Legion: Season 1 Episode 5 Review – Chapter 5
This review contains spoilers.
Legion Chapter 5 ends with the words “Okay, let’s talk”, but this episode must have left virtually anyone speechless. I certainly was sitting in stunned silence, with the only audible sounds in my living room being the light bouncing of a table tennis ball as the credits rolled. It is with this episode, in which the characters ironically also find themselves temporarily unable to speak, that Legion makes it biggest statement yet.
Certainly the biggest shock of the night is the ending, but that is not the only brilliant thing about this episode; it is filled to the brim with bright spots even if the content is so dark. In last week’s episode David was trapped in the astral plane, which he only managed to escape when helped by Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny. If you can call what happened help. Tonight Legion deals with the repercussions.
Right from the off you can see that David is different somehow, and it is all in his mannerisms. He is more cocky, makes demands and overall seems very over-confident. It is very noticeable after him and Syd have enjoyed their time in the white room, and are talking to Melanie Bird about saving Amy. Melanie notices as well, and it worries her. With good reason.
Halfway through the episode, Legion gives us an epic setpiece in the visit to the Division 3 headquarters. It feels like it could just as well have come at the end of an episode, but here it is just as a preamble of what is to come. What makes it so effective, and terrifying, is that we witness it after the fact, like the characters do. They are unable to stop what has already happened and can only watch on in shock as they stumble from one bloodbath to another. It is the first time since the pilot that the true scope of David’s power is shown. The difference is that the event in the pilot was an accident; this was on purpose. The music here fits really well, with Radiohead’s The Daily Mail changing in key as the characters first witness the carnage that has unfolded at Division 3. It gives the scene just the right haunting quality that it needs.
There are so many disturbing scenes here. From the bodies stuck in the pavement, to the clownesque way David is skipping through the building without a care in the world. From the psychiatrist who appears to have been driven to insanity, to the D3 operative using his dying words to exclaim “It wears… a human face”. Legion has gone full horror, and like any good horror it is impossible to look away.
It is here that we learn that David is not in control right now; the monster is. Cary confirms that David is schizophrenic after all, in the sense that the monster is another consciousness inside of him. It is so powerful that it makes him forget it exists by rewriting his memory, and it made them forget as well. David does reach out to Syd in this moment, but their white room is no longer a happy place. He himself seems absolutely terrified as he directs Syd to his childhood home.
The scenes between David and Amy aptly demonstrate why this is Legion‘s most unsettling episode yet. The show has stripped us from our comforts. The main character we have got to know and love is suddenly gone, and everything that remains is terror. Ultimately, it scares Amy into admitting that David was adopted. It is a big revelation, and it says a lot about the last ten minutes of the episode that it is not even the most memorable moment by far.
A lot of credit should go to Aubrey Plaza for making the scene as scary as it is. She brilliantly conveys the horrors of the different parasitic personalities in David’s mind. What started out as a comforting voice among the madness in the early episodes has gradually taken a turn for the worst, culminating in tonight’s moments. Dressed like a ringmaster from the circus, she has got the playful creepiness down pat, and it is clear that she is enjoying herself immensely in the role.
The episode starts ramping up towards an insane ending with a brilliant silent sequence as the gang approaches the house. It is a daring stylistic choice and it works very well, as the absence of sound only heightens the intensity of the situation. But nothing can beat those final moments. The Eye shapeshifts (or at least that is what I am calling it until the show fully reveals how his power works) into Rudy and opens fire on Syd and David, and David takes them to the white room to escape the bullets. They cannot escape the Devil with the Yellow Eyes however, and as they scream it is suddenly over… and Syd finds herself in the psychiatric hospital from Chapter 1, surrounded by familiar faces and the distant sounds of table tennis.
The beautiful thing is that Legion has already given us multiple possible explanations for this huge twist: it could be a space created by David in the astral plane, or altered memories by the Demon with the Yellow Eyes, or maybe even reality. Or perhaps something else entirely. Whereas it could become tiring in lesser shows, Legion revels in this type of uncertainty, and has made it one of it strengths. Chapter 5 hammers this home once again, and this twist is its biggest showing yet.
Image credits: FX Networks