's eyes into the world of David Haller - a time travelling mutant living in isolation, led down the rabbit hole into David's cult of personality (if you've seen the trailers, there seems to be a big Alice in Wonderland influence on the third season too).
From the rules of time travel and a cold, clinical 'breakfast' with her robotic designer father from his television screen, the yet-unnamed Switch found herself led into a bizarre musical number, in what can only be described as a dry cleaning facility in a big white space, housed by hippies and then led through a magical journey on land and sea to Haller's new home. It was a bold and audacious opening to the series - if the show veered too much into surrealism for your liking you'll probably have gotten off the train there.
And then things really got interesting. After a trippy encounter with sultry Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) as the 'queen of this strange cult', Switch gained a name, met David (Dan Stevens) and the story really began to fall into place. Doomed to destroy the world, he is now in hiding from Division - the enemies of season one that became the allies of season two and back to enemy again. The scene where he described his past was wonderful; "When I was a baby, a monster snuck into my head and haunted me for thirty three years. But I'm better now. How are you?" And then Division turned up and all Hell broke loose.
With the cultist snared with a striped crook - his mug of tea left spinning in the air - Legion embraced its more cartoonish, outlandish nature before it took a darker, more disturbing tone. The attack on the cult was thrilling, David loosing an arm and then being shot in the chest and killed by former love Syd (Rachel Keller) was shocking. Fortunately David had just recruited a time traveller, and with a reminder of the rules of time travel in place, Switch took her first step back in time to try and save everyone. Giving a glimpse of the wider, brutal attack, the return of the Shadow King (Navid Negahban) in league with Division and Syd killing David a second time, things took a more intriguing turn as Switch jumped back an hour further to change history a second time.
Delving into the paradoxical nature of time travel, did Switch's encounter with the Shadow King help lead to Division's attack? It was an intriguing possibility. By switching focus to Division, we also got to see how our other favourite characters were faring. Syd is now fuelled by her desire to kill David, one of the more haunting fallouts of season two. And Ptonomy, now resurrected from the mainframe by Cory in robot form, is a changed 'man'. The lines between good and evil have seemingly blurred even further, the Shadow King now very much an ally to characters we once thought as good. On the flip side, Lenny wearing the eyes of David's dead sister, doesn't seem to have stopped her becoming his closest ally.
There are a lot of questions going into the rest of the final season - will David ultimately be presented as a hero or a villain? Legion has certainly framed him in the protagonist role, with Switch a new hero in the fight to come. but just whether the audience will stay on his side, depends very much of the fate of the world still to be decided...