“Chapter 22”, the, well, 22nd episode of Legion on FX, largely forewent the psychedelic pomp and circumstance of David Haller (Dan Stevens) and his Merry Pranksters, instead diverting the story back in time some 30 years to the beginning, courtship, and tragic unraveling of the relationship between Charles Xavier, played wonderfully by Harry Lloyd, and Gabrielle Haller, played with tragic vulnerability by the excellent Stephanie Corneliussen.
The two meet in a sanitarium, where Charles is either receiving treatment for mental trauma from the War— or perhaps he’s there to help patients with his emerging powers of telepathy. Gabrielle’s case is far more straightforward, she’s a survivor of the camps, and has been catatonic since that experience.
Charles manages to coax Gabrielle out of her detached state, and the two start a wonderfully serene and sweet courtship of sorts. When Gabrielle finally decides she wants to leave Charles just makes it happen with his powers, and all of the patients and staff cheer them on as they leave for their new life together.
WARNING: HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD
That new life, however, will be marred by Charles’ desire to find other people “like him,” leaving his new bride alone to cope with trying to balance her unraveling mental health with her desire to dote on their infant son, David.
It’s one of the most tragic installments of a show that uses tragedy as its primary currency— the destruction of Gabrielle’s mental stability is literally at the hands of her husband’s selfishness: If Charles could have been content with the wonders imbued in his life by his wife and child, forgone searching for a powered companion, Gabrielle might have lived a long, happy life.
And David would have never been possessed by Amahl Farouk.
The cast of Legion spoke with Marvel at a recent set visit, here’s some takes on what they saw happening with Charles and Gabrielle in “Chapter 22:”
On Charles’ Obsession with Other Mutants:
“He always imagined himself as a freak,” explained Lloyd. “This guy has this telepathic ability. And it’s raw and I use it for good as much as possible, but I keep a lid on it and it’s local. To then find someone else who has exactly the same thing to feel that you’re part of a breed. There is some horror or something dark connected to it. But he goes out looking for a friend or a brother. He actually, only then, is honest about quite how alone he’s been his whole life. Even now married and with a child. And as soon as he finds a connection on that level, which I think he resigned himself to never having, he has to explore it.”
On Gabrielle in the Comics VS Gabrielle on “Legion”:
“In the comic, you see this very strong side of Gabrielle Haller. She’s a powerhouse; she works for the embassy, she’s a lawyer, she’s in human rights. Here you actually get to see the real, frail version of her, and when I read that that was what we were going at, for me, it was just important to make her a real person. For Marvel and for fans of ‘Legion,’ I thought it was my job to try and give her real life.”
A lot of care was invested in these characters. “I feel like Noah made a point of going in depth with carving out these two characters,” added Corneliussen. “Obviously, Professor X is a super important character for the whole universe, whether or not, you’re kind of playing with your own alternate version. I mean, it’s Professor X! And I think they’re actually being done justice, for what it is.”
There’s quite a bit more to unravel in the interview, including input from Legion showrunner Noah Hawley, and a bit from Dan Peters. It’s definitely packed with insights on how this powerful episode came together!