Legion returned last night for its third and final season, kicking off an arc that finds David Haller (Dan Stevens) on the run from his former friends in Division 3 — and in charge of his own drug-addled love commune. If season two was about David becoming the villain of his own show (and I had some reservations about how that “David mind-raped his girlfriend” twist was tackled, honestly), then season three seems to be about redemption. Not necessarily whether David can or should be redeemed, but about what the attempt will cost him and everyone around him. Because the premiere introduces a new mutant named Switch (Lauren Tsai), who has the power to travel through time — a power David would very much like to use to change the past.
The good news is, this was a superb start to the season — one that gives me a lot of hope about how this last arc will play out. Creator Noah Hawley has seemingly always had A Plan for his take on the mind-bending mutant, which promos have revealed will include the introduction of David’s canonical father Charles Xavier (played by Game of Thrones’s Harry Lloyd). But while the show has always tried to differentiate itself from any other comic book entertainment (or, hell, television in general) through its unique mix of mesmerizing visuals and thought-provoking philosophy, the end result hasn’t always gelled. This premiere, though? It gelled like whoa. David was in his element as a cult leader amassing a group of followers who will offer him never-ending, unconditional love as long as he continued to supply them with… um, mutant drug milk? Basically, David’s the best high they’ve ever had. It’s weird.
But more importantly, the show remains tightly focused on David’s journey without letting him off the hook for his crimes. We are invested in his quest, but not because he’s the hero. He’s emphatically not the hero. It’s just that he still thinks he is, and he wants everyone else to think so too. The lie is revealed with every word he utters — words about how he needs love, and is a good man — and yet his actions speak otherwise (as if to underscore the point, David slaughters Kerry Loudermilk time and time again, only for Switch to re-set the sequence of events). We’re one episode into this season, and already it’s clear that David would rather change the past than change himself. The experience we’ve had with him over the previous seasons as he learned the extent of his sickness and his powers has shown us how tenuous his grasp on reality is. But the difference is that now his delusions are fueled by a dangerous form of righteousness. The show about mental health has become a show about toxic masculinity in its most insidious form: The Good Guy.
And as for Division 3? They’re hard at work tracking David with the help of Amahl Farouk — and the Shadow King remains delightfully untrustworthy in his new role. Syd, in particular, is on a crusade to bring David down, and is willing to do so with a bullet. I mentioned Switch kept resetting the events of the episode? That’s because Syd kept killed David. But the question is how much of Syd’s crusade is personal, and how much is professional — and whether that distinction even matters.
But hey — they brought Ptonomy back! Sort of. Cary Loudermilk constructs a robot body in Ptonomy’s image, only it doesn’t seem to be home to his consciousness (or at least not JUST his consciousness). After he was killed last season, those mustache androids uploaded his consciousness to their mainframe to save him, and now he’s a walking, talking embodiment of that mainframe. Or should I say Mainframe? You see, at first I thought Cary was building the Fox-equivalent of a Life Model Decoy — a familiar trick in the pages of Marvel comics and something already introduced over on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — but the reference to the Mainframe made me wonder if this might not be an entirely different sort of reference altogether. One to something that’s already been introduced in the MCU.
Remember that end credit scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, when Yondu’s old Ravager team gather in his honor? Those characters, portrayed by the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, and Ving Rhames, are based on the original Guardians line-up from the comics. And that robot head sitting next to Michelle Yeoh? That’s supposed to be a super obscure android called — yup, you guessed it! — Mainframe, voiced by Miley Cyrus.
Sure, it’s probably a coincidence. After all, there’s no reason to think that Ptonomy’s Mainframe is a reference to that Mainframe instead of, you know, the typical computer sciencey high-speed CPU. But now that Fox and Disney have merged, I can’t help but look for MCU nods where there previously couldn’t be — and this would be delightfully subtle one.
If it is one. Which it probably isn’t. BUT WHATEVER.