WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episode of Legion, "Chapter 22," which aired Monday on FX.
The long-awaited origin story of Legion's troubled protagonist finally begins to unfold in the latest episode. In the aftermath of World War II, a romance sparks between Charles Xavier (Harry Lloyd) and Gabrielle Haller (Stephanie Corneliussen), two characters from the comics who were previously referenced on the show, but have been off-screen and unnamed until now.
Traumatized by his experiences as a soldier who survived by telepathically forcing enemies to commit suicide, Charles is sent to a mental institution, where he encounters a catatonic young woman. "Do you know where she came from?" he asks a nurse, who responds, "The camps… Poor thing."
Charles's psychic healing and his budding love for Gabrielle accomplish what traditional methods couldn't. She awakens and reciprocates his feelings, and both are released from the hospital. They move into a grand stone mansion together and have their first child, settling into what should have been a happily-ever-after, if not for what we already know about the baby boy and his future.
Soon we find that we're not the only ones watching. The adult David (Dan Stevens) has apparently had some success with his time-travel scheme, and he and Switch (Lauren Tsai) are conversing as disembodied voices, wondering why Gabrielle can't see or hear them.
Switch is exhausted and her control over the journey is flickering, but David isn't content to just observe and learn about his parents, even after witnessing the extraordinary similarities their relationship has to his with Syd. He wants to stop Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban), the Shadow King, from ever infecting him.
His ultimate failure doesn't come as a surprise, but right away there are some alarming signs that what we thought we knew about David's origins aren't the whole story. Farouk, who allegedly took up residence in baby David's mind and was exorcised at the end of Season 1, is actually in existence before David was even conceived -- unless he hitched a ride with the David of the present day.
Gabrielle sits comatose in her wheelchair in the institution holding a doll with the likeness of one of the forms Farouk used to torment his host: The World’s Angriest Boy in the World. The doll is real and visible to others, but there's no explanation for it; it's as if Gabrielle is simply compelled by the same malevolent force that later controls her son.
David's efforts to rescue himself turn out to be no less invasive. His interference with the past disrupts his parents' sleep with dreams of his current life, and once Charles departs on his mission to find another mutant, Gabrielle is left alone with the baby and a series of frightening paranormal occurrences. "I think this house is haunted," she writes to her absent husband. "I hear voices. There’s a presence. Maybe it's the sickness coming back. Maybe I'm the one who's haunted."
Although we at least know that she’s not the one to blame, it's hard to say who is. Farouk, David, and Switch are all hovering over key moments in the family history, and some of the hauntings seem more like the work of an evil poltergeist than the calling cards of David or his nemesis. In one of the show’s most horrifying scenes to date, Gabrielle is sealed in a room and separated from her bawling infant. When the barrier is removed, she finds him face down in his cradle and turns him over, only to see the back of his head once more. She tries again, but the baby, still sobbing, has no face.
There are mysteries surrounding Charles and Gabrielle that have yet to be resolved, including the reason that they gave up their child for adoption. David was clearly loved and wanted, but the threats looming around him may have become too much -- or, for an even more heartbreaking possibility, the trauma that he himself visited on Gabrielle may have permanently impaired her parenting ability.
Along with whatever damage he wreaked with his interference, David may have squandered his chance to use time travel for silently researching his past and gaining a better understanding of it. By the end of the episode, we can see that there’s no turning back: He's now Amahl Farouk’s "beautiful boy."
Airing Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX, Legion stars Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, Bill Irwin, Amber Midthunder, Jeremie Harris, Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, Hamish Linklater, Navid Negahban, and Lauren Tsai.