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Legion - Chapter 8 (Season Finale) - Review: "A Truly Exceptional 1st Season"

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Chapter 8 marks the end of the 1st season of Legion in a more character driven episode. Legion has quickly become one of the best comic book adaptations on tv that I've ever seen. The sheer creativity (especially the use of multiple genres in ways other shows aren't able to comprehend without feeling unnatural), direction and storytelling make Legion unlike anything else on TV. It's not only a bold step forward for comic adaptations but TV in general. It shows you there is more than just lackluster entertainment. The season finale saw Noah Hawley writing the episode with Michael Uppendahl directing.

We open the episode with these two blocks (reminiscent of a 90's video game) appearing on the right-hand side of the heart monitor. I interpreted it as a metaphor for the ongoing battle between Division 3 and Summerland as well as David and The Interrogator, himself (because of the suffering he endured as a result of David's escape). One block being bigger than the other conveyed the struggle between human and mutant kind.

The way we perceive characters as solely 'bad guys' is a growing phenomenon nowadays with some shows not often enough developing their villainous entities beyond face value whilst others do but the execution is lacking. To see The Interrogator wake, his husband and son waiting by his side is a beautiful picture. Regardless of his actions, everyone is human and to see how his downfall effects others as well as himself is a fascinating event. There was a brief moment in that hospital where we saw humanity in The Interrogator with his husband and son. Those fleeting moments between the two husbands hands - a complete opposite of David and Syd - highlight their freedom in their intimacy of which they also didn't linger in. To see this perspective of this 'villain' is a real walk in their shoes and it's apparent he's not so different from any other person, someone who is fighting for what they believe to be a safer tomorrow from the unknown, the alien. With Fargo, Noah Hawley simply but effectively told the story of why people do bad things, just like he's doing here. Not because they are all evil but because circumstances, ways of life, upbringing amongst many other things make you the person you currently are. Society shapes you. Farouk is trying to survive, his ways are far more invasive, obviously, but for the human characters, they appear to have some common interests (time will only tell us what the rest of Division 3 aims to get from this but for now it's easy to draw connections). Hamish Linklater portrayed this physically hurt individual with such a resilient spirit very well. The scar tissue and burnt skin looked so realistic and difficult to process for these characters, a fantastic job by the makeup and prosthetic department. You know your partner is a good human being when they see you disfigured and don't abandon you.

Furthering that delve into The Interrogator's humanity was the entire montage of his husband standing by him, taking care of him and his son when they returned home. That recuperation period never saw his husband falter in his duty which shows how deep their bond is. The score during this all, the heavy synthesizer reminded me a lot of classic sci-fi movies like Blade Runner. It's good to see characters have depth like this.

"The second I walk out of this room I'm going to war."

Once The Interrogator had the proper time to heal, his interaction with the admin lady who was appointing him to desk duty was strong. The way he spoke about having to watch his husband take care of him whilst he lay there helplessly, tube stuck into him evoked a very poignant feeling. There's a certain degree of his ego being hurt, a bit of revenge but also wanting to prove he's still ready to complete his mission especially after everything he's been through. He's very brave for wanting to carry out this task and slightly naive to think it'll be so easy. Villains, that very construction isn't always the correct term because people aren't just black and white, we exist in various shades of what is right and wrong. It's all about perspective and these opening scenes really highlight that.

Back at Summerland, from where we left off last week, we see David using his mind to make all the Division 3 soldiers (Clarke brought with him) create a Jenga tower/beanstalk which looked pretty cool, a new way to deal with your foes, I'd say and less bloody than Lenny's attempt at taking them out. The immediate knowledge that The Interrogator's eye isn't just opaque because he's been burnt but because it was a camera was a nice surprise, I'm glad it wasn't saved for one of those unnecessary twists towards the end.

"Babe I don’t care if you save me or the world if you don’t save yourself."

David and Syd's scene in the woods was one of their most beautiful and vulnerable moments. The way David is contemplating what he is now, his own growth, that very comprehension is so important. You can't move on without understanding what has happened and how it effects you, like Rational David said, write it out. Sometimes it's the best way to evaluate how to move forward. I also appreciated that David was struggling with what to do next, he may have these powers but he's still very human but he's accepted his nature and that's important. Brilliant acting from both Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller in this moment which was filled with superb dialogue from Noah Hawley.

"I'm here, I'm real, the power is real. You gotta accept it otherwise, we can't move on."

Syd being pulled back into the White Room once again was surprising because it revealed that the body swap allows Syd to see Lenny as David did. Syd's now being targeted by Lenny because she knows she can't get through to David quite yet. It's quite fascinating because it shows the depth of Syd's power which can be quite harmful to her depending on who she swaps with but also shows her power. The way the body beneath the sheet on the bed rose up in such a demonic way was great, the first real sign that things weren't as buried as they thought.

"The most dangerous thing is believing you don't have it"
"Your disease conceives you, you don’t have it"
"That means you can fall in love and live happily ever after."

Back in Summerland, the narrative follows Kerry guarding The Interrogator in one room with the others in another discussing what to do next/prepping David to have Farouk extracted out of him. Farouk's voice, echoes of it is heard coupled with the same whispers that David tried to escape from whilst he stands in the room. "It's sweet, they think they can save you", says Lenny with Cary's declaration that the 'halo', his device, was losing power. I think the naming of halo, something with angelic connotations being used to trap a parasite is an amusing use of such of a name.

"Now it's ready to override the original programming."

Cary bringing in a glass of water for The Interrogator coupled with that creepy music screeching throughout made for a nice shiver-down-your-spine, tension filling scene. The lighting in the room, the blue colors, the two spotlights near the door were visually just great.

"We should recharge"

That confrontation between Kerry and Cary was brief but sad, "you didn’t need to leave". I'm glad things worked out in the end but one of the things I very much want in the upcoming season is to learn more about them, their bond and how it's affected their psychology like David's has been showcased. There's a lot we don't know about Kerry, she seemed deeply affected by Cary leaving her and I would like to see her psyche explored.

"You remind me of someone"
"You're wife?"
"No, no that's not it."

Melanie remembering a moment where she asked Oliver to have dinner with her was nice. "
I'm on a mostly liquid diet" he replies, as naive as Oliver is, he's very funny and that's one of the best parts of the character but Melanie, all dressed up, her hair parted in such a way made me feel for her as Oliver dismisses her attempts to reconnect. The way her eyes drop, her head sinking just a bit yet she still puts on a brave face and tells Oliver they'll figure it out over dinner was a strong moment. Jean Smart excels in these scenes. I do want to know more about who she is, about this faction she's with (Summerland) and hopefully some flashbacks of how Oliver and her met. I gotta say, Oliver's "What's happening, Space Captain?" line was wonderful!

"We're a tactile arm of the United States military working in conjunction with government agencies all over the world." - You know fear is as deadly a parasite as Farouk when this much power is handed to people targeting mutants they don't understand, those of whom aren't all hostile beings. Even as The Interrogator aka Clarke is trapped within Summerland, he still uses Melanie's words against her, pulls power into his court like when he was interrogating David but Melanie puts up an even stronger fight by declaring the strength David possess, "he's a world breaker", that scene between Jean Smart and Hamish Linklater proved how formidable she can be! I was so impressed with her on Fargo and feel the exact same way here. She may not have power but her strength is derived in her capability as a leader. "Maybe that would have impressed me but not now kid."

"The age of the dinosaur is over."

Cut to outside, we see David levitating in the courtyard mediating in the air in this very cool X-Men manner. That very shot shows David's confidence in his power, his capability to control them (at least the simplest powers) and that he's a lot more accepting of them since he's embracing them. I like that David is utilizing meditation and being calm to center his thoughts. He's then brought in to read The Interrogator's mind, "war is over if you want it". That very line shows that these mutants aren't posing a threat to them, they just want to be left alone, it's those in fear that are the factor igniting a war.

"You're going to help me."

Inside, David across the table from The Interrogator he repeated the words, "you don’t have to be afraid" in a very eerie, borderline creepy manner that had a Lenny taste to it of which Dan Stevens portrayed with ease. "Isn't the history of the world, different nations, different languages learning to live together", this sole piece of dialogue was one of the best things about this episode. The X-Men have always been a beacon of hope to those who are different, to those cast aside by the world because of their gifts. There is a story of finding refuge in one another as well as trying to find it again in human kind and it mirrors our society today because there is no place where discrimination doesn't exist in some form.

"If you don't, I'll kill him."

Whilst this is all going on, Syd's pulled back again into The White Room and this time greeted by a gruesome Lenny, "Hey sexy". The way Lenny switched into The Shadow King, taunting her, “when I was in his head, I was in yours”. His reminder of their now apparent connection was something I expected but done so well. Aubrey Plaza is truly one of the most inspired castings in a long time. To play this fascinating creature is not an easy feat, not everyone could've done with Aubrey did, she brought a dark humor and deadliness to an already devious entity. This encounter also told us that Syd's mother "died a few years back, cancer". I loved that she compared Lenny to a tumor that should be cut out and destroyed.

"You're Lenny mask is running out"

“You ever try to unmake soup" - This comparison from Lenny was just the kind of zany wonderfulness we've come to expect from the creative minds of Legion. What could sound so bizarre and stupid should any other show try it, works with ease here. Lenny speaks volumes about their parasitical relationship which has developed over a long period of time. It's allowed Lenny, like a virus, to adapt to the host so that when he fights it isn't as easy as plucking simple garden weeds. "I'm part of him, the only way you’re going to get me out is if I decided to leave you on my own".

"You're smart, little lady, you'll figure it out."

Syd in the hopes of getting some help with David's situation spills everything about the parasite living in him to The Interrogator, of which is all heard by Division 3 thanks to the secret eye camera. Even the lingering effects of being in the White Room, the subtle touch of her lips where Lenny placed her fingers on are small instances that Rachel Keller did a nice job with.

"We're giving your man another hour" - We switch to this shot of Division 3 and The Interrogator's husband (I could be wrong but it definitely looked like him). You can see the nervous nature written so evidently across his face, great acting from Keir O'Donnell. After the struggle of helping Clarke back to his feet to possibly loose him again if the peacemaker is initiated is a horrifying possibility. There's a slight similarity between Division 3 and Summerland whereby both have people working with loved ones, friends in the line of fire. There's this underlying sense of duty and family seen in both factions.

In the medical room, David being put into the extraction laser area provided some neat visuals. The box around him was small, red-lighted and isolating (this path was his alone). Seeing David go inside his mind, seeing his past, all his memories flashing before his very eyes, going back from his present to his past, his childhood was gorgeous. His reactions to things he didn’t see before to things he blocked out/The Shadow King shrouded in darkness was significant. There's never a moment where Dan's performance feels unnatural, I feel everything he conveys on screen, even in those smallest moments, he can captivate you so effortlessly. The small fragments where we see Lenny and Farouk's face, in a sort of amalgamation interrupting this memory lane montage was excellent. Lenny's screams as she tried to free herself from the prison she created were notable.

The long insect-like hands coming out from underneath the long chair David lay upon, covering his head as if in a cocoon was incredible. The way it's elongated fingers wrap itself around David just shows how creative the show is with its depiction of Shadow King. Back in David's mind, it was nice to see him as a baby once more, innocent, happy unknown to what would come. Farouk's appearance was less pleasant, especially in his true form. Interesting to note that he obliges to David's request for Lenny instead of his form. I think there's a form of respect in there.

"What am I without you?"
"Sun and moon"
"We've been together for so long"
"Are you my phantom?"

The discussion of the phantom limb was splendid. The dichotomy between the parasitic and growth relationships that both mutants felt was important. If we look beyond the suffering Farouk caused to David, it's also clear that his presence provided a friend he didn't have growing up through King and a presence to build up his emotional strength through The Angriest Boy. Whilst horrible, Farouk was also important in David's growth, without him, David could've been different, those challenges Lenny gave him shaped him into something. It's not often such a discussion is brought up, especially in comic book fare, this show itself exists in the genre but has never needed to act like one. Farouk is the monster under the bed, it haunts you yet toughens you, without it, you wouldn't be as formidable in the face of fear. It also keeps at a specific frequency to fear, not too powerful to overcome it but strong enough to live with it until it breaks you but not completely, thus enslaving you. Too often comic shows forego the philosophical nature lingering in their dialogue for heavy action set pieces and I'm thankful Legion never did that. Even Cary and Kerry know the price a bond, that is shared over time, can have. As a viewer what makes the scenes, the action, the characterization even more engaging is seeing it on an intimate level, the ways in which villains can undo you, not just in a physical sense but beyond. We as creatures are constantly evolving and these discourses shouldn't be ignored.

Lenny replying,"I'm not leaving" taking her finger and pushing it against David's throat was unexpectedly evil. Lenny's decaying look was perfect, the way her body and voice were deteriorating as David fought back was promising.

Syd realizing that something was going horribly wrong making her move to stop it, "get out of my way", I thought saw a similarity between Melanie and herself. Both women, strong and capable and always there to help the men they love. Melanie moving aside to let her pass showed that. It was a quick display with Jean Smart and Rachel Keller, I look forward to seeing that compelling dynamic between such amazing characters unfold in Season 2!

David being strangled within his mind, that metaphor and having his own hands around tightly round his neck, drawing the life out of his eyes was haunting and inspired with Dan Stevens flawless throughout.

As Syd walks towards David to save him with a kiss of freedom was an act of love and selflessness in my opinion because we know how much it makes her skin crawl. The explosion from their contact sees the Shadow King now in her body, the very small gestures from the eyes becoming cat-like to the way she removed her gloves in defiance of Syd's own beliefs was ingenious! Farouk is so clever, he knew the power within Syd was his ticket out. He didn't need to have to kill his host or wait for David to kill him, instead, he could piggyback through Summerland until a suitable host was found.

From Syd, it moves to Kerry, whom Cary is unable to inject down and sees Ptonomy pushed aside when he comes in guns blazing. Melanie is shot down with just the uttering of "tick tick", all of these flashes allowed Amber Midthunder to have some really impressive, darker moments with this new temporary personality. I loved Oliver's "Oh god, shut up" moment as the "malfunction detected" warning keep repeating itself, it's something I would do.

Next, David rises down from the ceiling like a real badass to confront Kerry. The slo-mo shots of them charging towards one another were so good! Such palpable tension was felt. The blue light surging from David's body and red from Kerry's was true cinematic art in all its glory. The way their collision causes each of them to be flung across the hallway was remarkable! Legion has given us storytelling of the finest quality and movie level visuals to match. Poor Oliver caught in the crossfire of which I knew would then see him being possessed.

Nowhere else on TV will you see a villain possess a character and leave in such a happy way! The Shadow King as Oliver singing the words, "If I rule the world" and driving off without a care in the world was something else. Looking forward to seeing what Jemaine Clement does with this new personality next season. He's a really versatile actor, as the entire cast is, balancing both drama and humor without a misstep. My heart breaks because just at the moment he starts remembering who Melanie is, unbeknownst to her, he's taken away. She didn't even get the closure that he remembered her. Both Melanie and Syd have lost their guys in the space of just a couple hours.

"Did we win?"
"You should not have done that as much as I like kissing you"

All our friends, one by one awaken. I loved that quick scene opener whereby the camera opens as an eye would, blinking with eyelids and lashes present, yet another unique visual!

David, regardless of whatever The Interrogator did to him still helps him up after being blasted across the room, a true mark of a good human being. I'm really happy that Cary and Kerry hugged it out once they woke up, nothing like death becoming you to make you realize what's important in life. I'm very much excited to see where the story goes between the two of these characters in Season 2, we've only been teased on it. I'd also very much like to see more of Ptonomy who has one of the most intriguing backstories. My heart goes out to Melanie who was quick to notice Oliver's disappearance, life can give and take so quickly, you never know how long you have with someone.

"How do you feel?"

Oliver driving away in Melanie's car (I'm pretty sure that's hers), the main frame being just him in the driver's seat, no one else present. We then see the camera pan towards to the passenger side from an outside perspective showing an arm poking out through the window as we are greeted yet again by Lenny, Aubrey Plaza looked very much in her element. I loved that visual, the duality in the scene reminding us of The Shadow King's subconscious power, that he'll only appear to you if he chooses so. Oliver asking her where they are going, her response, "someplace warm" was intriguing. To who and what that could be that be, perhaps to find Professor X or moving forward with whatever plan Farouk has been teasing these past few episodes. I'm thankful we'll get to see more of Aubrey Plaza next season, she's quickly become of the best actors portraying a comic book villain in a television adaptation ever, she's up there with Vincent D'Onfrio (Wilson Fisk of Daredevil), David Tennant (Kilgrave of Jessica Jones) and Mahershala Ali (Cottonmouth of Luke Cage). It's a truly phenomenal performance that I hope is not ignored by the award committees otherwise, I hope Farouk pays them a visit. I can see if others aren’t satisfied with this opening ended finale, the lack of defeat in some respects but with only 8 episodes we have to give them the chance to fully tell their story and what they managed to do with those episodes is incredible. Such a feat, the creativity, and character development is something other shows should aspire to.

The character of Amahl Farouk is such a powerful one that I to vanquish him so quickly would be expected and lazy, something many other shows (they drag the villain arcs out too long or not long enough/leave them in the shadows without any development until too late amongst other problems) would do but Legion isn't like that. I'm glad they didn't rush their story, I think there's more to be said here, such an old and powerful creature can't be taken out so easily, this isn't any other show. The finale provided some closure and happiness but it's never that easy, The Shadow King chooses when he leaves.

"They are headed south."

In true Marvel fashion (not that they are exclusive with such conclusions but they have become popular with them via their movie franchises) we are teased with a mid-credits scene. David looking to the night sky is scanned by some sort of technological contraption, obviously, it was searching for him, it zaps him into it. Its shape is circular, a recurring motif that was seen throughout the 1st season. It's similar looking to a poke ball whilst not completely a prison as it gives him a view. Poor David though, from a mental prison to a physical one. Hopefully, it'll just be like a car and he'll be free once he reaches the destination. Being trapped for so long without any answers as to why is not at all good for the mind and I really feel for David. I've gathered that it's likely to be Division 3 who've come to collect him now that he's seemingly less powerful without Farouk. However, it's also possibly a teaser to David's father, there have been multiple hints at his parentage and this could be Professor X sending for him, however, this is a very long shot, the conversations to have such a character appear on the show are ongoing etc and this isn't exactly Charles style. He's more of a door knocking man but it's a possible destination should Season 2 present the opportunity for the appearance of such a paramount mutant.

Sadly, I can't leave you with a see you next week to end my review, so to all who read them and have shared their thoughts with me every week, thank you so very much. You've made this a truly enjoyable experience. I can only assume greatness lies in Season 2 whenever it's ready to air which I assume will be sometime in early 2018, Noah Hawley most definitely has his plate full but is more than capable of juggling multiple shows as he revealed on Jimmy Fallon. Thank you, Marvel, FX and Noah Hawley for redefining what it means to be a television program let alone a comic adaptation in such a crowded and uninspired (comic book) landscape, you gave this viewer something to marvel at, something brimming with a flair that will be sorely missed. Legion has been one of the best things to grace our screens this year.

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