Legion: “Chapter 6” Review

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Every superhero needs a supervillain. The way Legion frequently and lovingly plays in the X-Men universe hadn’t really given way for a true antagonistic force to deliver itself until last week, when Lenny was alluded to be a parasite attacking David’s mind. Sure, the Eye has a foreboding silence about him, but man did Aubrey Plaza really run away with the show’s chief villainy this week, hopefully a trait the show will hold onto for its last two episodes of the season.

But beyond Lenny’s great villainous awakening, “Chapter 6” was a very necessary episode for the core cast. Since its start, Legion has been moving fast and hyper focused on David’s sanity, much more so than fleshing out the supporting cast. But Melanie’s folly to dive into David’s mind without respect for power he may not even have control of leaves her and her team trapped in a psychic limbo of sorts. The episode opens with Lenny acting a therapist for each main cast member besides David. In short vignettes, she gets to the root of why they are in this supposed mental institution. While Legion doesn’t quite succeed in tricking you into thinking they’re actually all crazy, it doesn’t really have to. The purpose of this is to take these characters and take a deeper dive into their personality and motivations. For Ptonomy, that involves revisiting a crucial moment of loss in his childhood. For Cary and Kerry, it involves showcasing exactly how dependent they are on each other. It was about time Legion paused to work on its supporting players, and it did so quite well, especially with the Loudermilk duo.

Perhaps most fascinating is how easily Melanie fell into Lenny’s trap. We know she wants to see her husband again, but just thinking she’s in a mental institution seems to have caused her to lose it. She spends most of “Chapter 6” watering plants. Not only does this suggest a more stark vulnerability to Summerland’s fearless leader, but it also gave characters like Syd and the Loudermilks a chance to come into their own in this dangerous situation.

Syd is really the one to notice that something isn’t quite right. Hiro Murai, coming over after helming no less than seven episodes of FX’s phenomenal Atlanta, directs this episode so purposefully, giving each character moment and camera movement a necessity to what happens next. It’s great to watch Syd and David discover the mysterious door in the asylum, one that we see Lenny use to seemingly go on a joy ride through David’s memories, which plays like a bonkers music video right in the middle of the episode, yet totally works.

The signature scene of the episode though is the final session between David and Lenny, in which the latter fully reveals himself to his host as the Devil With the Yellow Eyes. After referencing having done battle with David’s birth father(!!!), Lenny admits that all he/she/it really wants is control of David’s body. We’ve seen what this parasite is capable of when using David’s powers, and it’s haunting. Considering the slow build up to this reveal, it isn’t exactly the most shocking endgame for this big bad, but man does Aubrey Plaza make these revelations in such an electrifying manner. If she is to stand in for the grotesque figure we normally see, the better the show will become.

The cliffhanger of “Chapter 6” sees Lenny locking David away in a cell surrounded by endless darkness, followed by Cary showing up to grab Syd. With just two episodes left, it’s time for the team to rally to try and save David. But in the end, it’ll likely have to be David himself to rid his mind of his literal demons. So long as Legion keeps up its rousing aesthetic and strong character work, this premiere season is headed toward greatness for its ending. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • It’s all but confirmed that the Devil With the Yellow Eyes is indeed the Shadow King from the X-Men comics. This marks just the second character that we know of so far being directly adapted from the source material.
  • But a third might be coming along soon enough. Lenny’s comments about David’s father isn’t the type of dialogue that just gets thrown out and forgotten about. Charles Xavier is on his way at some point, but probably not within the next two episodes.
  • That’s fine, though! FX has officially renewed Legion for a second season, so maybe David can meet his birth father next year!

By Matt Dougherty

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