Spoilers lie within for the episode. Don’t complain to us if your brain explodes after reading…
Given how stylish, trippy and just plain different the initial episode of Legion was, it’s perhaps a step down for the first season finale to be a more conventional superhero story of David Haller facing off against Amahl Farouk, AKA The Shadow King, the parasite that has been lurking in his brain for years. But even with a lot of plot to wrap up, creator Noah Hawley (who wrote this one, with Michael Uppendahl directing) found time to hit the required emotional beats and maintain the sense of fun that has resonated throughout this series thus far.
Staunchly refusing to immediately pay off last week’s cliff-hanger was a smart move, as, if we’re all honest, there probably wasn’t much of a threat for David at the height of his powers, even with “Lenny” still lurking. So a chance to properly meet Clark (the previously unnamed Interrogator played by Hamish Linklater) as he recovers from the burns he received in his first encounter with our hero was a welcome one. While Division Three could have been written off as just another bunch of faceless baddies, it’s reassuring to see Legion putting in the work to craft a real story for him. Of course, there is still the small matter of the rest of the secret agency, able to see what Clark sees through his eyes, but as the episode wraps up, it appears there could be a detente on the way, especially given the bigger threat.
If you were worried about the show doing away with Aubrey Plaza’s excellent Lenny, by far the most entertaining version of the Shadow King and still one of the best parts of the show, fear not. The big showdown with the enemy resulted in him/her/it being thrown into Oliver, and that’ll set up a fun situation for next season to explore. Plus who didn’t have a smile on their face at the idea of Jemaine Clement and Plaza as a devilish double act, driving off to the strains of T. Rex’s Children Of The Revolution? The twist also added another layer to the heartbreaking story of Melanie Bird’s attempt to have her formerly frozen husband recognise her. She’ll be going up against the man she loves; and one who appeared to remember her right before he was struck.
Elsewhere, we had Syd once again taking charge and proving to be much more than a love interest, and fun little moments for Ptonomy, Cary and Kerry Loudermilk. Clement, another perfect piece of casting for the show, got another quick bit of business too, sliding around the generator on a moving ladder and wearing the sort of steampunk-inspired goggles that would make Dr. Emmett Brown jealous.
Throwing in the sort of eclectic pop culture references we’ve come to expect from this show (John Lennon? “Boom goes the dynamite”?) Legion finished off the first season in fine style. Even if it wasn’t quite as creatively visual as other episodes, there were the stand out moments, including David and the Shadow King (in Kerry) facing off in a shot that could have come straight from a comic book splash panel, the latest trip through our hero’s mind (set to Pink Floyd’s Breathe (In The Air)) and the utter delight of watching Bill Irwin bumble around David with the halo tools as he’s trying to have a meeting with Clark.
If we have concerns, they’re small – why, for example, was Clark, the enemy, allowed to watch what the team was doing to try to save David? Of course, he had to see so he could learn what was really going on, but it does feel like a stupid tactical move when he was still a threat at the time. Well, no-one can accuse Team Summerland of always being the most tactical thinkers…
Probably no show could have kept up the pace and weirdness that Legion established early on and yet find room for an actual story, but Hawley and his team managed to walk that line admirably with only one episode really a stumble. One big advantage has been the relatively short run of episodes – with only eight to produce, it’s mostly all killer, very little filler. We’re fully on board – roll on Season 2 next year!
(Oh, and if you’re reading this having turned the show off as the credits rolled, you might want to go back and watch all the way through. In true Marvel style, there is a mid-credits sting that sets up a fascinating new story for the new season.)
Where is the Shadow King off to?
It’s too early to tell, though in the comics, he shows up in Black Panther’s home of Wakanda at one point. Despite looking for “somewhere warm”, the lack of co-operation between the MCU and Fox (even given Marvel TV’s link to this) means that won’t be where the Shadow King ends up. To the fan-fiction machine!
Can Division Three be trusted?
Probably not, despite Clark’s new appreciation for the team and their struggle. At least only while it’s beneficial for them to work with the Summerland gang.
Will Professor X show up next season?
There’s a very slim chance they could get the okay for Patrick Stewart (or James McAvoy) to appear, but don’t get your hopes up, people.
Legion aired on FX in the US on Wednesdays and Fox TV in the UK on Thursdays.