A Look at Legion- Season 1 Finale: “Chapter 8”

And so it’s come to this: the end of Legion’s first season.  Seems like just yesterday we were just getting introduced to David Haller and learning about his abilities, but it’s time to wrap things up with the season finale.

The episode begins with The Interrogator, now hospitalized, thinking back to his session with David Haller.  He soon regains consciousness as his husband, played by Keir O’Donnell, and their son, come to his side.  The Interrogator’s bandages are removed and half his face is now scarred.  He sees his new, hideous look in the mirror.

Sometime later, he’s brought home to recover and he rests alongside his family, but even as he recuperates, David Haller is still on his mind.

Then we see he’s about to be assigned desk duty, but  he refuses.  Instead, he intends to finish what he started.  Once he leaves the office, he’s going back to war.  With that, he heads to a locker room and suits up for his next mission.

From there, we cut to the present as The Interrogator and Division Three soldiers encounter David and the rest of Summerfield in the forest.  But David is ready.  Using his powers, he stacks the soldiers into a large Jenga-esque tower.  He instructs Ptonomy to lower his gun and then tells The Interrogator that he agrees with him- they do indeed need to talk.

At another, unknown location, other Division Three officials watch this play out through a camera in The Interrogator’s eye.  Though Team A has been compromised, the leader of this small group says that they will wait and observe as opposed to sending in Team B.

Syd tells David that she doesn’t care if he saves her or the world- he has to save himself. But David says that the most dangerous thing is believing that you don’t have it, as the mind convinces you of what you don’t have.  To David, that’s like meeting a girl and her friends who tell you that you’re not sick.

That means you can fall in love.  But if you surrender to the hope and you’re wrong, then there’s no coming back from that.

Syd wants David to accept that his power is real or they can’t progress.  David reminds her of the six years he spent doing nothing in Clockworks, but now he has a chance to be useful.  He’s sick of himself, but right now, this isn’t about him.  In the middle of this, Syd has a glimpse of herself in David’s white world as she begins to hear voices.

While Kerry remains with The Interrogator in a holding cell, the others plan on how to deal with him.  Ptonomy wants all of Division Three dead, Syd doesn’t, and David wants to have a sit down with The Interrogator, even though he tried to kill him twice.  Melanie, calling for Plan M, wants to know what Division Three has planned, so she wants David to read The Interrogator’s mind.

Cary, who is scanning David, is more focused on getting rid of the Shadow King altogether more so because the halo is losing power.  As the Shadow King has been bypassing David’s defenses for decades, and if it isn’t removed today, it will permanently override David and eliminate him, though David is still able to hear Lenny’s voice in his head.

Then Cary enters the holding room and offers The Interrogator a drink of water, but Kerry tells Cary to place the glass on the table, so he does.  Kerry’s still not interested in talking with Cary or merging.  When Cary tries to explain himself, Kerry just tells him to leave.  Well, The Interrogator at least likes him.

Elsewhere, Melanie asks Oliver for dinner plans, but he’s mostly on a liquid diet and still no closer to remembering her.  Sure, she reminds him of someone, but not his wife.  Well, they can figure it out over dinner.  As objects vibrate in Cary’s work station, Oliver is called back to work.

So Melanie sits down with The Interrogator and apologizes to him, but he’s not threatened because he has the numbers and United States government on his side.  The Interrogator reveals that his name is Clark and he already knows about Melanie and Oliver.  He tells Melanie that Division Three will come with an army in order to find him, but Melanie isn’t bothered by this.

In fact, she admits that Clark is right about David being a world breaker.  If Clark had managed to kill David before he learned about his powers, she might be impressed by Clark’s world coalition, but not now.  The age of the dinosaur is over.

Outside, David meditates for a bit- the Shadow King continuing to break through- before landing as Kerry, Melanie, and Clark gather behind him.  David tells The Interrogator that the war is over if he wants it.

So while Cary boosts the halo’s power, David and the others sit down with Clark, who senses that something is amiss.  David repeats over and over that Clark doesn’t have to be afraid.  Clark won’t just leave, though, and he’s afraid because he fears that one day, mutants will wake up and realize that they are gods who don’t have to listen to humans anymore.

But that’s the history of the world, isn’t it?  People of different backgrounds, nations, and languages learning to live together.

Syd then finds herself in the white world, where Lenny, now looking more grotesque and Beetlejuice-like, crawls out of the bed.  As the room grows red, Lenny morphs into the Shadow King and tells Syd that she’s going to help her.  As for how Lenny is here, well, when Syd was in David’s mind, Lenny, in turn, was in hers and she knows that Syd can hear her voice.

Syd takes this time to tell Lenny that her mother, despite going through chemotherapy and radiation, still died of cancer.  She explains that when you cut out a tumor, it’s put in a bag and burned.  Lenny isn’t bothered by this, though.  She has other faces in case her current one melts.  If Syd wants Lenny gone, she’ll have to help her escape David’s mind.  But, as Lenny asks, have you ever tried to un-make soup?

Lenny is part of David and the only way for her to leave his mind is if she does so of her own accord.

In the real world, meanwhile, David tells Clark that he wants a meeting so he can change their minds, and then he passes out.  Syd realizes that David isn’t sick and begins to tell Clark all about the Shadow King living in David’s mind and now trying to erase him.  Syd realizes that Clark may feel something for David, so she wants to give him a chance to help.  Melanie can’t risk that, so she has Clark taken to a room.

So David is set up and strapped down in the operating room while Division Three, watching, decides to give Clark another hour before they strike.  David tells Oliver that he can feel the Shadow King trying to force its way out, but Oliver and the others are ready to pull when David pushes.  He activates a device which triggers a laser grid that boxes around David.

Syd asks for an explanation on how the device works.  Cary explains that he’s found a second set of brain waves inside David’s head.  A magnetic field will hopefully suck out every trace of the Shadow King and leave David intact.  The key word being ‘hopefully.’

David, now in pain, walks through a montage of the season- I mean, major events in his life, while the Shadow King rages, indicating that Farouk is fighting against the extraction.  Oliver, meanwhile, finds and reads off a generator reading to Cary, who calls for a 20 percent boost.

Soon, the device seems like it’s working, but Syd remembers Lenny’s words about leaving on her own time.  The Shadow King’s fingers appear from below and entrap David’s face…

In his mind, David sees himself as a baby.  Behind him, the Devil with Yellow Eyes rises, but David calls out Lenny, so she appears, frozen and looking zombified.  David wonders what he would be without Lenny, as they’ve been together for so long.  He asks her if she’s his phantom, as what happens to him when she’s gone.  Lenny insists that she’s not leaving.  She grabs Lenny’s neck and the world goes red.

Syd implores Cary to stop the device, but David continues to seize.  As Cary calls for more power, Syd rushes to help David, who appears to be choking himself.  Kerry, meanwhile, catches a glimpse of the Devil with Yellow Eyes on the screen, so she leaves.  Division Three sees it as well, so they call in the Equinox.

As Oliver boosts the power, David continues to war within himself.  Syd approaches the barrier, walks through the lasers, and just as Kerry enters, Syd kisses David.  The power goes haywire and Syd arises, now with yellow eyes and the Devil inside of her.

Kerry goes on the offensive, but after a tap on the head from Syd, she ends up with the parasite.  Ptonomy comes in, shooting away, but Kerry manages to put both him and Cary down for the moment.  She makes her way to Melanie, makes a finger gun motion, and fires.  Melanie’s also down for the count.

Kerry heads into the hallway.  She’s knocked down by Clark, but she swats him away like a bee.  David then floats through the ceiling and into the hallway and the two charge towards each other.  They collide and the surge from so much power that the whole building shakes.  Smoke makes its way towards Oliver, who was still working and had just remembered Melanie, and knocks him back when he leaves the generator room.

But then he enters the hallway just fine and drives away from Summerland just as the area is thrown into a frenzy.  Hmm…

David awakens and goes to Kerry to tell her that it’s all over.  He then tells Clark that they’ll need to work together, and for that, Clark agrees.

They wake up the others as well and David tells Syd that she shouldn’t have done what she did, even though he likes kissing her.  But she did it to protect David, who now feels great.  However, the Shadow King needs a host, and Oliver is gone…

He’s on the road with Lenny in the passenger seat.  Oliver asks the Shadow King where they should go next, and Lenny requests that they find someplace warm.  She turns on the radio and the two ride off into the distance as the first season of Legion comes to a close.

Oh, but wait, we’re not done yet.  In a post-credits scene, on the balcony at the Summerland facility, David tells Syd that Lenny and Oliver are headed south.  A floating orb approaches the two of them, scans David, and then traps him inside before flying up, up, and away from Summerland.

Legion is one of many things, which is redundant as hell to say, but with the finale here and what’s been set up for the future, I think about the many ways this series has gone since its debut.  It’s about a man’s journey of self-discovery and taming the literal beast within him.  It’s an examination of mental illness and dangers of control.  And without forcing it to the forefront, it also touches upon the mutant problem.

While Legion doesn’t shy away from its mutant connections, it doesn’t shove it in your face that we’re still in a world where mutants are feared for their abilities.  That’s not the focus.  Sure, Division Three could be have as many reservations with mutants as someone like Senator Kelly, Bolivar Trask, or William Stryker, but Division Three isn’t the main antagonist.

Despite that, The Interrogator isn’t some two-dimensional cardboard cutout of a villain. While it might not have added much to the overall plot, I’m glad Hawley decided to give Clark’s character more depth.  We learn his name, see his family life, and Linklater is great in the scenes where we see Clark processing the extent of the damage done to his body.

More than that, we see that maybe not Division Three, but he himself isn’t all that much of a villain.  He doesn’t see mutants as a threat, just as a concern.  We know that there’s some ongoing war, but no real sense of what the general public thinks of mutants.  But from Clark’s conversation with David, we see the growing fear that mutants will rise up and refuse to put up with humans, even though most would rather be left alone.

In a way, it’s no different than what Magneto said in X-Men: First Class when he told Charles that mutants already are the superior race.  The fear and idea of mutant supremacy is what leads to groups like Division Three trying to control or even stamp out the mutant problem.  But as the episode progresses, Clark and David seem to find common ground and I hope the two can work together in the future.

Brief aside, it was cool to see Keir O’Donnell appear on Legion, even if briefly, making him the third actor from the third season of Fargo to appear here.  And with Linklater slated to appear on Fargo’s third season in a few weeks, I like seeing actors from one of Hawley’s series is appearing in another.

While the finale might not have been as off-the-wall as Chapter 7, it still delivered in having a good amount of tension and action set pieces, as well as proper character development and progress for the characters after their journey in Clockworks limbo last week.

For starters, Cary and Kerry look to be on good terms again.  I get why Kerry was upset, even though I felt she should have given Cary more of a chance to explain what he was doing with Oliver.  Despite that, we get another great sequence of Kerry kicking ass and by episode’s end, she’s forgiven him.  She did just knock him out, after all, so the least she could do is not give him the cold shoulder, so glad they’ve rekindled their bond.

Can’t say the same for Melanie and Oliver.  First off, to focus on just Melanie herself, Jean Smart still has a strong presence and that’s very clear in her talk with Clark. I don’t know if Melanie has any mutant abilities, but even if not, she’s a great, commanding leader who wants what’s best for her team, but is also focused on winning this war.  Now with David on her side, there’s no need to fear Division Three.

And she’s not being smug about it, either.  Like she said, had Clark killed David before he learned about his powers, there’d be a reason to be afraid.  But after seeing the multitude of things that David can do, Division Three is about as effective as Clark trying to stop Kerry while she’s got the Shadow King inside of her and as obsolete as the dinosaurs.  So when combating D3 from now on, she’s in control.

Less so for her relationship.  It’s unfortunate and tragic that Oliver still has no memory of Melanie, but worse because by the time he does remember her, he’s already been whisked away by the Shadow King.  Even though Clement may not have had as much to do as the others, he’s still great with his snarky remarks and one-liners.  On a team of very serious people, he and Cary bring some levity to balance out things.

Syd gets to be the hero once again not only by talking David through his next move, but taking the risk of passing the Shadow King from his body to hers.  Syd has been in David’s head many times and has a good idea of how he thinks, but she also know how Lenny operates and understands what must be done to free David from the Shadow King’s grip.

The show didn’t make what would’ve been the cliche choice by having Syd either sacrifice herself to save David or contend with her becoming the Shadow King’s host.  No, Syd is smarter than that, so since Lenny probably wouldn’t have left on her own, she brings her out and keeps herself from becoming a host.  Even if Lenny is still out there, the priority is saving David and allowing him to accept his power.

And I can’t say enough good things about how great Rachel Keller is in the role.  Syd might love David, but she’s not head over heels for him or about to throw away everything if it means being with him, especially after seeing the Shadow King invade their safe space.  She’s confident, strong, and even though she isn’t calling the shots or a fighter like Kerry, she’s no pushover.

David’s arc this season has been about coming to terms with who he is, what he can do, and his symbiotic relationship with the Shadow King.  Despite now being in control now, he’s spent so much time in one prison or another.  Whether it’s Clockworks, the astral plane, the Shadow King’s version of Clockworks, or the orb he ends up in at the stinger, he doesn’t have much of an opportunity to be free.

But after being dosed up, brought through and reliving his childhood, and grappling with his abilities, he’s now more in control than he’s ever been with the Shadow King gone.  That said, I did enjoy his brief talk with Lenny.  For better or worse, the Shadow King has been an integral part of David’s development since childhood.  It instilled fear in him, but also a reason to keep fighting so he could resist Farouk’s control.

So it’s natural that he’d wonder what his life would be without the Devil on his shoulder, despite the harm it’s done to him.  But Lenny has been in this for herself as much as she has been for David.  Like Eobard Thawne on The Flash series, Lenny pushes David to using his abilities, but just to help her escape and hopefully ditch Summerland altogether.

David has been second guessing himself for so long and even here he thinks back to being conditioned to believe that he doesn’t have a problem, that he’s just schizophrenic instead of being a powerful mutant.  Even when he repeats over and over to Clark about not being afraid, if I wanted to stretch, I see that as Lenny telling David that he has nothing to fear from her coming back out to play some more.

But whether it’s him charging towards Kerry, stacking D3 soldiers up like Lego blocks, or meditating, we see that he’s now in control.  It’s a strong character progression from where he began and it’s nice to see that, while acknowledging his connection with Lenny, he’s done with the Shadow King.

But Lenny is far from finished.  Lenny really is like that parasite that just won’t let go of its host.  It’s like she considers being within David too much fun.  Like she told Syd, she could leave David at any point, but why do that when she could entertain herself in the body of a powerful mutant like David?  Like the last two episodes have shown, she considers David’s world her playground where she cause as much mayhem as possible.

More than that, we see that Lenny is no pushover.  As Cary indicated, the Shadow King is a fighter and if David’s defenses had lapsed any further or more time had passed, Lenny would have assumed total control and killed David in the process.  It’s about more than just inhabiting David, but removing him from the equation altogether.

But since that won’t happen, there comes another option in Oliver.  These two on first glance make an odd pairing, but at the same time, I’m excited at the possibility of Lenny inhabiting Oliver.  For one, it keeps Aubrey Plaza around for next season.  But also, we’ve seen that Oliver himself is a powerful mutant, so what Lenny could do in the passenger seat.  And hey, the villain makes it out at the end of the season.  How about that?

Legion turns so many conventions on its head and this finale is no exception.  The stakes weren’t apocalyptic or world-ending, there wasn’t a giant battle, and things didn’t wrap up in a neat bow.  A tackle is what ends the showdown between David and the Shadow King, David himself gets captured, and the Shadow King manages to escape and inhabit another character.

But that’s the strength both of Michael Uppendahl’s direction and Noah Hawley’s writing in this episode. Seriously, un-making soup?  That’s a great, memorable line right there.  From start to finish, Legion has been a breath of fresh air not just for the X-Men franchise or comic adaptations, but in general by blending different elements and creating a cohesive, well put together show.

Great acting- and a superb standout performance from Aubrey Plaza in particular- some good special effects for a television show, amazing score, tension, cinematography, and above all else, writing and direction, Legion is a special treat to have.  If you haven’t watched it or feel that there’s some sort of superhero fatigue, you should consider checking out Legion.

It will mess with your mind, can be confusing to follow, and makes you question what is and isn’t real, but it challenges your perception and dares you to accept something bolder than your average comic book adaptation.  And with a second season on the way, the anticipation is already high for this show’s return.

It was fun to blabber on about and while I know that I don’t have any sort of real audience or following, I’m very much looking forward to this show’s return…that and a home release so I can watch it again.  But until then, Legion is a fantastic watch from start to finish and while there are questions left unanswered here, there’s enough to keep you invested until the show returns for Season Two.  See you then.

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