Legion: “Chapter 8” Season Finale Review

Photo Credit:http://heroichollywood.com/legion-1-08-chapter-8-trailer-released/

The Legion finale is a tricky beast. On one hand, Noah Hawley is clearly having loads of fun just playing with superhero conventions in a more straightforward manner. That feeling is infectious throughout the finale, and is a large part of why it is overall successful, along with the excellent work done throughout the previous seven episodes. On the other hand, Hawley plays with these conventions like the Coen brothers did with the western in No Country for Old Men, or even what Damien Chazelle did with the musical in La La Land. Those flat-lining genres deserved some long overdue love, and those very loving filmmakers combined nostalgia with a freshness that evolved the genre rather than just calling back to it. This finale wants to do the same with superheroes, which it does, but the conventions of this genre are hardly bygone.

The plot of the finale revolves around the two things it absolutely has to: Division 3’s attack on Summerland and the lingering Shadow King in David’s mind. Perhaps most surprising is how the episode combined them. We open on Clark, our now-singed interrogator from the pilot. His recovery over the first five minutes is more compelling than most supervillain origin stories in any big screen Marvel effort over the past five years. But his purpose in the finale proves to be much more than just to hate mutants and want to capture David.

The best moment of the whole episode comes when Syd starts telling Clark the truth while Bird, David, and the others interrogate him. She tells him about the Shadow King, saying that honesty is the only true way to bring together these differing people, unlike Bird who merely threatens him with evolutionary facts. This is perhaps the closest Bird has come to just being Magneto, but Syd on the other hand wants to believe in trust.

It’s very rewarding later in the episode when Clark uses his cane to try and slow the Shadow King, who’s hopping from host to host at that point in an attempt to escape. This whole sequence was really quite good, with Syd (MVP of the finale) figuring out she could remove the Shadow King from David’s body. The parasite then hops to Kerry’s body, but David is ready to use his power to fight it. The fight lasts disappointingly short and the Shadow King falls into Oliver, who drives off and escapes.

Throw in a wacky post-credits cliffhanger, and you’ve got an episode that loves being part of a superhero show. But with all this setup for season two, Legion falls into that Marvel trap of looking ahead rather than living in the now. Enough of season one’s plot threads were satisfyingly wrapped up that this is easy to overlook, but I do hope that Hawley stays truer to the show’s weirder elements than its more conventional ones in season two.

But for now, there’s no denying what season one of Legion was. Second only to the remarkable Jessica Jones, this insane X-Men series sets a new precedent for how good live-action superhero shows can be. It’s a show that using the word “superhero” around seems kind of insulting. This finale tried a little too hard to prove that Hawley didn’t see it as an insult at all. Still, this show exceeded all expectations and delivered something utterly unique not only for superhero shows, but for all of television. Finale Grade: B+ / Season Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • The post-credits stinger comes so close to falling flat. It doesn’t because of the satirical edge it has to it.
  • My biggest worry going into this finale is that the show wouldn’t be able to find a way to keep Aubrey Plaza around. Thankfully, this was not the case.
  • Man was Jean Smart terrific in every scene of the finale, but particularly when Melanie is trying to get Oliver to take her to dinner in the beginning. That stuff was just gut-wrenching.
  • Thanks for reading all season folks, this was definitely one of the more fun shows to review as of late. I’ll most definitely be back at it next year whenever FX decides to bring the show back. The sooner the better.

By Matt Dougherty

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