It’s still playing its cards close to its chest, but Legion is finally starting to give us hints at what kind of a hand it’s got. Powers are used, horrific backstories are revealed, and the Yellow Eyed Demon finally stands centre stage daring us all to second guess who or what he is.
There is an odd tone, though, throughout this episode. For David the reason is clear - he’s been completely taken over by the Demon. His suddenly near-callous flippancy and brooding is played by Dan Stevens with such an obvious difference from the twitchy likeable person we know, that it’s hard not to wonder how the other characters don’t notice. Syd, as well, seems to inherit some of this arrogance and, given the show’s ongoing willingness to play with reality and memories, it’s hard not to wonder if what we’re seeing is a true representation of events, or some filtered perception or recollection.
It creates an interesting tone in some places, almost as if the show is tainted or corrupted, in the same way the hero is. For example, the ongoing romance between David and Syd should be sweet and lovely, but something feels wrong, the characters aren’t themselves - why is not one else noticing this? It’s a clever touch, creating an uneasy, almost frustrating watch as you start to feel like the only one that can really see what’s going on.
The show continues to play with strange cuts and visual motifs, particularly in the reality David creates where he and Syd can be together - its red tinted bathroom is a physical manifestation of where he keeps the darkest part of himself hidden away, even in a space specifically created to share with another person. The show’s still struggling to match the opening episode, though, and quirks and touches here are slight, almost reminders rather than anything else. When the team catch up with the aftermath of David rescuing his sister - a scene full of burning wreckage and partially disintegrated soldiers - it relies more on its soundtrack choice than any particularly clever treatment.
Perhaps the most unpleasant part of this episode however is Syd’s story of how she lost her virginity at 16, using her power to swap with her mother to have sex with the older woman’s boyfriend. “The switch didn’t last long back then and when he was inside of me I changed back,”’ she says casually before mentioning the aftermath when people found them. It’s another great example of the show’s very human approach to not being entirely human, posing some very uncomfortable questions and ideas on how powers might affect people. “Who teaches you to be normal when you’re one of a kind?” Asks Syd. In an episode full of murder and disintegrated bodies this is by far the most uncomfortable moment.
It’s the final moments of the show which really pull the gloves off though. Having established the Yellow Eyed Demon’s dominance over David, Lenny takes over to threaten his sister and attempt to reveal his past. It’s dark, it’s nasty and Aubrey Plaza’s got real menace as the apparently human face of whatever the hell she is - teasing a connection to nearly all the mystery characters so far: her male alter ego Benny, the dog, and the children’s book boy.
This episode feels like it’s laying the way for some big reveals in the next installment. After lots of exposition and backstory, Chapter 5 moves all those pieces into a position where something has to give. A lot happens very quickly in the final moments and in clever and interesting ways. Plaza stops short of outright confirming herself as the demon but it seems likely given her positively evil behaviour and weird voices. The silent section - as David’s friends try to find him in his old childhood home - is a nice little trick to keep you guessing. As is a final reveal of the demon, in all his hideous glory, leading to the last shot sting of all the main players suddenly appearing in the first chapter’s mental home as patients. The assumption being it’s David’s attempt save everyone using his still uncertain powers and not some ‘it was all a dream’ twist. However, given the way Legion’s being playing with expectations and conventions who knows where this is going? It certainly sets up an exciting Chapter 6.