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Legion season 3, episode 4 recap: Chapter 23

Legion’s “Chapter 23” felt like a surreal, mind-bending, heartbreaking comic book. Things will never be the same. War has begun. We’ve got the recap!

“Chapter 23” was written by Olivia Dufault (Preacher) and Charles Yu (Westworld). It was directed by Daniel Kwan (Swiss Army Man). The episode was not as unnerving as “Chapter 22.” But, it’s directly connected and continues the theme of being haunted by time. The emotional stakes were higher this week. Sure. Meeting Charles Xavier (Harry Lloyd) was a monumental moment for Legion. But we’ve spent over 20 episodes with our main cast of characters.

Watching them be taunted and erased was horrifying. The familiar torture of Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) reached new levels of horror. Time has been altered and everyone is confused. But at the end of the episode, David (Dan Stevens) seems ready to earn his title as Destroyer of Worlds.

A Simple Plot

Related Story: Legion season 3, episode 3 recap: Chapter 22

In “Chapter 20,” we learned that going too far back in time could “wake the demon.” This kept Switch (Lauren Tsai) in check on her time travels. But in “Chapter 22,” David persuaded Switch to go back to his childhood repeatedly and for long periods of time. That not only woke one demon. It awoke an infestation of Time Eaters.

Time Eaters. They look like steampunk versions of a Muppet Gonzo and sloth hybrid that have inhaled the Joker’s smile-till-you-die gas. Yes. That’s a Marvel and DC mashup. It’s also accurate. The Time Eaters move in streaking animation that’s either missing a few frames or brushed out over a few frames.

They can erase, slow down, or speed up time on a macro and micro level. Effectively deleting entire centuries is frightening. But the person to person attacks are far more horrific. They can make you relive parts of your timeline, force you into someone else’s timeline, or keep you in your own timeline while everyone you love ages and dies in front of you. The Time Eaters do this all with that big grin and Minion-esque chuckling. Creepy.

Legion–Credit: Suzanne Tenner FX

Farouk Amahl (Navid Negahban), Kerry (Amber Midthunder), and Clark (Hamish Linklater) go to the Time Eater’s world. It’s explained in terms of a black hole. Time is the wood. Time Eaters are the termites. They feast in black holes. While the trio puts up a good fight against the Time Eaters, it’s ultimately David that stops the madness. He finally gains the upper hand and immolates one of the Time Eaters. His follow Time Eater is shocked. David threatens to kill all of the Time Eaters if they don’t stop. The threatened Time Eater goes through all of the timelines and orders a retreat. One threat ended. Another threat is just beginning.

The Attacks

As the timelines glitch, Team Division 3 is alerted to a major threat. Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) declares the narrative is interrupted and his perfect mustache is uneven. Syd (Rachel Keller) believes this is David’s work. Technically, it is. But, it’s more of a mistake. One that he made because Switch never warned him about the Time Eaters.

Syd is attacked and trapped in her room with her fifteen-year-old self (Pearl Amanda Dickson). This version of Syd has already lived through the shower switch sex situation from last season. Present Syd is initially reluctant to share any details of her future with Teen Syd. But, as they share a few glasses of whiskey, Present Syd relents. Her future may already be altered just by this meeting. Without mentioning a name, she warns Teen Syd of a man with powers. Teen Syd will fall in love with him, but he’s abusive and dangerous. Teen Syd wants to know if hugging Present Syd will cause them to switch places. When they hug, it’s emotional until it’s revealed that Teen Syd has been a Time Eater all along. It tries to eat her until David’s intervention.

Cary (Bill Irwin) becomes a play toy for the Time Eaters. He seems to be able to wiggle out of the threat when a Time Eater poops. Cary prodded the poo and had David’s spell shorn from him. Now under his own will, he finds Switch and they are able to manually override Ptonomy’s errors long enough to be extracted from David’s commune.

Legion–Credit: Pari Dukovic/FX

David is attacked and sent back to a World War II concentration camp where he is imprisoned with his mom Gabrielle (Stephanie Corneliussen). David tries to explain that he is her son. She is his mommy. He warns her to keep Charles from going to find Farouk. She thinks he’s crazy. This destroys David, but there’s no time to cry. He’s attacked by Time Eaters. This is when he gives them the ultimatum that ends the global threat. But, when David learns that Carry escaped with Switch, he gets Legion-angry and growls “it’s war.”

The Life and Times of Violet Violence Busker

Lenny Busker, folks. No character has suffered more on Legion. Dying is a tragedy, but most of Lenny’s real pain comes after their death. They’re willed into existence by Farouk and David. I’ll never forget the images of Lenny trying to kill themselves repeatedly last season when they realized they were trapped for eternity. Of course, someone who doesn’t exist can’t kill themselves. But Farouk relents and lets her go. She joins David at the end of the season. She’s always associated with the perceived big bad of the show. But every scene with Lenny in it is a loveable, dangerous delight. Aubrey Plaza rules. She takes a character that is already multidimensional and finds a way to add more depth. More emotion.

When the Time Eaters attack, Lenny is considering leaving David’s commune to live a real life with Salmon and their baby. Salmon protests: “But, you’re the Queen of Breakfast.” Lenny argues: “Maybe it’s lunchtime.” This is Lenny’s chance at a life. Will things ever be normal? Who cares?! Lenny can be part of something that isn’t destructive.

The cruelest Time Eater attack plays on Lenny’s darkest fear. They keep her in time. I mean, based on the nature of her existence, they may not have a choice. Salmon has the baby and is immolated. Lenny is left holding baby Violet. Time slips and there’s Lenny with her adolescent Violet (Gia Berberian). Time slips again and we meet Teen Violet (Jaidan Jiron). Time slips and Lenny is sitting with Adult Violet (Alexis Victoria Bloom) who’s talking about how crazy life has been. Finally, still on the bed, Lenny is comforting her elderly Violet who is happy that they made it to see her. Violet dies in Lenny’s arms.

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Every version of Violet told Lenny that they were a great parent. Lenny was a little crazy, but they were always there for their Violet. And Violet loved Lenny. David’s intervention is too late. Violet’s whole life has played out and passed on into the ether. Devastated, Lenny lays in the street in front of the commune in the fetal position. I could feel her screams. Upon his return, David offers to make her feel better, but Lenny refuses. She needs to feel this. It’s all they will ever have of their daughter.

Did Chapter 23 of Legion make you cry? We’re at the halfway point of the final season. Are you enjoying Legion? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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