NOTE: Full spoilers from this episode of, “Legion” are present in this review

 

 

Legion has returned for its third and final season, and true to form, the show is wasting no time being as weird and unpredictable as it can manage. “Chapter 20” largely unfolds from the perspective of an entirely new character in fact, while also giving us a convenient window into the beginnings of the brewing war between David Haller, and his former friends at Division 3. If this episode is any indication, we should be in for a very memorable conclusion to FX’s mutant-themed Marvel drama as well, for better or for worse.

The new character in question is Jia-yi, a.k.a. Switch, yet another all-new mutant completely invented for the show, who doesn’t exist in Marvel Comics lore. Jia-Yi happens to be a time traveler, with mutant abilities that allow her to freely move between the past and the future to some degree. Legion does establish some handy time travel rules with Jia-yi though, namely with an unspecified time demon that hunts down and devours Jia-yi if she travels in time too frequently or too far, which is no doubt a good idea from a narrative standpoint. After all, even the show itself brings up that having a time traveler on David’s side will effectively make him impossible to surprise or catch off-guard, and that wouldn’t make for a very interesting climactic season for this X-Men spin-off series, would it?

Regardless, most of the early stretches of, “Chapter 20” involve Jia-yi noticing signs of a mysterious invitation, and following them. As you can imagine, the signs get progressively weirder as they go on too, though established fans of Legion can easily decipher that they have a heavy connection to David, warning of recognizable Division 3 symbols, as well as pointing to signs related to David’s former circles, such as the pregnant virgin (apparently, Lenny actually did somehow get that mysterious young woman pregnant, possibly with David’s help), which serves as the entrance point to David’s newborn cult. Jia-yi has to solve one last riddle before she can actually get in to boot, but she does so before long, and manages to get inside David’s community of misfits, which is also overseen by Lenny, who appears to have brought over the first numbers from her former druggie friends.

From there, the introduction to Legion’s final season hits some of the notes you would expect, though this obviously wouldn’t be Legion if we didn’t have a big storytelling curveball coming! After Jia-yi finally gets a meeting with David, learning his backstory as established from the show’s prior two seasons (it really does sound nuts when you hear it recapped to a third party, doesn’t it?), Division 3 suddenly ambushes the cult compound, with David managing to kill several of their soldiers almost immediately, including Kerry! Ultimately though, David is shot by a shotgun blast from behind, wielded by Syd, and soon after dies from his injuries. This is quite the surprising turn for the show!… Though it’s also naturally undone by Jia-yi, who quite literally rolls back in time to fix the situation.

This leads to a thrilling second half for Legion’s final season premiere, as Jia-yi, now fully re-christened, “Switch” by the cult members, keeps trying to go back in time and undo David’s demise, only to fail on each attempt. All the while, Switch listens to time travel lessons from a walkman (it’s the Legion universe, just go with it), and eventually comes dangerously close to provoking her time demon, before ultimately being called aside by Farouk. It turns out that Farouk is now employed by Division 3, and has joined the fight to end David once and for all, in quite the ironic turn of events! Farouk nonetheless fails to convince Switch to join Division 3’s mission however, with David eventually managing to get away with his entire compound, after Switch finally manages to outwit Division 3’s otherwise impressive tactics. This is quite cool to watch, and makes for a thrilling start to the season for sure, though the show does have to strain a bit to make the initial hook of David’s repeated deaths work. Considering how much Legion’s future timeline previously hyped up David as a world-killer, he was ultimately dispatched surprisingly easily a few times, especially when one recalls that David Haller/Legion is supposed to be one of the most powerful and dangerous mutants in the Marvel Universe!

While the craziness with David and Switch is going on, we also get an update on what’s going on with the rest of the leads at Division 3 too, who are all starting to pour the sum of their resources into stopping David. Clark even gets some concern from his husband, who believes that Division 3 is being geared too heavily towards just one mutant, when other mutant threats are still out there. This is yet another frustrating hint that other elements of X-Men lore do exist in the background within the Legion universe, much like when the Shi’ar were quickly mentioned in passing last season, but since the show is rapidly approaching its conclusion, we’ll obviously never see them. The material at Division 3 thus mostly exists to establish the current threats to David, but we do get another cool narrative curveball here too, when Cary successfully resurrects Ptomony as an android. This is mostly played for laughs at this point, but it’s nice to see Ptonomy returning to the show’s ensemble of heroes, albeit in a new form.

“Chapter 20” focuses Legion in nicely on its climactic conflict, with David now seemingly being fully realized as the villainous titular character from Marvel/X-Men lore. So far, the show’s final season appears to be trimming the fat from the previous season to boot, particularly now that it’s back down to a lean eight-episode count, a la Season One. The rules behind David’s incredible powers can be a little inconsistent in this show’s universe, now that they’re fully unleashed, but at least his repeated deaths at the hands of Syd made for a distinct and creative way to introduce Jia-yi/Switch to the show’s lead ensemble. When all is said and done in this season premiere, David is once again in the wind, thanks to Switch’s help, literally taking his entire cult compound with him, and this leaves Division 3 no closer to stopping the menace of their former friend. Fortunately, the final push to stop David from achieving his terrible destiny so far seems to be hitting the ground running, hopefully ensuring that FX’s eccentric X-Men spin-off goes out with the kooky bang it deserves!

Legion 3.1: "Chapter 20" Review
Legion kicks off its third and final season with a strong premiere episode that's reliably weird, unpredictable and compelling, as a new mutant finds her way into David's circles.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Fun, unpredictable introduction to Jia-yi/Switch
  • Division 3's ruthless tactics against David
  • David's incredible getaway from Division 3
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Some inconsistency with David's powers
90%Overall Score
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