This weeks episode of Legion was all about David’s biological parents he has never met. The story jumps back and forth in time as we are introduced to a young Charles Xavier, who still has all his hair, and Gabrielle.
I thought it would take a few episodes for David to reach back through time but nope its happening right away. The non-linear path of the episode can be explained by David and Switch having trouble anchoring to a specific point in time. Switch usually goes back minutes or hours, this time she is going back decades. David’s attempts to communicate with this parents reverberates through time as they keep hearing background music from his house. But all that is just one aspect of the episode. We also get the story of how David’s parents met and eventually how they were torn apart.
Legion has them both being survivors of World War II. As a soldier Charles once had to use his powers to survive by forcing an enemy soldier to kill himself. This horrific action stuck with him and informed his choice to use his powers minimally. And it also left him with some severe PTSD which landed him in a mental hospital. There he meets Gabrielle who is unresponsive at first due to her own PTSD as a concentration camp survivor.
Charles uses his powers to try to reach out to her and Gabrielle does become responsive and they start hanging out and form a relationship. Eventually they leave the hospital together and start a life with a nice house and David is born. For a time things seem to be all good.
But Charles has always wondered if there are others like him out there and we see him build a prototype Cerebro helmet. With it he discovers the existence of Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King. He gets ready to go meet this other powerful telepathic mutant but Gabrielle is upset about him going so far away. Of course in the end Charles learns that Farouk is a monster who uses his powers to manipulate everyone around him without any qualms. We don’t see the battle in the astral plane but we know he wins and the Shadow King has to go looking for a new vessel. David tries to warn his mother about what is going to happen but gets banished by Charles who can sense his presence but not who or what he is. And so the Shadow King hides inside David’s mind until he can assert control later. David’s plan to save himself fails and Switch does not have the strength to take them back again.
But there is one other thing to talk about. This episode sees the return of someone we have not seen since Season 1.
The Angriest Boy in the world was part of David’s psychosis back in the first season. We assumed he was just another form of the Shadow King. Farouk definitely used the angry boy but his episode gives us some clues that he may have been with David before that. At several points we see a little Angriest Boy doll, in David’s crib, and in a box his mother is holding. We get hints that maybe Gabrielle is dealing with more than just post traumatic stress. Maybe she has some other mental illness that Charles inadvertently helped her overcome with his powers. And with him off chasing the Shadow King she is afraid she will relapse. Alone in the house Gabrielle begins to wonder if she is losing her mind. She keeps hearing the background music from the future and is even able to perceive the time travel door at one point. She keeps hearing David call to her but does not understand. Because David and Switch are traveling so far beyond their own time no one in the past can see or hear them. David’s attempts to reach his mother make her question her sanity. If David’s mother is suffering from some kind of delusional disorder maybe the Angriest Boy in the World is a manifestation of her mental illness, and maybe also of the mental illness she passed down to David.
It looks like David is very much the child of both his parents and he will have to reconcile with that if there is any hope for him. But he will not be able to change what happened before if this episode is any indication. In fact it looks like David’s attempts to reach back in time to his mother are what finally broke her mind leaving her a shell of herself. David is probably not going to give up on using Switch’s time travel powers and they will likely have consequences no one is prepared for.