Legion: 3.07 Chapter 26
Much of Legion's third season has been concerned with the past - the character of Switch allowing David and the audience to explore the life of his parents and the childhood that saw him possessed by the Shadow King. The breath-taking Chapter 22 introduced a younger version of Charles Xavier (Harry Lloyd) and his attempts to discover other mutants like him. All the while, his mother Gabrielle (Stephanie Corneliussen) dealt with her own mental health issues as she struggled to raise baby David.
This episode firmly cemented the idea that mental illness is as much a part of David's legacy as the psychic mutant powers he inherited from his father, going back at least as far as Gabrielle's own grandmother. Legion has toyed with the question over David's own illness before - is it his inability to understand his psychic powers or was that just hiding something more? In this late stage in the show, David's struggles are firmly rooted in both, fully realised in that moment Charles entered his mind and encounter the titular Legion - multiple Davids all as disturbed as the other.
The distortion of time continued to play a big part as Syd, Cary and Kerry travelled into David's past and met Gabrielle and her baby son. Subtle, jarring moments where characters moved from one spot to another or even repeated the same conversations hinted early on that the disturbing time demons were only so far away. The classic question 'would you go back and kill Hitler as a baby' was visited here; Kerry questioning whether the death of the child would stop the end of the world still to come. Fortunately, Syd has emerged wiser and more at peace with herself now, having experienced a second life raised by Melanie and Oliver last week. Murdering a baby is out of the question, but time can be changed. Second chances perhaps, are still an option even with the fate of everything at stake.
The build up to the time demon attack was very suspenseful; the moment the creature hovered over baby David's cot, and objects vanished around them as time went backwards, was intense and gorgeously executed. These creations, clockwork shadows, barely glimpsed, are a wonderful addition to the show, even if perhaps they are not as frightening as the legion itself. I'm still convinced by my theory that the time demons and the legion in David's head may still be one and the same.
Operating in the same time period, we also explored Charles' encounter with the Shadow King as he arrived in Morocco the guest of Amahl Farouk. There was plenty of disturbing imagery here, from the monkey that might have held the mind of the original king to the creepy children who contained the screaming minds of the original subjects. Navid Negahban offered a more eccentric performance here as the king, delighting in finding Charles and leading him into the inevitable trap. The dream imagery Charles experienced was just as disturbing; knowing where this would lead only amped up the tension.
But with Legion, things never go as you might expect. David turning up to help his father offered a completely new paradoxical turn of events; if he aids his father and defeats the Shadow King here, what does this mean for everything that followed? Are we going to see time re-written completely? Will it even make sense? There were no big song and dance numbers this week, but I'm certainly expecting the show's creator Noah Hawley to pull something fantastical out of the bag for the finale.
Dan Stevens was absolutely superb this week; the 'mind stare' over the table with Farouk as he sat there acting as an army colleague of Charles was fully of madness, Stevens selling everything about his character with a simple, deranged look. Pulling Charles into his mind, we also saw a number of eccentric personalities come to life through Stevens' unhinged performances as they began to take over. I always love Legion best when David is talking to himself and this was another highlight.
Season three has been a return to form after the somewhat muddled second run, though it continues to be as eccentric as ever, and as a result a little less accessible to all but the most hardened fans. Hawley really has upped his game as the show heads into the finale. Can I tell you what is going to happen next week? Absolutely not. And I kind of like it that way...