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Legion 2.11 Review – ‘Chapter 19’

June 13, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
Legion - Chapter 19
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Legion 2.11 Review – ‘Chapter 19’  

Whatever you might have been expecting in this Legion finale, chances are it wasn’t this. Sure, we knew Farouk and David would throw down in some kind to mutant fisticuffs. We figured Syd would reach a crossroads, and that things would happen one way or another for Melanie, Oliver, and Lennie. But again, I don’t think any of us expected that. Spoilers for the madness that is the Legion season two finale follow. Apologies in advance for what I assume will be even more typos than usual. My computer is busted and I’m in a different place using a different machine—one that really, really wants to turn “Syd” to “sad.” Maybe this mac has been watching the show when I’m not around.

We begin with that tuning fork finally making its way into the ground, and the best rendition of “Behind Blue Eyes” that I’ve ever heard. David and Farouk approach each other using some kind of badass godlike flight power. The animation battle that ensues is impossible to put into words. I’ve seen most of the things Keith Gordon has directed, and I was not expecting him to bust out with this. It was insane while making perfect sense. Animated but not cartoonish. It depicted what we knew to be heartfelt violence between two guys who really hate each other. Or do they?

What does the spider bite symbolize? There’s been a lot of discussion about whether David is a hero or just another villain. Could the spider bite have infected David with villainy? Or was it in him all along? I have to think it was—he’s the World’s Angriest Boy in the World, after all. Lennie and Syd are around for the big fight. They’ve both got guns, which could not possibly bode well. In fact, I chuckled to myself that they might cancel each other out…then they did.

When we swoop ahead to Chapter 10: 3 Years Later, I had to wonder if I hadn’t missed a whole separate time line. I decided to just go with it. Melanie and Oliver are living happily in that ice cube from before. They have no bodies, and don’t go out, and vaguely remember helping someone named Farouk. Speaking of vagueness, I enjoyed references to Glasses McLabcoat and the girl who punches people. We gather from this conversation that the world has ended for all intents and purposes. Something terribly sad happened to Syd, a betrayal after David’s fight with Farouk. David has taken “the turn” and it sounds like there’s no coming back from it. Still, I’m happy to see these two crazy kids together.

If you want to remember Legion as a cute love story between mutants Syd and David, you’d want to turn off the episode just after that point. Once Syd starts talking, there’s a resignation in her voice that weighs heavily. A lot of fans have been saying that Rachel Keller is a terrible actress. I didn’t agree, though I thought she was pretty dull. This week demonstrated to me that the subtlety of her performance was intentional all along. She wasn’t bland, she was cautious, pensive, a busy mind whirring underneath a calm exterior. Remember, Syd has seen and done some terrible things herself—though without the malice with which David does his deeds.

Melanie’s words to Syd left a deep impression, and she’s now convinced that David has always been just another villain. Love doesn’t enter into the equation, but even if it did…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. She shoots him for future crimes he knows nothing about. Of course that’s gonna suck for him on every level. David loves Syd as well as he can. But he hasn’t figured out that it’s not possible to love someone and control them at the same time. One cancels out the other, severely and forever, it appears. Syd’s comparison between her and the wives of serial killers is apt. The only way you could truly not know is if you’re trying not to find out.

I should point out that while FX referred to this as the “Legion finale,” they are indeed renewed for another season. I shudder to think what the main story will be, given how this season ends. But I’m in. If it hadn’t been renewed though, this would have been a stunning ending to the series.

We return from commercial to see David talking with his alter egos, Divad, and DVD. One of them is angry and scared, the other is annoyed and suspicious. Those may seem like subtle distinctions, because they kind of are. Still, they discuss the eggs that Hamm has been telling us about all season. (Eggs? Hamm? That’s a joke, son!) Is the delusion that he ever loved Syd? Or that she ever loved him? Or that there was anyone but Lennie and David all along? We’re shown David’s mantra, the one they teach everyone in therapy in one way or another—I’m a good person. I deserve love. Simple. Basic. Essentially meaningless.

So yeah, Syd shot David for reasons that sound pretty noble and very sad. And yeah, Lennie’s bullet stopped Syd and led to a bit of an injury. Lennie is swarmed by guys with guns, and Loudermilks, and Vermillion, and the monk. Oh, and did I mention that David beat Farouk in the fight? He did. And I don’t think I downplayed that aspect as much as the show did. We saw a victory, but it didn’t feel victorious. It just felt violent, unfinished, upsetting. While the battle was a feast of glorious spectacle, the conclusion was far less climactic.

The next thing we see is that Syd doesn’t seem to remember that everything has changed with her man. Not him specifically, but the relationship. She vaguely knows she wants him in her own room. But he shows up there psychically and they end up getting their giggity on. When you put that all together—that he lied, used his powers to change her memories, and then had sex with her. That means he’s a rapist. I don’t know about you—but I’m mentally exhausted from hearing about man after man who turns out to be a scumbag rapist. I knew David was a villain from the beginning but it was still queasy and awful to have to watch. We’ll also notice that Syd took off her compass before David’s mental visit. That was sad too. It’s amazing how a show like Legion, that is really far from a romantic show, can make you feel so strongly about these romances even in the middle of the end of the world.

Why was David kidnapped from the future? Did Syd do it? Not really, it was Cary, but everyone was in on it because David is really the one who destroys the world. But couldn’t Farouk be lying to everyone? Meanwhile, Kerry wants us to know that the blood of a minotaur smells like beef bouillon cubes, but doesn’t taste like them. So that’s fun. We also saw the return of that groovy singing mouse—this time carrying a late-night message to Syd from Farouk. That hardly seems fair. Farouk clearly knows things David doesn’t, which is obvious when David comes by to gloat. Or not gloat—just say farewell.

Finally, it’s time for the trial of the Shadow King. We know that if they don’t execute Farouk, that David totally will. Clark actually thanks David for his work, which should be our first clue that something is up. David is riding so high on his accomplishment that he misses it, and falls right into a trap in the shape of a giant atom. It seems his friends were also an illusion. They’re going to “treat” David. Make him “better.” The last thing in the world he wants is more time in an asylum. Nobody would want that—certainly not someone with the powers David has. I’m a good person. I deserve love. But is he? Does he? He looks completely flummoxed by accusations of future crimes. How does one defend against that accusation? Why is Farouk free? David being a villain certainly doesn’t make Farouk a good guy. David didn’t know he was a mutant, so he thought he was insane. Then he learned that he wasn’t insane because he was merely a mutant. This week we all discover together that David is both: mutant, insane: Insane Mutant. Davi’s response to this is as short and sweet as it needs to be:

Well, bullshit.

Syd has the compass on again at this point, which might mean she recognizes that she’ll have a need to find him. Cary tells the group that the atom thingy should hold David. It doesn’t. Syd tells David what he truly is, what he really did. He can’t handle it. When he realizes she really would kill him if he doesn’t agree to “treatment” AKA changing him—he breaks free of the giant atom and vanishes in a pillar of light. Cool! He frees Lennie who agrees to go away with him without hesitation. That Lennie really needs to write her memoirs. She’s had a fascinating life. They try to shoot David and Lennie without success.

“What do we do now?”

“We pray.”

Kids, giving this episode a perfect ten seems like an insult–since Chapter Nineteen clearly goes up to eleven. This is probably the most satisfying, mind-bending, visually exceptional payoff I’ve ever seen in a show before. How often do you watch a finale that doesn’t make you rationalize? Or consider writing changes or studio interference. I don’t even know if there’s anything to argue about in the fandom. We all will have different opinions on the finer points, but I’ll be shocked if there are any fans who didn’t think that finale was just balls-out exceptional. Thanks to the cast, crew, directing team, and Noah Hawley for another incredible season. I’ll be back later in the summer (probably) to review more great shows.

See you’s then!

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Legion blows our previous expectations out of the water as this second season ends in a flurry of animation and regret. If you’re not a comic reader, you might not have known this was coming. If you are, this conclusion may have exceeded even your expectations.