TV Review: Legion – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Chapter 5”

Last Updated on July 31, 2021


SYNOPSIS: David faces a new threat.


It's funny. While watching LEGION tonight, my wife and I were commenting to one another about how "Chapter 5" might be the show's most straight-forward episode yet. Then, in the last fifteen minutes of the program, so much of what I thought was throw right out of our proverbial window. By the time the credits started rolling we were both like, "Well, okaaaaaaaaay." The thing about LEGION is, being confouded by the show's plot is part of the fun. Just when you think you've got a grip on what's happening, or what's real, LEGION has a great way of pulling the rug out from under you.

Tonight's episode certainly was interesting, though, wasn't it? I've never seen Dan Stevens seethe with malice before, buy boy is he good at it. Here's the thing, now that David is back from his trip to the astral plane, he's changed. He's more aware of his abilities than ever, and that yellow-eyed demon that's been lurking around in his brain meats, it's getting stronger. Actually, there's something I want to touch upon before we go any further in this week's review. As someone who does not watch the preview clips for each episode, or embrace spoilers about the show in general, I want you to understand go into these chapters as fresh as a daisy, every week. 

In one of my previous reviews, one of our readers tipped me off to the idea that the show's villain could in fact be [possible spoilers in 3 … 2 … 1] an ancient mutant known throughout the Marvel universe as the Shadow King. According to the Marvel Universe WIki, this nightmare creature might have been a being of telepathic energy existing only through the astral plane, but taking human hosts for a time to have a link to the physical world. Other Schmoes have suggested that LEGION's primary antagonist might be the Marvel villain Mojo, but I'm not convinced. Anyway, after the events of "Chapter 5", I decided to do a little research. What I'd found is that if you start connecting the dots between the yellow-eyed demon, the Angriest Boy in the World, Lenny, and even David's imaginary dog King, you'll find that they're all the same entity. The Shadow King, a primordial mutant, has been living inside of David's head ever since he was a child. My only question now is why? 

Phew! Okay, let's walk this freight train of thought back a little bit. and instead talk about how David is losing control of his faculties. For whatever reason, the Shadow King is getting stronger, and he's now using David as if he were an omega-level powered puppet. Perhaps the nasty Tool music video reject is just trying to have a little fun, or maybe, he's afraid that David's friends are getting too close to exorcising him from Haller's brain and body. Whichever the case may be, David is now the embodiment of hubris on two legs, and his once tender voice has since been replaced by one of malice and contempt. Here's my question though: When David takes Syd into his mind palace (or "the White Room" as Ms. Barrett calls it) – and they get to touching and stuff – is Haller or the Shadow King the one who's got the grabby hands?

As we move along in the episode, David informs Melanie that he knows where his sister Amy is being held, and that he's going to get her back with or without the Summerland team's help. Now, because Melanie doesn't want to lose David, she agrees to help him on his quest. Here's the thing of it though, before they can collectively make a plan, David escapes to the compound on his own and all hell breaks loose. I'm not kidding, once the Summerland team finally arrives, they discover that there are bodies everywhere! At a glance, it looks like David went to town by tearing the operatives from limb to limb. Only, that's not exactly what happened. What's important to remember now is that David has been corrupted by the Shadow King, which means that his mind and actions are no longer under his control. So, when he's dancing through a hallway and making people's heads explode with a snap of his fingers, it's important to keep in mind that David is also a victim.

The thing that I keep coming back to as a reviewer is the frenetic pacing of LEGION. My biggest concern when I saw the pilot was that the mutant-related psychedelic madness of Noah Hawley's show might not continue beyond that first offering. Thankfully, the show has proven that it's not afraid to get weird and stay there. I mean c'mon, tonight we watched as David serenaded Syd while strumming out "The Rainbow Connection" on a banjo for heaven's sake. Oh, and don't even get me started on that Stanley Kubrick meets Terry Gilliam long-shot we got of the Shadow King toward the close of the episode. How terrifying was that? I absolutely loved the lighting in that scene. It totally reminded me of when Johnny Depp's Raoul Duke in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS took one too many hits of the adrenochrome. Six huge, hairy tits and all that jazz.

Overall, I think tonight's episode was a great exploration of the Shadow King's hold over David. Being possessed by the foregone mutant really lent to Dan Stevens getting his evil on and I quite enjoyed the dramatic shift in tone. There's a large part of me that feels awful for Syd, though. Is it David who has discovered a way for her to feel things without touching them or is that the work of the Shadow King? And how about what Amy revealed to David about him being adopted? Could it be that we'll soon hear a Professor X name drop before the season's end? Also, if Amy knows, does anyone else? What about Melanie? Has she perhaps been keeping that information from David this whole time? I'd argue that because he's a stronger telepath than Dr. Bird that David would have gotten it out of her by now, but you can't search for a truth you're not aware exists, right? Yeah, I've got questions.

For me, LEGION is the best show I watch all week long, hands down. It taps into my sensibilities as a lover of comic books and quality serialized storytelling. It's a mature, thinking persons program that's got style and smarts on lock. There isn't a single character I don't enjoy learning more about and, so far, the story has remained engaging and mysterious at every turn. If it sounds like I'm gushing that's okay. I'd tell you straight up if I had any complaints. After all, I'm not here to butter Noah Hawley's roll or make him breakfast the morning after, you know?  My job is to look at the show with a critical eye and hopefully still have a good time with it. Thankfully, I view LEGION as the type of show that makes this job seem a bit too easy. See you next week, folks! 


STINGER: "Chapter 6" – David goes back to where it all started.


About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.