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TV Review: Legion - Season 1, Episode 7 - "Chapter 7"

03.23.2017

EPISODE 7: CHAPTER 7

SYNOPSIS: David tries to find a way out of his predicament.

REVIEW:

Dearest LEGION,

Why do you have to leave us in just one more week's time? Do you not feel loved? Wouldn't it be easier for you just stay here and continue your efforts in raising the bar for other comic book-related programming? I know that you've been confirmed for a second season and all, but dammit, there's a part of me that feels like even that's not good enough. I want you to know that I'll miss you, and I will make certain to tell tales of your greatness long after your season finale credits have drawn to a close. 

Sincerely,

Steve Seigh

Whoa, what the hell was that, man? It's just me having a good time. You see, I'm having a bit of a difficult time pinning down my thoughts concerning "Chapter 7" of FX's LEGION, right now. The fact of the matter for me personally, is that this show has so many amazing moments and, every now and again, I don't know where to begin. Although, I've intermittently heard people say that it's best to start at the beginning with most things. Provided that this is true, perhaps it would be behoove us if we discussed the episode's chilling opening scene in which The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) is stalking Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midhunter) through a ramshackle psychiatric hospital hallway. I don't know about you, but this was pure nightmare fuel for me.

First of all, I find The Eye to be a truly terrifying dude, with his murderous glare and lecherous grabby hands. Second, did the manner in which Kerry was running in slow motion not remind you of when you're trying to escape from a nightmare but feel as if you're running in quicksand to do so? That's certainly the vibe that I got, and that black and white strobe light effect didn't help matters either. I truly felt for Kerry in those moments. The panic in her eyes and labored body language spoke volumes about her fear, and as a viewer, I ate it up with a fork and knife.

Shortly thereafter, we come to this really cool "information-dump" scene in which Cary (Bill Irwin) and Oliver (Jermaine Clement) are discussing the identity of The Yellow Eyed Demon - in additon to David's incarceration within his own mind. Here's what we now know: The parasite that's been living inside of David's mind is indeed an ancient mutant called The Shadow King. Furthermore, unless David can over-power him and vanquish the mental vampire from his pysche, we're all going to find ourselves in some seriously deep shit. Thankfully, Cary and Oliver have a plan. What's the first step in their scheme, you ask? They're going to round up the Summerland troops, my friends, and Cary's going to start by breaking Syd (Rachel Keller) out of that cricket-chirping-educed trance she's been sleeping in since the close of "Chapter 6".

The beautiful thing about the next sequence in which Cary is talking privately with Syd, is that our girl has been paying attention to everything that's been going on around her and she can summarize that business like it ain't no thang. Here, allow me to repeat back to you what she said just so that we're all on the same page. She begins by acknowledging that the hospital they were all trapped in wasn't real and that, "it was a mental projection created by the monster [the Shadow King]. Our bodies are in David's childhood bedroom, probably frozen, in time. And if I remember it right, someone just fired a machine gun. So, I'm thinking that when time starts again we'll all be killed." Boy, that Syd is one smart cookie, no? She continues, "What we have to do is distract the monster, who looks like Lenny but isn't, so we can save our bodies without her knowing and then find a way to end the hospital fantasy and save David." In all seriousness, how can you not fall in love with Syd? I know I certainly have. Anyway, before she can run off and execute her part of the plan, Cary gives her several pairs of glasses that Oliver has prepared for the group - they're designed to help the wearer see through the Shadow King's illusions. 

As we press on, we find Syd wandering the dilapidated remains of what used to be a real psychiatric hospital, only now that she's wearing Oliver's special glasses, she can finally see it for what it truly is - a dump. After a quick commercial break, we discover Dr. Melanie Bird pacing about the scene in David's childhood bedroom, where time has slowed to a crawl and bullets are ripping through the air at a not-so-incredible speed. Before long, Cary arrives wearing the diver's suit with Oliver in tow. Melanie, shocked by the sight of her husband (who hasn't aged a day since disappearing into the astral plain several years ago), soon learns that he no longer remembers who she is. Okay, let's pause for a moment. This scene really got to me. It's a given that Oliver's mind is a tad askew from having spent far too much time chilling out (Hey-o!) in the astral plain, but to not recall Melanie at all? That's rather harsh any way you slice it. She reacts to the scenario like a a real trooper, but you can clearly see the hurt in her eyes and hear the disappointment through the quivering tone in her voice. As a stand-out moment for Jean Smart's Dr. Bird, it's awesome.    

Before we continue onto the moments in which David has a conversation with himself while devising the best way in which to break the The Shadow King's mental hold over him, I should mention that Syd found Kerry and gave her a pair of the special glasses. Aww yeah, now our resident ass-kicker is back in business, even though she's still mightily upset with her other half, Cary. Okay, so who among you laughed your ass off at the fact that David chose a British-speaking version of himself to be the voice of his "rational" mind? Ha ha ha! Tea and crumpets indeed! I loved the animated chalk drawings featured in this scene. Each one only served to add to the show's already eccentric and rich visual flare. Oh, and they were helpful as all get out to boot! I feel like between Syd's recap earlier and David explaining away how the Shadow King has been stalking him since childhood as part of a revenge scheme to get back at his real father (Professor Xavier), we're all in pretty good shape.

Alright, so this is the point in the episode where things start to go pear-shaped. Of course, I'm talking about the moment in which Oliver begins to work his hands like a conductor, evoking the orchestral beauty of Maurice Ravel's "Boléro". With swelling strings and the ratta tat tat of the band, Oliver proceeds to break down the math of time itself, and pierces the veil of the Shadow King's prison-like construct. Eventually, the Shadow King catches wind of his approach and puts a stop to it, but not before David can escape his mental prison with Syd and Kerry along for the ride.

Wait a minute, hold up! There's no way we're going to blow through what was without a doubt the best part of tonight's episode. For real, what is it with this show and its habit of executing outstanding musical sequences? In the pilot episode we were treated to a rousing Bollywood dance routine, and then last week Aubrey Plaza turned up the heat with a sensuous and celebratory promenade, and tonight, we've got a silent movie/orchestra-driven hybrid scene in which the Shadow King stalks her prey. Not only did Aubrey Plaza look like Bellatrix Lestrange had sex with David Byrne's wardrobe, her body language was like something out of JACOB'S LADDER, man! Oh, and the way she crumpled up The Eye like he was a sheet of used tinf foil ... pure poetry! I said it last week and I'll say it again now, this is by far the best performance I've ever seen from Plaza. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to work with her on this show. With any luck there will be some cool behind-the-scenes extras about that when the show inevitably hits Blu-Ray and digital formats.

After a bit of foofarah, David manages to free himself from the confines of his own mind and proceeds to escort each of his friends to safety in the process. With the power of will (and a little help from Cary's somewhat-unstable, power-dampening headgear) David has managed to lock the Shadow King away while he and his friends plot their next move. The gorup retreats back to the Summerland compound, where Oliver is waiting to serve them each a fine meal and share a chin wag or two about his adventures in the astral plain. The part about this scene that really cut deep for me was the moment in which Kerry confronts Cary about the promise he made to stay by her side - and how he broke it. She's right, you know? I understand that Cary was busy sorting things out and all, but while he was gallivanting around the astral plain deciphering the riddles of the Shadow King's construct, Kerry was frightened and needed him by her side. While I'm positive that the two of them will work it out, I won't begrudge Kerry the opportunity to call Cary out on his negligence. I must say, the dynamic between these two characters has really strengthened over the past few episodes, and I've been thankful to have had a front row seat from which I could watch the evolution.

By the episode's end, the armored goons from Division 3 show up and they've brought David's old interviewer with them. Now, I could be mistaken, but did David actually break the confines of the Shadow King's prison on purpose or did the ancient mutant do that on his own accord? Perhaps it was a fight or flight situation? After all, the Shadow King wants David's powers as well as his body. That being said, using David as a vessel won't so the Shadow King a whole hell of a lot of good if Haller is riddled with bullet holes, you feel me? I honestly don't have any idea what's going to happen next, but I can't wait to find out. Oh, and the reason this episode is scoring another 10 out of 10 from me is because LEGION didn't skip a beat when compared to the pristine quality of last week's installment. I'm of the mind that consistency should be rewarded, especially when it's this sensational. I do look for flaws, it's part of the job, but I'd found none. I'll see you next week when FX's LEGION concludes with the presentation of "Chapter 8".  

SCORE:

STINGER: In the season finale, David faces his biggest challenge yet.

Extra Tidbit: The Shadow King made his first appearance in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #117.
Source: joblo.com

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