Season One, Episode Seven — “Chapter 7”
By Jarrod Jones. Well, there’s no more talking around it — Professor Charles Xavier is David’s biological daddy.
For ardent X-fans, that’s hardly news. In the world of Legion, however, this — if you’ll pardon the cliché — changes everything. Why? For one, it blows the lid open for Season Two, which is definitely coming. The world of Legion, intimate as it’s been, is about to get much bigger.
The previous six episodes of Noah Hawley’s X-Men show have been an exercise in calculated measures and artful dodges. How much information should a typical episode have? It’s varied all season long, but as far as infodumping goes, “Chapter 7” was the equivalent of strapping Malcolm McDowell to a chair, peeling his eyelids back, and dimming the lights.
Putting it that way means that this episode could have been a disaster. Watching a lead literally scrawl the series’ most crucial secrets onto a blackboard would be a deal-breaker for any other show. When David did it on Wednesday night, we grabbed the popcorn.
The sequence began where last week’s episode ended, with David trapped deep within the confines of his own mind. Lenny put him there, rightfully afraid of what David may do if he found out his beloved Cornflakes was a few neuron flares away from killing everyone he’d ever cared about. There in the ink black abyss David stewed until the rational part of his mind popped up, ready to walk David — and the viewer — through the next few crucial moments of the episode. (And speaking in Dan Stevens’ lovely English accent to boot.)
The sequence where David came to know what he was and what has long plagued him worked largely because the answers had always been right there in front of us. Noah Hawley and his team of storytellers (including Jennifer Yale, who wrote the heck out of this episode) took the mosaic of Legion, held it at arm’s length, and dropped it. Smashed into a million pieces, Legion‘s fragmented narrative hid the truth in plain sight for all to see. The best part of this journey has been waiting for David to assemble all the pieces. First Mr. Haller would have to realize he wanted to.
A show that lets the viewer suss out the fundamentals before its characters ever could is a tricky thing. Yet Legion meted out the particulars in such a fashion — which is to say, whenever the hell Legion felt like it — that most of the meaty character stuff benefited from it. It hasn’t always worked for everyone (for instance, Ptonomy Wallace has kinda sunk into the wallpaper) but for David these revelations were key. What’s important is that Hawley & Co. stuck that landing.
So, what have we known about David? He’s adopted and he’s a powerful mutant. We also knew that David’s long had a parasite hanging out in his brain, and that that parasite was probably also a mutant. But what we didn’t know, not even smarty-pants X-Men fans, was that this parasite has been lurking within David since he was a baby.
Wounded from a what was probably a titanic battle on the astral plane against Professor X (it was recreated in delightfully minimal animated sequence), the mutant we know now as The Shadow King found a way to stick it to ol’ Charlie after his defeat: infiltrate the mind of Xavier’s newborn child, stretch out, and wait.
Control is what The Shadow King has long desired, control of David, and control of Xavier. Tomorrow the world. Oliver Bird gave us his name: Amahl Farouk, the beast that tried to poison David’s mind. Though it seems with time Amahl has grown impatient, not to mention cocky: with David trapped by Farouk’s considerable power, ol’ Lenny’s letting the facade of the Clockwork Hospital fall to shit, which gives Oliver, Mel, Syd and Cary a shot at saving David and putting Lenny into the corner.
Lenny’s defeated, momentarily, contained by David’s new lease on freedom. But Division 3 has arrived at Melanie’s door at the worst possible moment. And The Shadow King is about to bust out.
David: “And you’re… British?” David: “Like I said, I’m your rational mind.”
BEST MOMENT: When David and David had a little chat about David. And Cornflakes.
EPISODE’S MVP: Dan Stevens spoke to himself for over five minutes straight and it was glorious.
WELCOME TO THE MACHINE:
– Red sightings: Flashes of red as Kerry attempts to escape Walter in the Clockwork Hospital; blood, blood everywhere.
– It’s driving me crazy that the show won’t mention Xavier by name. Don’t go counting on a cameo.
– David’s impersonation of Patrick Stewart was the most incredible moment of my life.
– I wanted to know more about Walter before he got his from Lenny, but hey. His death made for an incredibly terrifying visual.
– Melanie has finally been reunited with Oliver. Sadly it couldn’t be under happier circumstances.
– “You left me. I needed you, and you left me,” Kerry said to Cary. Will the Loudermilks ever connect again?
– I enjoyed the anything-but-subtle nod to They Live: Syd saw Lenny’s phantasmagoria for what it really was through a pair of glasses.
9 out of 10
Next: “Chapter Eight”, next week.
Before: ‘Chapter Six”, here.