Feature Article

Lessons In Time Travel: How Switch Shakes Up Legion Season 3's Timeline

Legion Season 3 spoilers ahead!

Legion Season 3's first two episodes have aired on FX. Here, we examine the show's newest character, Switch, and the effect her mutant abilities have on FX's psychedelic X-Men show.

In Legion's Season 3 premiere, we spent a bubble gum-colored opening act with the new character played by Lauren Tsai, the time-traveling mutant Switch. Switch followed a trail of psychedelic bread crumbs to reach David Haller, who at this point is leading a cult of worshippers who get stoned on his psychic blue mind juice. All the while, she listened to an unaccountably specific book on tape--Lessons In Time Travel--the source of which has yet to be revealed.

Centering Legion's third and final season around time travel is a choice with clear artistic intent. When you have characters with regrets as profound and fundamental as David and Syd, the ability to return to an earlier, simpler time is tantalizing indeed. But this is Legion we're talking about, and there's no way anything is going to be that simple.

Switch herself is a big factor here. The teenage time traveler is no mere tool, although David seems intent to use her as one. When we meet her, she's as vulnerable and eager to trust David as the rest of his followers--worried she might simply be another of her father's pet robots. David, being the pretty bad guy that he's turned out to be, easily takes advantage of her. But given the direction Legion Season 3 seems to be going across its first two episodes so far, it's probably safe to assume she'll catch on to his bulls*** eventually.

"Now that we've discovered that David maybe isn't the hero, I wanted to try to reset the camera to show David not through his own eyes, but through the world's eyes," Legion creator and showrunner Noah Hawley told journalists during a recent visit to the show's set in Los Angeles. Hence the opening scenes not from David's usual perspective, but from Switch's. And if the goal is to make David a full-on, objective villain by the end, Switch's assessment of him will need to change.

"It sort of depends on which way the wind is blowing for David, as to whether he feels any humanity or empathy toward people, or whether he's just sort of blitzing through and destroying everything," Dan Stevens, who plays David Haller, said.

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"But she's a wonderful, curious creation, Switch, and Lauren [Tsai], who plays her, is an amazing discovery," Stevens continued. "She comes with this incredible sort of curiosity and wonder and strange air about her, I guess--as you would, stepping into Season 3 of Legion, I think in any role. But it perfectly suits Switch."

Switch's method of traveling through time is as unique as the character herself. She traces doorways, sometimes on solid surfaces and sometimes in thin air, and steps through into a gloomy but utilitarian hallway filled with doors that stretch backward through time. The door she picks determines where in her past she'll emerge, but the further back she goes, the more danger there is, as we've glimpsed so far in Season 3.

"At a certain point, we decided to give it rules."

Legion producers John Cameron and Lauren Shuler Donner told journalists on the set visit that they try their best to impose logic on Hawley's crazy, unpredictable world. "I'll give you an example on time travel," Donner said. "At a certain point, we decided to give it rules, and to define it so that each door was 20 minutes in the past, one hour in the past, one day in the past, one month. It does help to find that device for the audience."

"Although," Cameron interjected, "I will say by late in the season, those rules again fall apart. She causes those rules to fragment. So, like I said, it's always like, 'what now?' It's a lot of fun."

Thoughts Of A Time Traveler

"I can imagine it's been very fun for the writers to play with because you have this whole butterfly effect from every movement that you make," Tsai, a model and illustrator who's never acted before now, told GameSpot during the set visit. "I was honestly very nervous to work with such an incredible team and cast of people, but it's been nothing but a good time thus far. And it's not over yet."

As we chatted with the actors, producers, set designers, and more on Legion's set, the cast and crew were busy shooting scenes for Season 3's seventh episode--scenes we caught a glimpse of, although we won't spoil them here.

For her part, Tsai said she believes that, paradoxically, Switch is able to use her abilities to bring a sense of "normality" to Legion Season 3.

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"By the end of Season 2, we're all very familiar with this family of characters and their relationships to each other, and how they're all breaking off at the end. And then my character brings in this whole other world, by being someone completely from the outside, and giving David a whole new ability to go back and revisit any moment he wants to," Tsai said. "She is someone who doesn't have history with any of these characters, so we get to see these characters from a whole different point of view."

As for the effect that Switch's abilities will have on what is already an extremely far out TV show, we're already starting to see it across the first two episodes: She was able to go back multiple times until she could save David, who relocated his entire commune thanks to her warning, and by the end of Episode 2, David has coerced Cary into working on a gadget that will let David travel with Switch through time.

"From my perspective, time travel is a whole different deal than from Lauren's [perspective]," Bill Irwin, who plays Cary, told GameSpot. "I work with Lauren [Tsai] and with Amber [Midthunder, who plays Cary's counterpart Kerry] and there are 50 years difference between us in age. So, time travel is a very, very deeply intriguing notion."

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Rachel Keller, who plays Syd, teased some of the ways Legion Season 3 will explore the concept in upcoming episodes. "On one hand, when you introduce time travel in a story, nothing matters anymore," she told GameSpot. "And yet, I think we have some nuances in dealing with time, and what that actually means, and losing time. There's some cool sequences of like, time being eaten around you."

Aubrey Plaza, who plays the Breakfast Queen Lenny, said the addition of time travel serves Season 3's themes perfectly. "I think it's fitting that we end where we began, and I think that in a way, that's kind of where the story has always been leading," she teased. "I think that this season is all about exploring that, and exploring kind of--what are the stakes if you have the ability to go back and change things? And what are the consequences of doing something like that?"

"What are the stakes if you have the ability to go back and change things? And what are the consequences of doing something like that?"

We're only a couple of episodes into Legion Season 3 at the moment, but it seems those consequences will be dire.

"[Switch] suffers terribly, just to help him," Dan Stevens teased. "It's that mutant bond, and this feeling that she can finally use her gift for something greater, which ultimately is just David really on his selfish journey."

Legion Season 3 airs Mondays on FX.

Read Next: Legion Season 3: Is David Haller Forgivable After What He Did In Season 2?

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mrougeau

Michael Rougeau

Mike Rougeau is GameSpot's Senior Entertainment Editor. He loves Game of Thrones and dogs.

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