Don’t Hold Your Breath For Noah Hawley’s ‘Doctor Doom&…How ‘Legion’ Uses Superpowers to Explore Mental Illness Legion has been strangely… comprehensible lately. Still amazing, but it’s been a while since the show gave us something truly disorienting. Since it threw some abstract art up on the screen and demanded we figure it out. A lot of that’s because David’s in a slightly more stable place this season. That all changed this week. This episode begins by showing us David at different points in his life. Well, multiple lives, really. We see him as a homeless man living in a tent, then and older rich man overlooking a pool with bikini-clad women in it, then finally as a much older, bald man who can’t even talk anymore. The camera pans across different phases of his life, and it’s a really cool effect. This show’s cinematography manages to impress with something new week after week. It’s like we’re experiencing all parts of David’s life at once. And that’s exactly what he’s going through right now.We see David as a coffee runner at a large financial corporation. His mind-reading saves his boss from acquiring a company who knowingly shipped a faulty, dangerous product. As she tells him via thought to come with her, the camera pans to the street. We see homeless David getting hassled, then young mustachioed David stocking the back room of a grocery store. He’s not the frantic personality we know him to be. He seems lethargic, which I’m guessing is a side effect of the pills his sister reminds him to take. The phones they uses are oddly anachronistic. He has an old flip phone, which makes sense for when I’m guessing this scene would take place. But his sister calls him on a modern smartphone. Everything is intentional on this show, especially odd prop details like that. This is the way the episode refuses to let you ground yourself. It’s not giving us anything concrete to grab onto yet. Not even a general sense of time.Dan Stevens as David Haller. (CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX)The show finally decides to throw us the smallest of bones. A drugged up David explains to Benny (not Lenny, she came later, remember) that he feels like he’s living a whole bunch of different timelines at once. Every time he makes a decision in one, his perspective jumps to the next, and each decision creates new branches to follow. OK, that gives us some idea of what’s going on. Then a mouse sings “Slave to Love” while David works at a desk, and we’re knocked off balance again.Still, the show offers us some clues in the form of other Summerville/Division 3 residents making small appearances in David’s lives. A younger homeless David watches a car pass him at a crosswalk. Syd is in the backseat, staring at him as she drives by. Later in his life, homeless David is being beaten up by some kids roaming the street. He gets so angry, he releases a glowing blast of energy, vaporizing them. Oddly enough, that scene is the most sense, and the episode plays up to that point. Later, he’s being hunted by cops for the murder, and it’s not long before he’s surrounded. He starts building up energy again, only to be cut in half… by Kerry Loudermilk.Slowly, the timelines start to connect. The future where David is a rich man overlooking his pool stems from the scene where he read minds for his boss. In that future, he became her boss. And a real jerk. He makes a big speech about how he is God’s chosen vessel. It’s not hard to see how someone with David’s power could turn into a person like that. In this timeline, Amy is still alive and she relies on him financially. She shows up asking for a new house, and he punishes her for it by making her nose bleed. Yeah, rich David is the worst.Dan Stevens as David Haller. (CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX)Now, if you’re not careful, you might start assuming that mustachioed stock clerk David is “ours.” That is to say, the one we’ve gotten to know for the last season and a half. It soon becomes clear that’s not the case. That cell phone thing was probably our first clue. As he waits for Amy to pick him up from work, David starts hearing voices. His outburst attracts the attention of some cops. David sees the Yellow Demon form of Farouk in the backseat and freaks out, causing the police to arrest him. Amy tries to deescalate and is pushed to the ground. That makes David angry, and he unleashes his powers on the police. He sends one flying into the air, and then makes another one fold into himself until he implodes in a puddle of gore. That’s an image that’ll stick with me for a while. More cops show up though, and shoot David in the back. He falls to the ground, dead.We get one shot of Amy visiting his grave, and we finally cut to our timeline. The real timeline. He and Amy sit in a car after David tried to hang himself with an extension cord. He begs her not to make him go to Clockworks, saying things could have been different. She says they’re not. He has to go. The show ends with a montage of everything that’s happened from the very first episode of Legion to last week’s murder of Amy, all set to “I Am Superman.” It closes with Farouk’s line, “You decide what is real and what is not. Your will.”Dan Stevens as David Haller. (CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX)And in that moment, the episode becomes clear. I love that it didn’t just come out and tell us what was going on, or why we were seeing all this. David just learned he lost his sister. Lenny, his friend-turned-Shadow-King-puppet, has been brought back to life at the expense of Amy’s body. He’s in grief, and those words are echoing in David’s mind. He can decide what’s real and what’s not. He can effectively choose any reality. And that’s what he’s doing here. Playing out every reality, every branching path, all at once. And as true as Farouk’s words are, his exchange with his sister in the car is what really sticks with him. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” “I know, but it is.” Amy wasn’t supposed to end up dead. But she did. And no matter how many alternate paths David creates for himself, he can’t make things better between them. In most of them, things turn out even worse.The revelation at the end is a moment you rarely get from TV shows. The gravity of everything you’ve just seen, and what it all means hits you all at once. Amy Haller is gone. And no matter how powerful David is, he can’t change that. The show doesn’t usually get this somber, this heartbreaking, but I’m glad it did. It’s so rare that an episode of television leaves me frozen on the couch, speechless except for a solitary “whoa.” And even that feels like an egregious understatement. Stay on target Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.