NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legion” are present in this review
After an exciting, if reliably eccentric start to Legion’s final season in the season premiere, the show moved the spotlight over to the supporting cast in, “Chapter 21.” This sophomore offering within Legion’s final batch of episodes only briefly touched upon the perspective of David himself, with the other characters taking center stage, as David’s cult, now more affectionately referred to as a, “Commune”, tries to find a way to break the limits of time travel, so that David may travel alongside Switch. The main means to do so? Capturing Cary Loudermilk, the greatest mind at Division 3, naturally!
After taking up the bulk of the season premiere’s storytelling, Switch also moved into the background for this episode, with a lot of focus instead unfolding more from Division 3’s perspective, if anything. This primarily involves Clark interrogating the captured cult member to start, who was yanked away by the giant cane during the season premiere. The drugged-out man is predictably unhelpful, but he does at least lead Division 3 to Lenny’s location, after he’s dropped out of Division 3’s flying aircraft by Clark. There’s of course more weirdness here too, as the cult member is subjected to a surreal Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea party, spearheaded by Lenny as a jovial Mad Hatter-esque figure, before Division 3 begins to close in.
Disappointingly, as much as it’s a cool idea, Cary’s actual capture by David’s forces here, in a surprising, if very head-scratching trap, does feel like the one questionable note in an otherwise reliably strong Legion episode. Despite the slew of heavily-trained Division 3 commandos all closing in and capturing the other cult members, Lenny simply walks right up, completely unnoticed, and steals Division 3’s truck, with Cary inside! After that, Cary spends an inexplicable amount of time screwing around with the first cult member to try and see him, before getting cornered by David anyway, and drugged up. Well, what was the point of that entire sequence then? The result of Cary being conscripted to work for David’s cult is inevitable, but it just felt like Legion’s aggressive desire to always take the least predictable narrative path simply got in the way of the storytelling here, largely because there was never any real doubt that Cary would be forced to help David travel through time.
Fortunately, plenty of other great moments in this episode helped to make up for the needlessly contrived way that Cary ended up in David’s circles. Chief among these was one of the few moments that actually did involve David, namely when he astral projects himself to have a conversation with Syd. This once again manages to paint David in a somewhat more sympathetic light, as he points out to Syd that his cult isn’t hurting anyone, and they just want to be left in peace. Syd, of course, continues to be driven by the premonition that David will one day destroy the world however, even though David also rightfully points out that in the aborted futures that Switch reversed, Syd killed David without so much as an attempt to speak with him. The two strained former lovers continue to have a very intriguing dynamic, and it nicely begs the question of whether Syd will ultimately be able to pull the trigger again, once Switch can likely no longer bail David out.
It’s also interesting to see how there’s a certain element of self-fulfilling prophecy to Division 3’s dogged pursuit of David as a would-be world-killer. After Syd’s interactions with David via astral projection end up angering him for example, the blue mind-altering drug that flows through David’s commune turns an angry red, poisoning the cult members so that they’re suddenly more aggressive and less predictable. Even Farouk later points out that Syd may be doing more harm than good with her current tactics, and that perhaps the best way to get to David is as a lover, not a fighter. Is Syd’s own selfishness potentially the greater danger here? It’s worth wondering about, and I’m very interested to see where these story developments continue to go over the remainder of the season.
David’s desire to turn back time and fix his mistakes nonetheless still feels like an unethical move however, one that Cary has now been roped into. “Chapter 21” thus continues to beautifully balance the question of whether David is truly the hero or the villain of his own story, with other figures like Syd and Farouk also continuing to invite similarly compelling moral ambiguity. Regardless of where his ultimate moral compass ends up pointing however, David’s resources continue to grow, now that he has both a time traveler and a scientific genius on his side. Every effort that Division 3 makes against David only appears to make him stronger and more dangerous in the end. It makes one wonder, if the Legion universe is indeed set to suffer some sort of horrifying apocalypse, will David truly be the one and only force to blame?
Legion nicely focuses on the supporting cast in, "Chapter 21", building more effective moral ambiguity around its ever-complex personalities.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Effective focus on the supporting cast over David himself
David's and Syd's tense interaction with one another
Continued hints that Division 3 is doing more harm than good by hunting David