Welcome back to Legion of Spoilers! Emphasis on the spoilers. Because. Well.
Farouk miscalculated, and everyone’s dead.
The first casualties are three Vermilion (if they count as sentient beings) and some D3 redshirts working some kind of weekly convoy detail. But their fate seems mercifully brief compared to the convoy leader’s. Daniel Debussy keeps his post at the cost of most of his mind: He refuses to divulge Switch’s whereabouts, declaring that he’s undergone training to protect his mind from telepathic incursions. No problem: Training lives in long-term memory, so David just wipes it. All of it. The camera lingers on Daniel’s memories as David leaches them out, burning away the person he was into something David can use. When he’s done, there’s just enough of Daniel’s mind left to betray that Switch is on the airship. When the bus pulls into HQ on autopilot, Daniel its sole survivor, Clark Debussy has nevertheless been widowed.
David returns home to find the commune in an orgy of elation (and possibly a literal orgy; it seemed like that kind of party). All those lunchboxes bearing David’s face and vials of Vapor have gotten the word out, and new children are flocking for a taste of peace, love, and understanding. Acolytes hail him with a joyful susurrus of “Daddy!” and strain to touch him, but David doesn’t have time for the worship outside or the fighting pit inside. He vanishes almost everyone and summons Lenny.
At first, Lenny doesn’t answer. When she finally appears, she stays only long enough to drop a truth bomb: David is a lying, narcissistic sack of shit. It took losing a child, but Lenny can’t unsee how corrosive David’s selfishness is. She thought they were both narcissists, but when she held her child, she discovered she was actually capable of love. Lenny glimpsed her potential to be more than she was, to love someone more than herself, to leave a legacy that was more lasting and loving than her alcoholic gran-gran’s, and even as she glimpsed it, she lost it. She lost hope and possibility and all the good things having a child represents. She lost the opportunity to grow past herself. And she lost it to the creatures David unleashed in the single-minded pursuit of his own gratification.
Remorseless as ever, David still tries to manipulate Lenny into cooperating, but she is neither cowed by his threats nor convinced by his wheedling. When she held her child, Lenny tasted a reality untainted by drugs or telepathic manipulations, and she will not go back. In an eyeblink, the knife in her hand is in her neck, and Lenny has put herself beyond David’s reach. She and David share one last moment of tenderness, a callback to Season 1, before the life drains out of her and she’s free. Grisliness aside, this is the least upsetting scene in Chapter 24; it’s the only one in which someone successfully denies David what he wants. Lenny is the only one of this week’s casualties who went out on her own terms. Of course, if death is the only way out of David’s clutches, our remaining characters don’t have much to look forward to.
Back on the airship, D3 seems to sense that all they can do now is postpone the final confrontation as long as possible. While Switch slumbers in an iron-lung-like box designed to hide her from David*, Cary, Syd, Mainframe!Ptonomy, and Farouk debate tactics. The first three want to hide, but Farouk wants a showdown. He’s tired of hanging with the rabbits. He wants to be a wolf again. But he’s overruled, and the others agree to take the airship into low-earth orbit, hoping it will put them outside David’s teleportation range. Disgusted, Farouk stalks off the bridge, muttering that they are an army of cowards.
Not unlike his beautiful boy, Farouk has an Idea To Fix Everything. Without bothering to warn D3, he tips the first domino: Farouk contacts David telepathically, guiding him to the airship, into – Farouk thinks – a trap. As it happens, low earth orbit is not outside of David’s teleportation range, and he boards the ship with his remaining Manson girls. While they dispatch D3’s guards, David finds Clark. He’s watching old home movies of Daniel, reliving the memories his husband no longer shares – of him, of their marriage, of their son. David nearly took Clark’s will to live. He took the husband who helped him get it back. And now David will now take his life. A Manson girl appears with a plastic bag, and then Clark is adrift in space, his eyes sightless, his face rimed, and his child orphaned.
Kerry is patrolling the hallway outside the bridge when the Manson girls find her. While she takes them out, Mainframe!Ptonomy and the remaining two Vermilion conceal themselves in a security bunker, leaving her to fend for herself. This is totally the decision a risk management computer program would make, but it still seems really cold.
David’s next stop, of course, is Syd’s room. When she asks if he killed everyone, David denies responsibility as doggedly as he did at their first meeting of the season. He refuses to acknowledge that even if he can change the past, he can’t change himself. Whether David succeeds or not, he will always be a murderer and a rapist. But Syd keeps him talking long enough to come up with a plan. She convinces David to trust her by telling him how to find Switch, and that his choices were justified and that she understands them. That she was led astray. And she tells him that she doesn’t want to be erased from his past, from his future. What will it cost her never to have fallen in love? Syd’s plan works, and David lets her get close enough to touch him.
The switch isn’t restricted to the airship. Some part of Syd awakes in the cave that houses David’s other selves. There are a great deal more than the two or three we’ve seen so far. As they throng around the interloper, Syd registers the expressions of dozens of sentiences wearing David’s face. For the first time, one of David introduces himself (themselves?) as Legion, and Syd, utterly alone, faces the specter of unlimited power yoked to untreated illness.
Briefly, Airship Syd seems to have the upper hand. She drags David-in-Syd’s body down the hall, where Kerry is still fighting Manson girls. Using David’s face and voice, Syd deactivates the Manson girls long enough for Kerry to take them out, and then urges Kerry to kill David’s body. Kerry hesitates – will Syd get back to her own body in time? – and this moment is all the time Legion needs to reestablish control of the body. T/He/y breaks Kerry’s sword and hurls her against the wall before holding a brief war council. The only way to neutralize Syd is to destroy her mind. Legion touches her, pulling out David and erasing Syd. Does it hurt to be erased? The answer looks to be very much yes. The Syd in the cave is dragged screaming into the darkness, smothered by Legion, leaving only a Syd-shaped shell on the airship floor.
Now it’s down to Farouk, who does manage to immobilize David just before he can reach Switch. But Farouk overplays his hand, and David rouses Switch. When she comes to, she knocks Farouk into the Time Outside Time, freeing David from his grasp. Then she falls gratefully into David’s embrace, relieved to be free of her nightmares of being a robot. Switch no longer seems concerned about David’s threat to force her to help him, or about losing any more teeth. When she asks how he can be okay with so much death, David starts singing about peace, love, and understanding.
Because that’s what David craves: unconditional peace, love, and understanding, but only of and for himself. It doesn’t matter how many lives he takes or destroys in the service of this mission. The living may oppose him, but the dead – even the indomitable Lenny – must unite in his praise. They are reduced to robots puppeted by an imagination that cannot see beyond itself. That the word “robot” comes from the Czech word for “forced labor” adds a tragic flavor to Switch’s alliance with David. Her father collects robots as tools or curiosities, possibly preferring them to his very human daughter. But her anxiety of being simplified into something less than human has led her to someone who turns her, who turns everyone, into a robot in his service.
Switch warns him about the monsters because she’s programmed to do that now, but David’s not worried. They’re not going as far back as his infancy. He just needs to make one little change now. One little change and that will fix everything. They vanish into the gate, and a moment later a gray apparition grins in the gateway. Hell will empty. All the devils are here.
- “Tangentially, on Legion….”
- “Lenny, baby, I need you.”
“You can’t have me.”
- “Why is it blue?”
“It’s always blue.”
- “This is a mistake. If we are the rabbits, then he is the wolf.”
- “David, do what you want. Take what you want. Gods make rules. They don’t follow them. And now it’s time for them to pay.”
- “Did you kill everyone?”
“No one who dies is really dead. You see that, right? The past changes, and the future disappears.”
- “You were always so good at that. Using words to say things you don’t mean.”
- “What are you doing here? You’re not us.”
ODDS & ENDS
- This episode had lots of mirrors and mirroring. Switch and Syd study both face their fear and isolation in mirrors. When he gains the bridge, David does not see the monster staring back at him. He sees only what he wants. This is why Syd was able to fool him: Successful lies tell people what they want to hear, and Syd’s comments reflected David as he wished to see himself. The memories we see David remove from Daniel’s mind are the ones Clark revisits later. It’s also worth noting that Lenny calls David a liar, and just before the episode ends, David accuses Farouk of using language deceptively. And let’s not forget the Migo Monk adage: “To create fear, hold up a mirror.”
- The last time David sang was before his battle with Farouk. It was a duet. This time David sang alone, with the whole world as backup. Unless Charles Xavier shows up, there’s no one left to oppose him.
- I do want Charles to meet his son, or for Gabrielle to call him out for the monster he is. What happens to David’s abandonment issues if he finds out they put him up for adoption to hide him from the sinister orange apparition that broke Gabrielle’s mind?
- Speaking of his abandonment issues, David complains of abandonment any time people don’t stick around to do exactly what he wants, but he clearly resents and resists any suggestion that he participate in reciprocal human relationships. The most obvious example of this is his relationship with Syd: Dude, you promised to stay and then you kept leaving. You’re the one who apotheosized and peaced out.
- So did Kerry survive, or…? I can see her fighting to the death, but it will be heartbreaking to see what that does to Cary.
- When David vanished everyone at the commune, did anyone else think of Mike Valentine and Stranger in a Strange Land?
FAN THEORIES, OR WHAT THE HELL I THINK IS GOING ON
- I have no idea what one little change David thinks will fix everything. It’s not impossible Hawley is heading toward an Infinite Jest ending.
- I think Farouk will get out of the Time Outside Time, but it may be too late to stop David.
- As Farouk miscalculated his power relative to David, I anticipate David will miscalculate his power relative to the Time Eaters. That will end well!