After six weeks of opening mystery matryoshka, Legion has finally reached a solid core, the moment and memory that started it all. David finds his way back to the beginning – the real beginning – just as Summerland identifies his parasite and makes an escape plan. Along the way, we get a zombie flick, prison break, animation, and silent film. The genre cocktail dresses up an otherwise straightforward superhero plot, as Legion mines the best conventions of TV and comics to deliver action, suspense, infodumps, fan service, and a whole lot of fun.
Chapter 7 opens with zombies, as Kerry flees Walter along corridors that are alternately eerily deserted and peopled with moaning, lurching forms. She’s desperate to find Cary, who is MIA, reunited with Oliver at his astral ice cube. Oliver confirms comics fans’ long-running suspicion: David’s parasite is the disembodied consciousness of Amahl Farouk, AKA The Shadow King (warning: link includes comics spoilers). Farouk/TSK is planning a hostile takeover of David’s body that may get everyone else killed. To avert disaster in David’s mind and in the waking world, Cary will need to rouse the Summerland sleepers. They’ll need all hands on deck to free David and somehow block the bullets still making their lethal way toward Syd. He borrows Oliver’s Jules Verne suit and ventures out.
While he’s guiding Melanie and Syd out of Clockworks, Farouk/TSK-as-Lenny paces a map room, anxious and impatient. Amy (poor Amy!) continues to fulfill her uncomfortably fridge-y plot function of enduring interrogations by people hostile to David. TSK demands Amy’s memories of the night David joined their family, most likely with the hope of finding a memory or psychic signature he can trace back to David’s biological father. But all we see is a four-year-old girl crouched on the stairs, watching her parents cradle a baby. Whatever TSK is looking for isn’t there.
While Amy struggles to remember – and if David’s biological dad is who we think it is, he probably took certain precautions with the Haller family’s memories – David is finally parsing the strangeness of his life. After an initial panic, his rational mind pops into existence and suggests they decamp to an astral classroom. TSK’s banishment has, ironically, freed David to think clearly for the first time in his life. Now unhampered, David deduces the links between his powers, his biological father, and his parasite. This process manifests in a delightful animation that’s a welcome shift from the questions he’s been stammering for the past six episodes. Empowered by these realizations, David emerges from his mind-coffin and starts blasting up through mental subbasements.
Several levels above, just outside Shadow-Clockworks, Syd and Cary compare notes in an astral cone of silence. Cary passes on several pairs of They Live spectacles to help Syd filter out the unreal and find and free her compatriots. She returns to an apparent zombie infestation, but the glasses pare out everything except a deserted monochrome landscape. She tracks down Rudy (still catatonic) and Kerry (frantically jamming a door). Together they prowl the halls for everyone else and a way out.
Cary returns to David’s old room to work on the bullet problem with Melanie and eventually Oliver. Oliver introduces himself (with a lewd limerick), leaving Melanie nonplussed at her husband’s failure to recognize her. She steps into the hall to collect herself, only to find a pool of blood dripping upward. She follows it to Rudy, who got even fewer lines and less screen time than Ptonomy, and is now dying slowly in the closet where Walter stabbed him. Melanie whispers into his ear, and Rudy gets an elegiac montage telegraphing that he won’t go out lying down. Shortly afterward, when attempts to move Syd and David out of the bullets’ path prove ineffective, Oliver begins to conjure (conduct?) some kind of bulletproof psionic shield to Ravel’s Boléro.
This opens the episode’s most charming sequence, another classic Hawley montage, this time executed in the style of a silent film. As Kerry and Syd struggle with Walter, Aubrey Plaza materializes with infectious aplomb, every inch a quintessential silent movie villain. Gleefully deranged, she dispatches Walter – the body, after all, cannot survive without the mind – before turning to Kerry and Syd, who may as well be tied down in the path of an oncoming train. But then “Lenny” spots the bullet shield and pops back into David’s room to deal with Oliver and Cary. This buys the extra moment David and Rudy need to tie up loose ends: Rudy immobilizes Lenny on her return just as David breaks through to faux-Clockworks and Cary places the EMP-halo. The spell is broken! Everyone returns to their bodies in time to see David pull off a super-Neo bullet catch, and he teleports all and sundry back to Summerland.
Melanie takes off for Oliver’s cryo-chamber to find an empty suit. As she treks back to the main building, dejected and heartbroken, she hears a familiar voice reciting yet more Allen Ginsberg. Oliver, now clad in a spiffy apron, is distributing breakfast. Like many family meals, the shared table only masks shuddering fault lines: it’s not clear whether Oliver remembers Melanie (he offers to tell her the story of crane), and Kerry remains betrayed and hurt by Cary’s desertion. Amy and David reunite and reconcile, but he can’t let her contact her husband, lest they draw the attention of Division 3. This is the season’s penultimate episode, so of course this warning is moot: D3 is already closing in, led by a very angry Hamish Linklater reprising the Interrogator presumed dead at the end of Chapter 1. In the deep recesses of David’s mind, a coffin lid cracks and a mad yellow eye peers out. Someone will get what they want next week, but everyone else is staring down the barrel of some explosive disappointment.
- “Hours. Or what’s longer than hours? Years.”
- “Oliver Bird: Dedicated follower of fashion. Have I seen you before? At the poetry slam?”
- “You’re okay. You’re just in a coffin. It’s no big deal.”
- “And you’re…British?”
“Like I said, I’m your rational mind.”
- “Sweetheart, it’s over. I won. Gimme some sugar!”
ODDS & ENDS
- David’s stick figure bio-dad is bald. Just sayin’.
- The border accents and font in the silent film sequence’s dialogue cards match those in the closing credits.
- Shadow Lenny’s flashlight is stenciled H.M.S. AMBUSH. This is a very silent film-esque detail, and the name of an actual submarine that collided with a ship in 2016.
- It’s not really clear how astral Oliver is able to build a (psionic?) shield in the waking world – it’s a lot like Neo having power over the sentinels outside the Matrix. The letter barrier (which spelled SHIELD, natch) was more Ghostwriter than X-Men.
- Oliver: Intimate memories of Asian ladies and inappropriate use of the word “virile” to describe psychic power. Dude. Please. Just. Stop. Talking.
- What kind of Brit makes his martinis with vodka instead of gin?
- What did Melanie ever see in Oliver? He’s an unsexy lounge lizard who spouts cheesy pickup lines and scrambled beat poetry. (If you’re gonna quote Ginsberg, do that shit verbatim or not at all.) He starts drinking right after breakfast. PLUS if (as Cary observes) Oliver hasn’t aged a day in 20 years, dude had to have been at least 10 years older than Melanie when they hooked up. Honey, he might have seemed charismatic when you were too young to know better, but you deserve more! Find your inner Norma and ditch this jackass!
- Cary’s hand gesture when he’s trying to reconcile with Kerry is straight out of Wall-E. Kerry’s alienation is very reminiscent of the dynamic between Lyra and Pantalaimon in The Amber Spyglass.
- What happened to Ptonomy? Is he a double agent or just a woefully underused member of the cast? Neither Syd nor Cary track him down at Shadow-Clockworks. We don’t see him until breakfast.
FAN THEORIES, OR WHAT THE HELL I THINK IS GOING ON
- D3’s incursion into Summerland will give Shadow Lenny an opening, and the results will not be pretty.
- Near the end, Amy tells David she should have told him about “the man.” C’mon, Legion. We all know who “the man” is and we’re just dying to hear him say “Gimme some sugar” in that plummy voice.
- It seems significant that Oliver hasn’t abandoned his conviction that he and David will be half a barbershop quartet. If Cary’s the third, who’s the fourth?
- Summerland is weirdly deserted when the group returns. Normally there are people walking around in the background, but this week we don’t see anybody who wasn’t at Shadow-Clockworks. Did D3 empty the place out while they were gone? Is there a double agent? Were all those other folks imaginary?
- COLORWATCH: The Interrogator has traded in his brown suit for burgundy – a color previously worn only by Ptonomy. The classroom David imagines has purple chairs and black and purple balconies. The walls in Summerland’s circular atrium look like a pastel Pantone color book, muted and orderly, in contrast to the vivid and oozing spectrum in Shadow Lenny’s map room. Everyone else is still wearing the clothes in which they started Chapter 6. Summerland continues overcast and Oliver continues to wear that unflattering time-warp shade of mustard.