Legion Episode 1.8 “Chapter 8”
Written by Noah Hawley
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Created by Noah Hawley & Stan Lee
Starring Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart, Jemaine Clement FX Network
Air date: March 29th, 2017
Spoilers below for Legion:
Tonight is bittersweet for fans of arguably the best new show of 2017 as FX’s Legion bids farewell to its incredible debut season. We’ve been a wild ride with David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man who we met in a mental institution with paranoid schizophrenia, who happens to be the world’s most powerful mutant. Last week, in one of the most amazing episodes of any show I’ve ever seen, David talked himself out of Lenny’s trap, while Syd (Rachel Keller) helped organize the team. It was revealed that Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) is really an evil mutant parasite called The Shadow King that latched onto David as a baby. David trapped Shadow King deep down in the recesses of his mind and right when you thought it safe to take a breath, Division 3 converged on Summerland, led by a scarred Interrogator (Hamish Linklater).
Creator and writer Noah Hawley appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live this week and discussed the intricacies of Legion, including the incredible music. I loved Hawley’s answer when describing the score he and composer Jeff Russo came up with: “It has to sound like Dark Side of the Moon,” which is both one of the most brilliant albums ever made but also has this soundscape of mental illness to it…” (Remember that.)
This week, we witness the Interrogator’s recovery after being a victim of provoking David’s powers back in episode 1. His husband and son comfort him, but he is dead set on revenge against David. His refusal of desk duty is fantastic. “If you want me behind a desk you better find a portable one, because the second I walk out of this room, I’m going to war.” That ladies and gentlemen, is how supervillains are born! We jump back to where we left off, as Division 3 circle David and company. David doesn’t react well to the threats of death to his friends and creates a human towering art piece of the D3 soldiers.
David and Syd talk real about power and relationship. David isn’t sure what’s real, and can’t trust his own happiness. It’s actually quite sad. As he stalks off, Syd sees blips of strange alternate realities and again we, the viewers, are left wondering if anything we’re seeing is real life or manifestations in David’s head. The question seems to be, is David an all powerful mutant OR a crazy person? But what if the answer to that is simply, both.
David wants a sit down with the Interrogator, but Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) says no and wants him to read his mind instead. Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) and Syd argue over whether or not to just kill him, while Cary (Bill Irwin) is more concerned with getting the Shadow King out of David’s head for good, because the halo is losing power. Lenny whispers from inside, sweet mocking nothings in David’s ears. Cary tries desperately to reconnect with Kerry (Amber Midthunder) who feels he abandoned her. Speaking of reconnection, Melanie asks husband Oliver (Jemaine Clement) to dinner, but he’s been in the Astral Plane so long he doesn’t remember her.
Clark, the Interrogator promises Melanie an army will arrive soon but she laughs him off. With David unleashed, humans may be the new dinosaurs, aka not long for this world. As David passes out, Syd is brought to the white room, which she thinks is David. Alas, it’s a slowly decomposing Lenny looking more and more like Beetlejuice. When Syd and David switched bodies, part of the Shadow King parasite went into her and their scene is scary and seductive and just altogether intense. Aubrey Plaza’s performance on Legion is event television and essential viewing. This was another tremendous all around scene for the Legion team as the music, editing, and set design hypnotize you as you watch.
Just as I think I can’t love this show anymore, David is set to have Lenny lasered out of him, as we’re treated to Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” (guess which album) as we zip through David’s mind erasing Lenny in a scene reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind only tripping on acid. And then, Lenny fights back. There aren’t words enough to describe the visceral experience one goes through during an episode of Legion. The show is like an attack on your senses.
David’s 2001-esque experience culminates with him starring at himself as a baby face to face with Lenny. “I’m just wondering, what am I without you?” he asks. As has become the norm for Legion, there is a 10-minute span so jaw droppingly fascinating that I lose myself in it and forget to type. Syd tires of watching David be ripped apart by the parasite inside, runs in and kisses him transferring the Shadow King into her body, and then like a bad case of cooties, he passes between bodies until finally escaping Summerland. The camerawork and strategic use of slow motion, just awesome.
David is free of the Shadow King, but thank goodness the King lives on because that means Aubrey Plaza returns next season. Noah Hawley, in just 8 episodes, in the most oversaturated genre on TV, has created the best and most original TV product… I don’t know, maybe ever. Every aspect of this show, from the phenomenal Emmy-worthy acting, to the stunning visuals and editing need to be appreciated. My favorite show of 2017 is over… and it’s not even April!