‘Legion’ Recap: “Chapter Five” – The Letting Go

     March 8, 2017

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Last week, I bemoaned the feeling that Legion had lost grip on its narrative, leading to some turbulent pacing issues in the last two episodes. The visuals remain utterly spellbinding and consistently imaginative, but the story radiated the feeling of traipsing across the same material to push off a major revelation of plot. Well, my skepticism was largely assuaged by the action that occurs in “Chapter Five,” in which David seemed to shake much of his hesitation upon arriving back from the gloomy Astroplane.

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Image via FX

Indeed, “Chapter Five” is the first episode since the pilot to actually explore the positives and negatives of David’s powers and not just talk about them  at borderline excruciating length. It’s also the first episode to clearly define how limitless David’s powers are, and make a nod toward one of the more pressing questions of the series: where does David come from exactly? As Amy revealed toward the end of the episode, he was adopted and his issues were obvious from the very beginning. This opens a door that fans of the comics will no doubt see as the most direct line from the wild experimentations of Legion to the more tame and familiar renderings of X-Men mythos.

Of course, David didn’t come back from the Astroplane alone and the use of the menacing creatures that have latched onto his power made for a far more formidable sense of fright and instability in David’s character as the episode went on. Though one could toss off that “Rainbow Connection” moment as being simply “random,” the editing, matched with the use of crimson lighting, built up a potent sense of tension and fear. As the Loudermilks suggested, an entity in David’s brain has allowed him to use his powers without conscience, leading to a number of grotesque, awful deaths in the holding facility of Division 3. And we now know that that entity is represented by King the dog (nostalgia), Lenny (guilt), the man with the yellow eyes (ego, power, control, etc.), and possibly many more in this world that Noah Hawley has created.

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Image via FX

If we’re being honest, my hunch is that all of what we see in Legion is, in some way, illusory and that the major revelation will be that all of what we’ve been seeing is symbolic of the ideas and feelings that allows David’s mind copes with it’s immense, godlike powers. In other words, everything we’re seeing is going on within David’s mind, but even David isn’t wholly representative of whose mind we’ve been inside. Much of what happened in “Chapter Five” signaled that, even if this isn’t the entire story, all these characters seem to refract a long-buried inability to coalesce a singular identity.

All of this will have to be considered at greater length as we claw our way closer to the end of Season 1. For now, at the midway point, “Chapter Five” offers a bouquet of poison-tipped delights, whether it be the lustful swoon that David and Syd indulge in the White Room or the manic screed that Lenny delivers when Amy tells David about his past. On that note, one last note: more Aubrey Plaza, please. Thank you and goodnight!

Rating: ★★★★

Television