And so, we come to the end of the first season of Legion and to the unenviable task of wrapping up enough storylines from the previous seven episodes while whetting our appetites for season two. This finale certainly accomplishes that, though much of the innovative storytelling that made me describe the pilot as "thrilling" is sacrificed for narrative convention. Perhaps the momentum promised by "Chapter 1" would have been impossible to maintain, but the last few episodes of this season have felt lacking. I will always find something to recommend about Legion, and I look forward to season two, but my recommendations will probably come with a warning.
The first eight minutes are spent with the Interrogator, whom we later learn is named Clark, recovering from the burns inflicted on him until we are brought back to the end of "Chapter 7." We see Clark dealing with the effect his disfigurement has on his husband and child. We see his rehabilitation take him from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane. We see how water has become triggering for him because it brings him back to the swimming pool. Multiple perspectives and the unreliability of one person's point of view have been recurring themes on this show, and now we’re given the story of one of the antagonists. It's humanizing, but also plays into another chief element of David's narrative: the healing power of love.
This common ground becomes important as David and Clark try to reach a compromise that won't lead to more war (and the possible annihilation of one side). Negotiations become tense, but never really get past a statement of goals because of the imminent threat of the Shadow King. Due to the time David and Syd switched bodies, Lenny is still able to mock and confront the latter, who wants to rescue the man she loves at any cost.
The female characters are once more underserved this episode, as Syd more or less sacrifices herself for her man, Kerry is pouting at Cary like a stereotypical girlfriend, and Melanie pines for Oliver to remember her. It seemed almost unnecessarily cruel that he ended up once more taken from her just as he realized who she is, and is last seen driving to "someplace warm" with the Shadow King now residing in his consciousness. For those who stuck around after the credits, David also gets kidnapped by a floating machine, and I'll let better minds than mine try and advance theories on what that could mean. Next season will certainly be interesting.
In between these plot points, we had a confrontation with the Shadow King that took out most of the team in the episode’s major set piece. Unfortunately, this also led to the superhero cliché of two differently-colored orbs glowing with power hurling themselves at each other from opposite ends of a hallway.
This season has not been without its appeal for queer fans. The revelation that the Interrogator is gay helps the representation on this show, but also the developing side narrative on the harms of internalized homophobia. It certainly doesn't feel like a coincidence that the openly queer character tasked with hunting down minorities is a well-dressed white man who lives in a large house.
I mentioned the healing power of love earlier, and though that is a corny phrase, it can be a real start to self-actualization and healing. How many queer people have felt a huge burden relieved by learning to love themselves and the truth about themselves? In terms of Legion, that's what it has felt like for David to go from a diagnosed schizophrenic to a wielder of tremendous power. His confidence boost may have felt rushed at times, but always genuine.
Dan Stevens deserves credit for making David more than a collection of jitters and tics, especially in the earlier episodes. The revelatory performances, though, belong to Jean Smart and Audrey Plaza. Smart's work on this show has been subtle and understated while commanding; it doesn't take much to see why she’s in charge of the group at Summerland in any scene in which she appears. As for Plaza, an actress best known for comedy, she has proven to be terrifying and ingratiating, sometimes at the same time. Her range was stretched in the best ways and she proved more than up to the task.
Finally, even if the people in charge of awards shamefully ignore the acting on this show because of its genre, there’s no way they cannot honor the costume and set designers. The wardrobes have been impeccable, and every background has subtly emphasized the motifs of this show. Circles have always been present, along with Xs, for obvious reasons, but also helixes and spirals. The music choices have also helped make this show very watchable. I’ve enjoyed writing about this show, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my take on it.