As it turns out, the final battle in Season 2 isn’t against the Shadow King Amahl Farouk, but against the darker aspects of David Haller’s own subconscious. A straight-up villain is a bad thing, but what’s even worse is a misguided “good” guy with more power than he knows what to do with, enough to send him over the edge. In the most unsettling way possible, the Legion Season 2 finale delivered a new kind of apocalypse, one that destroys the world by destroying humanity in the philosophical instead of literal sense.
“Chapter 19,” the Season 2 finale, plays with time in really weird ways, flashing forward and sideways and internally to explore what might happen in the future, what’s going on inside David’s psyche, and what everyone else is doing right now. After a spectacular animated visualization of a battle on the astral plane between Farouk and David, we visit with Oliver and Melanie Bird living in blissful ignorance inside his weird ice cube on the astral plane.
We learned a few episodes ago that it was supposedly David Haller that goes on to destroy the world in that dark vision of the future. He does, but the outcome is drastically different than the one that came to pass in that alternate timeline and in a way that was foreshadowed much earlier in the season.
The running theme of this season was summed up in Syd’s theory from the episode all about her, in which she says, “Love isn’t gonna save us. It’s what we have to save.”
She was right. But David failed to save love, and in turn, he effectively destroyed the world in a much worse way.
Season 2’s penultimate episode spent most of its airtime having a Farouk-controlled Melanie Bird try to convince Sydney that David was the one to end the world. She was so convincing that Syd decides to try shooting David in the family knowing he’d bring about the apocalypse. She makes the tough decision made out of love. But when David gets the opportunity to wipe her mind, of the entire situation, he does just that. Had he believed in saving love, wouldn’t he have let her maintain her free will and respected her decisions?
If we learn anything in this episode about David, it’s that he does have a bit of insanity still plaguing him. He spends several minutes arguing with different manifestations of himself in his head. One is agoraphobic and wants to abandon everyone, and the other truly believes he’s a god.
Sydney is right to try killing David, because this guy basically gives his girlfriend a psychic lobotomy to pacify her, and then he promptly seduces her. No, let’s call it rape when it’s rape. What more thorough way is there to destroy love so completely?
This connects with another throughline this season about superpowered white men as imperialists, colonizing the world with their self-importance and holier-than-thou attitudes, neglecting the women that love them because they’re “special.” In this sense, David Haller is just like his father Charles Xavier, assuring the world that he knows best even when he doesn’t, using and abusing those around him.
When confronted with the prospect that he is, in fact, insane in some fashion, David can’t handle. He began this story thinking he was insane, and then Melanie Bird spent most of Season 1 trying to convince David that he was wholly sane, just superpowered. Perhaps because he was so narrowly focused on killing Farouk, he failed to realize that he was delusional all along.
He’s so self-righteous and obsessed with the prospect of being “special” that he can’t handle the truth, and when confronted with it, he nearly kills everyone to break out of containment and bring Lenny with him.
Love is dead, and David Haller finally became Legion, the mutant son of Charles Xavier who hears a multitude of voices in his head that drive him insane. In this sense, Legion finally reconciles with the David Haller from Marvel Comics, effectively creating one of the most terrifying and powerful villains to ever exist in that canon.