Die a Hero or Live a Villain (Legion spoilers contained here within)


I haven’t passed this by my non-American friends yet, so I’m not sure if this is strictly something in the US or Western Cultures at large, but we seem to have this compelling need for a happy ending in our fiction.

So, the joke in my my household and among my friends is that my TV and movie entertainment skews towards: Dragons, vampires, aliens, robots, spaceships, and supers/enhanced humans/mutants (pick your intellectual property). I like my entertainment to be solidly escapist in nature. We have a world full of greed, emotional damage, and overall batshittery. I don’t need a movie that is “based on the true story” but not really because it has to be re-written so much to be interesting.. which is to say, probably wildly uncomfortable and so psychotic to make the average watcher feel better about their own lives.

*big sigh*

So.. Escapism..

But escapism isn’t about a happy ending. Escapism derives its best stories from the conflicts we see in day-to-day life, just through the prism of super powers and time machines.

And sometimes, it doesn’t really have a very happy ending.

[Spoilers start here]

“I am a good person. I deserve love.”

Both are right from a subjective point of view. Both are completely wrong from a more objective view. These are the mantra of David in the final episode of season 2. Even as he tortured one man, tried to kill another with a rock, tele-patha-roofied his girlfriend, and sank solidly in a psychosis.

“I am a good person. I deserve love.”

One of my favorite lines from the 10th season of Doctor Who ran along the lines of “Very few things in the universe are actually evil, but most are hungry. And hungry can look like evil on the wrong side of the cutlery.”
That is to say, David isn’t really evil.. Well.. not until the end.. And even at the end he wasn’t so much evil as fed up with not getting the rewards he thought he deserved. For feeling that he was being treated unfairly as a threat. But, objectively.. He was a threat. And no one is going to thank you very much when there is compelling evidence that you might go darkside of the force.

End of the day, David is.. more than just talking at shrubbery type of crazy. And anyone with an upended perception of the world and control over minds and the fabric of space/time should be viewed with some trepidation. This is non-judgmental of mental health disorders. It is a fair correlation between being armed and unable to sort fact from delusion.

Lest I forget, I am not forgetting the Shadow King’s involvement and manipulation in this. He gets the label of evil for his opportunistic manipulation. And he does set things in motion, but figuratively speaking, the dominoes were set up by someone else. He might connect some paths and push a bit, but the starter finger and conclusions were already in place.

“I am a good person. I deserve love.”

This is an unpopular position I am sure, but.. No.. I don’t think anyone *deserves* love. All things being equal, they deserve day-to-day kindness, understanding, and fair opportunities with in the law of land and culture. But, no one deserves the romantic love he has ascribed. Romantic love involves another person and that is transactional. They get to decide to whom they give that romance.

And Syd decided there were enough reasons that David no longer deserved her romantic interest. In some ways, I think she did still really love him. But she no longer truly trusted him. And rightfully so.

“I am a good person. I deserve love.”

The last decade or so of writing has really explored the notion of the villain. 1980s Skeletors, Mum-Ras, and Decepticons were easy to label as evil. But why were they evil? What made them evil? Current story telling has started looking into the notion that evil is more interesting when 1. it’s not a point of origin and 2. it can be related to.

We have all had those moments when we just wanted because we wanted. We felt a violent impulse. We said something in an emotional fit of fury. It’s the choice between acting on it or not. Apologizing for it or not. Learning from it or not. Repeating it or not. These are the differences.

While Legion season 2 had a number of less than stellar aspects, David’s descent into sociopathy is neither wildly surprising nor unwarranted. Everything built towards his break not just from the world of humanity, but overall empathy. And whether this path leads back or not sits well in the hands of the writers and, I would hope, a compelling exploration of David’s dual with his filtered perception of the world.

This is a guest post by Jon Anderson. See all episodes Jon has been on here.

Our favorite he has been on?

This one.


Artist, writer, corporate flunky just trying to make it through a world of egomaniacs and antipathy.

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