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Aubrey Plaza Shines as Legion’s Amazing Villain Finally Reveals Itself

Last week’s finish, as usual, left Legion fans wondering just what the hell is going on. David’s journey has been confusing since day one and last week provided arguably the biggest brain-melter yet. So what happens now? How in the world will this story finish off its last 3 episodes? What will the lead-in to season 2 be?

That’s right! There will be a season 2 for Legion! And good thing, because this episode was yet another excellent example of why Legion needs and deserves more viewers.

Spoilers for 1×06 “Chapter 6” below

Recap

“Chapter 6” opens with totally not creepy at all therapy sessions in the fake Clockworks from last week’s ending scene. Lenny holds individual sessions with each character. Dr. Bird talks about her husband. Ptonomy vividly relieves the day his mother died. Cary and Kerry defend their dependance on each other. Walter talks about late puberty (weird) and isolationism. Sydney is last, and talks about how surreal Clockworks feels.

Lenny gives them advice that might be halfway decent if we didn’t realize what was happening.

Sydney goes to receive her medication after her session. She sees a door which stands out from the others. We see this version of Clockworks largely copies the premiere, right down to the conversations David has, except with roles reversed or other characters subbing in for someone else.

David’s sister, Amy, shows up as one of the nurses and takes vindictive pleasure in patting down Sydney because of her discomfort. Afterwards Sydney interrupts David and Ptonomy to tell them about the door. Dr. Lenny interrupts to start a session with David. During this session, David talks about how happy and peaceful he feels.

When David sits down later to eat some much anticipated cherry pie, Nurse Amy won’t let him. At David’s insistence, Sydney eats hers and realizes it is filled with bugs, like the fruit from last week. However, they are gone when she knocks it off the table. A cool transition from the cherry pie shows Lenny dance happily through various empty memories of David’s.

Basically, confirmation this Clockworks is a creation of the demon. Lenny reenters the Clockworks construction through the door Sydney saw earlier and checks on her sleeping in her room. Sydney is woken from “dreams” of various moments from last week by David, who gets in bed with her. They talk about life in the hospital and disagree about wanting to eventually leave.

Later, Sydney sees the door Lenny emerged from has vanished. She talks to Cary and Kerry about her dreams. Turns out she dreams about the moments before the real world, when she and David were about to be shot and transported to this new mental construct. Cary mentions dreaming about a giant ice cube. Sydney also brings up the door again.

Later, the Loudermilks walk down a hallway together, and Cary goes to the bathroom. While Kerry waits, Walter watches creepily. Cary reassures Kerry about being in the neighboring room before they go to bed. His sleep is interrupted, however, by the giant ice cube he “dreams” about. He apparently transports to the astral plane and follows Oliver’s diving suit.

Meanwhile, David and Sydney relax together. Sydney talks about Clockworks feeling surreal again. David worries she is exhibiting symptoms of her disease, and it turns out he believes Sydney has delusions while he has “manic depressive” disorder, rather than the diseases from their actual time in Clockworks.

Sydney rushes from the room and sees a bleeding wall, which appears to break the illusion. Lenny promptly arrives and puts a pair of headphones on her which places her in a kind of trance. We also see Ptonomy dream about his mother.

Kerry wakes with a start and finds her brother gone from his bed. Walter follows her into the room and acts incredibly creepy. She runs off to find her brother.

The next day, David walks through empty hallways and finds the door Sydney mentioned. Nurse Amy interrupts to insult him. Meanwhile, Melanie sees Oliver’s diving suit and follows it. She ends up in the frozen scene which ended last episode. The diving suit gestures for her to do something she doesn’t understand. She tries to move the bullets about to hit David and Sydney, but they’re too hot. She also tries to move them but cannot.

Since Legion is a very weird and creepy show, giant eyes appear on the wall and watch her.

David approaches Lenny while looking for Sydney, and Lenny has him stay in the office. She questions the purpose of life and says the only purpose is power, which Walter understands. A brief shot shows him still chasing Kerry through the halls. Lenny say she knows David’s father and he tried to hide David from her, but she found him anyway.

She talks about wanting David as a willing partner and trying to make it work, but not thinking it worth the hassle anymore. We get a shot of David behind a window, seemingly being locked away in his own mind. For those of you who have seen Get Out, imagine that.

And finally, the episode ends with the diver taking the headphones off of Sydney to break her trance. When the suit’s faceplate is removed, Cary is revealed to be inside the suit.

I’m guessing he borrowed it from Oliver.

Review

Legion actually provided a relatively straightforward episode this week. “Chapter 6” was basically a bottle episode; one using as few characters and effects as possible and filming on limited sets. As such, the episode couldn’t help but structure itself a bit more conveniently than usual.

This is definitely not a bad thing, especially with the amazing character development which occurred and often results from bottle episodes.

Lenny’s various therapy sessions did a nice job reminding everyone of the personalities and strengths of Legion’s cast. Melanie clings to her memory of her husband to reject the illusion. Cary and Kerry cling to each other as they fall into the illusion. Sydney continues to show her unique ability to see through the tricks in David’s mind and find the truth, much to the yellow-eyed demon’s chagrin. David readily accepts the illusion and the way it plays to his desires for normalcy.

I’d say the only characters this episode “failed” with were Walter and Ptonomy. I’m most disappointed with Ptonomy. In an episode that worked so well for everyone else, we really learned nothing particularly new or engaging about him. The story about his mother was sad, but otherwise he played no real role in the episode. Considering his powers over memory, this episode should have belonged to him.

And Walter, well…he continues to be a creepy villain but that’s about it. Plus the creepy, sexual assault-y tone of his interactions with Kerry felt like a lazy way of showing us how bad a guy he is. I’d rather we learned something about him, or at least showed his villainy in a unique way.

Still, these are minor complaints compared to all the good Legion did with its characters this week. With Oliver now presumably helping (or using Cary to help) everyone out of this illusion, the next episode looks especially promising for the role all these characters will play in helping free David from Lenny’s clutches. And he is sure going to need them, because this episode revealed just how long this demon has been with David, as well as the intense control it holds over him.

We also finally know just what this demon is and why it burrowed into David’s head to begin with.

Besides the cordyceps comparison which made clear the parasitic and destructive nature of the demon’s presence, we also learned that choosing David was no mere happenstance. David’s father sought to hide him specifically from this parasite and failed. Cary’s theory about the demon finding him at birth was confirmed. This thing wanted David’s power, and also wanted to make his father pay.

(Considering David’s father is Charles Xavier, the identity of the demon was basically confirmed here. For those who don’t read comics or interact with Legion fans, I won’t name the demon here. Next week’s episode will do so.)

The familiarity and animosity this thing feels towards Xavier and David shows in the Clockworks illusion it crafted. Everything about the illusion tailored perfectly towards selling David. David has spent the majority of his life as an outsider struggling with his powers. He spent most of his life believing those powers to be a mental illness. More than anything he wants peace of mind, stability, and companionship.

This version of Clockworks gave him exactly what he wanted, and he says as much. Sydney gave him companionship. The falseness of the world helped his peace of mind, since his powers creating the world meant they didn’t exist. Rigid schedules gave him structure and stability.

He even had the easy familiarity of repeated moments from his previous time in Clockworks. Both the drool conversation and lying in bed with Sydney were scenes from the premiere recreated with a twist. David readily accepted this familiar and stable environment because the demon knew exactly how to make him.

This environment was also crafted to push David away from those who want to help him, such as Sydney and Amy. There’s a reason Amy played the role of hostile nurse. It’s the same reason Lenny focused so intently on Sydney and had her illness in this world involve delusions. The demon worked hard to both give David a comfortable environment while also isolating him from those he loves.

With this episode Legion finally revealed its villain. It belonged to the demon/Lenny, and by extension Aubrey Plaza.

It will be a travesty if Plaza does not receive an Emmy nomination for this episode. She effortlessly shifted between calm, seductive, and terrifying from scene to scene. She has sold some creepy and fascinating material all season, but this one gave her the bulk of the work, and she was outstanding. As frightening as the image of the fat, bald demon is, Plaza’s portrayal gives the demon a personality and terror which truly makes this villain. She is equal parts hilarity and horror.

Most of this season has operated with the main antagonist lurking in the background. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered how good this villain would be when it sprang to the forefront. Well, no more worries here. Plaza has been absolutely fantastic and brought a potentially lame villain to terrifying life. She has elevated the potential of the writing to create not just one of the best villains currently on TV, but one of the best villains in recent memory.

Of course, this applies to Legion as a whole as well.

I’ve had my reservations throughout the season about where Legion was headed and how it would handle the many questions raised each episode. With two episodes remaining in the first season, I couldn’t possibly be more on board with this fantastic show. It is Mr. Robot with Fargo style and super-powered protagonists and antagonists.

(This episode especially felt like an episode of Mr. Robot. The music during one David/Sydney scene could have come directly from Mr. Robot and I wouldn’t be surprised.)

Legion is one of the most unique shows I’ve ever seen, and every week seems to set a new bar for superhero shows everywhere. I could hardly be more excited to see how these last two episodes close out this excellent first season.


Images Courtesy of FX

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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