Legion S01E08 “Chapter 8” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on FOX, Thursdays 9pm
Writer: Noah Hawley
Director: Michael Uppendahl
Essential Plot Points:
- And we’re off, with the credits for this season finale hidden inside the ECG of the Interrogator after David’s rescue. Gentle harpsichord music is playing as we cut between him in hospital and David’s escape.
- He wakes up, is greeted by his partner and son and taken home. Recuperating slowly, and clearly traumatised, he slowly comes to terms with his injuries. He relives the attack over and over. When his bosses try and put him behind a desk, he just flat out refuses. He’s going to war. And as we see him put himself back together we fade back to the end of last week’s episode with everyone under guard.
- That lasts as long as it takes David to throw every soldier aside and hold them in a telekinetic knot.
- David confronts the Interrogator and says simply, “You’re right. We need to talk.”
- Entirely reasonably, the Interrogator’s response is “…shit.”
- We see through the camera in the interrogator’s eye that his husband is with Division III’s Team B, who are preparing to go in.
- Back at Summerland, Syd reminds David that he needs to look after himself. David has this amazing monologue about how the worst thing about schizophrenia is that it convinces you you do not have it. He talks about everything that happened and how terrified he is that even now, none of this is real. Syd tells him he has to accept it or otherwise they can’t move on.
- He tells her he’s finally useful, he can FINALLY help and leaves. Syd has a flash of the White Room and sees something rising under the covers of the bed.
- At Summerland, Kerry has the Interrogator under guard. David wants to go in and talk to him; Ptonomy wants to kill him; Bird wants Ptonomy to read the Interrogator’s mind – to use him; Cary wants to get the Shadow King out of David’s head and the halo is losing power.
- Distantly, Lenny yells, “Hey Kid!” Cary tells David that unless they get the Shadow King out of his head, today, he’ll be erased.
- So, interrogate or kill the Interrogator and Save David’s life once and for all.
- No pressure.
- Cary arrives holding a glass of water for the Interrogator. The captive reaches for it and Kerry shuts her brother down, telling him to put it on the table. Cary tries to talk to his sister. She shuts him down. Hard.
- Elsewhere, Bird tries to ask Oliver out for dinner and he dodges her but doesn’t quite say no.
She goes to see the Interrogator. He tries to intimidate her and it really, really does not work. Melanie Bird levels with him; he was absolutely right about David. He’s a world killer.
- They’ve already won.
- Outside, David is levitating and meditating. The Halo’s colours have shifted to red and as he imagines the Shadow King tearing loose, Bird, Kerry and the Interrogator arrive. David lands, turns to them and says, “War is over… if you want it.”
- With the halo hooked up to a new power supply they talk to the Interrogator. He is terrified and becomes even more so as David repeatedly tells him not to be afraid.
- Suddenly, Syd is in the White room. A banged-up Lenny appears, locks her in and confirms that while she’s locked out of David’s head, the fact Syd’s been in David’s head means she can hear Lenny JUST fine.
- Syd, because Syd is the baddest of badasses, faces down one of the two most powerful psychics on the planet.
- Lenny, using the most terrifying soup analogy we’ve ever heard of, explains that there is no way to remove her without killing David. Syd realises the truth and she’s back in the room as David blacks out.
- They try and walk the Interrogator out and Syd comes absolutely clean with him. She tells him about the Shadow King, what it does and gives him a chance to help David. Bird has him imprisoned anyway.
- Cary is prepping David for the removal with Oliver’s help. Kerry is guarding the Interrogator. Division III are getting gung-ho.
- They trigger the equipment and Oliver heads back to the silo they’ve rigged to contain the Shadow King. Syd, possibly playing for time, asks how it works. Cary explains that they’ve identified a second set of brainwaves and created an EM vortex that will hopefully suck very inch of the Shadow King out. David asks when he’ll know when it triggers and…
- As Pink Floyd, because of course, plays, David watches every memory of The Shadow King and Lenny being hauled out of his mind. He goes back and back through his life each memory disappearing.
- In the lab, Syd sees Lenny on one of the screens and is reminded that the Shadow King will only leave if it wants to. David begins to bleed out as skeletal hands cover his face and…
he wakes up. Watching his memories of being a baby. The Shadow King appears, growls and David says simply, “No.”
- Freezing it in place, he turns it into Lenny. He talks about The Shadow King as a phantom limb. He muses about what happens to him when she leaves. She spits, “I’M… NOT… LEAVING!” and begins strangling David as in the real world, he begins to seize.
- Syd knows what she has to do.
- The Shadow King appears on the monitors. Kerry goes in.
- Division III sends the go order.
- In David’s mind, we see he’s strangling himself. Syd tells him to hold on, steps through the barrier as Kerry sprints in behind her. Syd kisses David… there’s a blinding light and…
Syd stand up with yellow eyes.
- And smiles.
- She takes her gloves off with her teeth and touches Cary’s forehead. She jumps into Kerry who, grinning, beats up her brother as Ptonomy runs in, firing blind. She disarms him and walks towards Bird, miming a gun. Bird runs, she shoots. Bird falls.
- The Shadow King, in Kerry’s body heads out. The Interrogator tires to take her down and she hurls him down the corridor. David, now free, levitates into the corridor and smiles.
This, at last, is a fight he can get his hands around.
- They stare each other down then run headlong towards one another as in the server silo, Oliver finally remembers who Melanie Bird is.
- The Shadow King and David collide. The King’s essence is ripped out of Kerry and hurtles down the corridor.
- In the Science Silo, Oliver hears the commotion, opens the door to investigate and…
- …The Shadow King takes up residence. Oliver collects himself, heads outside and breaks into “If I Ruled The World” as he makes his getaway. Both their getaways.
- David wakes up and finds Kerry alive and unharmed. At the far end of the corridor, the interrogator is banged up but okay. As is everyone else.
- In the immortal words of Buffy, “The battle’s done and…they kind of won.” As Bird finds out when she asks where Oliver is.
- Elsewhere, Oliver and the Shadow King, in the form of Lenny, are driving away. Oliver asks where they should look first and Lenny replies, “Someplace warm.” She turns the radio on and they sing to “Children of the Revolution” as they drive off into the metaphorical sunset.
- And then… AFTER CREDIT SCENE!
- Syd and David are on the balcony at Summerland. A sphere appears and they assume it’s one of Cary’s. Right until it scans David and teleports him inside before flying away.
- See you in season 2, folks!
We’re calling it. This is the best superhuman TV show you’ll see this year.
We honestly thought they couldn’t land the season finale. Even this team would, surely, put a foot wrong. The early leisurely pacing; the occasional over indulgence; the brilliant penultimate episode – it all spoke to a disappointing “Mr Worf, FIRE!”-style payoff.
They aced it.
Absolutely, completely, aced it.
This episode humanises the interrogator. Seeing his home life and the implication that Division III are acting out of fear did more to balance the mutant/human conflict out than very nearly any X-Men movie. He’s not a good guy. But he thinks he is. And crucially he’s a smart one. When Syd reaches out to him, when he sees what’s happening at the end of the episode, he does the right thing, not the thing he’s expected to do.
That’s hope, embodied. And in a week like this, a year like this, that is absolutely what we all need the most. You want to know how fiction can help? It’s right here. It’s an escape. It’s a map. It shows us what we can be as well as what we are.
That idea runs through the rest of the episode, too. It feels like we haven’t talked about Dan Stevens work much this season but he really is amazing. The clash with the Shadow King in his mind is a real standout but the scenes that get us bookend the episode. The moment where he tells Syd he still isn’t quite sure this is real is heart-breaking. The moment where he lands in the corridor down from the Shadow King and smiles because, at LAST, this is a fight outside his head is as vindicating as it is terrifying. David is hope embodied, a man desperate to make up for lost time, terrified he can’t and wanting nothing more than to keep his friends safe.
The other characters are touched, or damaged, by hope too. Melanie holds onto the belief Oliver will recognise her again only to not see it happen and have him taken away. Cary hopes to be reunited with his sister even though he let her down. Kerry hopes she’s going to get to hit someone very very hard. And Lenny? Lenny doesn’t hope. Lenny WANTS. And seeing Aubrey Plaza stalk through this episode with a wonderfully gooey, beaten down flare is an absolute joy. The closing sequence, where she hops from cast member to cast member, is one of the most frightening things we’ve ever seen and that’s all down to Plaza’s performance and how perfectly Amber Midthunder and Rachel Keller riff on it.
And Syd embodies hope most of all. Because when it comes down to it a woman who is trapped by both her powers and her revulsion at what they do uses them to do something impossibly difficult that, somehow, pays off. Even then, the episode doesn’t let anyone off the hook. It closes with Syd being as reckless as she criticises David for being at the beginning. It works. They survived. But, like David says, they didn’t win. Hope isn’t easy. Hope isn’t tidy. But if you’re upright and moving, it’s what you’ve got. And as this episode shows, it’s more than enough.
This is a finale that defies expectation. Nothing is what it seems, no one gets off easy and everyone, sort of, gets what they want. It’s a flamboyant, often very funny hour of TV that rounds out the most surprising series of 2017. We’re delighted to see season 1 close out so brilliantly and cannot wait for season two. Brilliant work from start to finish.
- The Interrogator is gay and has an adopted black son. And it’s a zero deal whatsoever. In a week where CBS hired two white people for roles written for persons of colour because… Oh at this point we don’t even know, this restores our faith in humanity a little.
- Division III has hydraulic clothing deployment racks!
- The Interrogator has a name! And is a good guy now! Hopefully!
- Every. Single. Performance. But special kudos to Aubrey Plaza’s decaying Tim Burton impersonation and the wonderfully subtle way Lenny altered her appearance when Oliver became her new host.
- Rachel Keller. Holy crap, Rachel Keller. Syd’s relentless determination and strength is our favourite part of the show and we are so, so pleased she isn’t the new host. And that shot of her with yellow eyes is the most disturbing thing this show has done to date.
- The direction. That closing action sequence in particular just feels visceral and terrifying in a way that makes you wince for everyone involved.
- Cary and Kerry back together!
- Musical interludes galore! Oliver singing “If I Ruled The World” was great but the use of “Breathe (In The Air)” and “On The Run” by Pink Floyd was just sublime. We even really liked the way “Children Of The Revolution” was used which, after Moulin Rouge, is not something we ever expected to happen again.
- “We have a rapport.”
“He tried to kill you. Twice.”
“To be fair the second time he wanted to kill you.” The humour in this show is absent minded, bone dry and fatalistic and we love it.
- “I don’t think you understand. There’s 50 of you we’re a tactical arm of the United States Military working in conjunction with government agencies all over the world.”
“And dinosaurs once ruled the Earth. Remind me what happened to them?” This entire sequence, and Bird’s quiet resolve is just brilliant.
- “I know I don’t have to be afraid but I am because LOOK AT YOU. ALL OF YOU. YOU’RE GODS and some day you’re gonna wake up and realise you don’t have to listen to us anymore?” Hamish Linklater is the BEST. Cannot wait to see more of him next year.
- “Your Lenny mask is RUNNING.” Rachel Keller and Aubrey Plaza facing off this episode is one of the best superhero fight sequences we’ve ever seen and not a punch is thrown.
- “Then what?”
“Then, when we pull? You PUSH.” While we’re sad to see Oliver turn evil, Jermaine Clement always has so much more fun with bad guys. Still this, and his quiet realisation of just who Melanie is, were both lovely.
- “Remember how you told not to be afraid.”
“Yeah, that was a mistake.” See? Dry as a BONE.
- Ptonomy didn’t have enough to do. That’s it.
And The Random:
- A tiny note but possibly an important one. The registration of Oliver’s car includes the letters GBH. Which in the UK is short for Grievous Bodily Harm. Which is pretty much the Shadow King’s mission statement…
Review by Alasdair Stuart