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Legion Delivers a Brilliant Horror Mystery

Hope you’re ready for a fright fest, because Legion set out this week to scare. Not that scares are new to Legion, as anyone who watched last week’s episode knows all too well. Between the yellow-eyed demon and the extent of David’s powers, the show has touched plenty on the horror genre and established more than enough space to do so further. You had to figure an episode like this one was coming eventually.

To say Legion succeeded in its frightful venture is an understatement. If you go through this episode without a single jolt of fear, you have steelier courage than me.

Content Warning: This review mentions rape and uncomfortable violence, as depicted on the show.
Spoilers for 1×05 “Chapter 5”

Here’s something happy before all the scary stuff.

Recap

We start this week with David and Ptonomy rushing a wounded Kerry inside of Summerland. While Cary tends to her wounds, David telepathically tells Melanie about meeting her husband in the astral plane. Later, Sydney finds a rather Zen-looking David meditating on their pier. She tells him that Cary removed the bullet from Kerry and stopped her bleeding.

She starts to tell David her discoveries about his past, but David interrupts her. He changes the subject by showing her a new mental realm of some kind where they can be together. He talks about everything being an illusion, and how this room is another illusion. They can touch in this realm without worrying about Sydney’s powers.

In case anyone might have confused this for something purely happy, there’s a shot of bugs crawling on fruit.

Back in the real world, Melanie visits Cary while he watches Kerry. She tells him about David meeting Oliver. Cary hardly pays attention to her excitement about potentially bringing Oliver back. When Melanie meets with David later, he tells her he is leaving to save Amy despite her objections. They briefly talk about Oliver. Turns out he used to visit the astral plane frequently before becoming trapped. David offers to bring Melanie to him, but she declines.

Hey, good news! Kerry wakes up and Cary brings her back into his body. Bad news, all her hurts transfer to him. I really love what Legion does with these two.

When Sydney finds David later, they talk briefly about rescuing Amy before returning to their new mind room to have sex. She talks about her first time, where she used her powers to switch bodies with her mom and sleep with her mom’s boyfriend. She makes David promise he won’t leave her. Sometime afterwards David talks to Lenny about rescuing Amy.

Red lighting=crap your pants time

Lenny convinces him to rescue her alone. Sydney wakes up, discovers David already left, and busts in on a strategy session to tell everyone else. Melanie ignores Ptonomy’s objections to go after David and talks with Sydney about the obvious change in David’s personality.

Melanie, Ptonomy, Sydney, and The Boulder drive to the Division 3 facility, where they find David has already wrecked the joint. They search the place and find Dr. Kissinger, who tells them where Amy would have been brought.  Continued searching leads to security footage of David’s assault and his frightening power.

Eventually, Sydney and Ptonomy come across the old man who interrogated Amy. He tells them David already rescued his sister and warns them about his power before dying. Back at Summerland, Cary reviews footage of David in the MRI machine the day he transported it and finds evidence of the demon, just like Melanie does in the footage at the D3 facility.

Melanie and company leave the facility, and Cary tells them about the demon. David contacts Sydney during this and brings her to their mind room. He sings a song to try and warn her about the demon. Sydney figures out that David went to his childhood home. When they leave, the Eye follows them.

Turns out Sydney was right, as David brings Amy home. She thanks him for the rescue but quickly realizes David’s odd behavior. David asks her about a secret she’s hiding. Lenny walks through the mirror in the room and continues the questioning. She also confirms the demon’s many forms by taking them. Nearby David shakes in some kind of trance. Amy eventually tells David he is adopted.

PS: Aubrey Plaza is INCREDIBLE in this role.

Back at Summerland, Cary creates a device he hopes can neutralize the demon. Meanwhile the Summerland gang reaches David’s house. Soon after arriving something deafens them. (Despite the terrifying atmosphere of everything that follows, the screaming at each other here is pretty funny.) Cary joins them soon after they begin searching the house. Melanie shouts for Kerry to emerge. Cary’s hesitant, but Kerry eventually arrives.

Meanwhile, The Boulder seems to be taken down by Walter, who assumes his form.

Sydney finds Amy staring blankly at the mirror, and Lenny attacks her. The others run into the room soon after and find only David and Sydney. The Eye bursts in behind them and opens fire with a machine gun. Sydney has David take them to their mind room before the bullets reach them.

David panics about not being able to stop Lenny. The yellow-eyed demon walks into the room and chases after Sydney. Eventually it corners her on the bed while David screams helplessly. The episode ends with Sydney waking up in Clockworks, with everyone else sitting in a group therapy circle with her. Lenny acts as the group’s therapist.

Yeah, I’m just as freaking confused as everyone else. And completely engaged in this mind-twister of a story.

Review

Horror elements have featured prominently throughout Legion so far. The yellow-eyed demon’s various appearances (in his many guises), the various scare shots in David’s memories, the wreckage in the aftermath of his powers, and the many visual and audio methods employed throughout previous episodes have maintained the horror ambiance. You knew something terrifying lived in David’s head. “Chapter 5” finally showed us what and took the full plunge into horror.

Damn if Legion didn’t succeed entirely, too.

From the beginning, the episode made clear something was off about David. He acted so confident and aloof, lacking all the unbalanced insecurity and uncertainty which has defined him throughout the first 4 episodes. When the last episode ended with David’s willing cooperation with his demon in order to escape the astral plane (and that pants-crapping shot of Lenny behind him), it was easy to guess the demon had grabbed further control.

This episode worked almost as a horror story mystery, peeling away the layers of David’s new attitude and the control the demon obtained with each new scene. The Summerland Gang learned along with the viewer as they hunted the monster that had taken over David’s mind. By the end the only question left was how much control it had, and what the consequences were.

Well, those consequences look dire at the moment. Seeing David’s unrestrained powers was scary enough. The man might as well be God. With a flick of a wrist he basically reduced the Division 3 soldiers to dust. He dismembered them and sunk their bodies and vehicles into the ground. David became an unstoppable monster bending reality to his will.

Other body horror was prevalent throughout; Cary’s body morphing to show Kerry’s wounds comes to mind, as does the shot of David having what looked like a seizure while Lenny talked to Amy. The first prolonged image of the yellow-eyed demon chasing Sydney only made the thing creepier. And of course there’s the demonstration of David’s powers at the D3 facility. Seeing the giddy flair as he mutilated human beings or vanished them in clouds of smoke might be Legion’s scariest moment yet.

I doubt anyone watched this episode without cringing at least once at the visuals.

The psychological horror was no less frightening. Hindsight as to the control the demon had over David the entire episode only increases the terror. His charming mental white room for Sydney suddenly comes across as cruel manipulation. Their first time having sex becomes rape. The monster finally catching up to Sydney on the bed in the end sequence was a lot less vague about what happened. As if that weren’t enough, at one point Lenny forces her tongue in David’s mouth while Sydney watches.

The end scene in Clockworks suggests the demon managed to take all of their minds, or at least trap them. I’d question how the hell the thing managed such a feat if not for everything else it managed in this episode.

The visuals and audio also did a masterful job creating a horror atmosphere. The sounds when Lenny forcefully kisses David sounded like she shoved her tongue into his esophagus. Silence reigns over the search of David’s house, leaving the Summerland gang unable to say a word to each other and keeping you on edge for any potential sound. Various forms of the demon flashing on screen heighten the tension. In all, “Chapter 5” felt like the culmination (at least so far) of all the horror stylings features so far. Basically, Legion just knocked it out of the park.

Theory-wise, this episode confirmed quite a few things about the demon. We don’t know what exactly it is (well I don’t since I don’t read comics), but we know it found David at a very, very young age. Cary confirmed it works like a parasite, feeding on David’s ability. It has actively warped David’s memories so he can’t remember it, and might be doing the same to those who enter them.

Now he has taken advantage of David’s powers to warp the reality of everyone in his house. Or did David do that to protect them, only to have the demon find them afterwards?

Whatever the case, this was an excellent episode that provided a lot of answers I’ve begged for over the past couple weeks. Well, at least confirmation about things I’ve suspected. These answers also provided some solid conflict and characterization between all the scary parts.

We learned that Oliver has been stuck in the astral plane for 21 years, and was a powerful telepath like David. Melanie’s motivation to free him was made clear as the reason she wants David so badly. We learned that David was adopted. King, Lenny, and the Angriest Boy were all confirmed as forms of the demon used to influence David over the years. A lot of this was obvious or small reveals, but at this point I’ll take whatever Legion gives me.

It was also nice to see just how much Sydney cares about David since I’ve questioned her motives so far. While she is still likely a plant meant to rescue David for Summerland’s purposes, her loyalty and love has been made very clear. She made it plenty obvious to Melanie that her concern is David, not Summerland’s war or rescuing Oliver. Whatever manipulation was meant in her finding David at Clockworks was even turned against her here with the mind room David created.

Thus far, Legion has me fully invested in the David/Sydney relationship. I’m just hoping beyond hope that she lasts the season. Those two are beyond adorable and deserve to be happy together.

This episode also did a lot to invest me further in the Cary/Kerry sibling-hood. A lot of that investment has to do with the continued gender identity themes of their relationship. Cary accepts the hurts Kerry suffered after emerging and bears them for her. Her constant obsession with fighting might be interpreted as a need to fight for existence. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it all feels too intentional to ignore. Especially since Legion does not strike me as a show to include so many hints accidentally. Not when everything else has been so clearly intentional.

Either way, Cary and Kerry are a great part of what has quickly become a fascinating cast. One worry I had earlier in the season was whether Legion would rely too greatly on David to carry the show. After 2 of 5 episodes have featured heavily on the supporting cast, my worries are gone. Not only do Legion’s side characters succeed in carrying their own burden, but they make me care.

More and more I’m starting to agree with Ptonomy. David seems too dangerous for anyone in his life to handle, and maybe everyone should just run fast and far away from him. Because of him they are now trapped in some terrible reality created by a monstrous demon, and who knows how they can escape? Who knows how many of them will survive this latest disaster or whatever disasters follow afterwards?

I know one thing for sure; I’ll care about them as they face them. And I’ll root for them, and David, every step of the way.


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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