Chapter 1: Legion (FX) Resources
Discussion / Social Media
- Discord - Summerland
- Dreamwidth - Legion FX
- Facebook - Legion After Dark
- Pillowfort - Legion FX
- Reddit - Legion FX
- Tumblr: Legion FX tag, David Haller tag
- Twitter: LegionFX tag, Official Twitter Account, Dan Stevens
Useful information and reference material for the Legion TV series.
- Episode Transcripts
- FY Screencaps: Legion Season 1 and 2 Screencaps
- Dan Stevens Brasil Fan Site: Legion Screencaps
- The Legion Wiki
- Fanlore for Legion Fandom
- Wikipedia - Legion (TV Series)
- Wellntruly’s Way Long Legion Recaps: Season 1, Season…uh 2
- Selenak's Legion reviews
If you’re looking for deep dives into Legion, these podcasts are for you! All of them have full-length episode reviews and some have additional interviews and other material worth checking out.
- Clockworks ( iTunes ) ( Home ) ( Twitter ) - Paul and Jan Moffett delve into an episode-by-episode analysis of Legion, focusing especially on picking apart the symbolism and imagery of the psychedelic and surreal FX show.
- Inside Legion ( iTunes ) ( Home ) ( Twitter ) - Hosted by the long running Comic Book Club podcast, Inside Legion posts weekly, and features everything from deep dives into comic book Easter Eggs, to the definitive breakdown of what is - and isn't - real.
- Legion ‘Cast ( iTunes ) - Legion is many things: trippy, creative, romantic, dark, fresh, exciting, beautifully crafted, and fun, and we're thrilled to dive deep in and get crazy with it! Join Jason and Rima of Podcastica on this journey into madness.
- Let’s Talk Legion ( iTunes ) ( Home ) - Each week, Jaye and Ryan discuss the latest episode, discuss your feedback and theorize what's to come! Note: This feed stops after S1, and new episodes now air as part of the main Sight & Sound ( iTunes ) ( Home ) feed.
- We Are Legion ( iTunes ) ( Twitter ) - Formerly known as Legion: The Podcast. Brian one of the hosts from Legion: The Podcast is joined by Jake from Pop Culture Leftovers and Wrestling Jabronis as well as Steve and Kova from Scene-It Cast to discuss the Noah Hawley series Legion based on the Marvel Comics character from X-Men.
- Archive of Our Own - Legion (TV)
- Legion Fic Meme/Kink Meme
- Clockworks Legion Fic Exchange
- Legion Story Prompt Generator
Legion Comics Resources
All of the David 1 and David 2 conversations, now correctly identified based on voice patterns! Between this and our actual visuals of the alters in Chapter 19, it’s now clear what we’re dealing with.
Divad is the grown-up. He’s the responsible, logical alter who helps David by trying to keep him calm and counseling him to do the right thing. He’s the one who tells David to be truthful in Chapter 9 and 10, who tells him in Chapter 19 that he’s actually sick and needs help (and then to run when it’s clear David is in mortal danger), and he’s the one who helps to plan the attack against Farouk in Chapter 16. It’s probable but not confirmed that Divad is the alter in control in Chapter 18 after when Cary finds David after he’s realized he’s just tortured Oliver instead of Farouk and can’t cope with what he’s done. Divad speaks with the same voice pattern and helped create the plan, and if this is him then I believe he’s heartbroken that David wants revenge so badly that he’s losing himself.
Dvd is the defender. He’s the alter who takes over when David is in stressful situations and feels trapped. As David’s protector, Dvd is aggressive towards anyone that threatens to hurt David and enjoys making them pay. Dvd is arrogant and claims that David doesn’t need anyone else, which is a very defensive attitude designed to prevent David from being even more vulnerable than he already is. Dvd feels very adolescent, raging against the injustices David has suffered and hostile to empathy. All of this explains his hostility to Syd after she tries to shoot David. I suspect that Dvd was the reason why teen!David blew out the windows on the cop car, and if so he goes at least as far back as that.
Dvd is the source of the creepy smile when David maxes out his powers throughout the show and I’m almost certain he’s the one in charge at the end of Chapter 19 when David escapes Division 3 with Lenny -- he’s saying “I’m done. You had your chance.” to David, not to Syd/the others, because he clearly believes David isn’t going to be able to salvage the situation on his own. Importantly, Dvd does appear to have greater control over David’s powers, as he’s able to use them to escape bad situations that David is otherwise unable to. Dvd was the one who busted David out of the fantasy Clockworks. Dvd was likely also the one who used David’s defensive teleportation to save David from the memory sessions in S1.
Both Divad and Dvd were the voices that tried to stop David from hanging himself back in the pilot. It’s probable that Dvd was the one who got rid of the electrical cord via his defensive teleportation. They’ve been trying to protect David for a long time. And as David reaches his mental and emotional limit at the end of Chapter 19, the alters take charge.
Dvd: Does he know?
Divad: Calm down.
Dvd: I think he knows.
Divad: He doesn't know.
Dvd: Then why'd he leave? That was weird.
Divad: Read his mind.
Dvd: His mind?
Divad: Their mind, whatever.
Dvd: What do they know?
Divad: Assume everything. Be honest.
David (aloud): I need more help finding Farouk.
Dvd: Shut up, shut up.
David (aloud): Some modifications to the tank.
Kerry (aloud): Do I look like the fix-it guy? Or any guy? I'm the X-chromosome ass kicker. Or maybe you missed the part where there was an arm sticking out of my stomach.
David (aloud): I just -
Divad: Tell her the truth.
David (aloud): I wouldn't ask unless -
Divad: You need to talk to Syd. Future Syd. It's important.
Dvd: Is that-- Did you just give her a nickname?
Divad: She's looking at us. Say something.
Divad: Be strong. Tell him we’re in control. Nobody else gets hurt.
Divad: Stop it. We can't torture him.
Dvd: Why not?
Divad: Because first, it's horrible, and second, he's just a mind. Does he even feel pain?
Dvd: We know where it is. We need a plan. Should we tell?
Divad: No, if we tell, then Farouk can read their minds.
Dvd: Okay. Who should we use?
David (aloud): Shit.
Divad: On your mark, get set, go.
Originally posted at: https://versaphile.tumblr.com/post/174997178122/davids-voices-identified
All the symptom alerts heard over the Division 3 announcement system, from chapters 10-18. We can now understand these to be psychic attacks Farouk has been subjecting Division 3 to for some time now, long enough that the warnings and attacks have both become routine and therefore unnoticed. The change in symptoms during the delusion bug attack shows this in miniature.
[Kerry tells Syd that they found David]
Reminder: beware of ideas that are not your own. Reminder: beware of ideas that are not your own.
[David recalls his scrambled memories to Ptonomy and Syd appears behind him]
New symptom alert. Unexplained malaise.
[Syd walks into Melanie's room]
Announcement two. Know your symptoms. Confusion. Irritability. Obsessive thoughts. Repetitive sounds. Repetitive sounds. Hopelessness. Despair. If you feel any of these symptoms, tell your mental monitor at once.
[Clark confronts David in the cafeteria]
Reminder: a loss of meaning is not normal. Beware of ideas that are not your own. New symptom alert. A strong urge to confess.
[David meets Admiral Fukuyama]
New symptom alert. A sudden decrease--
[Syd finds David naked in the hallway]
New symptom alert. A strong urge to confess. New symptom alert. A strong urge to confess.
[Kerry and Cary eat shaomai together]
New symptom alert. Irritability. Reminder: avoid lines with double meaning. Reminder: avoid lines with double meaning.
[First shot of Lenny in the interrogation room]
New symptom alert. Unexplained malaise. Any shift in reality may signal an attack. If you feel something, say something.
[The crew ride up the in elevator to confront Fukuyama]
Symptom alert. Fixating despair. Symptom alert - Symptom alert - Symptom alert. A growing sense of outrage.
[David implants instructions in Cary and Clark]
Announcement two: - know your symptoms. Confusion. Irritability. Repetitive sounds. If you feel any of these symptoms, - tell your mental monitor at once. Repetitive sounds. If you feel any of these symptoms, tell your mental monitor at once.
[Syd and Clark girl talk]
Reminder: a loss of meaning is not normal.
[Kerry visits Melanie in flashback]
New symptom alert: a growing sense of outrage.
[The empty halls and rooms of Division 3]
New symptom alert. Tell your mental monitor at once.
Originally posted: https://versaphile.tumblr.com/post/174634022622/symptom-alerts
Hold on to your hats, this is a long one.
Essential to the Shadow King's plot against David was the whole idea of heroes and villains, and the enforcement of that dichotomy.
What is a good person? Lenny is asked if she's a good person and rejects it, while David tries to convince himself he is one. Syd defends him as one when questioned by Clark. Melanie!Farouk counters that David is a psychopath.
"I was in Clockworks for six years. Drugged, doing nothing. Contributing nothing. And now, finally, I can be useful. I can help. Don't you get it? I am so sick of myself."
I don't think David ever wanted to be or thought of himself as a hero, not until Farouk put the idea into his head. David does however want to be a good person. We know how low his self-image is. I think it's easy to forget that he tried to kill himself. That he did it with the deep conviction that he was a broken plate that needed to be thrown away. That the voices didn't tell him to do it, but "they tried to stop me." It was in some ways a deeply sane and rational act in reaction to a lifetime of incredible pain.
David never stopped thinking of himself as a broken plate. That's why he has his affirmations. That's why he's so emotionally fragile. The failures of Clockworks aside, it seems no amount of therapy could make him stop hating himself.
Syd "woke him up", and what does that mean? On one level, it means she gave him something to live for. Something genuinely good in his life that he hadn't ruined. I think being unable to touch her, unable to have a normal life with her, was why she was safe enough for him to fall in love with, because their love could never be "real." What they had in Clockworks was a kind of fantasy (or delusion), glossing over the harsh reality that David was sick and institutionalized and likely would remain so for the rest of his life. That Syd would get better and leave but they both knew he wouldn't, and then David would go back to sleep because sleep was the only alternative to another suicide attempt. I think he would have tried again if he had the chance, once she was gone. And he would have tried again until either he succeeded or Farouk ate him whole.
"Well, why can't you have what everyone else has? A nice home, a family?"
"Because I'm sick."
And then David had the most insane five weeks of his life.
It's also easy to forget how little time has passed for him. After he escaped Clockworks, he lived with Amy for a week before Division 3 caught him, and then all the events in Summerland are only about another week or so. It's surely only a day or two between Farouk escaping in Oliver and David being snatched by Future Syd's orb. And then we know for a fact that Season 2 only takes a couple of weeks from start to finish.
Five weeks to go from suicidal and institutionalized to chaotic escape to discovering the horror of his possession and that his entire life has been a lie; to go from elation and victory and freedom and the first pure joy he can remember, to an immediate plunge into confusion and lies and self-betrayal as he's forced to help Farouk, to a season-long torture session as Farouk patiently drives him into a psychotic break while also pouring poisonous ideas into his head about being a hero and a god. It's no wonder he never stood a chance.
So in those five weeks, is David a good person? He desperately wants to be. He wants to be useful. He wants to be able to give something back after a lifetime of being/feeling like a burden on others. Melanie (and Ptonomy and Cary and Oliver) mostly convinces him that he's not actually sick, that all his problems were caused by his parasite and the confusion over his mutant abilities. I think he never quite swallows that, but he desperately wants to believe it. And why not? Who wouldn't want to get a fresh start after so much suffering?
"You know the most dangerous thing about schizophrenia? The most dangerous thing is believing you don't have it. That's the trick. The mind killer. Your disease convinces you, you don't have it. So, for example, one day in the hospital, you meet a girl and she has some friends and they tell you you're not sick. You have super powers. And more than anything, you wanna believe it because that means you're not crazy. It means you can fall in love and live happily ever after. But you know if you believe it if you surrender to the hope and you're wrong, then you're never coming back."
David surrendered to the hope that he could be healthy and happy, when the pressure was on, that hope broke him.
"You and I, we are les dieux. Gods. What did John Lennon say? Bigger than Jesus."
"Do what you want. Take what you want. Gods make rules. They don't follow them."
"Who teaches us to be normal when we're one of a kind?"
"And that's it? No super-villain-destroy-the-world bullshit?"
From the moment David agrees to cooperate with Farouk at Future Syd's behest, Farouk gets to work shaping David's post-possession narrative. This isn't the story about a victim and his parasite anymore, it's two equal and opposing forces, each with their own glass jar of justice, filled with hurt and hate. He tells a story about how he did terrible things because "if the choice is between death or life I choose life." He encourages David to be godlike, to make the rules, to take power over other people and by doing so treat them as lesser, as ants and playthings. And who else does David have to turn to to understand the moral limits of his powers? Farouk took Oliver away, and he took Melanie, too, both his teachers. There's no one else who can even begin to understand.
"You should be immune now, but--"
"Yeah. I did a little thing before we left."
"You did a thing in my head?"
Farouk's lessons start creeping into David's actions. When the Monk's chattering virus puts Melanie and Ptonomy into mazes, David "does a thing" that will protect them without their consent. He sees something bad in their minds and fixes it because of course he does. What else is he supposed to do? He's not doing anything wrong. He's helping them. When the delusion monster takes over D3, David does the same thing again, plucking "a bad idea" out of Syd and Clark's minds. He's being a good person, a hero destroying a monster, he's helping them. No one questions his actions here, which only reenforces them. So when Farouk puts another "bad idea" into Syd's head in Le Desolé, what else David he supposed to do but take it out just like he did before? He can't let Farouk win, can't let the villain hurt the woman he loves. And then Syd turns against him and he breaks. His mind breaks, and in psychotic desperation he stops holding back, he tries to be a god, and everything falls apart.
"You were right. About David. He's a world-breaker. And if you'd killed him before he figured that out, then maybe your tactical forces and what is it? World coalition? Maybe that would've impressed me. But not now. Well, kid you better learn to fly like a bird, because the age of the dinosaur is over."
It's that hero/villain dichotomy that has the biggest payoff for Farouk. For this we need to step back and look at the larger picture of the show's moral universe. Our initial conflict is between Division 3 and mutantkind. David is made out to be the "key to winning the war." He repeatedly questions this assumption before reluctantly embracing it and using it not to win, but to scare Division 3 into making peace. After he's orbed, Melanie and Syd are able to complete this transition, and a year later, Division 3 is still hunting mutants, but only "our real enemies", in particular the Shadow King. The Summerlanders have moved from a position of unity of mutantkind, to collusion with a police force against the outliers of mutantkind. The question then becomes: who are "our real enemies", the mutant villains?
Division 3 does not trust David. They never trusted David. Fukuyama would rather kill David in Chapter 9 if there's even a chance he's infected with the chattering virus. Clark, despite his soft spot for David, considers David to be dangerous and unstable and liable to end the world just by accident. It would be comically easy for Farouk to convince Division 3 that David is a villain who needs to be captured and killed even without all of this byzantine plotting. Division 3 probably would have done on their own except they needed David to stop Farouk. They were willing to put aside any morals or qualms in service of their greater goal, just as they were in employing sadistic, villainous mutants like The Eye. Division 3 has always been morally compromised. In fact, I'm not even sure that Farouk did more to sway them than convince them that David is the more dangerous of the two of them. As soon as David gave them Farouk, it was only a matter of time before Division 3 turned on him, because they didn't need to tolerate his existence any longer. Ultimately it doesn't matter, because Division 3 isn't Farouk's main target. It's Syd.
"Lady I'm not treating him. He's my man. Which means I care about what he wants. What we want. I could give a shit about how he fits in here."
"Junkies and masochists and hookers, and those who have squandered everything are the ring of brightest angels around heaven."
Syd doesn't believe in dichotomies. She was never interested in Summerland's greater goals, and despite her high position in Division 3, I don't think she cares about their goals either. Let us not forget that Syd was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, that her happy place was a cartoon island with a single palm tree. She's self-isolating and has little tolerance for social structures and "-isms." If she's anything, she's an anarchist in the classical sense: she believes in the absence of authority.
Like Farouk, Syd believes in survival, by whatever means that survival requires. Syd also knows more than anyone but maybe Amy just how damaged David is. She knows how fragile he is and tries to make him tougher, to make him use his pain as armor, because that's what (mostly) works for her. Ultimately that only makes things worse because David's true armor is his fragility. Convincing him that he needs to be tough (read: closed off, defensive, self-isolating, pain-proud) only ends up pushing him further along Farouk's path. This does NOT mean David's psychotic break is her fault, it's just a tragic case of mismatched survival strategies. She's just as broken as he is, in many ways, and sometimes broken people help each other and sometimes they make each other worse.
"If I said that you should do it, then you should do it."
"Are we helping him? Farouk. What about the end of the world?"
"One thing at a time."
"It's not your fault. This is their power, the mind readers. They read our minds and then they show us what we want to see. We can't trust them. You have to trust yourself. The person you've become in the future."
"Don't you trust me?"
"Maybe I just trust myself more."
So how does Farouk convince Syd to turn against "her man"? Syd believes in survival, not morality. She doesn't care about heroes and villains. She's as grey as they come. But Syd does have a weakness: she doesn't trust anyone but herself. It's a bit of an ouroboros, frankly, and not the strongest part of the season, but ultimately: Syd trusts that her future self made the right choice, and if the right choice is saving Farouk and killing David to save the world, then that's what she has to do. It's David's decision to stop helping Farouk and thereby stop helping Future Syd that really begins to split them apart. David proves untrustworthy to her future self, and therefore David proves untrustworthy to her current self.
"So strong is our belief that a pattern must exist that the human mind will project the pieces that don't fit."
"And when we are stressed or our beliefs are challenged, when we feel threatened, the ideas we have can become irrational, one delusion leading to another, and another, as the human mind struggles to maintain its identity. And when this occurs, what starts as an egg can become a monster."
In order to reconcile the reality of her apparent future, in order to preserve her sense of identity and the solidity of her only source of trust (herself), Syd accepts Farouk's premise that David is a psychopath, that he has to be stopped, that he's the villain, and who else stops the villain but the hero? She looks at the images of David, fractured and isolated from their true context, and she sees the pieces of the pattern that she needs to see. And then she goes out and she shoots a bullet at "her man."
*takes a breath*
"You know, my doctor used to say that the word "monster" is not a noun, that to be a monster, you've first got to do something monstrous."
So now let's bring this back to David. David, the emotionally fragile mess of a human being with godlike mutant powers, the lifelong victim and suicidal patient who desperately wants to be a good person, to have value to someone, to anyone. Who desperately wants to not be sick anymore because he believes that being sick means he doesn't deserve to be loved or have anything good in his life. Who wants to be anything other than the monster that deep down he's always believed himself to be. Who has only been free of his torturer parasite for two goddamn weeks, and in those two weeks that parasite has surrounded him at every turn and tortured him and progressively picked off almost his entire support system.
Of course he was going to fuck something up.
I don't consider what he did to be rape. I'm sorry, I hate having to do this, I hate that Hawley has put me in this position. Believe me, I'm team #MeToo, and the last thing I want to do is downplay Syd's very real sense of violation. It was real for her. But this show doesn't really do real.
David fucked up, but that doesn't make it rape. Farouk made it rape after the fact. David took the "bad idea" out of her head (without her consent, without telling anyone, generally doing a terrible job of handling things), and then in the middle of a psychotic break, with his entire sense of self disintegrating around him and giving him bad advice, he tried to hold on to the only good thing in his life. The one person who gave him a reason to live when he had absolutely nothing left. She was drunk but he didn't force her. It was consensual, if consent can exist between two people who are in absolutely terrible mental and emotional states. I don't believe you can claim that Syd was raped because she wasn't mentally competent when David wasn't mentally competent either.
Without Farouk's whispering mouse (calling back whispering Ptonomy and his eggs), Syd would probably have woke up with regret but not violation. We don't know what the mouse said to her. Maybe it told her that David wiped her memory. Maybe it told her that David drugged her before he had sex with her. Maybe we'll never find out. The result is the same.
ETA: UGH. Fuck Noah Hawley. I have to add this because he has said in interviews that David did rape her and that was Hawley’s intent. Fine, I give up, he raped her. But David was still extremely NOT mentally competent at the time and I refuse to ignore that. Also, if that was sufficient for it to be rape, why did Farouk need to use his whisper mouse on Syd? I really loathe having to defend this scene at all, honestly, but it’s impossible to ignore it and I can’t reconcile David “let me sit back another foot from my swing so I don’t make Syd feel uncomfortable” with David “we don’t need the white room anymore” without his diminished capacity. And if he’s not mentally competent then I’m not going to call him a rapist. Maybe that makes me wrong but *throws up hands in surrender about this entire thing*
"You make me sick. You know that? Physically sick. Every time I look at you, every time I hear your voice, I want to throw up."
"Good. Remember that feeling, because soon you will see it in her eyes when she looks at you."
"To create fear, hold up a mirror."
I've already written about David's psychotic break in the finale and the subsequent disaster of an intervention. I won't go over all that again here. But right before this is when the last piece of Farouk's plotting snaps into place. He'd primed David well, laid the groundwork for the black-and-white thinking that heroes and villains require. He told David to act like a god, to take what he wants without regard for others. And when David did exactly that, Farouk held up a mirror. He flipped David's world around and told him that he had become a villain, just like the "fatherly" parasite who had tried so hard to "love" him. He showed David proof that he's the monster he's always feared himself to be, he erased the paternity of Charles Xavier by claiming David as his own. A villain fathering a villain.
And that's how David Haller turned into Legion.
Originally posted: https://versaphile.tumblr.com/post/174920361272/legion-season-2-heroes-and-villains
Okay, I sorted out something else about the last two episodes.
So Farouk’s big sell to Syd et al is that David was “like this” all along, and he frames “this” as David being evil. Which was part of what made the last episode so hard to swallow.
What I realized is that they were actually revealing that he was mentally ill even without the SK in his head. But as a viewer, and as someone with experience with mental illness, I never thought that David was going to be normal and happy post-Chapter 8. So it really felt like Farouk was being proven right and David was evil. It was a reveal of something that I already knew, that had already been hinted to the audience in general, but recontextualized in a way that created a delusion. (Damn you Hawley!)
David didn’t have the same understanding I did. In S2, David really thought he wasn’t sick anymore, that he was the sane man in an insane world. Even as he was talking to his alters throughout the season, he really didn’t understand that something was wrong. Which is understandable because a) his entire conception of reality is massively skewed and b) not knowing you have a mental illness is exactly what’s so insidious about mental illness. Which David himself actually states in Chapter 8! “The worst part about schizophrenia is not knowing you have schizophrenia.”
So here’s David, who Farouk absolutely knows has mental illnesses (genetics, trauma, whatever) such as DID (we had Rational David while SK was still in his head). And Farouk decides he’s going to get his revenge by pushing David until he has a psychotic break and then use that to turn the world against him by calling that psychotic break “evil.” Which is of course an incredibly evil thing to do.
Here I pause to say that mental illness, including psychotic breaks, DO NOT MAKE A PERSON EVIL.
Anyway. David’s not the only one who assumed he was all better now. Melanie assumed it. Cary assumed it. So did Syd, though I think she had a lurking suspicion that ultimately was weaponized by Farouk. That assumption made them all vulnerable to Farouk’s plan, as we all saw.
That’s why the big confrontation wasn’t actually a trial but an intervention. It was everyone around David finally realizing that he’s still sick, but in the context of Farouk’s “evil” filter that intervention was doomed to fail and chase David away, because a) he was already having his psychotic break, as planned and b) because telling someone they’re evil and going to destroy the world really discourages them from trusting you with their mental health. Also when your own personal parasite is providing the evidence and is part of the intervention, you’re not going to be in a good mindset to self-interrogate.
David’s alters even get it on the damage, telling David that he was always sick, pushing on his fears and poor self-worth and his emotional dependence on Syd’s love to prove he’s a good person. David, again mid-break, wasn’t in any condition to grapple with his illness, with the trauma that caused to his sense of self. And in his desperation, he astral projected to Syd while she was vulnerable (while they were both vulnerable) and had sex with her, making eeeeeverything worse for everyone except Farouk, who seized on David’s failure and used it to drive a stake through the heart of their relationship.
So yeah, that’s what happened. And that’s why the parts of fandom that already assumed David was still sick were hurt the most by Farouk’s plan.
Originally posted: https://versaphile.tumblr.com/post/174899262197/all-along
This is lots of rambling meta on David Haller and the issues I'm grappling with for the S2 Fixit.
David's situation post-S2 and his cumulative emotional damage is so complicated and interwoven with multiple mental health issues. DID, BPD/PTSD, absolute boatloads of trauma, memory loss/manipulation, maladjusted coping mechanisms like self-blame, and the very important suicide attempt.
And then there's the global power structures involved and the way they shift with David's weight. He has so much more power than he realizes, and I don't mean just in terms of his mutant abilities. But it's invisible to him as long as he's trapped in his own despair. One question I'm grappling with for the back half of this is how far he needs to go to get to the other side of that despair and find some grace for himself so he can engage with the world the way he and it both need him to.
Forgiving yourself is so much harder than other people forgiving you. Especially if a big part of your coping mechanisms is self-blame. No one likes to feel like they're not in control of their lives but that need can become self-defeating if you can't step back and recognize the line between regaining control and hurting yourself so you’ll think you’re in control because you’re causing the pain.
At the same time, you can't just negate your own culpability where you do have it. Forgiveness is just the first step in a process. Which AA deals with very much, I believe, so I should research that a bit.
David had such an incredibly small amount of control over his own life, while also being manipulated constantly into hurting himself and other people with bad choices. And the swiss-cheese memory doesn't help. We base so much of our current choices on our past choices, but he barely understands either as he's making them. And he still has to live with the consequences, especially because until Summerland he doesn't even know that he isn't alone in his head, and then S2 it's not clear he understands he has DID (he treats the alters as hallucinations in the finale [he did his old "stop it stop it" that he used to do to the Shadow King when he thought the SK was hallucinations]). All of this makes a tough knot to untie.
Someone reviewed the finale in the context of drug addiction, and I couldn't quite get on board because mental health != drugs but I do see the value of the comparison. David did get carried away by the idea of being powerful, of being the hero. He wanted that external validation so much because of how little he values himself internally. Which is where the addiction metaphor does make sense. But his "addiction" was Farouk, that powerful negative influence he couldn't escape, and even after being "freed" in S1 he went back to again and again.
Yet again, it wasn't a real choice. He was orbed and given orders by someone he felt obligated to unquestioningly obey. That's not a great thing itself but he's so emotionally dependent on Syd to feel human that it's understandable. He does try to be honest within the parameters he feels he was given. He tells current Syd the truth. But it's not enough to save him from the path Future Syd set him on.
That's why Syd and David's relationship can't really be rebuilt until David deals with at least a few of his deep-seated issues. Like, maybe don't rely on your girlfriend in order to believe that you're a human being worthy of love and affection. Maybe don't accept being a broken plate. They can still have emotional dependence, but David is just so fragile and unable to function on his own that it does become... For some relationships, stressing the bond can strengthen it. David so much needs Syd's love in order to exist as a person worthy of love, that stressing their bond makes him fall apart spectacularly. His self-identity has no tensile strength.
And all of this doesn't even begin to touch on the DID, which is sooo much to sort through. It's really triple the David mess tbh. So instead of one messed-up David, we have three. I've already developed the alters quite a lot and tried to keep their essential feel while making them more than the relatively limited characters we saw in their short screen time. These are theoretically aspects of David that have been with him since childhood/adolescence, based on typical DID alter creation timeline. So that's a lot of history with Farouk which means they also experienced trauma galore.
There are horror aspects to David's DID diagnosis, for him, because he's already had to deal with having other "people" living in him and it didn't go down great for him. So he has associations that aren't necessarily typical for DID. I'm trying to avoid putting DID itself in a bad light since this is a sympathetic portrayal, but David does have these fears and they have to be dealt with. They're real fears for him, even if the alters are very different from Farouk and are mostly positive factors in his life, even if they fuck up sometimes too because they're also traumatized Davids and traumatized Davids gonna fuck up.
How can David feel able to trust his own mind when these other people keep coming out of it and taking him over or influencing him and he doesn't even know it's happening most of the time because his memory has been swiss-cheesed? He has such intense existential fracturing that it's no wonder he relied on Syd so intensely, she was the only anchor he had. What he needs now is more anchors, more people in his life he can rely on, who can give him guidance and belonging in different ways. All of that can help him figure out who he is now, even if he can't get back who he used to be.
This is why his support network is so essential, including his alters. David essentially lost his history, he lost his sense of coherent self to Farouk's possession. Which left him so vulnerable to further manipulation. S2 basically shredded what little David had been able to rebuild for himself post-suicide attempt and post-Farouk. Not just his support network, but his sense of identity, his trust in his mind, his trust in his choices.
And then all of this is tangled up in Farouk's overarching goal of making David a crazy super villain who may well destroy the world. Which is nuts bc David is just a very confused sweetie who's trying very hard to function. But Farouk seems to believe that if he applies enough pressure, he's gonna turn that squishy soft coal into a diamond. And maybe he's right by Hawley's plotting. It's hard to say.
I don't support using DID to make him evil b/c please no mental health stigmatizing! But that is a possibility if Farouk effectively sculpts an alter to his own design. Which is frankly awful and a big nope from me even if it's the kind of evil bullshit that Farouk would probably try to do. David simply does not deserve that kind of treatment. Farouk is an asshole who deserves NOTHING ever except a billion kicks in the balls.
Originally posted: https://versaphile.tumblr.com/post/175156651797/david-haller-meta
Amahl Farouk wears a lot of different masks. He’s the charismatic seducer, the fear monster, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, the Angry Boy, and he wears almost the entire Legion cast as masks at one point or another. But to me, the heart of him is the Shadow King.
I don’t think there’s any question that David is clinically depressed. His suicide attempt is a constant motif in S1 and S2. He doesn’t feel like he’s able to get better (he refuses to leave Clockworks twice) or that he’s worth the effort it would take (he’s a broken plate, throw him away). David, even when he’s clinging to love to save him, is deeply, fiercely depressed. The act of clinging to love in the way he does is symptomatic itself, seeking external validation to bring light to the darkness inside him.
That darkness is made metaphorically and physically real in The Shadow King. Farouk is a manipulative, sadistic sociopath as a person, but that’s because embodied, depression is a manipulative, sadistic sociopath. He is the embodiment of depression thinking: toxic and destructive and poisonous and constantly decieving. Depression tricks you, just like the Shadow King tricks David.
When you’re deeply depressed, the world isn’t real. Other people don’t matter because the shadows make everyone fade away until you can’t see them anymore. When you’re deeply depressed, you just want the world to stop, because the world is black numbness and pain. And love? Love is a joke, a chemical illusion, fake and impossible. Good things feel unreal, and awful things feel overwhemlingly true. That’s the kind of truth that the Shadow King uses as his weapons. Depression can push you into hurting the people you love, into hurting yourself in a desperate attempt to make the pain stop and hold on to the things that depression takes away from you.
More than anything else David Haller suffers from, it’s depression that makes him “sick,” depression caused by and nurtured by the Shadow King. Depression, like Farouk, is inextricably a part of him, whether literally inside him or not. I just hope in season 3, David gets the help he truly needs, and not punishment that tells him that the shadows are the truth.
Originally posted: https://versaphile.tumblr.com/post/177959790517/the-shadow-king
Chapter 8: David’s System in S3
Okay, I finally watched all of season 3, and I have some thoughts on David’s system, as I did after season 2.
First off, let’s talk about Dan Stevens. The man is very, very good at making each different character he plays feel like their own individual, with their own posture, mannerisms, voice. And we know that he made each of David’s alters their own unique character.
I think the last time we saw David Haller, acting as an individual self in control of his mind and body, was the courtroom scene in Chapter 19. The David we saw rescuing Lenny is the same David we saw throughout season 3, and that David was Legion. Not Legion the individual “god” identity as in the comics, but Legion the system of co-conscious alters all working together for the common goal of undoing their trauma, at any cost. Because the one thing they all agree on is that they hate Farouk.
“David”’s voice and mannerisms and personality are drastically different between S2 and S3, except for that very last S2 scene with Lenny. We do see moments in S3 where David peeks out as himself, but we see it most at the end, when his system has achieved its goal and allowed him to be in control again.
So since the David we get in S3 is truly his system, let’s look at what we know about his system.
“Us? Who is ‘us’?”
First off, the alters are hiding behind David. We see their slip in Chapter 24 when they say “us” instead of “I,” and their immediate attempt to cover the slip. And this is actually fairly normal for DID systems that are aware of their systemness. Even more so because David still, to the very end, has no diagnosis of DID, or any kind of safe environment to grapple with the truth. To be a DID system is to be different (especially for a telepath, aware of the singularity of other minds) and the natural instinct is to pretend that they are singular, too.
“I am Legion.”
Next: the size. Again, for someone with the extensive, lifelong complex trauma David has, a large system is quite normal. All that trauma has to be isolated and managed so it doesn’t overwhelm the “host” identity.
The one significant oddity is that they’re all visually identical. Each identity generally has its own sense of self, it’s own appearance. Obviously this was a stylistic choice for the show, to show that all the alters were Davids. But their names do vary and they have distinct personalities. So we can interpret the alters as, for whatever reason, needing to cling to “being” David, even internally, while still being the many different types of alters a system can have.
“I’m your rational mind.”
So let’s talk types. There’s a great resource here http://traumadissociation.com/alters that discusses the dozens of different identity types, but I’m going to focus on the ones we had at least a glimpse of.
- Host: The alter that "has executive control of the body for the greatest percentage of time during a given time period.” Basically: David, in season 1-2, and the end of season 3. David, like all his system parts, is himself an alter or identity. There is no “real”, separate David— David’s system, collectively, is David Haller, split into pieces.
- Littles: These are very common with systems who experienced child abuse or childhood trauma. They are literally young children, sometimes even babies, often with the mindset they had at the age of their trauma. David’s extreme childishness, his pleads for “Mommy” and “Daddy”, are strong indications of Little alters having a strong influence. We saw child-like behavior in several alters in the crowd scenes inside David’s head. So even though these Littles looked grown up, their actions revealed them.
- The rest of David’s alters fall into the Protector category, seen most with Dvd and Divad. Protector alters try to manage rage and anger, and avoid feelings of hurt, fear or shame. They focus on perceived threats, and find dependence, emotional needs and close relationships threatening. This very much explains their hostility to Syd and everyone else who gets close to David. Again, given David’s extensive trauma, his large number of Protector alters makes sense.
There are three main types of Protectors:
- Fighters: fighters are not necessarily violent, but their job is to defend their system from any threats. It can include verbal and physical aggression, which of course we saw on display throughout s3.
- Persecutors: these alters appear to act in ways that harm their system, but in fact are trying to protect it. For example: they might punish child alters for disclosing abuse that has been kept secret. The closest we had to this was Dvd, Divad, and Daibhidh (Scottish David in Chapter 20) trying to isolate David from his support system.
- Caretakers: Caretaking alters are a type of a protector, they help manage and care for other alters, and sometimes external people (for example children). Rational David could be seen as a caretaker. Also, when David was stuck in Syd’s body, his alters rescued him.
Other likely alter types for a system with David’s trauma are:
- Evil or monstrous alters, who carry the distorted sense of self caused by developmental trauma.
- Psychotic alters who have psychosis or psychotic symptoms, however, many symptoms which appear psychotic are not (e.g. voices are other alters, hallucinations are traumatic memories surfacing).
- Introjects, which are when alters take the form of and act like “outside” people the system knows or is aware of, potentially including the abuser(s) themselves; they can also be fictional character.
- Fragments, which are very limited alters who may only have a small number of emotions, hold particular isolated memories or have a very limited job.
“Come back to us, David.”
David’s system is also explicitly co-conscious throughout the entire show. Co-onsciousness involves two or more alters each being aware of the other's presence, and having an on-going memory of a situation or particular period of time. One is normally in "executive control" of the person's body, while another is able to watch, listen and think about what is happening. The alters who are co-conscious with one another will not necessarily behave as one. Systems who are not co-conscious may not even be aware of the other members of the system.
So with all that considered, what do we have in season 3?
We have a large, co-conscious and deeply cooperative system. We have a deeply defensive and self-protective system, likely with a lot of Little alters with deep emotional pain. We don’t know which alters were in charge at any particular moment, because they hid their true nature from the world. But look at David’s posture, listen to his voice, notice his subtle mannerisms. Dan Stevens, at least, knew what he was doing here.
If unlike the show, you want to genuinely grapple with David’s mental health, where do you start?
The first and most important thing to remember: all alters "should be treated with equal kindness," despite their behaviors, and even persecutors are just “misguided protectors" which can be negotiated with. Alters are not a hostile external force taking over the “host”. They are all one system, trying to find a way to survive their trauma and a hostile world.
In addition, the whole system is responsible for its individual members’ actions. Healthy multiplicity is the goal of most modern therapy. While it’s possible for alters to fuse, it’s not necessarily desirable. The problem is not the multiplicity, it is the degree of pathological dissociation.
Treat the trauma and the traumatized thinking. Help the system learn healthy behaviors. That’s what will help David and the rest of his system heal without changing the past.