The finale for the first season of Legion, easily the biggest delight of the TV year so far, turns down the volume to take a breath and nod in the direction of show’s future. Granted, in this case “turning down the volume” means an extended sequence of psyche separation followed by daisy chain body swapping. I mean, it’s still Legion. It’s not going to take the week off for a victory lap, no matter how well it’s earned.
“Chapter 8” did start with some true narrative magic of a form we’re not used to seeing from a superhero movie or TV show, which Legion barely qualifies as. The opening vignette following Clark — the interrogator Hamish Linklater played in the pilot — through his convalescence from third-degree burns is a brilliant turn. Having villain the audience previously thought dead miraculously return covered in scars is such a played-out move that I’m a little disappointed in myself for not expecting the level of subversion we got.
And it was a deep level of subversion — sweet, sweet, sad subversion. It turns out that Clark has a family. His husband (played by Keir O’Donnell, who oozed as Ben Schmidt in Fargo season 2) and son were at his bedside when he woke up after the attack at the swimming pool. The recovery is long and hard and boring. The sequence was an extended moment of touching realism when you separate from the fact that a bunch of mutants were responsible.
The opening, which is basically the Up montage of Marvel comics, also laid the groundwork for this face turn (I’m not sure if the pun was intended). By the end of the episode, Clark has some insight on the respective powers of David and Amahl Farouk, and he knows which side of the fight Division Three should be on. But something about that organization’s history has me doubting that.
While Clark was being held under the (sometimes) watchful eyes of Kerry, the rest of the gang was figuring out what to do with the parasite trapped inside the body of their super powerful friend. Cary has come up with a more permanent solution to the whole Shadow King problem. According to him, the two personalities living inside David’s mind are two putting out two distinct sets of brain waves. The idea is to isolate Farouk’s and then eliminate him from there…
…which is a cool plan and all, except for one minor detail. The Lenny King, now decaying in an excellent fashion, is able to pull Syd into the white room while the gang is talking to Clark and lay her cards out on the table. “Ever try to unmake soup?” she asks, after a brilliant bit of setup. Here’s the rub: Farouk ain’t leaving David unless it’s of his own volition. Syd’s going to have to help with the escape, which is not going to happen. Her idea, instead, is to be open with Clark and Division Three, and that works to a certain extent. After he sees what comes next, the man with the wolf cane and natty suit is all Team Stop the Devil, but that comes at a cost.