After weeks of “What the?” Legion finally started to make sense this week. I’m not sure if that’s a good development or a bad development (yet), but for a superhero show that has enjoy toying with your ability to believe what you’re seeing, as you’re seeing it, a little bit of clarity can be as surprising as the longest con game plot twist a writer can conceive. So just when you thought that David might have found some inner peace, comes the revelation that the powerful mutant everyone thought had schizophrenia but didn’t, might actually have bigger problems that aren’t too far off the original diagnosis.
And things were going so well too. David seemed like he might have finally taken control of his powers thanks to his time in the astral plane, he showed Syd how the two of them might be able to enjoy physical intimacy, and he was very cocky about the group’s odds about going into Division 3 and saving Amy. Too cocky, actually. The effect was subtle, but Dan Stevens really downplayed the idea that there was something wrong with David. It was a quiet little nag as he talked to Dr. Bird about how her husband is contently building his own reality in his ice cube away from home, but it was something that said that David doesn’t live here anymore.
There’s a question though of how much is David aware that he has a dark passenger at the wheel. I think it was pretty strongly implied that Lenny, Benny, the Yellow-Eyed Devil, King, and the World’s Angriest Boy in the World were all manifestations of the same entity. So when we saw David and Lenny arguing in that bathroom inside David and Syd’s psychic honeymoon suite, was that David and the entity sometimes known as Lenny really arguing, and how much is David aware of having a co-pilot in his brain? Perhaps in the hours leading up to the attack on Division 3, the entity was allowing David a bit of welcome freedom from the pressures it puts him under.
The reprieve was short-lived though because when “David” went to Division 3 to “rescue” Amy, it was pretty obvious that he was not the one in charge. “It wears a human face,” warns the head of D3, who David left bleeding and only halfway stuck into the floor, which is mercy as compared to how he manhandled most of the rest of Division 3’s stormtroopers. The others arrive at Division 3 HQ too late to do anything but be aghast at the carnage, but an infrared security camera reveals the truth of the situation as Dr. Bird and the others look on in horror at the very visible Yellow-Eyed Devil chase the agents down the hallway and kill them with barely any thought.
So what is the nature of the YED? Cary seems to figure out that it’s some sort of entity that’s been with David since he was a kid, another mutant that somehow ditched its body and latched on to another powerful psychic. David’s unreliable memory is a result of this cohabitation, the YED (or whatever its real, human name is) acts out in David’s body and modifies his memory, which is liable to leave anyone unglued. I think there’s still a question of how much David is an unwilling supplicant though. Certainly, the conversation with Lenny in the bathroom points to an idea that David is willing to give up control if it means accomplishing his goals.
Of course the YED has ideas of his own, and when he “rescues” Amy it’s so that he can get information out of her. I was thinking it was weird that a couple of things hadn’t been considered yet, either a) Amy was herself a mutant, and b) even if she wasn’t a mutant, she had to suspect that her brother wasn’t crazy even if she didn’t know what he was a mutant. Well, Amy’s not a mutant, but she definitely knew something was up with David, and she definitely knew why, he was adopted.
For all the comic book nerds out there, this was the moment they’ve all been waiting for, the door’s been opened to Professor Xavier rolling into the show at some point, but I’d be kind of surprised if Legion as a show was interested at all in trying to be a part of the greater world of the X-Men. I think Legion is content to just be out in the world, doing it’s own thing, and not worrying about anyone’s pace or ideas about what it takes to make a comic book show. If Legion was one of those, it would have made a big action sequence out of David/YED laying siege to the Division 3 base, instead it seems like a footnote that’s in the way of getting to the real story.
The real story is what can be done about David, and the terrible thing that he has inside him. The fidelity of the group is already cracking with Ptonomy firmly in the camp of “Maybe he’s too powerful to be worth the trouble.” But then there’s Syd, who’s obviously in love with David, and Dr. Bird who sees David as a way of her saving Oliver from his astral plane ice cube apartment. The natural reaction for the audience should be “Let’s save David,” but you can’t help but think that the others are just as guilty of wanting to save David for their own selfish ends, and that Ptonomy is the only once seeing clearly. The question for the last few episodes seems to be, can David be saved? Does he want to be?
Ultimately, Legion has never been about secret government goons, or X-Men or whatever, it’s about what it’s like to be a mutant and, to paraphrase Syd, how you can feel normal when you’re one of a kind. Next week’s episode seems to plunder the inner life of the entire gang as the Yellow-Eyed Demon traps everyone in a psychic illusion of the mental hospital. Expect some incredible new revelations there with Lenny leading the sessions.