Legion Tells a Poignant Story of Grief Right When I Needed It Most

David (Dan Stevens) is hugging goodbye in more ways than one.
David (Dan Stevens) is hugging goodbye in more ways than one.
Image: FX

How does one of the most powerful psychics in the world mourn? In a sense, like everyone else. Grieving may be a deeply personal process, one I’m going through myself at the moment, but it’s also universal. There’s a reason we’ve established a concrete list of the Stages of Grief—starting with Denial. The instinctual need to escape our pain is at the heart of the latest Legion, driving David (Dan Stevens) to open the multiverse and explore anything that could change his fate.

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Illustration for article titled iLegion/i Tells a Poignant Story of Grief Right When I Needed It Most

“Chapter 14” isn’t so much an episode as it is an elegy. It starts off a little bewildering, introducing us to several versions of David—as a homeless person, a billionaire surrounded by opulence, and a disabled man being cared for by a woman we eventually learn is his sister, Amy (Katie Aselton). In fact, Amy is the central figure here. Following the shocking revelation of her death last week, David has created multiple timelines, with countless branches, to find a reality where they can still be together.

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Each of the timelines gives us a unique glimpse at what David’s life could have been if things went just a little bit different for him, as well as how his powers would work in each of those realities. The homeless story is presented as the most tragic—with David’s powers drawing the ire of Division 3 and leading to his gruesome death—but really, they’re all devastating. The world where David uses his powers, granting him wealth, influence, and poolside ponies, ends up with David under the control of Farouk. The one where David stays on his medication proves that he can’t contain his powers or the shadow inside him. The fact that he’s later shown completely bald seems to be no accident—it’s a nod to his father, Charles Xavier, and how David ultimately succumbed to the misfortune of his gift, like we saw in the film Logan.

David takes a sip of soup as he’s surrounded by medication.
David takes a sip of soup as he’s surrounded by medication.
Image: FX

The episode is spliced with snippets of David’s real life, focusing on his trauma and how it affected his relationship with Amy. In the other timelines, Amy is more of a caricature, a semblance of what David would need her to be in that world. But their reality is where she’s the most real. Eventually, David realizes that. The episode ends with David and Amy, in our regular timeline just as she’s shipping him off to Clockworks. She promises it’ll only be for a few weeks, but we know (and he knows) it’s not. Destroyed, David tells her: “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” He’s burdened by his life, her death, and the knowledge that he has the power to make it different. Amy looks him in the eye, with the weight of their fate on her shoulders, and simply replies: “I know, but it is.”

I recently lost someone really close to me, and this episode hit me like a ton of bricks. Death isn’t something that we can change. And, as we see with David, we probably wouldn’t change it, even if we wanted to. Because they were real, and that’s the most important thing. That doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it makes it a hell of a lot harder.

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David has a long way to go on the road to healing, just like any of us after we lose someone we love. Grieving is a process, and no two people experience it the same way. But we all experience it, and that’s one of the many beautiful things about being human. It’s strangely comforting to know that in the moments when we feel most alone, someone else is sharing our pain. Even a superhero.

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

ISpeakJive

Disabled David was so upsetting. His medication keeping him so out of it, just boxing milk at his job seemed to be a challenge. And Amy keeping him on the phone to make sure he takes his medication. (I’ve never had a relative that I’ve had to care for like this, so this was heartbreaking to watch.)

But when he basically destroys the police force because he keeps seeing Farouk, and then they shove Amy to the ground and she’s all he has. Just tears for days.