An X-Men icon makes his debut in the latest haunting episode of Legion.
The details of David’s parentage has been one of the biggest mysteries on Legion. While season one hinted what comic fans already knew – that Professor X himself Charles Xavier was David’s father – he didn’t make his reveal until now. In true Legion-style, we witnessed David and Switch’s attempts to travel back into the past through the eyes of the past itself as the tender, haunting relationship between Charles and David’s mother Gabrielle was explored.
Returning to the themes of season one, the episode explored Charles’s time in a mental institution, offering a very different side to the one explored in the more recent X-Men films. Harry Lloyd stepped into the iconic role, a younger and more vulnerable version of Charles but still carrying the gravitas associated with the character. While the time periods of Legion have always been somewhat vague, we witnessed a flashback to Charles in the Second World War presumably using his psychic abilities to force a German soldier to kill himself. Haunted by his powers, we saw a Charles that – like David – retreated to a mental institution to process what had happened.
It was there he meets the catatonic Gabrille (Stephanie Corneliussen), a woman only Charles can reach with his mind. The ensuing relationship as she ‘woke up’ was haunting and beautiful, the scenes flitting back between their time in the mental institution and their life as parents to baby David in a gothic house. As the episode progressed, I begun to suspect if, despite the birth of David, they were still in the institution, the house just a dream created in her mind by Charles. The beauty of Legion is that there are no concrete answers. Whether this home was a figment of Charles’ abilities or real, the joy and tragedy of Gabrielle’s story was in how Charles saved her and she was lost again.
The flashes of David breaking through, the 70’s music and flashes of bright colours, added to the dreamlike quality of the episode. We knew enough about David and Switch’s mission to understand what was happening but Chapter 22 didn’t play to convention, right the way down to the non-linear narrative, never really giving the audience a definitive idea of where we were. We witnessed Charles creating an earlier version of Cerebro and later going off to encounter the Shadow King Farouk. Gabrielle became more isolated; it was heart breaking to see so alone and afraid, even without knowing her fate. Director John Cameron really amped up the tension and horror with vast, open shots of the empty house and the emergence of the Shadow King in smoke form possessing David. The creepy doll of David’s childhood made a chilling reappearance through and the scene with the faceless baby David was particularly creepy.
The big twist of the episode as David attempted to interact with his mother, ended the episode on a somewhat grim note, one that is sure to have big ramifications for his character moving forward. I would love to see an older Charles Xavier play his part in the final episode to come, but if this is his only appearance in the show’s mythology, then at least we have been given something refreshing and new, not seen on screen in his character before.
While Chapter 22 didn’t necessarily push the core storyline forward, it did give us a gorgeous, emotion episode that added depth to David’s character and tapped further into X-Men mythology. This haunting entry was one of the best episodes Legion has done yet.
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