Legion S01E07 “Chapter 7” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Red lights, explosions, the deceptive serenity of the hospital corridor. Kerry running in slow motion. A pair of eyes overlaid on the corridor. People grabbing and pawing at Kerry. The Eye walking behind her. As she runs, the corridor shifts from the polite and fake serenity of the last episode to a blasted ruin.
- Kerry hides, sobbing and the Eye walks past.
- We see the Devil With Yellow Eyes in a room full of globes. He touches Amy, who’s clearly unconscious, but when she snaps awake the Devil is now Lenny. Lenny who looks pasty and sick and drops into the Devil’s voice… but Lenny nonetheless.
- Lenny forces her to relive the memory of David coming to live with them. We see flashes of that night including a VERY familiar-looking wheelchair. Lenny scowls, yells, “What did he DO with it?!” repeatedly and reaches for one of the screens saying, “One of the animals is out of its pen”. The camera zooms in and…
- We’re in the cube with Cary and Oliver. Cary is amazed to see Oliver hasn’t aged in the slightest. And a little disturbed that Oliver has a very bad memory after years in the astral plain. In a roundabout way, Oliver shifts around to talking about the Devil and reveals the true identity of the parasite sitting in David’s mind.
- He’s Ahmal Farouk, the Shadow King. One of the most powerful mutants in the world.
- And with that single moment, Legion arguably becomes the most faithful Marvel comic adaptation so far. Which given the frequent dance numbers is kind of delicious.
- Oliver has a plan. They need to rescue everyone’s minds first. And then their bodies from the small matter of certain death. And the only person who can save them is David.
- David who is currently locked away in a corner of his own mind and being overwritten by the Shadow King…
- Cary puts it together. He mentions his Halo, the EM pulse firer he was working on that could block the Shadow King. The bad news is this is in the real world. Where, of course, there’s the small matter of everyone being machine gunned to death. For their plan to work, they’ll need everybody. Oliver smiles and introduces Cary to his friend, “Jules Verne”, the diving suit.
- And we’re back at the end of last week, with Cary rescuing Syd.
- Cary leads Syd out to the Astral Plain and into a secure room. He briefs her. Or rather tries to. Because Syd – and let’s not forget Syd is AWESOME – has put everything together. Cary is kind of awestruck. So are we. Cary gives Syd a pair of glasses made by Oliver that show what’s real and what isn’t as well as pairs for the others.
- Syd goes off to rescue everyone else, steps out into the hospital and, well, it isn’t good.
- The place is wrecked, and there are feral patients everywhere. She puts a set of glasses on and… black and white. And no patients. Syd starts her run for David as the camera zooms into the ground to the tiny box David is locked in, screaming and screaming….
- Elsewhere Bird (also freed, remember?), is trying to work out how solve the real world problem. Cary, and then Oliver, arrive and… he doesn’t remember her. Bird is heartbroken and takes a moment alone as Oliver and Cary start trying to remove the Halo from real-world Cary’s hand.
- Bird feels something on her cheek, looks down, looks up.
- Blood is falling from the floor to the ceiling.
- She traces it downstairs and finds the Summerland Security chief – WHOSE NAME WE SOMEHOW STILL DO NOT KNOW – with a knife in his chest. She whispers to him as we see him admitted to “hospital”, cleaned up and left to drool.
- Back in the hospital, Syd finds the drooler and puts glasses on him. Kerry blockades a door from the “horde” following her and Syd puts the glasses on her too. Outside, the Eye pounds on the door but no one notices…
- Elsewhere we see Lenny watch David screaming in the box. We also get confirmation she’s the eyes we’ve seen observing other characters. We see David try and pull himself together, fail completely and… then there’s another David in there. His rational mind. Who is British.
- The two put their heads together and try and escape. David points out they’re underground in a coffin. Rational David points out that if they aren’t in their body how can they be in a coffin underground?
- David gets that.
- Rational David gets him to imagine a classroom and they brainstorm it. Everything, from the get go. David constantly threatens to spiral out of control but Rational David keeps him on point.
- David is adopted.
- David has a mental parasite.
- That parasite is a mutant.
- That mutant has been with him a long time. Possibly since birth…
- The chalk diagrams animate. We see David imagine his psychic dad (gee, who could that be?…) and the battle between dad and the psychic mutant who is nested in David’s mind. We see Dad “win”; we see the mind of the parasite drift away; David born and… David facing the possibility that they just didn’t want him.
- The monster was watching when David was adopted. It found him, it possessed him. It made David sick. His powers didn’t help but the monster made it much, much worse. It poisoned David’s life. It fed on him to one end…
- It wants revenge. On everything. And everyone.
Until Syd came and woke David up and showed him who he really is.
- David puts it together. He isn’t sick anymore. He’s going to get his body back. he has a PLAN.
- We see him back in the “coffin”. He wakes up, smiles, “pushes” and the coffin lights up, apparently opening.
- Then we’re back with Syd, Kerry and the drooler. With the glasses on, the hospital is deserted and ruined. With them off, it’s a nightmare. They keep looking for David as Lenny watches them.
- Back in the real world, no one is having any luck moving the room of certain death around. Until Ravel’s Bolero starts playing and Oliver starts building a shield, out of the letters S, H, I, E, L and D.
- David breaks out of his coffin, looking for a fight.
- Everything goes silent movie as the Eye grabs Kerry and knocks her glasses off. Kerry starts throwing down HARD but against illusory opponents she can never quite win against. The Eye knocks her down and starts dragging her away as Syd attacks him.
- David throws the door to Lenny’s office open again and again and again. An endless loop.
- Suddenly, a magnificently Tim Burton like Lenny appears in the hospital (I thought there was a bit of a The Cabinet Of Caligari vibe going on too – ed). Complete with her own lighting. She calls the Eye to her, controlling him like a marionette. Syd and Kerry back away as Lenny calmly and maliciously ties the screaming Eye into a knot of folded flesh and shattered bone.
- Lenny stalks towards the two women while, in the real world, the Eye screams as blood pours from his face.
- Lenny spots what’s happening in the real world.
- David, faced with a corridor full of identical doors, flexes and they all shake.
- Lenny throws Oliver aside destroying the S H I E L D and steps back into the hospital.
- David clenches down and tears the world in front of him apart.
- The drooler wakes up.
- In the real world, Bird reaches for Oliver as Cary tries to put the halo on David and the bullets keep getting closer.
- In the hospital, the drooler wrestles Lenny clear, distracting her.
- The halo is put on David’s head, everyone’s back in their bodies. David turns and
catches the bullets.
- On the floor the Eye folds into a grotesque knot of cartilage. Very dead. And not before time.
- Amy screams, David raises his arms, there’s a bright flash of light and…
- …they’re back at Summerland.
- Back at the main Summerland building, Bird goes into the cryovault and opens the diving suit. There’s no one in it. Oliver’s gone.
- Or he’s making breakfast for everyone.
- Kerry watches from nearby. When Cary tries to talk to her, she calls him on the EXACT thing we’ve been waiting for; when she needed Cary, he left her behind.
- Amy tries to apologise to David for, well, everything. They chat and it’s really sweet and kind and genuine. Cary, looking concerned, calls David over and…
- …the Angry Boy appears.
- David recoils and Cary suggests he not move around too much. David, Ptonomy, Syd and Cary go across to the lab and…
- …Division III appear.
- Including the now horribly maimed and burnt interrogator from episode one.
- He tells them to kill the others and the camera zooms in on David’s brain as deep in the bottom of it, in the same box David was in, Lenny screams and screams and screams…
- And breaks out.
THAT is how you do a penultimate episode!
There is so much to enjoy here that we don’t know where to start. Actually, yeah, we do. Syd takes her place as the lead of the show well and truly here. There is almost nothing in this show we’ve loved more than her not needing the briefing session, or Cary’s expression as he realises that. Syd, who let’s not forget was picked up by Summerland accidentally, is definitely a force to be reckoned with and it’s great to see people realise that.
She’s not alone either. The way the Kerry plot from last week is resolved is both surprising and absolutely works. Honestly, it works way better than we were daring to hope. Jennifer Yale does an amazing job of doing that thing every great X-Men universe writer does; combine human nature with superhuman ability to create expertly crafted drama. It’s an untidy, real moment when Kerry confronts Cary and one of the biggest emotional hits of the season so far. Absolute top marks.
The entire episode is just this good. But if we had to pick our favourite section it would be the David/rational David stuff. Not only is it great fun seeing Dan Stevens talk to himself in his own accent but the way Dennie Gordon gets a comic page into the show is just… elegant is the only word that works. We actually clapped when we saw it.
We are one episode off the end of the strangest, strongest freshman season any non-Netflix superhero show has ever had. We have no idea what happens next. It may even crash and burn. The only things we know for sure are if it does it won’t be for lack of ambition and there truly is nothing like Legion on TV. An amazing episode of an increasingly amazing show.
- X-MEN WHEELCHAIR! As pointed out by io9 commenter Maxor127.
- The direction is GREAT. The transitions from the real, grey world to the zombie nightmare hospital especially are just brilliant.
- Syd has figured pretty much everything out and doesn’t need the briefing, thank you.
- RATIONAL DAVID! Much like the regular excuses to get Hugh Laurie off the cane and back in his accent that House always did this was BIG fun! Also Dan Stevens’ American accent is so great he actually sounded weird British.
- It’s a nice, and underplayed, touch that the glasses snap you out of the conditioning. Notice Kerry’s martial arts skills are back after she’s lost the glasses. That, the resolution of the Eye’s attack on her and her reaction to Cary’s actions are the best possible way to solve the problem we had last week.
- The silent movie intertitles are lovely. Also note that Lenny’s spotlight is marked HMS Ambush. This is, we suspect, less to do with the British nuclear submarine that used to have that name and more to do with the fact she’s just ambushed the characters.
- Rachel Keller owning every second of screen time.
- Amber Midthunder and Aubrey Plaza doing the same damn thing. The cast, especially the female cast on this show, are just staggering.
- The Bolero sequence. All of it.
- The word “shield” being a shield. If that isn’t a salute to the other side of Marvel TV then we don’t know what is.
- The fact that David’s classroom blackboards are laid out like a comic page. They’re even a nine panel grid!
- Notice how at no point does David draw his biological father with hair…
- Oliver taking another sip of his martini as he’s arrested.
- Honestly, nothing. This is a fantastic hour of TV.
And The Random:
- Uncanny X-Men #117 in January 1979 was the first appearance of Ahmal Farouk, The Shadow King. His first appearance is pretty much exactly what David draws in this episode. He’s appeared numerous times in various comics since then and most recently was established as not a mutant but an entity born on the Astral Plain and impossibly old.
- Co producer on Legion, Jennifer Yale has also written for Dexter, Harper’s Globe, Da Vinci’s Demons and the excellent (and as far as we know not being shown in the UK), Underground.
- Dennie Gordon has directed for Party Of Five, The Practice, The Loop, White Collar, Hell On Wheels and many others. She’s also directed several movies, including What A Girl Wants and New York Minute.
Review by Alasdair Stuart