By The Nerdling
Chaos theory, Mental Illness, and Sibling Relationships are explored through the many lives of David and Amy Haller.
Spoilers branch into other Spoilers which branch into other Spoilers…
As someone who holds a BS in Psychology and done some minor work in the field, Legion has been a love/hate relationship for me. I love the show is willing to explore mental illness, but at times I wish Noah Hawley and the rest of the writers would dive deeper into the plight of those who suffer from mental illness. Of course, the show is primarily about mutants, so it is understandable (but it still kind of sucks) when a deeper meaning is pushed aside for the sake of the story.
“Chapter 14” is the embodiment of my love/hate relationship. We see David in several timelines his life could have taken and through those lives over medication, abuse of the mentally ill, and lack of training for police to cope with someone who is unwell are very briefly examined. It felt like a triumph in the beginning, until I realized Legion wasn’t making an attempt to say something about our society and our failures in mental health education. The point was to explore the relationship between David and Amy in the wake of Farouk’s cruelty.
This episode was a great set piece to see the connection between the siblings and remind us why we Amy was such an important character. A part of me wished this episode would have come before last week’s shocker. Amy was such a large part of season one, but she only materializes in season two just before she is replaced by Lenny. Her absence made her fate less impactful.
Dan Stevens truly showcases his talent and it is obvious he relished every moment. Through various prosthetics and wigs, David’s life is taken from one extreme to the next. A homeless man, rambling through the streets with a shopping cart to a billionaire who practically rules the world, the lives in between and the branches of their decisions.
It is like a puzzle we can put together. The office drone who huffs white out and hallucinates singing mice might have turned into the homeless man cornered by D3 and split in two by a katana wielding Kerry. Or the junky in the diner babbling to his friend about the multiverse theory. Maybe he becomes the coffee boy that turns into an almost god-like billionaire. Or his life is the mustachioed and overly medicated David, rendered unable to speak or take care of himself when he becomes older, leaving Amy to lovingly do so for him. Or he is shot and killed by the police when he freaks out over seeing The Shadow King. Each story connected in some way, almost like choose your own adventure.
If I had to speculate as to why we are seeing all these Davids’, I would guess our David, the one we have been following from the beginning, is looking at these lives in the moments after he realizes what happened to his sister. The trauma of losing her allows him to see what his life would have been like if he had made other decisions and the final act are his memories leading up to his time at Clockworks, meeting Sid and the other mutants, freeing himself from Farouk. The path that lead to Amy’s death.
I don’t know how these looks at other Davids’ will affect the story going forward. This episode seems more like a reason to further explore the character without the trouble of having to move the plot forward. It was a beautifully done short film, but I’m anxious to see where this all leads.
Some other thoughts to mull over
There is a perfect recreation of a scene from A Clockwork Orange, a film Legion has borrowed heavily from style wise. It is no accident the facility David checks into is called Clockworks.
The only life that stands alone is suburbia-David. Married with two children, happy and free to live his “normal” life. These snippets were filmed at a higher rate of speed, giving it that slightly slow-motion, dream like quality to them. Like this is not real, just a desire all Davids’ share.
Mustache-David works at a dairy stacking boxes with a graphic design of milk, cheese, and a cow on them. Is this why a cow randomly appeared in episode 11? A remnant from a path not chosen? Are there other odds and ends hiding as Easter Eggs? Now I have to go back and watch all the episodes again.
At one point the older, billionaire-David looks at himself in the mirror and sees Farouk. I wonder if the reason this David becomes so successful despite still having his powers is he embraced the Shadow King’s possession of him. Farouk made a remark he and David were gods, maybe David’s acceptance of the ancient mutant is why he worked to achieve this deity status.
Next week Legion gets back to the story at hand as the fallout from Amy’s departure starts to rain down on everyone.
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.