Legion brought its season to a close with a not unsurprising amount of visual flair, turning the page on one very long chapter in David’s life with the kind of stylistic storytelling the series has taught its audience to expect. After decades spent with a psychic freeloader, David is purged of the Shadow King and given the chance at a fresh start with Syd and the rest of Melanie’s Summerland gang. It was an optimistic hour of television that underlined the sort of hero David could be if he ever managed to rein in his incredible abilities and convince himself he wasn’t, in fact, suffering from some pretty extreme mental disorders.
There was plenty to unpack, from Division 3’s ill-advised assault on Summerland to David’s battle with the Shadow King to Syd continuing to prove she’s the series’ most valuable player, ‘Chapter 8’ made a solid showing. The hour delivered the sort of culmination that satisfies but still leaves the viewer wanting more – mostly because it doesn’t wrap up each and every loose end in a nice tidy bow. Instead, following a surprising mid-credits sequence, Legion leaves those watching with plenty of questions yet no doubt there’s even more story just waiting to unfold.
We Meet Again, Clark
The return of Hamish Linklater’s Division 3 interrogator was something of a surprise at the end of the season’s penultimate episode. Though there was still a long battle with the Shadow King ahead, David and the group (thanks Cary’s halo device) had seemingly won the day, making the arrival of a group of foot soldiers, and one sharply dressed but horrifically scarred individual, a reminder that mutants continuously find it hard to keep a checkmark in the win column for very long.
For the finale, though, Legion offered a glimpse into the life of a high-ranking, mutant-fearing Division 3 member, after he tangled with Melanie’s group and lost in spectacular fashion. The moment worked; it was of a piece with the hour that was about to unfold, in that the finale was very much about the humanity of each and every character – mutant or not – and how those human qualities can manifest as both compassion and overwhelming fear and hatred of that which you don’t understand yet seek to control. In other words: outsiders.
In that sense, Clark’s arrival is as much to provide tension and a sense of antagonism in the final hour, as it is to provide a visual representation of humanity’s less attractive qualities. It’s a basic binary but one that is given additional weight because it goes beyond what Legion has presented in its villains so far. A peek into Clark’s recovery at home with his husband and child is the most viewers have seen of anyone involved in Division 3, making the natty-suited government agent much more than the cipher he started out as, an important element considering the détente between mutant and humans that follows the Shadow King’s escape.
Oliver Is Back In the Game… for a Minute
Oliver Bird is perhaps the show’s most tragic figure. You might think it’s David, having been tortured his entire life by a parasitic psychic entity that looks like a thousand-year egg grew into a man, and you’d have a strong claim in that assertion. But there’s something so heartbreaking and melancholy about Oliver, who spent the last 20 years in an astral ice cube, subsisting on extrasensory cocktails, listening to jazz records, and doing a little beat poetry for the occasional passer-by.
What Legion lacked in backstory, for either of the Birds, it more than made up for in Jean Smart’s performance. Whether thinking about her long-lost (but not so far away) husband or beginning the slow process of integrating him back into the real world and her life by asking him to dinner, Smart’s face told the audience everything they needed to know about her and Oliver. Not only were they outsiders because of their genetic makeup, but those same mutant abilities resulted in their being separated for two decades.
But the tragedy of Oliver’s story doesn’t end there. Perpetually in the wrong place at the wrong time, a cloud of psychic energy wipes him out (moments after he recalls who Melanie is), resulting in Oliver becoming the Shadow King’s new host. Clearly a powerful psychic mutant in his own right – presumably you can’t spend 20 years in an astral ice cube without being one – Oliver was the perfect getaway vehicle for Amahl Farouk and, in his confused state, the right vessel for whatever the Devil With the Yellow Eyes has planned next. Driving away with Lenny in the passenger seat, Oliver didn’t seem to be struggling with his parasitic passenger. Could Farouk have inadvertently found a weakened specimen particularly susceptible to his control, or have all the years spent feeding off David returned the Shadow King to his former glory? Either way, it’s bad news for poor Oliver.
Mended Partnership, Ruptured Spleen
After their trip to the astral version of Clockworks, the Loudermilks were on the outs. Legion‘s weirdest and perhaps most interesting mutant(s) so far have continued the series’ exploration of relationships and how, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles created by certain members’ unique powers, what drives most of Melanie’s Summerland mutants is the desire to be together. The Loudermilks just take the idea of relationships and togetherness to a new level – seeing as how they’re the same person but also separate and unique individuals.
Kerry had been giving Cary the cold shoulder since he abandoned her in the astral plane to hang out with Oliver and figure out how to get the gang back into the real world. After that, Summerland’s resident ass-kicker needed some time away from her other self, though she wasn’t above offering some advice about how to interact with their dangerous guest.
It’s not until the Shadow King possess Kerry that the Loudermilk rift is given a chance to mend – just as Cary’s spleen is ruptured. Being supporting characters with a codependent relationship that’s sometimes tricky to process, Legion didn’t have to make room for the Loudermilks’ spat and eventual reconciliation, but there’s reason to be glad it did. The show is so nearly overwhelmed with its mind-warping trips into David’s mind that allowing time for a (deeply) personal and relatively low-stakes quarrel allows the show to breathe a little and, unlike Oliver, not get lost in all aesthetic pleasures of its astral projections.
Sydney Barrett — Legion’s True Hero & the Unmaker of Soup
Legion may ostensibly be about David Haller and his mega-powerful mutant mind, but over the course of season 1, the real hero of the show proved to be Rachel Keller’s Sydney Barrett. Syd’s come to David’s rescue on more than one occasion, saving her boyfriend from himself as often as she does those looking to do him harm. Since the premiere, Syd has snatched David from the jaws of Division 3, took on the Eye, shielded David from bullets (that never hit), and was the first one to recognize something was off when the group wound up in the Shadow King’s version of Clockworks. In short, there’d be no Legion without Syd – or at least it would have been a much shorter series – which makes her big move in the season finale more than a symbol of her affection for David; it’s confirmation that she’s the series’ resident hero.
During a tête-à-tête with Lenny, Syd is challenged to “unmake soup” by the psychic parasite. It’s the Shadow King’s way of saying extracting him from David’s brain is essentially impossible. Good thing pulling people’s minds out of their bodies just so happens to be Syd’s specialty.
With David’s brain apparently on his way to becoming far soupier, as Cary and Oliver’s contraption worked to pull his cerebral passenger loose, Syd jumps in and, again, takes control of the situation, planting a kiss on her fella and being fitted with some Yellow Eyes for her trouble. But it works, and David is ostensibly free of the Shadow King all because Legion‘s most reliable hero was willing yet again to sacrifice her wellbeing for a guy who happens to be a mutant capable of breaking the world.
What is David without Farouk?
With Farouk now firmly embedded in Oliver’s brain and behind the wheel of Melanie’s car, the cerebral freeloader is headed south. But what’s he looking for? It’s entirely possible that Farouk intends to use Oliver’s body to help him find a more suitable host (though, considering what a stylish specimen Oliver is, why?) or the Shadow King is embarking on a journey to finish what was started with David – a little revenge on the mutant’s psychic father.
Whatever Farouk plans to do now that he’s out of David’s head, one thing’s clear: he has a plan. But is the same true for David? What’s next for a mutant as seemingly powerful as he is? Well, before David’s plans are interrupted (more on that below), it seems as though he was set to be defined as much by what he doesn’t want as what he does. Throughout the finale, David repeatedly told Clark he didn’t want war – or that there didn’t have to be one – and that there was no reason for him (i.e., humans to be afraid). Without the Shadow King lurking in the corners of his mind, David is finally free to accept that his powers are real and he has the potential to be a useful member of society for the first time in his life.
Being free of Amahl Farouk is a little like an epiphany. Before things nearly go wrong during the extraction process, David understands how much time he’s lost as a result of the Shadow King’s behind-the-scenes machinations, and it’s put him behind in terms of being a useful member of society. Freeing David of his parasite didn’t leave him (or the series) without a place to go or a story to tell. By all accounts, the battle against the Shadow King has just begun, though David may be a little waylaid in his arrival to the front lines.
Mid-Credits Sequence: David Meets… an Orb?
Legion having a mid-credits sequence is the perhaps the only thing that will make viewers think of the mind-bending funhouse mirror of a show as being (somewhat) of a part with other Marvel products. While this stinger does indeed serve a similar function to the sequences that have prevented every chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from feeling like it is truly closed, it still has a very Legion-y way of saying, “There’s so much more to this story.”
Rather than have Patrick Stewart or Ryan Reynolds show up at Summerland, ‘Chapter 8’ offers its version of a plot thickener by showing David and Syd enjoying an idyllic evening on a balcony overlooking a forest, while the former suggests their adversary is headed south. The moment is cut short when a seemingly innocuous orb comes floating their way. Considering what they’ve been through recently, neither is particularly concerned, and David even wonders whether or not the orb is one of Cary’s creations. That is until the device scans David and pulls him inside, trapping him before nonchalantly floating away while Syd looks on, not entirely certain what just transpired.
Though the moment seems appropriately opaque, considering the series it’s attached to, there will no doubt be plenty of speculation as to what the orb is and who is belongs to. Even before the finale aired, there was talk of interdimensional X-Men villain Mojo making an appearance — though that probably had more to do with the character’s resemblance to the Devil With the Yellow Eyes than any intention of the Legion writers’ room to introduce yet another villain.
It’s also worth noting that, though the object ostensibly kidnaps David, there isn’t anything explicitly sinister about its demeanor (as much as a floating orb has a demeanor). Perhaps it’s someone’s unconventional way of reaching out and getting in touch. Then again, given how Division 3 ordered Equinox to be sent out, the orb could be related to that, meaning the government didn’t quite get Clark’s message or bother to listen to him.
Series creator Noah Hawley has said season 2 won’t necessarily be looking at the comic books for future story ideas. This suggests the device is a product of the show and its purpose will be uncovered in due time. That raises the question of just how effective the mid-credits sequence really is. If looking at it through the lens of Legion‘s proclivity for posing potential series-altering questions, then it’s certainly of a piece with the rest of the series, and will serve as a tantalizing cliffhanger. There’s no doubt the internet will be filled with exhaustive rundowns of what the mid-credits sequence is and which character (if any) it ultimately points to, but there’s always the chance that even the Westworld-destroying Reddit brain trust won’t be able to figure out what the flying orb is. In that event, it may just be Hawley tipping his hat to the Marvel way of doing things.
Legion will continue with season 2 in 2018 on FX.