FX’s Legion wrapped up its third and final season this week, and series creator Noah Hawley was allowed to end the story on his own terms. As you’d expect, it gets pretty weird. I’ll do my best to make some sense of it.
Aside from a check-in at the season premiere, I haven’t attempted to cover the show week-to-week. Legion is a series that actively defies recapping. Every time viewers may think they have a handle on the story, the show will pull the rug out from under them by, for example, setting the entire narrative aside for a week in order to tell a lengthy fairy tale only tangentially related to the main plot.
The primary gist of Season 3 is that David used the time traveling mutant named Switch (Lauren Tsai) to go back in time to his own infancy, in the hopes of preventing the powerful psychic Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban) from ever possessing him, thus altering the course of his entire life. However, Farouk followed him back, meeting his own younger self. Believing that David’s manipulation of time will cause the destruction of the world, Sydney followed as well, bringing both Loudermilk siblings with her to help.
The penultimate episode ended with the adult David introducing himself to his very confused father, Charles Xavier (Harry Lloyd from Counterpart), who had traveled to India at the invitation of Young Farouk, whom he believed to be friendly. David explains that Farouk is a monster and convinces his dad to fight at his side.
Syd and the Loudermilks, meanwhile, wind up at Xavier’s home in America, where they meet his wife Gabrielle (Stephanie Corneliussen from Mr. Robot) and the infant David. They’re attacked in the house by time demons that are drawn to anyone who violates the timeline. Kerry (the fabulous Amber Midthunder) and Cary (Bill Irwin) have to merge in order to fight the demons, but it proves to be an increasingly futile endeavor. No matter how many Kerry kills, more keep coming. Her body ages rapidly the longer the battle drags on.
In India, David fragments into dozens of versions of himself to jump Young Farouk. Although he seems to win at first, Farouk is stronger and locks David in a straitjacket. The episode then segues into a musical number in which David sings Pink Floyd’s “Mother” to trippy visuals, because that’s the sort of thing this show likes to do.
Charles attempts to shoot Old Farouk with a magic bullet, but it has no effect. Old Farouk surprisingly offers a truce and asks Charles to sit and drink a beer with him. Farouk claims that he loves David, that all the time he spent in his head changed him, and that he’s actually come to help David in his mission.
Switch was so weakened by the difficult time travel that her body has almost given out and she can barely move. When time demons approach, she retreats into the time corridor. Just as she’s on the verge of death, her cold and absent father (Ben Wang) arrives. He’s able to control the time demons with a whistle. It turns out that he’s a “fourth dimensional being,” and the reason she’s only ever interacted with him through TV screens is that he lives in a dimension beyond the Earthly realm. When all of Switch’s remaining teeth fall out, he tells her that they were her baby teeth, and will be replaced by wisdom teeth. Switch’s body is then instantly revived. Her father invites her to join him as time masters. Switch says that she needs to take care of one thing first.
David escapes his constraints, but Charles stops him from killing Young Farouk. He says that he’s struck a deal with Old Farouk, and he apologizes to David for not being there to raise him or help him through his difficult life. Charles tells David that he loves him and wants to make things right with him.
Old Farouk gives Young Farouk his sunglasses, which show him an accelerated montage of David’s life and all the time he spent in David’s head. Young Farouk then comes to understand Old Farouk’s point of view.
As Kerry ages and weakens, the battle against the time demons seems lost, until Switch arrives to call them off. She explains to Sydney that David is about to alter his life, which in turn will alter hers. This means that Sydney, as she knows herself now, will no longer exist. However, Switch assures her that, “Nothing of value is ever lost.” Switch then leaves to go with her father. The Loudermilks separate. For the first time in their lives, Kerry is older than Cary.
The war averted, David makes peace with Farouk. If Farouk never possesses him, David will never be separated from his parents, become an orphan, or be confined to a mental institution. The course of his life will forever change, presumably for the better.
Xavier returns home to his wife. He promises no more travel or bloodshed. He’s going to settle down, and says that he always wanted to be a teacher.
Before changes to the timeline set in, David meets with Syd to say goodbye, both to each other and to themselves. They stand above the crib looking down at David as an infant until they fade away. Only baby David is left behind to start all over again.
Considering the show’s poor ratings, the fact that Legion was granted another season to close out its storyline must be viewed as a gift to fans. Although I didn’t think it was perfect, the third season felt in large measure like a big improvement over the confounding and muddled Season 2. The finale episode offers genuine closure, without any lame attempts to tack on a mind-screw cliffhanger, and I appreciate that.
The finale leaves some questions unanswered. What will happen to the Loudermilks now? Are they trapped in the past, or will they disappear like David and Syd? Won’t Sydney still wind up in a mental hospital in the new timeline? In fact, without David, won’t she be stuck there longer? Is that better or worse for her?
Fortunately, a little ambiguity at the end isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It leaves fans with something to think about.
From a certain point of view, the entire final season can be seen as the show’s attempt to willfully ret-con itself right in front of viewers’ eyes. Ultimately, it negates its own existence. If David wipes the slate clean, did anything that happened over the last three seasons even matter? It’s a little frustrating to look at it from that angle. I choose to think that these characters did in fact save the world, and the only way to do so was to sacrifice themselves. I find that satisfying enough to justify the journey to this point.
Despite its ups and downs, the series was filled with lots of wonderful insanity, and I’m glad to have watched it.