Legion: Chapter 27
August 13, 2019 7:26 AM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The end of the end
posted by nequalsone (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of the possibilities that immediately struck me at the end is if Charles becomes an active father to David, maybe he does not become a surrogate father to mutants in need of shelter and guidance, does not establish Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, does not create the X-Men. In most strains of the X-Men mythology, these factors are critical to peaceful co-existence between mutants and non-mutant humans. Looked at this way, the ending seems hopeful but actually contains the seeds of dystopia. Of course, there is no true mutual exclusivity between being a good parent and a good educator, public figure, etc. But while the dichotomy may be false, as a story-telling device it feels difficult to overlook. And it does feel like, time travel aside, the story is one about the consequences, both intended and unintended, of our actions, which do not always match up with how we see ourselves and our place in the story.
posted by nequalsone at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

We're telepaths, we never have to take anyone at their word.

As for Charles - he does say he likes the notion of being a teacher. What I kept thinking with the insta-knowledge granted by time traveling or dimension hopping relationships is the cliche statement: "If only I knew then what I know now..." - in Legion's end we get several of these: Farouk grants wisdom and lived experience to Young Farouk. David grants Charles his own. Switch and her father and Carey/Kerry are not precisely the same but feel parallel in some ways.

Being metahumans who can transcend time and space can yield benefits. I think of other means to communicate across space and time, more prosaic. I had a professor have us write letters to ourselves about what we experienced in their class. I remember getting that letter a year later and it was oddly moving. How it would feel to meet your older or younger self and tell you your own story?

Fascinating denouement.
posted by artlung at 7:33 AM on August 13, 2019

One of the things I found a bit disappointing was the handling of Gabrielle Haller. Maybe I just don't like the actress but I found her performance stiff and just off. It made some sense for the character but it still doesn't quite work. (I feel the same way about her performance in Mr. Robot.) She got some terrible lines in the last episode, too--stuff like "...life ended for me a long time ago." I feel like if they delved into her story a little more, likely at the expense of her "love story" with Charles, maybe she would have been more of a character and less of a cliche of a housebound crazy lady who gets scared when her husband is away, who only cares about her child but is unable to protect him because she is fundamentally broken.

One thing that was very nice about the treatment of her character is that they lean into the distant father rather than the "schizogenic mother" when unpacking David's issues.
posted by nequalsone at 7:49 AM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

The abrupt change of having Farouk working with Division and his entire abbreviated arc this season really make me wonder if there wasn't an entire season's worth of story planned that got scrapped. But then they still made the fourth season as planned and just made it "Season 3." There were a lot of things I liked in the final eight episodes, but it also frequently felt super rushed. Especially at the end, which was a bummer. And part of why it was a bummer was that the ending wasn't a bummer. It felt incongruous given what had come directly before it--again, I wonder if another season or more of story would have made this ending feel more natural. Also I really wish they had had 10 episodes again this season, even a little more depth for David's parents (especially his mother) and Switch would have given their endpoints more emotional heft.
posted by tomorrowromance at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

So, as someone who only just became a fan this season, I have to say I was comfortable with this ending. For one, it was relatively free of the usual violent free-for-all that tends to be the way most Marvel universe tales wrap up, and I very much liked that. Speaking as an adoptee, I feel it maybe leaned too heavily into the whole parental-abandonment-issues-makes-person-a-dick stereotype conceit, but it was always pretty clear that was where it was going, so...

I was very happy to see Switch had a good resolution. I like the idea of her walking through all of unbound time with her Walkman.

How does everyone feel about the musical interlude of Pink Floyd's Mother?

I agree about the rushed feeling of the season. But, I suspect that wasn't entirely in the producers' hands.

Now, I just have to find a way to watch the previous seasons, and back-fill my experience.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:19 AM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

On rewatch, the musical interlude worked a little better, but it still felt like a pause in the dramatic buildup. Also, as songs about loving mothers go, that's a pretty dark one about over-control.

I thought they resolved things about as well as they could and it was certainly more optimistic than I thought it would be (I was thinking maybe the entire show happens in the moment David hangs himself). I imagine Charles starting Summerland with Oliver and Melanie (and Walter?) and giving Syd a better life, maybe finding a way to preempt the difficulties with D3 before they reach all out war.

Switch was a great character but it felt a bit deus ex machina that she was a goddess of time (more or less). Nice parallel to David though - the idea that mutants can have goddess-like powers if only they let go of their mental constraints and took their powers to the limits.

Farouk was such a great character and Negahban such a great actor. Seeing original and current play off each other was wonderful. I wish there had been some acknowledgment of Farouk's manipulation of D3 and the people he killed along the way.

I wish Amy had received a mention. Reading between the lines, I imagine, since David's last name is Haller, that his adoptive family was related to Gabrielle. Maybe the cousins will grow up playing together and Amy gets a happier life because she doesn't have a brother to take care of and doesn't doesn't get killed by Farouk.

I'm looking forward to a series rewatch to see what hints were planted in the earlier seasons. Maybe the season 1 man in the background trees will make more sense.

The only thing that truly feels unresolved is the season 1 finale, the orb, and David between season 1 and 2.
posted by kokaku at 11:40 AM on August 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

On rewatch, the musical interlude worked a little better, but it still felt like a pause in the dramatic buildup. Also, as songs about loving mothers go, that's a pretty dark one about over-control.

That was my take on it initially. After considering it, I wondered if it was a comment on Gabrielle's decision to not tell Charles about her being pregnant with David and, arguably, setting the stage for David heading down his destructive path? Otherwise, I'm left scratching my head a bit over it.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2019

One thing that was very nice about the treatment of her character is that they lean into the distant father rather than the "schizogenic mother" when unpacking David's issues.

They might lean away from it, but Syd telling the mom to love David with all her heart sure seems to put the onus for his mental illness rather squarely on her shoulders.

Overall I liked this conclusion a lot, and I'm not prone to enjoy happy endings. I did think Farouk's turn to the good side came a bit out of left field, but they've been hinting at a kinder, gentler Shadow King for most of this season, at least. (It does seem peculiar that nobody even mentions David's sister, though.)

I think I would have preferred it if Syd and David didn't have that final scene together, and just both blipped out of existence independently. At least she didn't acknowledge his apology though.
posted by whir at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

My response to the conclusion is largely emotional, and I am satisfied on that level. I'm not sure I've parsed quite what it means, but for the moment that doesn't worry me. I like that it revolves around acts of reconciliation. I like that there was some kind of resolution to Cary/Kerry. I need to watch it again.

It did seem to function by dream logic (but then much of the story has). David's return to babyhood makes me think of Ouspensky's Ivan Osokin, but then I tend to shoehorn in references of that kind where they're not needed, ignore me.
posted by Grangousier at 5:35 AM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I described it elsewhere as not really sticking the landing, but more staggering across the finish line but still in a way that you do moral support applause for.

A lot of my problems with the show overall remain with the pacing and lack of connective tissue, especially for season 2, but somewhat for 3 as well. David's heel turn could and should have been handled much better throughout s2 (I largely think s1 laid good groundwork that the ball was later dropped on).

I don't buy for a hot second Farouk gaining wisdom and appreciation of the value of life via a lifetime of psychic parasitism. Tell that to Amy (who the show pretty much memory-holed). Tell that to his utterly deliberate pawn sacrifices of all of Division 3 to get David into his intended web. I don't buy Charles being stupid enough to buy it either: "we're telepaths, we don't need to take anyone at their word" so the conceit is that now Farouk honestly means it? Nope: unearned.

Also: Farouk going on about David being a "prison" to his younger self. The show seems to have also forgot that a good chunk of season 1's climax was the Shadow King refusing to let David go until Syd pulled a switcheroo and he fallback-planned into Oliver.

Pink Floyd interlude really didn't work for me. It seemed mostly shoehorned in to re-do the Behind Blue Eyes 'final' duel in season 2, but A) that worked there more thematically, in the song's basic toxic masculinity over-estimation of just how meaningful badman-sadman manfeels are (they aren't, and that was part of David's heel turn/reveal that did work for me), but The Wall pretty much doesn't work for me this time round, and B) they already did that. This season even!

Still: the performances were great (there could have been an entire episode of just Past Farouk and Present Farouk playing off each other), and style earns a lot of points despite some sloppy underlying form. It just twigs a lot of my backseat what-if writing/direction useless quarterbacking!
posted by Drastic at 8:20 AM on August 14, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm genuinely still not sure how I feel about this finale. I'm happy enough, I think? But I also kind of let go a while ago of this being one big story on its way to an ending or, uh, internal cohesion. It feels, like the rest of the show, like ultimately kind of a mess, but not one I regret watching (not least because it was for the most part well-acted and just fantastic to look at.) I have many, many questions that will never be answered, and I guess that's okay. I would love to know what story they originally set out to tell.

David sure is lucky that the very young woman he recruited, I think drugged?, called a nobody, and treated like a pez dispenser of time travel till her body gave out turned out to be an extraordinarily understanding four-dimensional time god, and not, like, a regular lonely mutant kid who trusted him and then just died.

(As somebody who was eventually mainly in it for the supporting cast--which, yes, was a losing battle, thanks for asking--it was unintentionally kind of hilarious that Time God Switch goes to the trouble of coming to tell Gabrielle, Syd, and David, who is an infant, that their efforts and their suffering, specifically and personally, mattered and were noticed by the universe, while Kerry, who just aged decades in the process of chopping up four hundred time eaters by herself, is sitting right there.)
posted by jameaterblues at 9:00 PM on August 14, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm sad to see Legion go; we'll probably not see its like again. It was wonderful for a purported comic book show to depict its life-or-death struggles as rap battles, or dance battles, or performances of pop songs, rather than flashy CGI spectacle. It was wonderful for a show to be about saving one person's soul, and by extension all the people he's hurt directly or indirectly, while relegating saving the world to an afterthought. It was wonderful for a show to have such a sense of style and wit that it was a pleasure to watch even when nothing was happening.

At the end, when David and Syd blinked out, I felt a little robbed that they didn't run the expected montage of how all the dead or damaged supporting characters we love are now living their best lives in the new altered timeline. But it was very Legion that our perspective disappeared along with David's and Syd's. In the new, relatively uneventful timeline, we viewers would have no cause to peek into what's going on.

I was a bit worried when this season started that the introduction of a time traveller would drain the stakes from the show. In the season premiere David was assassinated, what, three times? Something the show could only do because it had its reset button in Switch. But even though the whole narrative throughline of the season was hitting the ultimate reset button, it worked for me in the end.

And it was very disturbing (in a good way) that the musical number in which David connected with his mother and was victorious used a song that famously chronicles an extremely fucked-up relationship between mother and child.
posted by ejs at 9:18 PM on August 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Part of me likes that Legion wound up with a relatively happy ending, but it sure does feel like they had to skip over a lot of stuff to get there in eight episodes.

In particular, Farouk/The Shadow King just sort of deciding not to be evil any more seemed to come out of left field, the trippy sunglasses montage notwithstanding. And I agree that Switch could have used some more development; as it is, she was more of a plot device than an actual character.

Still, even with its flaws, the show was unlike anything else on TV, and I'm glad they got to make as many episodes of it as they did.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:07 AM on August 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

it sure does feel like they had to skip over a lot of stuff to get there in eight episodes.
My one thought during the entirety of the Pink Floyd timewaster
posted by sageleaf at 12:54 PM on August 15, 2019

At first I didn’t like the song montage, but then I remembered that this show likes to do that so I gave it a pass and on its own it was a really cool sequence. Maybe some people didn’t like bolero in the first season, ya know.

I kind of thought that the show was going to go the classic time travel route where all the actions that they took are what actually caused this future to happen (especially when Syd was telling his mom to love him, I thought right there isnwhen she decided she couldn’t do that and would give him up for adoption).

Overall though, I’m just so happy I got to see a superbly surreal piece of art for 3 years. Just so awesome to watch, even when plot things didn’t work.

(Agreed about leaving out Carey/Kerri and how they’re important too. How rude!)
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:23 PM on August 15, 2019

I kind of thought that the show was going to go the classic time travel route where all the actions that they took are what actually caused this future to happen

I had this suspicion in the previous chapter—I thought that all of Legion's resentful selves wanting to punish Charles for abandoning David was going to lead to Charles being too distracted/incapacitated to completely vanquish Farouk, thus allowing Farouk to sneak into baby David. I usually love stable time loops but that would have been bleak.
posted by ejs at 4:32 PM on August 16, 2019

Aesthetically, this show was purpose-grown in a lab to appeal to me. I find myself not really caring that deeply about what it all means because it was like someone pried my head open, turned me upside down and shook me out onto some film (or some hard drives, I guess).

My favorite two TV shows of the last five years have been Legion and Hannibal. Hannibal got me more in the feels, but Legion was just so groovy, baby, yeah!
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:29 PM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have lots of thoughts about what it all means, but fairly inchoate ones. As with Hannibal, I decided to commit myself to following the show where it wanted to go rather than having any expectations of it - in Hannibal's case, I must confess that bit me rather - I had a very strong negative reaction to the final episode. In this case, not.

One thing I suspected, but confirmed on rewatch (seeing the introductory text): all of Legion is a prequel to the actual story, the one where Charles and Gabrielle and David are together and (hopefully) happy; a story we'll never see. Looking at the three seasons as one story, at the very centre of the story is the chapter with the different Davids in different universes with very different fates, but all preceding from the same assumption (David is given up for adoption). What the conditions at the end mean is that the characters are about to embark on a completely new story based on a new set of conditions.
posted by Grangousier at 5:40 AM on August 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Legion all across its run was one of the most inventive things I've ever seen on television. I found this final episode satisfying, and really truly enjoyed watching the series all across its run. I have never seen anything as surreal and psychedelic where the surrealism and the psychedelic elements have been directly and clearly in service to the story before.

Really great, glad to have watched it. I recommend it to people all the time, but I don't think anyone has actually taken me up on it thus far. Shame, that.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I didn't think Farouk convinced himself to "not be evil" so much as "let this one go" because the co sequences of not winning will be stuck inside another mutants' head from infancy to adulthood.

Maybe they (the Farouks) went as far as recognizing a detente with Charles and David: don't interfere with us and we won't interfere with you, destruction is mutually assured. But I doubt they're turning over a new leaf of charity and asceticism.

What an often-great, frequently-surprising show. It deserved four seasons to get that story out but it's kind of amazing it had three. I don't know how the rights/licensing for this kind of thing works but I'd love to see Syd, Carey and Kerry introduced to the X-Men comics universe.
posted by elr at 1:59 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

This Farouk turned out to be not so much evil as just capable of terrible acts. At this point none of those acts have happened in this universe.

By the way, is the complete series ever likely to come out on Blu Ray or will I have to buy it to stream from Amazon Prime (which I want to avoid for several reasons)? I've been watching it via the wonder of morally murky means with the promise of buying the box set when it comes out, but if there isn't going to be a box set...
posted by Grangousier at 11:50 AM on August 20, 2019

Great season 1, decent season 2 with a few rough spots, and a pretty mediocre season 3 judged by the standard set by season 1. The level of creativity in season 1 was never really matched in the later seasons, though the visuals did get more daring. The most disappointing thing about the ending, though not unsurprising, was that it turned out all to be for David after all, and it was him -- or him-baby -- for whom all those other characters died. The women in particular got really short shrift by the end -- Syd, Kerry, his mom, and of course Lenny. He got no forgiveness, but he got pretty much everything else. Which I mind less than just abandoning all those interesting characters mid-journey through their own arcs. So as expected, I shall consider this as a great one-season show, which brought its characters and themes to a more uneasy but more interesting conclusion than the pat finale. Though I'll be sad to lose the dance battle and surreal desert paraphernalia of season 2.
posted by chortly at 11:36 PM on October 14, 2019

Season 2 seemed to be an flawed but interesting look at male entitlement and the kind of actions that encourages. Season 3 basically ended up with David being right about everything and getting the reset that he wanted, rather than ever coming to terms with his actions. I was expecting something interesting about entitlement and its consequences, but the lesson seemed to be: if you're damaged, have a good second childhood so you will feel empathy?

I love Farouk as a character and actor, but his about face from mass murderer to David's surrogate father never made a lick of sense. Sure, the way a father shows love for his son is by haunting him as a giant obese nightmare, and then dissolving his adopted sister to taunt him. Division 3 trusting Farouk was never explained adequately.
posted by benzenedream at 3:10 PM on January 1, 2020

It's available on Hulu along with a few other shows from FX; I finally finished it, having dropped out midway through the season.

In the musical sequence, I did notice a few versions of him, sitting with their backs to each other, slowly rotating; I thought that might be a reference to the video for Seal's "Crazy."
posted by Pronoiac at 1:07 AM on March 27, 2020

benzenedream...if you rewatch, it becomes pretty clear that Farouk manipulated everyone in various ways (delusion eggs, entering minds directly,etc)
posted by kokaku at 7:29 PM on June 21, 2020

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