Legion ended its second season Tuesday night on a massive cliffhanger that was immediately preceded by a massive twist that will shift the whole narrative of the show when Season 3 rolls around. It's the kind of thing another show might do if the writers felt things were flagging and the characters needed a boost, but this is Legion we're talking about, and according to creator Noah Hawley, it was always part of the plan.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Season 2 of Legion below**
Much of the second season of Legion was built on the question of David's (Dan Stevens) inherent goodness. By the end of Season 1 many of the show's supporting heroes had placed their faith in him as the hero who could end the reign of the Shadow King (Navid Negahban) and lead mutants into a better, more peaceful future. As the second season wore on, though, it became clear that David's lies and schemes behind the back of those who loved him were about something more than just a person who didn't know right from wrong.
That all came to a head in "Chapter 19," the Season 2 finale, when David — having been confronted with all of his wrongs, and the notion that he might still have mental illness issues — finally snapped and abandoned his friends, setting up a Season 3 in which he's now the series' major villain.
Even though it's something the series had been hinting at all season, it's the kind of moment that can shock you to the core when the show finally pulls it off. When Season 2 started, the Shadow King was the clear villain and David the clear hero, and at the end of the season a perfect mirror image has formed, with David and Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) beginning a reign of chaos while Syd (Rachel Keller) and the rest of the Division III team tries to cope with the fallout. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the decision, creator Noah Hawley explained why the big twist was not a new development, but something built in the fabric of the show from the beginning.
"For me, I always had this question in my mind, what would happen if Walter White was a supervillain? That Breaking Bad superhero show. This idea, especially in the X-Men universe, that the moral line between good and evil is often fudge-able," Hawley said. "Magneto, who sometimes is their villain and sometimes is on their side, and the idea of what the right thing to do is can shift depending on the circumstances. So I wanted to evolve the show so that you realize over time that maybe David’s not the hero of your show, but maybe Syd is the hero of your show."
Indeed, Syd does declare herself the hero of the story at one point during the Season 2 finale, setting up a showdown for Season 3 that will pit her against the man she once loved. It's an interesting pivot that, as Hawley mentioned, fits perfectly with the soap opera drama of so many X-Men comics we know and love. He also mentioned that, now that we know the twist and we know that he planned it all along, we can go back and look at the rest of the show with "different eyes."
As for what to expect for Season 3, Hawley focused on the character of Syd, who was introduced to the show as David's love interest but has evolved into her own character with her own clear agenda. While he's not spoiling too much, Hawley noted that he has indeed been planning to move her into the primary hero position for some time.
"On the level that it’s their story, I think she should always be front and center, and I think we went a long way this year towards expanding your understanding of her," he said. "We had that fourth hour where we saw her childhood from many different angles, and how she became the person that she is and the fact that she’s not a pushover by any means, and she’s someone who’s learned to embrace the ugliest parts of herself as her strength and not her weakness."
Legion has already been renewed for a third season on FX, and if the show's schedule continues at the same pace we should get to see it next spring. So, as you rewatch the first two seasons until then, get ready for a David vs. Syd showdown.
For the rest of Hawley's thoughts on the finale, including how he feels about that Disney/Fox merger, head over to EW.