Dan Stevens gives a bravura performance in a multi-faceted episode of Legion…
When we lose someone in our lives, it’s not uncommon to think about how things could have gone differently, that if you had done this or that or this event hadn’t happened they might still be around. In the latest episode of Legion, following the death of his sister Amy last week, David gets to prove this theory by witnessing various alternate versions of himself and see how his and his sister’s futures played out differently.
At least, I think that’s what happened. I don’t say this lightly, but this might have been the trippiest episode of Legion to date. Until the final montage of the entire series up until now, “Chapter 14” is almost entirely devoid of connections to the ongoing narrative. Literal ones, anyway, as thematically it obviously has something to say about how important to David Amy really was. As we see here, in almost every timeline, she is the one constant in his life.
So, to help us get our heads around this hour, let’s breakdown the various Davids on display:
Dentally-Challenged David: This hyperactive, likely meth-head, David discusses the theory of multiple universes in a cafe with someone. He has bad skin and teeth. He also mentions other Davids such as one who is a high school teacher.
Old Homeless David: Destitute and alone, this David has lived on the streets for decades. His powers activate when he is attacked by Droogs from A Clockwork Orange (for some reason), which cause Division 3 to attack him – with Kerry delivering the final blow. He has a momentary encounter with Syd.
David, The Richest Man In The World: After using his psychic abilities to help his boss secure the right business deals, David eventually becomes a billionaire. He seems to have merged with the Shadow King in his head in this timeline as he not only acts like Amahl Farouk but sees his reflection in the mirror.
‘Stache David: This David’s powers are kept at bay by Amy doping him up on drugs. Tragically, he does lose control when he has a vision of the Devil with Yellow Eyes (good to see him again! Sort of) and he is shot by the police. Amy is seen visiting his grave.
Elderly Bald David: In a possibly similar timeline, a practically comatose, elderly David is looked after by Amy. Note that he is bald and wheelchair-bound – much like his old dad, Professor X.
Office David: All we know about this David is that he’s stuck in a boring office job and resorts to sniffing glue in order to liven up his day – which causes him to experience some trippy things.
Family Man David: In what looks to be the only happy version of David’s life, he has married and unknown woman (not Syd! Sob!) and has three children. Somehow, he seems to have got his powers under control.
As the variety of these alt-characters suggests, Dan Stevens was spectacular in this episode. Typically, as great as he is, the actor is often overshadowed by his various scene-stealing co-stars, but here Stevens gets to show that he is an incredibly versatile performer. I particularly found his transformation into the callous, rich David mesmerizing.
I can understand if any fans out there were disappointed that ‘Chapter 14’ was so divorced from the overarching story. Especially so soon after the recent Syd-centric hour. Once you accept it as an insular piece of TV, though, it can be appreciated as a smart, emotional treatise on grief, and also an examination of the many sad paths that can befall someone with mental health issues in our society.
- My interpretation is that David witnesses these alternate timelines in some form, in that moment when his anger builds as he finds out what happened to Amy. In Cary’s tank, David was able to cast his mind into the future so it makes perfect Legion sense that he, under emotional duress, would be able to project his mind across different dimensions as well.
- In a recent interview, Aubrey Plaza gave a one-word tease for the season 2 finale: “Tower.” In this episode, Rich David talks about the biblical Tower of Babel and speechifies about how he can break down language barriers with his psychic powers. I wonder if this foreshadowing what happens at the end of the season?
- My new favourite moment in this entire series is that mouse singing “Slave to Love.” That is all.