War is over, if you want it.
Spoilers follow for this episode and the comics on which Legion is based.
Legion wraps up its first season with a slightly disappointing installment that feels anticlimactic in the wake of last week’s tour de force. While “Chapter 8” is still a crisp and memorable outing for the show, its cliffhanger nature and mostly meandering story end Season 1 in a lukewarm way.
It starts off in a surprisingly strong manner, however, as we retrace what happened to the Division 3 agent who was burned to a crisp — or so we thought — all the way back in the pilot episode. Here the character played by Hamish Linklater, who we learn is named Clark, goes from bad guy to at the very least sympathetic guy. He didn’t die from his wounds but rather suffered third-degree burns on almost half his body, and as the six-minute intro shows Clark’s husband and son worrying over him in the hospital, and later their home life together as he recovers, he takes on a greater importance in Legion — and brings a bigger emotional resonance — than most viewers would’ve ever expected.
Unfortunately, this would seem to just be set-up for Season 2, as is much of this episode. After Clark’s raid — which seemed like a real threat at the end of last week’s segment — ends abruptly with David piling special-ops agents on top of each other like some kind of telekinetic living puzzle, he becomes a prisoner/observer of Team Summerland. But this is all just a precursor to David’s line near the end of the episode that Summerland and Division 3 will need to work together against Lenny/Farouk/the Shadow King now that she/he/it is free.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The crux of “Chapter 8” involves Cary and friends attempting to “suck” Lenny out of David’s head while also leaving the latter’s mind intact — which doesn’t prove to be terribly easy, but does allow for this week’s requisite stand-out musical sequence featuring a barrage of images from the previous episodes while two songs from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon play. As if Syd’s name wasn’t enough already, the inevitability of rolling Floyd psychedelia like “Breathe” and “On the Run” is almost too on the nose for Legion. But hey, it works, and there’s nothing like feeling those old stoner high school shivers again while watching a hit comic-book TV show.
The sequence includes David confronting Lenny, where he also questions the very notion of what life would be like without the Shadow King. After all, he has never really existed without the psychic leech living inside him, so how will their separation affect him? Again, we’ll have to wait for Season 2 to find out.
Because, yes, David is finally separated from the Shadow King/Lenny here, but only through the efforts of Syd in the end. The fact that she winds up being, in a way, the hero of David’s story so far is satisfying on a few levels. Not only does it make sense that the woman who loves David should be the key to his cure, but also it’s nice to see that Syd actually is real, as are all the other members of Team Summerland. Because let’s not forget, the theories have been flying for eight weeks now about what’s fantasy and what’s not on Legion, with many thinking that this episode could’ve wound up ending with David waking up back in the mental hospital and the whole season turning out to be a nightmare ala 1980s Dallas.
In the end, we have Lenny heading off in possession of Oliver’s body, which bums me out if only because I get such a kick out of Oliver as he is. Regardless, a new chapter now starts for David and for Lenny, separated from each other as they are finally. One would hope that Legion Season 2 will delve into some other villainous territory beyond the Shadow King/Lenny, but only time will tell. At the very least, the episode’s mid-credits stinger (FX is doing those too now?!) has David getting stuck in that floating probe thingee. I’ve got no idea what that’s all about, so start your speculatin’ now.
- The Remarkable Transformations of Aubrey Plaza continues here, as Lenny is now a decaying, greenish shell of her former self. I’m not sure many — if any — TV characters have undergone so many physical and character changes in a mere eight episodes, but certainly Plaza deserves some awards recognition for her work this season.
- How long has David been out of Clockworks, by the way? Because Clark’s recovery from his burns has taken months at least, right? But David’s story has seemed to only cover a matter of days or a few weeks…?
- Another reason to be bummed about Oliver departing for Lenny Land was his brief scene with Melanie, as well as the moment he had where he seemed to remember her. Hopefully we’ll get more of that dynamic next year.
- Cary and Kerry’s estrangement was mercifully brief. I couldn’t stand to see those two apart for too long!
- Ptonomy needs to cool it with all the gun stuff. He could hurt someone.