It's time to wake up from the dream on this week's Legion

Contributed by
Mar 22, 2017

Spoilers ahead for this week's episode of Legion, "Chapter Seven."

The short version: David and his friends look for a way out of the mentally projected Clockworks.

THE GOOD

Well, in case you hadn't heard by now, David's mysterious adversary finally has a real name: Amahl Farouk, The Shadow King, another favorite villain from the Claremont era of X-Men comics. Like Cary, I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't figure it out before. Farouk is an ideal villain for this show, and the series has seen fit to build a history with David's father right into this version, plus at least a little history with Cary and Oliver too. I love the choice, and now we get to see how the gang deals with a monster they can actually identify.

The short version is that Syd is supposed to wake up everyone in faux-Clockworks to the truth of what's happening, while Cary, Oliver and Melanie (who, like Syd, has already wandered into a version of the truth on her own) figure out a way to get inside the frozen moment everyone is still trapped in and place Cary's psychic interference device on David, isolating Farouk in the process. All the while David, still trapped in a kind of psychic coffin, has to figure things out for himself.

Once we get moving, two sequences in the episode really stand out, and the first is David parsing out what's really going on with the help of the manifestation of his rational mind (which happens to be Dan Stevens with his British accent). To do this, the pair conjures up a massive classroom full of blackboards, and they basically explain to each other (and to us) where Farouk came from and what he wants. It gives Stevens a chance to do some of his best work on the series so far, and it also offers another amazing chance for the series to comment on superhero storytelling while engaging in it.

At this point, the show has become the story of a group of gifted good mutants trying to take down an ultra powerful evil mutant, which is a classic X-Men frame-up. There is nothing about that, short of the lack of spandex, that couldn't be done in an issue of Uncanny X-Men from 1981, right down to the actual choice of villain.

Here, we have a character from the show and a psychically created manifestation from his own mind solving a problem by literally writing it down and analyzing it while we watch, which allows the show to both explain the plot to any viewers still catching up and present a fun and funny visual representation of the famously complex comic book continuity of the X-Men. That is absolutely brilliant.

The second sequence is, of course, the whole silent movie horror show that plays out when Farouk figures out what's happening and tries to stop it by killing Syd and Kerry. This show often takes visual metaphors from a very simple place to a very wild place, and this feels like the purest expression of that yet. Of course Syd is seeing in black and white through the glasses, because she's seeing "reality" in plain black and white.

Then things start to break down and the nightmarish quality makes it perfect for an expressionist silent horror short, with Lenny grinning her way through the wasted hellscape of her projection as she stalks her prey. Then there's the death of Walter, which is the most creative display of violence the show's delivered yet, and that's really saying something. That whole sequence was just peak Legion.

Oh, and I have to talk for a moment about Jean Smart in this episode. After I complained about Melanie in last week's recap, I have to say the show delivered for her this week, and Smart was very much up to the task. She's devastated and delighted by Oliver at the same time, and she plays it with such subtle vulnerability. It's an incredible performance.

THE BAD

There is no bad. All is good. As David said: "I am pretty. I am loved."

THE UNCANNY

- Jemaine Clement is amazing, and everything he did in this episode was perfectly strange and delightful. If you never thought of him to play The Doctor before, you should now.

- "Your body isn't … It's your mind that's trapped, which is … That's not better.”

- The development of Cary/Kerry over the course of the season is one of my favorite things about Legion so far, and this episode took that a step further, establishing that they are capable of emotionally separating, and that Kerry's toughness masks a greater vulnerability. I can't wait to watch that keep playing out.

- Did you catch Stevens' little Patrick Stewart impression in the blackboard scene? I doubt he'll ever actually show up on this show, but if that happens in the season finale I might just faint.

- When David is standing in the hallway, trying to open all the doors with his mind, the moment begins to mirror the kitchen sequence almost perfectly. The design of this show is thorough, detailed, symmetrical and absolutely dazzling.

And that's it for this week. Join us next week for the season finale!