After five episodes focusing on the unreality trapped inside David Haller’s head, Legion has finally let it all spill out, creating a weird but fascinating episode. This takes all the puzzles and clues from the entire series so far and uses them to create something equal parts continuing mystery and edge of the seat questions. It’s a show that’s refusing to give up its secrets, without ever making you feel like you’re being shut out. It all has meaning, you just don’t know it yet.
For a show built on continually unanswered questions, keeping this guessing game going without giving too much away or wearing you out is impressive. Continuing on from the last episode we now have the entire cast somehow transported into David’s old mental facility as patients - living out new lives, apparently unaware of what went before. Previously the supporting cast were the voice of reason trying to unravel the secrets in David’s head, now they’re part of it - warped and recreated to suit a new paradigm.
It works in part because it plays with everything you thought you knew: motifs, characters and threads all reused in a new light. Things are reinterpreted in a way that makes you reconsider facts and assumptions - why is David’s sister a mean nurse in this reality when she was always a caring sibling before? One scene mirrors exactly a previous episode where Syd visited David at night, playing out shot for shot but with the roles reversed. Another moment, when dogs are mentioned, David casually mentions he hates them, having spent every episode previously lovingly remembering his childhood pet, King. (Who we now know didn’t exist anyway.)
In some places it feels like you’re being deliberately trolled. There’s a door in the hospital that keeps disappearing and reappearing (that unbeknownst to everyone leads to all David’s memories outside the hospital). When Syd brings it up, Ptonomy talks about ‘how one memory could be confused with another memory’. You can almost sense the sly smile on the writers’ faces as the collective audience screams, ‘WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?’
At least one question is finally answered as Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny, now the hospital’s therapist, finally confirms that she is the mysterious Yellow Eyed Demon; comparing herself to the fungus that takes control of ants, as the invasive entity inside David. There’s a few interesting take aways here as well. Firstly, the revelation that she’s been with David since the womb but, more importantly, the fact that she knew his father, who put David up for adoption in an attempt to hide him from the monster.
That’s super interesting for a few reasons. In the comics, David’s father is Professor X and if that’s the case here, and Xavier knows about the creature, it suggest the Yellow Eyed Demon is the Shadow King. Canonically he’s a psychic entity that takes over people’s minds and had previously fought the Prof. [Update: A chapter 7 teaser has confirmed he is Amahl Farouk, meaning we were almost right when we guessed who the Yellow Eyed Demon is.]
This reveal, along with other moments, is the reason why Aubrey Plaza dominates the episode, wryly questioning the inmates one minute, outright threatening David the next. She’s basically playing multiple characters: the therapist, her Lenny alter-ego and the Demon. The brilliantly weird James Bond title sequence pastiche - as Lenny dances like a showgirl through all David's memories - shouldn’t work but it does. She’s literally lording over her domain inside his mind, spinning on the tables and tearing up the pillows.
There’s one misfire among all this though - The Eye’s sudden infatuation with Kerry. The scenes where he threatens and pursues her through corridors add tension but not a lot else. There’s no explanation as to why he’s taken a sudden interest in her, or what he’s hoping to gain here. I’m guessing that it’s setting something up for the future but it’s inelegantly done; more or less brute forced into play with little reason.
Overall the pervading unreality here mirrors the sense that something in David has broken out. The show feels like it’s constantly writhing and reinventing itself under your gaze to mirror David (and now the cast’s) grasp on reality. Legion’s done a good job so far of keeping the trick going and creating a much more interesting take on superheroes than the usual punching and flying, but it leaves the final couple of episodes with a lot of work to do. Much of the ongoing interest for me currently depends on a satisfying resolution. It feels like too much has been threaded at this point to not get any answers at the end, but I also know shows love to finish on a ‘next season’ cliffhanger. At this point in the arc, that would feel like a massive waste of everyone’s time. I’ve enjoyed everything so far but I’m looking towards what comes next with a little trepidation.