NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legion” are present in this review
After the lead characters seemingly met with an unmistakable end at the conclusion of last week’s episode of Legion, we instead had them suddenly imprisoned in the same hospital that held David at the start of the series. “Chapter 6” relied on more than a little deja vu, calling back to the start of the show, while also filling in a few tantalizing pieces about the monster infecting David’s mind. As a result, this is one of the show’s strongest episodes to date, and one that went back to a sublime balance between unreliable narration and compelling mutant drama.
With the protagonists stuck in the ‘mental hospital’ that David remembers, with Amy strangely serving as a nurse among the crew, Lenny begins giving the Summerland crew their own separate ‘therapy’ sessions, wherein she builds a construct reality that has them being told that their mutant abilities are just extensions of their mental illnesses. This is all very cleverly done as well, with Syd being told that she has extreme anti-social disorder, Ptonomy being told he has extensive PTSD, Cary and Kerry being told that they have extreme attachment disorder, and Melanie being told that she suffers from delusions.
It’s actually all pretty convincing, even for the viewer, despite most viewers no doubt being fully aware that this reality is a trick. There’s tiny little clues to that effect as well, such as David getting his diagnosis wrong when talking with Syd, due to Lenny tampering with his memories, and Syd noticing that a door is in the hospital that really shouldn’t be there. Syd actually took the bulk of the focus in this episode, with David somewhat pushed into the background this week by comparison, though that gave us a nice chance to continue developing Syd’s character, along with poking into the psychologies of the other Summerland characters as well.
Ever present however is the threat of the mysterious mental parasite in Lenny’s form that haunts David, who admits in this episode that she knows his real birth father. This is another gigantic hint for X-Men/Marvel fans that ‘Lenny’ is actually Professor X nemesis, Shadow King from Marvel Comics lore, particularly when she hints that the, “High and mighty” Charles Xavier (who is still not explicitly identified, but any X-Men/Marvel fans, or anyone who has been keeping up with Legion’s promotion in the press, already knows that David’s biological father is the famous Professor X), gave David up for adoption for the explicit reason of hiding him from this monster’s influence. It obviously didn’t work, and maybe we’ll learn more about this effort in Season Two, which Legion was freshly renewed for today.
Whatever the case, Lenny does everything she can to keep everyone under the influence of her false reality, but eventually, Cary ends up being contacted in a dream by Oliver, in his diver’s suit from the Astral Plane. This is a really great twist that better ties Oliver into the larger canon of the show, with Oliver and the Astral Plane seeming to be a surprising ace in the hole for the Summerland folks, who may need to use another false reality to escape this one. Cary disappears, which is initially ominous, especially when The Eye starts obsessively chasing Kerry around the hospital, but at the end, we see that Cary has made contact with Oliver, nicely leading into next week’s events, where Oliver no doubt properly gets to work saving the Summerland crew.
Melanie also makes her first contact with Oliver in decades here, though tragically, doesn’t yet seem to know it’s him. Instead, Melanie simply follows the vision of the diver, eventually being led through an exit corridor that seemingly takes her to the slowed moment of reality where David and Syd are about to be riddled with machine gun bullets. Oliver doesn’t speak, though appears to motion to Melanie that she needs to somehow fix the situation. Helpless to touch the bullets or move David and Syd though, Melanie isn’t sure what she needs to do. This was a really neat puzzle that should have viewers musing all the way to next week’s episode, since Melanie is clearly key to saving everyone, even if it may not necessarily be by purely physical means.
By far though, the best moments in this episode dealt with Lenny, if for no other reason than the twisted, grotesque dialogue and imagery leveled at David and Syd in particular. We get an especially sick display of just how much Lenny gets off on screwing with David and his friends at one point, which is illustrated in a highlight scene that plays like a 1960’s-style James Bond intro, as Lenny moves between David’s memories, fixing what she doesn’t like, and hiding details that would give David an advantage. The end of the episode even has Lenny outright confronting David with the question of what the point of reality and life itself even is, as she aggressively grinds on him before tossing him into a dark mental coffin, sealed away from even the fake reality that Lenny initially put him in. That will definitely put Summerland in a bad spot next week!
“Chapter 6” once again raised the bar for Legion, as we get a newfound taste for the true depths of Lenny’s mental depravity, while also indulging in more standout character development for David, Syd and the rest of Summerland. The callbacks to the start of the show were very clever, further muddying the waters of David’s reality without being too overwhelming to the mind of viewers, and the setup for next week also had everything coming together with a superb result, as Melanie tries to save David and Syd, Cary ends up going to the Astral Plane with Oliver, and David ends up imprisoned in a literal dark hole. Even with the entire episode more clearly not taking place in actual reality, the show didn’t lose any intelligence or thrills, and with just two episodes left in the season, it looks like we’re going to start moving towards an especially exciting climax as soon as next week!
- Very clever balance of deja vu and unreliable storytelling with the lead characters
- Every excellent, depraved moment with Lenny
- Oliver becoming a surprising means of saving everyone