The latest episode of the FX series Legion is very divisive but is a must-watch episode of TV this year.
There is more enjoyment and clarity for this episode if you’ve seen the previous episodes of Legion. But you could be someone who has never seen the show and still understand why this episode needs to be watched by anyone who has ever watched any episode of TV before.
Legion is centered around a character named Legion from the X-Men comics who is a super mutant and the son of Professor X but is infinitely more powerful than his father. Legion who is named David in the TV series seems to be able to do nearly anything that is tele-related. He can read minds, teleport anything, move objects, astral project, and the list goes on and on.
It is important that his powers are related to the mind because David is also a schizophrenic. Though sometimes his power is confused with his diagnosed condition. Legion does a fair job in incorporating contemporary mental health issues but it is also reasonable to criticize the show for how it uses these illnesses to the advantage of the story.
Legion uses the complexity of David’s mind to integrate unreliable narration into the plot. It can be difficult for a viewer to trust anything they see on the screen. However, Legion in its second season is not just a show about tricking its audience, for the show subverts the expectations of the super-hero genre.
There are not many shows nor are there any super-hero shows as unique as Legion. This show is very reminiscent of Twin Peaks in terms of its ridiculous, fun nature. Legion also does for the super-hero genre, what another FX show Atlanta does for comedies. One can never know what to expect.
There’s physical action in Legion but it’s relatively small when compared to other super-hero shows. Most of the conflict in Legion is represented on a mental level. Some of these mental conflicts have been visualized as dance battles, metaphorical mazes and psychiatric clinics.
In the most recent episode “Chapter 14,” (not a show with clever episode titles) a quantum mechanics concept, the multiverse theory is visualized by David. The theory is very broad but in terms of the show, it is explained as anytime you make a decision such as saying yes instead of no, another reality is created where you do say no. With each decision, there is a new reality, creating infinite versions of you.
So in this episode, multiple versions of the character David are portrayed. There is a David that becomes rich, homeless, sterilized, etc. There’s about two handfuls of Davids in “Chapter 14” and also some of them are actually the continuation of a David within a specific reality.
In these realities, some common presences are Amy, David’s sister who cares for David as he struggles with his schizophrenic and the Shadow King who is a parasitic being that haunts and torments David, worsening his condition.
It can be very confusing to keep track of what’s going on. Though there are subtle elements that connect these realities such as David always being inside some form of a box. Also, sometimes the camera moves into another reality without making it obvious to the audience but to be honest Legion rarely ever holds its viewers hands.
This show trusts viewers to figure out most things for themselves. However, some fans of the show might not get the purpose of this specific episode in terms of the overall season. An argument could be that this is a filler episode which is a fair complaint.
One hope is that these multiple realities or the idea of multiple Davids has an impact by the end of the season. This probably will be the case because the show has already delved with time travel in which David gets advice from the future to not make a certain decision.
Something else that gives meaning to this episode is that along with the audience, the main David of the show is also envisioning all these realities which he can do due his power. He is doing this to understand the significance of his reality which has deeper meaning for the show. It can also make people think about, would they want to know all their potential realities and how this knowledge would affect the reality they’re experiencing.
Legion is a show that definitely makes you question things rather than understand them which is why it’s not a show for everyone. That is a critique but Legion isn’t a show that trying to be enjoyed by everyone.
The highlight of this episode besides the visualization of a quantum mechanics concept is one scene that refers to the film Clockwork Orange. The portrayal of mental illness in this episode is realistic but still may not satisfy or relate to people. If this article doesn’t make you want to watch or rewatch “Chapter 14” of Legion, then surely there’s a reality where it does.