Legion S01E05 “Chapter 5” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- And we’re back. On Cary. Staring blankly out across the forest, waiting for his sister to come home. He looks absolutely, completely despondent.
- Then, we see Syd, Ptonomy and David bring her in, on a stretcher. David hears a voice, turns and sees… Doctor Bird. She’s in a different room and they’re talking telepathically. He tells her he met her husband. She is not thrilled by this.
- Syd finds David sitting on the dock. He’s worryingly calm, even happy. He appears in Syd’s mind, in a bright white space, and she’s terrified. But, David reassures her. He’s found a way for them to be together. In a bright white room. That may or may not be in her head… Either way it’s somewhere they can be together. David kisses her, Syd is terrified and… nothing happens. Because they aren’t really touching. It’s all an illusion.
- And one Syd, once she gets over the initial shock, is REALLY in favour of.
- They kiss, and the camera pans away to a bowl of strawberries on the tray nearby. One swarming with insects…
- Out in the world, Amelia finds Cary standing guard over his sister. Kerry’s stable but non responsive. Amelia is… not super supportive. Cary is not thrilled about the possibility of Oliver returning. They part in silence.
- Later, David and Syd come to Amelia. David explains that he knows where Amelia is and will be going to get her the following morning. Amelia tries to talk them down. It doesn’t work. It’s a weird scene; David’s newfound confidence coming across as smarmy and increasingly sinister. Almost as though David isn’t in control of himself in that nice sweater with what looks like a yellow eye on the front…
- Downstairs, Kerry wakes up. Cary asks if she’s ready and she says yes. He lies down and they become one, Cary taking on his sister’s wounds.
- Riding in the elevator, Syd asks David if they can go back to the sex room and the doors open on Syd’s latest screaming orgasm. So the answer is yes then.
- David asks if this was her first time and Syd tells him the horrific story of losing her virginity while possessing her mother and the switch not lasting long enough. Syd, it turns out, did not have a good childhood at all.
- Later, Syd’s asleep and David discusses strategy with Lenny. She talks him into going to rescue his sister and he goes, leaving Syd alone.
- Syd walks in on Ptonomy, Bird and someone else planning the assault. Amelia orders everyone to be woken up and Ptonomy cooks off. He tells them David only cares about number one. Amelia insists they can’t lose him. Ptonomy asks if that’s because she thinks he’s going to bring Oliver back. She retorts that it’s because he’s too powerful and Ptonomy storms off. Syd admits that David’s found a way for them to be together. Syd cooks off too and Amelia admits that David’s newfound strength is worrying.
- Ptonomy, Syd and BKAH join Amelia and they drive off, without the others, to go to Division III.
- What’s left of it…
- David has wreaked havoc. Every vehicle is destroyed, soldiers are phased into solid objects and the building is on fire. They break in and split up because none of them has seen any horror movies ever.
- They find Kissinger in his cell. The other cell is abandoned. He, again, seems… off. He pleads for them to let him out but they get the information they need and leave him locked up.
- Elsewhere, Amelia and an unnamed telekinetic security guy we’ll call X find the security centre. The watch in horror as David capers into the facility, dancing his way through the soldiers as he alternately incinerates, disintegrates and just straight up obliterates them.
- Then, they spot a thermographic camera. One that shows not David, but a huge man dressed in rags walking in his place. The Devil With Yellow Eyes.
- Back at Summerland, Cary’s reviewing the tapes of David’s MRI session. He watches in horror as first the Devil With Yellow Eyes, then young David appear on screen.
- Back at Division III, Ptonomy and Syd find the Division Head partially fused with the floor. He tells them that David took his sister and rants about the power and what David really is before dying.
- They evacuate and talk to Cary to compare notes. Brilliantly, Cary, who knows this sort of thing, has figured it out; the thing in David’s mind is a separate creature. It’s been rewriting his memories so he can’t see it, a cerebral parasite that’s burrowed deep into David’s psyche. Cary’s theory is this: the parasite is an older mutant that’s lived inside David for decades. David is impossibly powerful, that’s the only reason he’s survived. But the thing in his head is powerful too…
- Syd realises she still has a connection to David and contacts him. She enters the White Room. David, weeping with fear, plays “Rainbow Connection” to her as she carefully closes the door to the bathroom. Both King “the dog” and the Angry Boy are in there. Syd finds a telescope, sees David’s old home through the lens and…
- Is back in the world. She explains to the others what she found out and they leave.
- Unseen, The Eye follows them…
- David and Amy go home. A visibly frightened Amy asks why they’ve come home and David asks if they could talk first. Lenny fades into view, walking out of a mirror into existence. She corners Amy, as David begins to have a seizure. Lenny shifts through every form she has; King, David, Lenny, Benny, The Angry Boy. Wearing David’s face she asks for his sister’s secret: who is he?
- And she tells him.
- He was adopted. She doesn’t know who his real father was, and explains that their parents were going to tell him but he was just so angry all the time…
- Back at Summerland, Cary is working on a means of talking to David privately. Kerry is not okay with this but, newly healed, she steps clear of her brother and tells him that there is “ALWAYS a fight”. Then they head off.
- Syd, Ptonomy, Amelia and X arrive at the old house. Almost as soon as they arrive, things go wrong. David turns all noise off and, unobserved, The Eye watches them make their entry.
- Suddenly, the Angry Boy runs past Syd and goes upstairs. Downstairs, Amelia and Ptonomy notice a man breaking in and hide, preparing to ambush him. The door opens and… it’s Cary. Amelia demands he let Kerry out. He refuses. Then, Kerry appears with a baseball bat with nails through the end and they set to work searching the rest of the house.
- Downstairs, X steps into view, appears to morph into The Eye for a second, then walks in.
- Upstairs, Syd finds Amy staring into space. Lenny appears, turning the sound back on and traps Syd. She mounts David, slumped in the corner and then things happen very quickly…
- The others burst in. X attacks David with a machine gun. Syd throws herself in front of him, screams at him to take them to the White Room and they go there.
- A panicked, tearful David tells Syd he can’t stop it and then the Devil With Yellow Eyes walks out of the bathroom and stalks Syd around the room. Syd falls onto the bed, screams and… is back in Clockworks.
- With every other character…
- And with Lenny as the analyst. She tells Sydney she was talking about how the death of her father affected her and how brave that was. Syd, apparently realising what’s going on, says, “Okay, let’s talk.”
This is a really weird episode, even by Legion’s standards. There are MAJOR developments but they sometimes seem to come at the price of a little coherence, especially in the first half. David’s, “Oh I’m FINE” routine does push credibility a little bit but oddly that may be down to the last shot of the previous episode. If we hadn’t seen Lenny wrap herself around him we’d be more prepared to buy into him being at peace with his powers.
As it stands, David’s newfound confidence leads to the episode’s most interesting, and troubling, material. This is Rachel Keller’s episode to shine and boy does she ever. Syd is consistently the most grounded and sensible member of the group but here we get a deep dive into her past that both contextualises that and walks the razor line between great and terrible writing.
The idea that Syd, now she can finally touch someone (let alone the man she loves), would be okay going along with David’s plan makes a lot of sense. Syd is trapped inside her own body after all and Keller plays this entire sequence brilliantly. In particular, the payoff to it, with her trusting David (not Lenny) to take them both to the White Room to escape, makes a ton of sense and shows just how switched on Syd is.
Of course the episode walks all over this good workd with the Devil in Yellow Eyes chasing her onto the bed and the clear sexual assault allegory that implies. That’s a terrible beat that really isn’t necessary and reduces Syd to the screaming victim she categorically has not been at any point before. Worse still is the face-off with Bird where she insists on coming along because David is “my man”. There’s not quite a head snap and finger click to go with it but it does suddenly render the series down to nothing more than a woman protecting her boyfriend a little too fiercely. Both Legion, and Syd, are far above this sort of cookie-cutter characterisation and seeing it show up is pretty depressing.
What works better is her story about losing her virginity. That ensures she still has agency but is also a note perfect quiet horror story of the sort that the X-Men always excelled at. It also plays not as a defining incident but a wound Syd has healed from. She’s more than her mistakes, and Keller does a great job of showing us Syd’s journey across the entire episode as well as her past. She’s a leader in a way no one else in the series is and seems to be in the driving seat for the next confrontation. Like Kerry, she’s been spoiling for a fight. This time it looks like she’s going to get one.
Elsewhere Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder continue to be brilliant as does Jeremie Harris as Ptonomy. The overall cast continue to impress too and there’s a pleasing sense of threads being drawn together here. Division III is pretty much off the table, the truth about David is finally out and everyone’s together, in his head, or is it the Devil’s? It’s an audacious closing sequence that promises much and, at this point, we trust the show enough to believe it will deliver. There are still some wobbles (Syd and David early on, and what the HELL is X’s name?!) but still an impressive episode.
- THAT reveal. And Dan Stevens’ performance going from smug to confused to horrified to angry in the space of a few seconds. We might be getting that X cameo after all…
- A tiny little touch but a great one: the MRI scanner is still in the yard and covered in leaves.
- David flowing in and out of shot in the white room is elegant and unsettling.
- Not for nothing but Syd’s red battle skirt/leather jacket combo is a fantastic look.
- Ptonomy being the first one to finally point out that David – and Amelia’s attitude towards him – could be very bad is a very welcome moment.
- David’s attack on Division III is just chilling. No one does perky savagery quite like Dan Stevens.
- The “Eye pulls a gun/‘DAVID, WHITE ROOM NOW!’” sequence is brilliant and says about four different things. Not the least of which is just how smart and grounded Syd is.
- Cary and Kerry. More of them please.
- Kerry’s baseball bat.
- “Just promise me if you get lost we get lost together.” That’s Syd in a nutshell. Fierce, smart, tough, kind and worried.
- Given that we don’t seem to have a name for telekinetic security chap yet, it feels more than a little odd having him front and centre this episode.
- Speaking of him, how the Hell did the Eye take over his shape?!
- We have nothing but love for Dan Stevens in MyM Towers but he maybe overplays the “Me? EEEEEEVIL?” thing this episode a bit.
- “I’m not treating him. He’s my man.” As we talked about above, there’s a lot of odd, chewy, (we think) good stuff about Syd this episode. But this line goes a little bit too close to, “This week on Jeremy Kyle – My Man Is A Psychic God Who Is Host To A Terrifying Parasite But I STILL LOVE HIM!” for our liking.
And The Random:
- Peter Calloway has worked on Hellcats and Under The Dome, amongst others.
- Tim Mielants, who does great work here, is best known for his work on Peaky Blinders.
Review by Alasdair Stuart