WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Season One finale of “Legion,” which aired Wednesday on FX.
Last night’s action-packed season finale of “Legion” raised more questions than it answered.
Sure, David Haller (Dan Stevens) is finally free of the Shadow King, but the psychic parasite is now attached to Jemaine Clement’s Oliver Bird, who’s headed south, in search of something, with Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny along for the ride. Then there’s the matter of that surprising post-credits sequence, in which Syd (Rachel Keller) and David stand on the balcony at Summerland, where they’re approached by a curious — cute, even — mechanical orb, which scans David before quickly teleporting him inside it. With David screaming “Help me!” from within its tiny metal confines, the orb flies off into the darkness.
While it’s safe to assume the mysterious device is the Equinox ordered in by Division 3 earlier in the episode, “Legion” creator Noah Hawley wasn’t willing to reveal more about it. However, he did offer insight into the thinking behind the scene.
“We want to keep the pressure on. Out of the frying pan and into the fire is a pretty good approach to storytelling on some level,” he told CBR and other media outlets earlier this week. “If you keep the pressure on someone whose psychology has always been unstable, it’s going to keep from being able to really — I mean, what he should do is go on a retreat for a year and just kind of be one with nature, eat three meals a day and take walks in the woods and learn how to be a person, the way other people are persons. But he’s not going to have that luxury, because he’s on to the next crisis, and I think that’s going to continue to keep the pressure on him in a way that’s gonna — that stress on someone who is disjointed can be very destructive.”
For that to unfold as a post-credits sequence — a first for “Legion” — made perfect sense to Hawley. “I think there’s a proud tradition of that that Marvel uses on the feature side,” he said, “and it’s the beginning of another thought, so I wanted to give people the end song and the feeling of watching the credits to let them absorb the complete story that they just watched, and then tease them as to what Chapter Two is going to be.”
Although David’s immediate fate may not be clear, the finale sends “Legion” on the road, and sets up Oliver as the primary antagonist of its planned 10-episode second season.
“I think the season was always designed to be about the enemy within, at the end of which the enemy is now a literal enemy without,” Hawley observed. “Certainly, it’s unfortunate for Jemaine that he’s stuck with this thing inside of him, but it does make him rather critical to our story, and I’ve spoken to Jemaine, and he’s excited to come back. So I think we’ll see a lot of him going forward, which makes me very happy.“
For the Shadow King, if not necessarily Clement’s Oliver, that could mean a life even beyond the second season, as Hawley is intrigued about his potential as a long-term antagonist.
“I like this idea of having to face our demons and of the idea that in the first season that was an internal struggle for David, and now we’re taking something that has so much power over him emotionally and psychologically and making it an exterior agent,” he said. “There’s something going to be very complicated about going to war with yourself, really, because as he says in that eighth hour, this thing has been with him since he was a baby. I mean, it’s like a phantom limb now; it’s part of him. So that really complicates, emotionally and morally and personally, this fight, which is always more interesting. We’ve now created a villain for David that is worthy of building a whole story around. The backstory of this thing, and their relationship and history, is now so nuanced and rich that it makes for a potential showdown that we’re really invested in as an audience, as opposed to doing a ‘villain of the year’ kind of approach. I don’t know how long that story will sustain, or the permutations of it, but I do think it’s a really fascinating setup to follow.”
But the more immediate future for “Legion” involves a relocation of production from Vancouver to Los Angeles, a move made smoother, story-wise, by the escape of the Shadow King, last seen in the finale heading south, to “someplace warm.” Although Hawley acknowledges the shift in location will make his work life easier, he also sees it as opening up new creative possibilities.
“I think to the degree that the season started, it was this idea that every time you were oriented and knew where you were, the show shifted,” he said. “Either from a psychiatric institution to an interrogation room to a swimming pool and out into a war zone in that first hour, there’s a degree to which the show needs to continue to evolve. I’m excited to try and look at Southern California in a way that we haven’t really looked at it before, and to try to use what we have — not to ground it in our present-day reality, but to try to find a way to continue to tell stories, both urban and rural, and in the astral plane, as it were, that continue to look quite like nothing else.”
“Legion” will return for its planned 10-episode second season in early 2018.