Legion: Season 1 Episode 7 Review – Chapter 7
This review contains spoilers.
Legion has the wonderful ability to tranform something ordinary into something extraordinary. Tonight’s episode contains many familiar tropes, as this is television after all. They can be dangerous when a show is not really working; we have seen this a thousand times before so why should we care in this instant? But they are tropes for a reason: when it works, it works. If anything, Chapter 7 is the definite proof that Legion can make anything work.
For the past six weeks, Legion has been performing a careful balancing act with its various plotpoints and in this episode things finally come together. We are treated to a reunion of long lost lovers, a character learning about his past and a confrontation with the big-bad of the season, but the way in which it is presented is so unique, and at times so daring, that it transcends the tropes on which it is based.
Take for example the way the show handles exposition. The scene between Syd and Cary in the telephone box is basically just Syd summing up the events leading up to that moment and what their main goal is going forward. Its function is mainly to clear things up for the viewer, but it also shows how in tune Syd is with what is happening. The second big scene that is essentially one big exposition dump is when David figures out why he was given up for adoption. The chalkboard visuals are an excellent way to prevent it from become too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’, although the talking part is great in and off itself as it gives Dan Stevens a great excuse to show off his native British accent, highlighting his tremendous American accent by comparison.
But let’s start at the first of many big reveals. The monster that has been tormenting David is another mutant named Amahl Farouk, or The Shadow King. David deduces that it was an enemy of his real father, and that they fought on the astral plane. David was given away as a baby in order to keep him safe, but instead Farouk was able to possess him, ostensibly to take revenge against his father, or worse. The monster was weak, and it fed on David’s power to become strong once more.
Reinvigorated by what he has learned, David is able to break out of the box that Farouk trapped him in and shattering the illusion that it created in the astral plane. But it is not just him who thinks (himself) out of the box, the show does as well. The scene where Farouk attacks Kerry and Syd could have been a very straightforward confrontation between the heroes and the villain, but instead the show opts for something more original. And boy, does it pay off.
In Chapter 5 I spoke about how Aubrey Plaza emanates a circus-like quality. This is taken a step further as Legion temporarily transforms into a silent film of old, once again using the absense of sound to its full benefit. However, its purpose is not just to amp up the tension, like in the fantastic opening scene; it is a complete subversion of expectations. This is a big moment, possibly the biggest confrontation we have had between the heroes and villain so far. In any other show this would have played out as straight and realistic as could be. Instead, Legion has a ton of fun with it. It is what we have come to expect of this show, but even then this transcends those expectations.
The music adds a lot to the scene, but the best part has to be Aubrey Plaza’s performance. She looks positively deranged, and her over-the-top performance lends itself superbly to the outlandish quality of the scene. It is both goofy (“Where were we? Oh yeah, I was killing you.”) and terrifying, as she contorts Walter’s body into a bloody mess. If we had to lose one character, I am glad it was him. Some of it worked, like his presence in the opening sequence proved, but overall he never quite seemed to come together as a compelling villain.
Talking about villains, Hamish Linklater returns as The Interrogator. He was great in the pilot so I am excited to see more of him, and perhaps take up Walter’s vacant spot as villain numero uno in the real world. While his arrival is exciting, it is also one of the few minor flaws of the episode, as there is very little build-up to their arrival. Additionally, David’s reacts to their threat by seemingly opening up to Farouk, which feels very impulsive, especially after all the trouble they went through to isolate it. It makes the ending feel a bit rushed.
However, the rest of the episode is so good that this can easily be overlooked. It is a great sign that a show that teaches its audience to expect the unexpected, can still come up with something so far out of left field and pull it off effortlessly.
Image credits: FX Networks