The Shadow King’s plan nears its end – David goes off the deep end – in the thrilling penultimate episode of Legion season two…
Perhaps what Legion is best at is subverting our expectations and this episode delivered one of the cleverest subversions of the series. Marvel fans have been waiting for the title of the show to actually make sense and for David to go by his X-Man nickname from the comics, and get his classic high-top haircut to boot. Well, showrunner Noah Hawley finally delivered that in this episode – and decided to teach us to be careful what you wish for in the process.
After it’s been teased in previous weeks, the crux of ‘Chapter 18’ is David’s descent into darkness, as he starts his path towards becoming the monster that destroys the world in the future. When Syd goes missing (pulled down a literal sink hole in the desert), David shows no remorse in mentally torturing Oliver to find out where she is. Meanwhile, Syd herself is watching this, as she has been taken by Melanie in order to show her who “her man” truly is. Melanie reveals that in the future, David will become Legion, the World-Killer.
In a terrific twist – even if you saw it coming, it still works – David realises Farouk has left Oliver, which means that Melanie is now Farouk. Jean Smart is so spectacular as her own version of the Shadow King – all men-hating and sophisticated manipulation – and that glimpse of the old 60s beat poet Oliver is so welcome that I sort of wish she had been Farouk all season long. What really works about Melanie/Farouk’s manipulation of Syd is that she only shows her the truth. However, by leaving out the context of David’s actions, she is able to feed on Syd’s own insecurities about him, thereby cementing her belief that he can’t be trusted.
It’s not all heavy-going character deconstruction this week, though. You wouldn’t want Legion to embrace comic book TV conventions every week but it was good to let Kerry stretch her legs and have a proper action scene, as she got to let loose on Farouk’s safe-wearing monk henchmen. Also, the Minotaur suddenly growing super-muscles like Bane from Batman & Robin made me laugh but it turned out to deliver another one of Legion‘s customary horror turns.
By the end of the episode, things are at their darkest as Melanie pulls a Sleeping Beauty on Farouk and kisses his lifeless body awake. Now he is back in the flesh and ready to unleash hell – unless David can stop him. But do we even want him to, as that will turn him into Legion? Legion‘s always made us doubt what we’re watching, but ‘Chapter 18’ throws the core premise of the show – no, the genre – on its head and makes us wonder who we actually want to win.
- Yes, this episode’s opening sequence finally gave us the classic Legion high-top from the comics. But what else can we infer from this scene? You might notice that Evil David/Legion, the World-Killer is holding an orb with Syd inside. I’m guessing that this is her punishment for reaching back in time and trying to avert this future.
- The most intriguing aspect of these scene, however, is Lenny. It seems she is Legion’s consort, as she is seen smiling and wearing a ball gown while lying at his feet. Notice how she clutches her stomach, though. As per New Jeanette’s non-sequitur last week, it looks like she’s having a little prince…
- This is the second week in a row without Jon Hamm’s interludes, isn’t it? Unlike a lot of fans, I did enjoy those but I have to say the pacing has improved without them interrupting the narrative flow. Still, I would expect one more before the season’s out.
- David’s voiceover in the final moments is the creepy nursery rhyme from The World’s Angriest Boy in the World, the inappropriately gory children’s book from season one.