There are any number of philosophical inquiries I could use to open this review, and I've discarded most of them in an attempt to figure out where to begin, which is refreshing in its own right. I was prepared to settle for this show being a surreal superhero show, something more like "Supergirl with bizarre imagery," instead of an exploration of deeper themes. This show has managed to surprise me, and can still be guilty of needing to spell everything out for the audience, but I was unprepared for this meditation on grief and remembrance. Legion has never stopped being one of my favorite shows on television, and episodes like "Chapter 14" are part of the reason why.
We flash back and forth along several timelines before settling along three main ones: David as a homeless person with a bushy beard, recalling actor Dan Stevens's turn as a Disney prince; David as a mustachioed, medicated ward of his sister; and David as a billionaire with a god complex and full control of his powers. Other lives are glimpsed throughout, including David as an IRS drone who sees a mouse sing Bryan Ferry's "Slave to Love" and a happy, suburban David with a wife and kids, which is itself imagined by a manic David in a diner using cold fries to illustrate the multiverse. That it’s to a friend who either goes to see Point Break or suffers from leukemia depending on the universe they inhabit is a singular example of this show’s dark humor.
Each main storyline gets its own arc, and we watch as David suffers, dies, and succumbs to the Shadow King, each in separate timelines. Scenes from season one are revisited, too, suggesting that maybe we’re seeing alternate versions of David not too far removed from the one we know. This certainly seems to be the case of the homeless version who remembers riding in the shopping cart with Benny. But the version we see in this episode grows up to be killed by a sword-wielding Kerry working for Division 3.
Eventually, we return to when Amy drops David off at Clockworks and are rushed back to the end of last episode. David has a very different look on his face than the Liam Neeson impression we were left with, and Farouk intones, "You decide what is real and what is not. Your will." David has been fighting to escape the reality of his sister’s demise, but everything has brought him careening back to it.
The most we see of Amy is as his caretaker in the reality in which he's numb to reality and working as a loader for a dairy company. She works as a realtor, and appears happy. She spends her entire life making sure he eats and takes his pills, and is last seen putting him into a conspicuous wheelchair after he unleashes his powers and gets paralyzed by a cop’s bullet. The only other version of Amy we see is in the timeline in which David is the richest man in the world and shows a scary display of power at her expense after she asks for a house.
The instances of David losing control of his powers appear linked to the Shadow King, implying that the Demon with the Yellow Eyes would have been present in David's head in almost any outcome that didn't result in Amy's death. David asks four droogs, in a return of the explicit Kubrick references, if "he sent them" before evaporating them, and a cop is crumpled up in bone-crunching, blood-gushing agony in a different timeline after David sees the Demon taunting him.
Mere plot description does not do this episode justice. In fact, it's borderline impossible. I haven’t written enough about this season’s exceptional music choices, and "Chapter 14" was no different. A cover, possibly by showrunner Noah Hawley and composer Jeff Russo, of Ten Years After's "I'd Love to Change the World" starts the episode in earnest, and is very fitting. By the episode's end, when we realize what is going on, the sentiment behind it is even more poignant. We see someone who has the power to literally change the world pause in doing that several times over in order to mourn someone he loved.