This Legion review contains spoilers.
Legion Episode 7
After tonight’s episode ended, hardcore fans of Legion’s source material could be heard screaming “I told you so!” as loud as the voices in David Haller’s head. Amahl Farouk, The Shadow King, has been officially confirmed as the main antagonist of the season, as hinted at by the name of David’s imaginary dog from his childhood. We also learned that Legion is staying true to the comics and that Professor Charles Xavier, whose wheelchair is briefly glimpsed, is David’s true father. Fans of the comics and the overall X-Men universe are probably simultaneously shocked and thrilled that the idiosyncratic world of Legion will hew closer to the X-Men material than previously thought.
For the future of the show, this opens a lot of possibilities from a storytelling standpoint, but could also prove to be tricky. Clearly Noah Hawley and his team are interested in exploring David and The Shadow King’s origins more closely, which would indicate that an appearance from Professor X would be inevitable, but will Fox allow the anchor character of their cinematic plans to play a major role on TV? And if Legion fans are introduced to some form of Charles, will his inclusion take away significance from David’s stories? Will fans of the movies and comics just be sitting around waiting for Professor X’s next guest spot?
Those are questions and worries that can wait for season two. For now, let’s analyze the most straightforward and easily digestible (by this show’s standards) episode of the series to date. It’s dangerous to save large expository dialogue dumps for the penultimate episode for a couple reasons, one of them being that the momentum that’s been building toward a finale could be detrimentally slowed. But Legion avoids this issue by making their exposition devices as fun and engaging as possible.
After an opening that resubmits us into the hellish projection of Clockworks that our heroes are trapped in and a brief look at where the Shadow King is housing Amy within the astral plane, we join Cary and Oliver in Oliver’s astral ice cube for a crash course in Farouk and a lightning layout of a plan to free David and the gang from The Shadow King’s clutches. Quickly shifting from Kerry running in terror away from zombie-like projections to Oliver’s humorous, spotty memory issues is the sort of tonal change that this show is so deft at handling.
Other large chunks of crucial information are delivered by David’s Rational Mind, which appears as another version of David but with a British accent. Could this secretly be Charles lending a helping hand to his son in a time of need from afar? If not, it’s a wonderful way to utilize Dan Stevens’ natural speaking voice. With the aid of some fun, crudely drawn animation, David’s Rational Mind delivers a CliffNote, assumed version of the history between Professor X, The Shadow King, and David. The lecture/pep talk supplies David with enough knowledge to break from the confines of the casket in his mind and return to the real world.
While this is happening, Syd scurries through the halls of Clockworks trying to round up the group so they can assist in the escape from David’s mind. Syd is savvy enough to figure out what’s happening without a long speech from Cary, and I still believe Syd and her resourcefulness nature will end up saving the day come the finale. Eventually, The Shadow King becomes aware of Syd’s machinations, and after brutally killing The Eye just to prove its power, The Shadow King moves toward killing Syd and Kerry.
Syd and Kerry’s impending doom, Oliver, Cary and Melanie’s tinkering with the physical world through the astral plane, and David’s attempt to free himself from his mind are all viewed in a wordless montage that plays like the climax of Inception crossed with a silent film, complete with intertitles. It’s just another stylish decision that makes Legion unlike any other show on TV. I was also surprised by the writer’s decision to use Rudy, who has largely served as a background character, as the hero who distracts the Shadow King long enough to save Syd and Kerry and allow David to escape.
Once back in the real world, David uses his powers to stop the impending bullets from hurting himself or Syd. The whole gang, including Oliver we learn, end up back at Summerland eating breakfast like a happy family. The only problem is that Cary’s device, which is holding The Shadow King at bay, isn’t foolproof, and another unexpected character makes a major, plot altering move.
The Interrogator from episode one arrives in Summerland with a squad of back up, scarred from his previous encounter with David. It appears that Division 3 is alive, angry, and looking to capture David and dispose of the others. It’s another fantastically executed surprise that utilizes an unexpected character. Couple the Interrogator’s resurface with the final shot of The Shadow King cracking through its closure within David’s mind, and we’re all set for a climactic conclusion.
This episode covered a ton of ground, answered key questions, and provided everyone with meaningful action, barring a mostly absent Ptonomy. It’s not an easy feat to explain and tidy up everything in an hour, especially a show as convoluted as this, but “Chapter Seven” does so while maintaining Legion’s unorthodox style and tone. I can’t wait to see how this mind-bending season ends.