Legion: “Chapter 7” Review

Photo Credit:http://nerdist.com/legion-recap-chapter-7/

Legion is deceptively simple. Like all superhero shows, it has a villain, and a team of good guys fighting to take him out. Subplots include a wife looking for her missing husband and the mysterious backstory of its main character. What makes this show so engaging and fresh are the same tools that make most succeed: great writing and great direction. “Chapter 7” is written by Jennifer Yale and directed by Dennie Gordon. For delivering the best episode of Legion so far, these two deserve a lot of credit.

Building off last week’s excruciating (in a good way!) cliffhanger, we’re thrown right back into the thick of it this week, with David and Melanie’s team scattered throughout David’s mind, which has now turned into a zombie nightmare with Lenny officially in control. Cary meets with Oliver Bird in his ice cube and Lenny/The Devil With the Yellow Eyes finally gets a proper name: Amahl Farouk, a.k.a. the Shadow King. He’s been living off David for decades like a parasite, waiting for the precise moment to take over his body. Instead of being told this through clumsy exposition, Yale makes this a pivotal moment in David’s arc and overall understanding of himself.

Arguing with his rational self, David transports himself to classroom in his mind where his rational self helps him see the truth in all of questions. The animated chalk figures were a lot of fun, interacting with David’s irrational self when he’s get things right or wrong. Not only does this sense of clarity provide context for most of David’s life, it also puts him in accordance with himself, enabling him to use his powers to get himself out of his desperate situation and at least temporarily lock away the Shadow King.

But to backtrack, there’s still a lot of great stuff between the other characters before they all escape. Legion has this uncanny ability in episodes packed with tension to let up with its insanely weird brand of humor. Cary explaining the plan to Syd, who ends up finishing all of his sentences was a great example of this. It’s simple yet joyful moments like this that really let the characters come into their own.

Tasked with finding the rest of the team, Syd has to wear glasses that turn the zombie-infested halls into a literal black and white silent film. She finds Kerry, who’s still running from the Eye, and, unfortunately, Lenny/the Shadow King. Aubrey Plaza was again terrific this week, especially in the silent film bits, invoking Metropolis‘ Brigitte Helm at her most unhinged. This is also where Gordon got to have the most fun directing, implementing various genres and styles to keep the episode delightfully insane.

Meanwhile, Cary and Melanie have to deal with the team’s other problem. If they stop the Shadow King and wake up, Division 3 is in the midst of firing bullets at them and this shared inner monologue will be for naught. But Oliver, reuniting with his wife, flirting with her despite not fully remembering who she is, steps in to help. The more Jemaine Clement on this series, the better. Oliver’s return also gives Jean Smart a lot of emotional material to work with. I was surprised upon their reunion how much Legion had pulled me into everyone’s lives. It almost makes me with the season could be longer, since it’s recently gained so much momentum.

But upon the temporary success of subduing the Shadow King and escaping Division 3, it’s clear the season is on its way out. Both foes are established to return for the finale next week before the end of the episode. It should be as kooky a showdown as the rest of the season has been. But this episode in particular managed to not only touch on everything great about Legion, but expound it. Funny, epic, emotional, and aggressively weird, this series has solidified itself as not only a superhero masterpiece, but a broader television one as well. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • I was surprised at how close the show came to outright talking about Xavier this week. With the bald chalkboard version of David’s birth father having a battle of the mind with the Shadow Kind, it was almost like watching a very crude, simple issue of Uncanny X-Men come to life. At this point, it would be weird for the show to not introduce him next season.
  • One last Xavier note. As Lenny/the Shadow King searches David’s memories, we get a few seconds of what looks like the wheel to Xavier’s wheelchair, complete with the silver X in the middle. Now they’re just teasing us.
  • Are Oliver’s powers only triggered with music?

By Matt Dougherty

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