“Look at you, you’re gods, and some day you’re going to wake up and realize you don’t need to listen to us anymore.”
— Clark, the Interrogator
Time is a slippery concept on “Legion,” where some of the fashions, decor and technology are artifacts of decades long past, and Oliver Bird, although lost on the astral plane for 20 years, lives frozen in a time of beat poetry, free love and leisure suits. But the opening of tonight’s season finale brings a jarring awareness of linear time, as we learn six weeks have passed since David Haller’s fiery rescue in the first episode.
More importantly, however, it upends our perspective of the story with a glimpse into the life of Hamish Linklater’s now horribly disfigured Interrogator, depicted here as a man with a devoted husband, a loving son, and an unwavering sense of duty to his country (not to mention a name; it’s Clark). With that, Division 3 becomes much more than a vaguely defined existential threat represented by faceless soldiers in tactical gear or, far more tangibly, the relentless predator that was The Eye. Embracing some of the larger themes of Marvel’s X-Men, “Legion” re-frames the nebulous “war” referred to throughout the season as a larger evolutionary battle for survival.
War is chief on Clark’s mind as he orders his soldiers to apprehend David Haller and kill the rest of the Summerland mutants. Any empathy he might have displayed in his first encounter with David burned away in the fiery escape, and in the six excruciating weeks of recovery and rehabilitation that followed. But the tables are quickly turned as David casually uses his telekinetic abilities to stack the Division 3 soldiers like a game of Jenga, and the Interrogator becomes the interrogated.
Clark remains defiant in captivity, armed with the knowledge that every move is being monitored by Division 3, via a contact-lens camera, and that another strike team is no more than 20 minutes away. That places a ticking clock on the events of the episode, but it’s secondary to David’s rapidly deteriorating condition. He may appear in control of his powers, but he’s on the verge of being lost forever to the Shadow King, whom Cary likens to a computer virus ready to overwrite “the original program” and permanently erase David.
But as Cary and Oliver focuse on saving David, the others are caught up in disagreements about what do with Clark, and about the imminent threat posed by Division 3. Ptonomy wants to kill their prisoner, while Melanie hopes to learn what the enemy knows before they’re forced to evacuate Summerland. And David? He’s almost eerily calm, and determined to bring an end to this war.
“So, you’re just gonna whip up some peace accord, what, before lunch or before dinner?” Syd asks David. “Babe, I don’t care if you save me, or the world if you don’t save yourself.” It’s in that moment that we realize, even if Syd doesn’t just yet, that she’s willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her boyfriend. How she might do it starts to become clear a little later, as she finds herself back in the white room, face to face with the Shadow King, whose “Lenny mask is running”; the flesh is decaying, and her boots oozing like hot tar. Even as Syd and Lenny circle and taunt each other, they begin a dangerous negotiation for David’s life. “You’re going to help me escape,” Lenny says. “You want me out of David? Fine, I’m gone. But you have to help me get away. … Because, if you don’t, I’ll kill him.”
There are larger-scale, and more philosophical, matters of life and death being unpacked in the finale, though, as Melanie cuts through the Interrogator’s bluster and promises of an entire army coming down on Summerland to make it clear she and her mutants are done hiding from Division 3. “Here’s the thing, Clark: You caught me on a good day, so I’m going to be honest with you,” she says. “You were right, about David. He’s a world breaker, and if you’d killed him before he figured that out, then maybe your tactical forces and — what is it? — world coalition, maybe that would have impressed me. But not now. Well, kid, better learn to fly like a bird, because the age of the dinosaur is over.”
However, the threat of a world breaker rings a little hollow when, during his attempt at detente, David begins repeating “You don’t have to be afraid” with different inflections, which turns into a chant that’s as annoying as it is unnerving. He passes out, triggering a desperate Syd to blurt out to Clark what’s happening to her boyfriend. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I think you like David,” she says, over Melanie’s protests. “You feel something for him. So I’m going to give you a chance here: You wanna help?”
His opportunity comes, of course, but not quite yet, as now it’s up to Cary and Oliver to begin a procedure to remove every trace of Farouk from David’s mind. It seems to work, too, at least initially. Inside his own mind, David confronts the decaying Lenny, asking, “I was just wondering, what am I without you? You know, we’ve been together for so long … sun and moon. People lose a limb in the night, years go by and still they reach for it, the phantom. Are you my phantom? What happens to me when you’re gone?” Although their relationship is parasitic rather than symbiotic, the exchange reinforces the parallels between David and the Shadow King and Cary and Kerry. In each instance, they’ve shared an existence for so long that they’re left to ponder what’s left when one half is gone.
Farouk isn’t willing to find out just yet, however, and begins clawing back lost territory in David’s mind and memories. He’s still enormously powerful, so much so that Summerland’s generators begin to overload, and an image of the Devil With Yellow Eyes flashes on monitors. “You see that, right?” Clark asks his watchful Division 3 supervisor, who orders for “the Equinox” to be sent in.
Realizing, at last, what she must do, Syd springs into action even as Kerry does the same, creating a race for who is going to save David. But of course it’s Syd; it had to be Syd, not only because of her mutant ability but because of their shared story. Kissing him once again, she brings the Shadow King into her own mind, before passing him on to Kerry, who takes out both Cary and an armed Ptonomy before making a break for it. Left unattended, Clark steps out the interrogation room and strikes a fleeing Kerry. It’s enough to delay her until David can drop in like a character from a wuxia film. It’s here that “Legion” delivers its most blatantly superhero scene of the season, as David and Kerry, both super-charged with energy, run at each other in slow motion and collide in a flash of light and a building shaking tremor. Kerry is sent flying, right into Oliver, and the Shadow King’s consciousness is transferred to him. (We probably shouldn’t dwell too much on how. Syd is an obvious conduit because of her mutant power, but what would trigger Farouk to pass from Kerry to Oliver? Maybe we’ll find out next season.)
Amid the chaos, Oliver calmly slips into a car and drives away from Summerland (with Lenny chilling in the passenger seat), leaving David finally free of his parasite, but the Shadow King now unleashed upon the world. On the plus side, Clark’s glimpse of the Devil With Yellow Eyes leaves him open to approaching his superiors about a truce between the government and the mutants. The negative side — well, the other negative side — becomes apparent in the post-credits scene, and Syd and David stand on the balcony as the latter psychically tracks the direction of Oliver and Lenny. A mechanical orb, which we can probably assume is the Equinox sent by D3, flies up and scans David, who’s then somehow beamed inside it. It then flies up, with an imprisoned David screaming “Help me!”
It’s an ending that leaves viewers wondering what the hell they just watched. But should we expect any less of “Legion”?
Odds, Ends and Unanswered Questions
- As Oliver and Lenny head down the road, to the sound of T. Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” Oliver asks, “Where should we look first?” It’s a reference to that mysterious “it” Lenny was frantically searching for in the previous episode. There’s been no indication what it is, but it would make sense if it were something that would permit Farouk to exist once again on his own, without the need for a host. That’s only a wild guess, though.
- Lenny replies “Someplace warm,” which would seem to be a nod production moving next season from Vancouver to Los Angeles.
- Although the love story between David and Syd has been core to the season, it doesn’t hold a candle to the romance shared by Melanie and Oliver, filled as it is with heartbreak, devotion and, well, more heartbreak. (Jean Smart and Jemaine Clement are incredible; I could watch an entire episode of Smart’s Melanie walking around, looking wistful.) The only thing more gutting that Oliver not remembering Melanie is for him to finally make the connection … right before the Shadow King takes control of his body.
- As Oliver leaves Summerland, he’s singing Tony Bennett’s “If I Ruled the World,” which is only fitting, given Farouk’s ambitions.
- We still don’t know how Cary and Oliver know Amahl Farouk. Perhaps now that he’s parked his consciousness in Oliver’s body, “Legion” will explore their history in the second season.