This is the end, or close to it. Being the penultimate episode of Legion’s first season, “Chapter 7” was bound to be, ahem, more straightforward than its previous installments. Like trying to put one’s desperately fractured psyche together, Legion faced the ultimate test in its second-to-last hour: it had to start making sense of itself. Not an easy chore, but in the end, the show made it look way too easy. So much so that I wondered what exactly the show was going to end up doing with its last hour. I forgot the cardinal rule of anything X-Men-related though: there’s always another world ending problem to solve.
But first, confirmations. Oliver and Cary, in a meeting of the minds in the ice cube condo, confirm what’s long been suspected, that the Yellow-Eyed Devil, Lenny, the World’s Angriest Little Boy in the World, King, Whatever-you-call-it, it is the Shadow King. In the comics, Professor X fought the Shadow King in a literal meeting of the minds, a psychic donnybrook of a knock-’em-down/drag-’em-out that left Professor X victorious, but without the use of his legs. Behold the flash in Amy’s memory of a man in a wheelchair delivering the baby David to the Haller family.
David also puts together the pieces through much deduction and the assistance of his English-accented rational mind (giving Dan Stevens a nice chance to use his native accent, by the way). The chalkboard animation sequence of David’s birth father fighting the Shadow King, and how the Shadow King attached itself to David was a brilliant and entertaining way to info dump, especially considering Legion’s tendencies to revel in being utterly non-linear. How the show was able to draw a straight line from A to B without detouring through X and Q and Pi is almost refreshing for its simplicity.
Of course, presentation matters too. This week’s Legion started with a zombie homage what saw Kerry run through the mental mental hospital being chased by the Eye, and a bunch of vaguely zombie-ish patients. Oliver provides the others with a way to see through the projections, which makes everything black and white, and then the whole things becomes a silent movie through the climax as the only thing we hear is the soundtrack; anytime somebody says anything, they say it with a title card. I don’t think enough can be said about this series’ sound design; it is truly amazing at times how unsettling some scenes can be just because of the way the sound was mixed, and Legion proved it again in “Chapter 7.”
The episode also proves what a rare treat having Jemaine Clement can be. Despite the high tension of the gang trying to escape their capture, and David putting the pieces together, and all the fan service going on, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy Clement dryly reading Oliver’s most absurd lines and ideas. Oliver wonders allowed if he was married to a Chinese woman or a Japanese woman, and then deadpans his disappointment that Daylight Savings isn’t literally saving daylight. And how surprised is David going to be that he and Oliver are starting a barbershop quartet? It didn’t come up in the brief time the gang was back in the real world this week, but neither did the question of whether or not Oliver remembers Melanie now that he’s freed of the astral plane. It seemed like there was a rekindling familiarity, but it’s still kind of a mystery how “with it” Oliver is back in the real world.
David and Amy are also owed a pretty big conversation, and that didn’t unfold this week either. There were some much earned apologies of course, but no real explanations why it never occurred to Amy that there was anything wrong with her brother aside from this idea that he was mentally ill. I was feeling kind of stupid that I didn’t recognize Amy as the mean nurse in the hospital fantasy last week, but I realize it’s because Amy was kind of an underdeveloped character through the course of the series, and I think it was probably for the purpose of preserving the twist that David is adopted. Let’s call it the “Iris Problem” as in Iris from The Flash, who became far more interesting once everyone stopped treating her as stupid or fragile and made her a part of the action.
Just in time too because it seems like there’s some serious action on the horizon, and speaking of twists, Hamish Linklater was back as the Interrogator, albeit with a Two-Face makeover. Just in time too because Lenny, in a sequence that looked like it was ripped right out of a Tim Burton student film, killed the Eye by crushing his body like an empty soda can. An inauspicious end for a villain with real Terminator-like presence, but at least it was resolved that the reason Rudy had opened fire on David and Syd was because the Eye attack and replaced him. I guess I also forgot that the Eye had some kind of Mystique-like abilities too. But what will the Interrogator do now that he’s taken Summerland with a group of Division 3 stormtroopers?
It’s safe to say that the Shadow King is going to play a role in the finale, but is Division 3 aware that David isn’t only David, and that he has two consciousness inside him? Are they trying to reach the Shadow King in order to use him, or recruit him? I think it’s probably going to be an unpleasant surprise for Division 3 that the dangerous David isn’t even half as dangerous as the entity inside him, but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out next week. I wonder if the finale will be a mirror for the pilot, with the Interrogator trying to get into David’s head and learn more about him, and trying to make sense of everything that they’ve learned thus far. I would be very surprised if we see anything as prosaic as a fight scene though. Legion seems to go to great pains to avoid them.
Having said that, it’s worth noting that the preview for next week’s episode was mostly (if not entirely) made up of clips from episodes we’ve seen so far, so what’s about to happen is so secret that we can’t even have it shown to us in a 30 second preview. It’s very exciting, but also kind of sad, our Legion journey is coming to a close so quickly. Where are we going next, and where will the show leave us? I can’t wait to find out.