This Legion review contains spoilers.
Legion Season 3 Episode 8
What a long, strange trip it’s been. Besides being the series finale, “Chapter 27” of Legion feels like an end of era because it very well may be the last live-action piece of Marvel content not cooked up by the Disney brain trust, and while Doctor Strange dipped its toe into psychedelia, I can’t envision the House of Mouse ever making something so delightfully demented and off-beat for a wide audience. Legion wasn’t perfect, sometimes leaning too hard into stylized sequences while letting plot and character development suffer, but it was always taking risks and presented a hero’s journey unlike any that we’ve seen on screen before. This is the end, and while what it all means isn’t for us to know, something tells me that history will look back on Legion as an important, idiosyncratic entry in the genre.
Pitting David and his father Charles against the past and present versions of Amahl Farouk, “Chapter 27” begins as if an epic war is about to take place, but the finale actually has peace and love on its mind. As David, twisted and trapped in an almost arrested adolescence after years of abandonment issues and abuse at the hands of a parasite, takes on the much crueler, petty version of the Shadow King, Charles reluctantly sits down for a chat with the older, wiser version of Farouk. While Legion viciously piles onto the Shadow King, Charles and Farouk discuss their genuine affection for David. While I’m not quite sure that Farouk’s transformation feels fully earned, it is an interesting angle to have him feel paternal toward David and finally ready to see the young man give up his anger and the violence that comes with it.
Sneakily, Legion has always been a series about the lasting effect that good parenting or a lack of could have on a person, and the finale hits this theme hard. Just when it looks as if Switch could have been a wasted character, used by the series as a plot device much in the same way that David used her as a means to his own end, the series gives her a meaningful arc, one where she finally stops rebelling against the lessons of her father and finally transcends into a fourth dimensional being capable of knowing and changing the long arc of time. Turning Switch into an omniscient, higher being is some extreme Comic Book Shit, and as a fan of comics, it leaves the same thrilling impression as the Captain America: Civil War airport fight or watching Spider-Man overcome the trippy illusions of Mysterio in Far From Home, where you just can’t believe this story is being done for mass audiences without a trace of irony when it seemed like something that could never happen.
Legion has its most impressive musical break yet with Pink Floyd’s “Mother,” a song that’s so spiritually perfect it’s a wonder that Noah Hawley and company had the restraint to wait so long to use it. In this context, the absence of the mother that David calls for helps him build his “wall” or his impulsive, reckless, blame avoidant nature. It signals David’s embrace of his violent side before Charles steps in to intervene.
After his chat with Farouk, Charles finally gives David the fatherly advice that he’s been missing his entire life. He urges David that it’s time to give up fighting and that he was finally able to come to an agreement with Farouk that will avoid more bloodshed. Charles stops David from killing Farouk and embracing his worst impulses, the impulses that will lead to the end of the world. Charles apologizes for his role in David’s horrible history and seems to accept the blame for David’s entire journey. It’s a powerful moment, compassionately acted by Harry Lloyd and Dan Stevens. Farouk is then left to convince his younger self to agree to the same deal and does so by showing him the arc of David’s life. It’s honestly hard to see why this would move someone so notoriously cruel and evil as Farouk, but it does. Though I have qualms with that aspect of the story, I love the way that Legion once again foregoes a traditional superpowered battle for something more thoughtful.
Meanwhile, Syd and Kerry are left to protect Gabrielle and baby David from the Time Demons. The glitching Time Demons are definitely the series most memorable creature, but devoting most of Syd’s time on screen to blowing them away with a shotgun seems like it could have been time better spent elsewhere. Switch finally arrives in her new, non-human form to alert Syd that, though her life as she knows it is about to be erased since David has changed the past, her experiences had meaning and “nothing of value is ever lost.” Syd seems heartbroken that she’ll lose the past that she was finally able to reckon with and grow from, but Switch assures her that she’ll grow to be someone extraordinary. It’s a moving moment, only outdone a few minutes later by Kerry and Cary’s goodbye, where Kerry acknowledges Cary as her brother after she’s now grown older than the “old man.” It’s a fitting, quiet ending for the series most poignant pair.
Though I wish that David and Syd’s final conversation were a bit longer, it seems appropriately muted, with Syd acknowledging that she’ll be better off without David and assuring David that she didn’t help him because of the person that he was, but because of the person he had the potential to become. For a romantic ending, we’re forced to look to Charles and Gabrielle, who get the only storybook ending to be found. The series ends on Syd’s final command of David to be a good boy, driving home the theme of how a person’s childhood shapes their life as an adult. David and Syd fade away smiling down on the infant David.
The final episode of Legion isn’t flawless, but flawless isn’t how Legion lived. Still, the series was breathtaking in its visuals, thrillingly off-kilter in its risks (like devoting so much of its runtime to musical interludes), and oddly poignant in its quiet moments. There’s no telling if or when we’ll get another superhero series as refreshingly different as Legion, so instead of nitpicking its final choices, I’d rather sing the praises of its singular vision and ambition.
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Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.