TELEVISION EPISODE REVIEW: Legion S2 Ep06 ‘Chapter 14’

“I am, I am, I am Superman and I know what’s happening. I am, I am, I am Superman and I can do anything.”

Legion – “Chapter 14”, Season 2, Episode 06
Airdate: May 8th, 2018
Director: Charlie McDowell
Writer: Noah Hawley (creator)
Based on the Marvel Comics Created by: Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz

What You Should Know:

David Haller, son of an unnamed but powerful telepath, has spent his life waging an unwitting war against one of the most powerful and evil telepaths in history—Amahl Farouk, The Shadow King.

What You’ll Find Out (and What It Might Mean):

This episode is an exploration of David’s potential. Up until now, we have known that David is a powerful psychic, possessing both telepathy and telekinesis. But is that the full scope of his powers? A few episodes ago, during a conversation with David, Farouk said, “You decide what is real and what is not,” a line this episode flashed back to during the extended recap montage near the end of the episode.

Throughout this chapter, the viewer is whipped back and forth through multiple versions of David, both as we have seen him and as he could be. The figure I refer to as Methmouth David, drug-riddled eating in a diner with another addict friend, could be considered the unifying figure of David here. As Methmouth David rants with the heightened fervor of an incredible high, he delves into one potential structure of a theory of the multiverse. He describes a multiverse in which each choice of action or inaction spawns new branches in a multiversal tree. His example of choosing to go to physics class or choosing to skip class and do something, where each choice spawns new branches that will then go on to spawn new branches which will then go on to spawn new branches is reminiscent of what I like to call the Sliding Doors theory (based on the 1998 film of that same name starring Gwyneth Paltrow). This theory is based on the notion that even the most mundane of events (such as catching your train or missing your train, as the film illustrates) can have reality-altering ramifications, spawning parallel realities that may become drastically different. That theory seems to be at work here in Legion.

methmouth david

Throughout the rest of the episode, we see David’s across the multiverse. There are elderly homeless versions of David, old and catatonic Davids, suburban dad Davids, Billionaire Mogul Davids, stockroom Davids, and more, all unified through one element: power and madness. Or perhaps the madness of power. Take Paper Pusher David, for example, as I feel it is the most important of the many incarnations. Here, we see a David, roughly in his 30s, sitting at a desk mindlessly signing and filing paperwork. In this windowless room that evokes images of Milton from Office Space, sitting in the basement with his stapler, David appears numb to the world until the appearance of a mouse startles him. Said mouse proceeds to break into a live performance of Bryan Ferry’s song, “Slave to Love,” an absolutely wonderful moment of television absurdity. But what does it mean? This fleeting scene is shown in all its glory and then we rotate away to another David with no time to dwell on the implications.

paper pusher david
LEGION — “Chapter 14” – Season 2, Episode 6 (Airs Tuesday, May 8, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

It isn’t until you start to place the singing mouse into conversation with other instances that “reality” begins to set in. The Mustached David, living with Amy who forces him to medicate to a point of near catatonic state, will have an encounter with police in which he is killed protecting Amy. But in the process, he turns one of the cops inside out (maybe he could do that with telekinesis) and causes several cop cars and police to simply vanish. Homeless David, attacked by Droogs, causes them to vanish, before eventually being hunted down and cut in two by Kerry and Division 3. Over and over again, we watch as David accomplishes feats that don’t fit within the psychic power range, and it is not the first time. A montage of Season 1 shows viewers that we have been witnessing these feats since the beginning, notably when Syd possessed him the first time and killed poor Lenny.

homeless david

And while Legion has yet to say it aloud, yet, in a clear manner, let me say put it simply. David’s true power is the ability to manipulate and alter reality. And that, dear readers, is the driving force behind this episode. There may have been a great number of clues as to what moments in David’s life created alternate reality branches, and time will help us to sort through all of those without my unnecessary speculation, but that is all ancillary to the fact that to call David a psychic is akin to calling a Terminator a calculator. He is that, but he is also so very much more.

stockboy david

Among the alternate Davids is this billionaire David that deserves at least a few moments here, even though it involves events that are anything but certain moving forward. We watch a version of David that recognizes his powers as a young man and decides to use those powers to get ahead in the world to great effect. The punchline, however, is that when Billionaire David, on the verge of becoming the richest man in the world, looks into the mirror, he sees the face of Farouk staring back at him. This would imply, I believe, that Farouk finds his body nonviable to move back into, and instead opts for the upgrade—an unlocked David Haller. The cruel streak exhibited by Billionaire David seems to match with Farouk’s demeanor, suggesting that David is actually gone, replaced fully by Farouk, which also could be read as a harbinger of the fate of Amy, now born again as Lenny.

billionaire david

One other David to pause on briefly is the elderly, catatonic David who is being cared for by an equally elderly Amy. There are no hints as to how we arrive at this point, but I just wanted to pause on the image of a bald David sitting in a wheelchair and leave it at that.

old david

Rating: 10/10
Final Thought:
I neglected to mention last week, but the soundtrack this season, and the past two weeks, in particular, has been incredible. It has been a very long time since the last time a show had me racing to iTunes after watching, but here I am.

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