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Legion - Chapter 19 - Review: "Behind Blue Eyes"

Legion 2.11 "Chapter 19" - Review:
Directed by Keith Gordon & Written by Noah Hawley

Legion's second season has all been leading to this. David's descent into evil has been foreshadowed and teased from the beginning, as he's been towing the line between hero and antagonist and never quite fully establishing himself as one or the other. The complete breakdown in the relationship between David and Syd is the instigator for this, with Syd showing up to shoot David before he can kill the Shadow King, as she believes that Farouk should be left alive as he is the only person who can stop David.

And David's possibly the most powerful person alive on the planet right now. One thing that we need to talk about before we go any further is his fight against Farouk in the desert, with both parties singing along to The Who's Behind Blue Eyes in the process. It's not the first time the show has used music in a way that has a significant impact on the storyline but it's a fantastic music choice to use and fits the tone of David's character perfectly. The fight scene in question is easily, without competition, the best and most unique fight sequence that I've seen on television so far this year and I doubt it will be beaten by the end. Its imagery of two godlike people going to war and not holding anything back was mind-blowing to watch, and really opened up Chapter 19 on a strong note. This is how fight scenes are done.

The chances of David turning evil in the future have been established at 98%, meaning there's a mere 2% chance that he could avoid falling down the rabbit hole completely. Dealing with Farouk comparatively so early on in the episode meant that there was more to come, and whilst you can be angry with the direction that the show took by making arguably its main character turn evil, the protagonist who you should all be rooting for, I don't think it's quite as clear-cut as it seems despite on the surface this episode was one of the most traditional of Legion's second season yet, and that's saying something when you open with a fight on the mind-plane between Farouk and David.

The finale was full of standout sequences, one after the other, and the Syd/David showdown in the desert was a highlight, with Syd finally pulling the trigger on David in an effort to stop him, only for her plan to be thwarted by Lenny, who's own shot stopped the bullet, knocking Syd unconscious. It'll be interesting to see how the show handles both characters going forward given the change in the status quo, but the ending of the unhealthy relationship between the two characters is pretty clear and set in stone. I doubt there'll be much of a way back, as both characters have been betrayed by the person who they loved. It would take something drastic now for that to happen.

It was interesting to note that the hints Legion have been dropping forward about ideas being distractions were put into place in this episode properly. It's not hard to imagine the Farouk/David fight being the final conflict of this show had it been on network TV for example, but because it's a Noah Hawley show and it's on FX, Hawley can push the boundaries a little further and avoid traditional expectations. David/Farouk was never the main focus of the season, even if it drove the conflict forward all the same. It was all about David's trip down the rabbit hole.

The second half of Chapter 19 opted for a quieter approach than the explosive first half, but the trial at the end was a standout moment. The internal conflict that David was wrestling with all season comes to a head when Farouk is brought in as a witness to the trial, standing side by side with Kerry, Cary and Syd, and although he may have mutant powers, it doesn't necessarily make him a good guy. In the comics, David's use of powers has often brought him into conflict with the more traditionally-minded X-Men, and we could be looking at a similiar struggle here in the third season.

He's snapped. He's failed to be a hero and has now become for all intents and purposes, the villain. Much like Division 3 switching roles to become allies in the hunt against Farouk, now Farouk himself has seemingly stood against David with his former allies. It's the ultimate betrayal, and as David says, they had their chance. He's now ready to leave, bringing Lenny in tow with him.

The delusion that David was the hero of this story is what the show has been building towards all this time and the execution of Legion's true character was handled really well thanks to a terrific performance from Dan Stevens. Stevens has been killing it all season long and I wouldn't be against an Emmy nomination for him - or for that matter, Aubrey Plaza, as both have been excellent. It's just a shame that Legion's audience numbers are so low - as I think that will likely play a factor into whether both get the nod or not. Also deserving of a mention here is Navid Negahban, who continues to knock it out of the park as The Shadow King. He's shaped the character into an iconic foe for David, and hopefully with both characters roles potentially reversed in season three, we'll get to see more of what Negahban and Stevens are capable of. It's an incredible ensemble of gifted actors that keep knocking it out of the park week after week.

What did you think of Chapter 19, the season finale and as the season as a whole? Let me know in the comments below.

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