NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Legion” are present in this review
The stage is set for a particularly exciting climax to the first season of Legion this week, as Division Three and the disfigured interrogator (now revealed to be named Clark), come to Summerland’s doorstep, eager to put David down. “Chapter 8” is a pretty solid season finale for the most part, as expected, though its climactic events do spend more time paving the way for the already-confirmed Season Two, rather than properly resolving the issues of Division Three, or the influence of Shadow King.
Obviously, David makes short work of the Division Three soldiers, now that he has a clearer head and a greater understanding of his powers, forcing Clark to come into Summerland to try and talk with the mutants. The Division Three higher-ups appear to be antsy to just obliterate Summerland, but the interrogator believes that they shouldn’t be so hasty. On this note, something that worked very well in this episode is how much the interrogator ended up being humanized, with the episode beginning from his severe burning and recovery. We learn that Clark has a husband, for example, and that they have adopted an African-American child together. We also learn that Clark is very devoted to his work and believes himself to be righteously protecting it from the mutant threat, to the point where he actively refuses a desk job so that he can strike back at David. It makes Clark feel like far more than a vengeful thug, which is great, especially since he appears to still be a part of the show for next season.
Oddly though, Division Three’s presence in this episode ended up being pretty quickly swept aside, which is a bit of a knock against it. For all of the tension behind last week’s cliffhanger conclusion, the threat of Division Three was pretty much non-existent in the end, since Clark eventually comes to realize that he has no choice but to ally himself with Summerland after bearing witness to the Shadow King, and the rest of Division Three doesn’t end up doing anything beyond observing in turn. A post-credits scene appears to tease something related to a mysterious ‘Equinox’ dispatched by Division Three at least, which has David miniaturized and captured in a pod before being flown away, but obviously, we’ll have to wait for Season Two of Legion in 2018 to see the significance of this.
Thus, with Division Three confined to the sidelines in this season finale, almost the entire episode revolved around the feat of trying to force Shadow King out of David’s mind. Cary uses another scientific device, with some help from Oliver, to strap David down and try to literally suck Shadow King out of David, though obviously, the parasite won’t go that easily. Shadow King tries to choke the life out of David in an effort to get him to stop supplying power to the machine, though Syd stops this plan by running into the room and kissing David, which forces the monster into her body instead!
The idea of Shadow King constantly moving between the Summerland residents, potentially hiding among them beyond the sign of his telltale yellow eyes, is a very cool one, which is why it’s annoying that it’s so short-lived. Despite Shadow King obviously being capable of doing some very real damage to Summerland, he simply knocks David’s friends around a bit, doesn’t kill anyone, and eventually gets knocked out long enough to bond with Oliver’s body, with the possessed Oliver simply exiting as if nothing happened. The tragedy of Oliver suddenly seeming to recall Melanie right before he’s possessed was pretty sad though, and I do hope that Season Two continues to build on that with Oliver’s own fractured memories no doubt being pulled apart further by Shadow King, who still seems to be wearing the guise of Lenny in Oliver’s perception. That’s perfectly fine too, since Aubrey Plaza has constantly proven to be a flexible highlight performer on Legion, and I’m glad that she’ll still be the face of its core villain, even as he finds a new host for Season Two.
The idea of making Shadow King an external threat, as he and Oliver drive toward some unknown destination where they can search for something, or someone (Professor X, maybe?), is something with a lot of promise for next season. David conquered the demon on his own turf, but having to face Shadow King in the external world will be a different ball game entirely. This also gives Jemaine Clement another heightened role on the series, and that’s never a bad thing. Still, the ease with which Shadow King just walked out of Summerland with Oliver is a let-down, since it led to this season finale being a bit anti-climactic. Despite some of the mess made to the equipment, Summerland getting rid of Shadow King went surprisingly smoothly, without much of a toll for anyone involved, even David. Sure, Oliver is gone, but he’s been gone for most of the season, and isn’t even psychologically whole upon his return, so it’s tough for that to feel like a massive loss to the protagonists.
That said though, even if the season could have ended with a little more excitement, especially where Division Three is concerned, Legion remains cool, stylish and trippy as ever in its first season finale. “Chapter 8” thankfully didn’t kill off Shadow King too, as ‘Lenny’ is way too cool of an antagonist to just scrap after eight episodes. The lack of resolution to most of the story arcs is a frustrating side effect to the show clearly wanting to avoid a ‘villain-of-the-season’ approach, but at least Shadow King bonding to Oliver creates some exciting possibilities for Season Two.
The fact that much of the episode sets up next season more than anything else though is something that still has a few annoyances, since there’s no resolution to anything, and you just have to come back in 2018 to see what’s next. At the very least though, the extraction of Shadow King had some neat, twisted moments (the hint that a ‘link’ to Shadow King lingers in Syd’s mind as a side effect of her body swap with David is especially promising), and the interrogator’s development was great, still all around leading to a well-produced and enjoyable episode to cap Season One off with. It’s not as good as most of the other Season One episodes, but this season finale for Legion is still far cooler and more memorable than the majority of current television.
- Creepy, memorable Shadow King extraction
- Lots of promise in Shadow King bonding to Oliver
- Great humanization and development for the interrogator
- Not much is truly resolved in the storyline
- Division Three impotently sits on the sidelines