The first season of Legion is coming to an end and it's been a wild ride! Each episode has been more crazy and surreal than the last, and yet for X-Men fans it's all making a strange — you could almost say uncanny — sort of sense. This is probably the most unusual and innovative superhero show of all time, defying expectation and belief. But in case you've been struggling to keep up — here's everything you need to get your head around before the finale!
Amahl Farouk — The Shadow King
Just as in the comics, David Haller is the son of Charles Xavier — the world's most powerful telepath. There was a time, years ago, when Xavier crossed paths with Amahl Farouk, another powerful mutant. The two battled on the Astral Plane, but of course it was Xavier who won; Farouk was left nothing more than a disembodied consciousness.
But Amahl Farouk, sometimes called the Shadow King, discovered Xavier's unborn son. According to the Shadow King, it's known David since the womb — and, stripped of his own power, this monstrous psychic entity sought a new home. The Shadow King became a parasite, dwelling within young David's mind, leeching his life and power.
Xavier became aware that the Shadow King had not died and even realized that the creature was seeking out his son. But he didn't realize that the Shadow King had already lodged itself in David's mind and he tried to hide the child by putting David up for adoption. Over the years, as David grew, so did the Shadow King; and the experience damaged David's mind. He didn't realize that he was powerful; instead, he simply believed that he was sick.
David's Mental Illness
In the comics, David Haller suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder; that doesn't seem to be the case in the world of Legion. Instead, David's experience of the Shadow King seems to have triggered a version of Schizoaffective Disorder, with David lost in delusions and hallucinations. As the series has unfolded, we've learned that this was a deliberate ploy on the part of the Shadow King; it ultimately led to David being admitted to Clockwork Hospital, but the whole world he experienced there was illusory. The Shadow King had successfully isolated David from the world, and could take its time building in power. David believed himself insane; he was blissfully unaware that the Shadow King had woven itself into his mind and experiences.
- The Comic Book History Of 'Legion', The Star Of The New X-Men TV Show
- Contrasting 'Legion' And 'Split': Two Radically Different Takes On Psychological Issues and Superpowers
- Is Patrick Stewart Set To Make A Cameo As Professor X In Fox's 'Legion' TV Series?
The Mutant Problem
In the world of Legion, mutants are hated and feared — and Melanie Bird leads a group who seem to be the show's version of the X-Men. Intriguingly, Mrs. Bird's people are familiar with the history of the Shadow King, strongly suggesting that they're tied to Charles Xavier himself.
Mrs. Bird's group discovered David and projected one of their members — Syd Barrett — into David's fractured mind in order to wake him up. Needless to say, the experience was something of a shock to Syd; but what nobody expected was for Syd and David to develop a strong emotional connection. To the Shadow King's disgust, they fell in love. And then they touched.
Syd seems to be loosely adapted from the X-Men's Rogue — skin-to-skin contact triggers her powers, in this case a sort of body-switch. David jumped into Syd's body, but the experience was undoubtedly far more traumatic for Syd; unable to deal with David's powers, she triggered his powers. By the time David awoke, he'd been captured by this world's anti-mutant forces. Of course, he didn't stay there long — Syd and her allies broke him out! No longer was David hidden; no longer could the Shadow King stay hidden.
The Astral Plane
The Astral Plane is a constant plot-thread running through the story of Legion, and you need to understand it in order to really get your head around this series. It's essentially another plane of existence, a psychic one where your mind can live apart from is body, and where your thoughts can shape your experience of reality. Oliver Bird's mind was stranded there for years; the Shadow King's mind lived there; and, in Episode 7, pretty much the bulk of the episode was spent trapped on the Astral Plane.
This is the Shadow King's home turf, but — as Episode 7 proved — David is stronger there in terms of raw power. It seems likely that the final battle will take place on the Astral Plane, just as David deduced it did between the Shadow King and his father.
What You Need to Know
Episode 7 ended with the Shadow King successfully trapped within David's mind - so long as he wears a high-tech halo to keep it trapped. Unfortunately, the Shadow King is a creature of the mind, and it's already beginning to break out. The mutants have a plan to get rid of the parasite once and for all, but it doesn't look as though they're going to have a chance to put it into play — anti-mutant forces have just taken their location, and soldiers have been told that David is the only one who should be left alive.
Legion Season 1 has been a fascinating, mind-bending series — unlike anything I've ever seen before. Showrunner Noah Hawley has crafted a wonderfully artistic show, one that takes loose inspiration from the comics but dares to take these ideas in creative new directions. It's been a thrilling series; and I can't wait to see how it ends.
What have you thought of 'Legion' so far?
(Poll Image Credit: FX)