This Legion review contains spoilers.
Legion Season 3 Episode 2
Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, essayist, literary critic, and all-around badass is credited with the quote “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” It’s a popular passage used to highlight the inequality between genders and also one that suggests that insecurity is at the root of violence perpetuated by men against women. In “Chapter 21,” Legion makes it abundantly clear that David’s end goal isn’t about saving the world, it’s about winning Syd back, reversing her rejection and reconvincing her and everyone else that he’s a good person worthy of love, specifically Syd’s love. David’s cult isn’t about helping outcasts learn to love themselves, it’s about quieting the insecure little voices in his head.
Syd and David’s meeting is the peak of “Chapter 21” and finds Syd rejecting David’s time travel plan. In Syd’s eyes, going back and changing the past won’t change the fact that David is still the man capable of essentially drugging and assaulting a woman against her will. In fact, the time travel plan is just a continuation of David’s original crime, in that it won’t erase what David has done, it will just prevent Syd from knowing about it. David has shown no real reflection or willingness to accept fault in what he’s done, still convinced he just made a lapse in judgement and that he’s capable of fixing it all with some mutant hijinks. At this point, David’s wounded pride is driving his desire to “save the world,” not for everyone else, but for himself.
The brief conversation doesn’t go the way that David plans, and it causes him to finally lose control over the negative, nagging voices in his head. The blue peace and love drug that David synthesizes begins to turn red and quickly transforms into a rage cocktail. It’s possible that the cheeky lunchbox-looking capsules with David’s face on them are meant for the public, and this red version of David’s “drug” could be detrimental if released on a large scale.
Clocking in at just 39 minutes before the credits hit, “Chapter 21” is a somewhat slight installment but it’s still a full-on visual feast (there’s more Alice in Wonderland imagery this week) and features some interesting developments. Just as compelling as her meeting with David, Syd meets with Farouk to express her disbelief that David still is framing himself as a victim in his story and frustration at the fact that Switch has rendered him untouchable. The only way Farouk sees getting to David is through emotional intimacy, and despite the fact that it makes Syd recoil in disgust, Farouk suggests he’ll teach Syd how to lie so well that David won’t see a betrayal coming. However, how can we be sure he’s not using his masterful lying on Syd? After all, this is the same demon parasite that we saw commit crimes just as awful if not worse than David, who’s “whispers” could still be manipulating the Division 3 team for his own benefit.
Elsewhere, the plot moves forward with David kidnapping Cary to have him make “a tank or a tool” to enhance Switch’s powers. Switch attempts to bring David with her through the portal that she creates to the time “hallway” but David cannot pass through. Division 3 uses Squirrel, the “alchemist” that they seized in last week’s attempted siege, as bait to locate David or Lenny, but in the ensuing surprise attack, Lenny gets away with Cary in her clutches. Then, while Cary is out of it, we’re treated to a fun sequence that finds Cary and Kerry switching clothing, mimicking each other’s movements before dancing, and eventually concluding with Kerry demanding to lead in their dance before morphing into David. It’s just another example of Legion embracing the interpretive power of a good dance sequence, and the show making good use out of Bill Irwin’s skills as a physical comedian.
Though it’s a shorter episode, “Chapter 21” does a good job of piggybacking on last week’s episode to set the stage for the remainder of the season. David is set on trying to “save the world” while Division 3 looks for a way to get to David that circumvents Switch’s abilities. The only thing that I miss this week is the use of Switch as the POV character, but I suppose there’s time for that device to return down the line.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.