Legion – Chapter 11 Review
may have earned the reputation as the most visually compelling series currently on TV, but it hasn’t yet managed to snag accolades for coherent narratives and strong, character-driven storylines (which is completely fine, so long as it continues to churn out the psychedelic images and strange musical numbers). That isn’t to say the series can’t provide the odd interesting character beat, or give us an inspired performance without the flash of a black and white montage, but when it opts for a more staid hour (by Legion
standards) like “Chapter 11,” things just don’t feel all that compelling.
A lot of that ennui came from the episode ending just as David begins his journey into Syd’s blizzardy mind, leaving us with more questions than answers going into next week. But the trope of having a character (or, here, set of characters) delve into the minds of their colleagues felt more mundane and played out than innovative and interesting. Sure, Ptonomy would want to forget and Melanie would desperately seek power over those around her (everything about her character this season screams woman who wants to control the uncontrollable), but neither journey did much to tell us things we didn’t already know. And neither maze was all that Legion
-y. It felt like a let-down (a danger when a show has caused us to expect the strange and unexpected as normal).
Where the episode worked incredibly well was in fleshing out two of its more nebulous characters: Lenny and Kerry. While “Chapter 10” opened the door to the pressing question of what happens to Lenny once Farouk gets his body back, “Chapter 11” doubled down on the uncertain fate of the show’s most interesting character with her desperate pleas for help in the face of an unknown future. Lenny remains unable to even kill off her consciousness (unlike the Monk, whose corporeal presence means death is but the next great adventure for him- after a fall from the roof of a skyscraper, that is). Aubrey Plaza has been great, bringing various shades of malice mixed with pure, high-octane insanity to Lenny, but getting to see her throw out the fun and go straight for the absolutely petrified was a great change of pace. Plaza, it turns out, can do the dramatic as well as the weirdly comic, and I really hope Lenny sticks around on this wild ride.
As for Kerry, boy, the ever-evolving sibling relationship between her and Cary has become one of the best parts of Legion
. Her disgruntled adolescent reaction to human necessities was a lighthearted moment amidst the uneven episode (and her new-found love of cream soda certainly rang true for this cream soda fan). For a character that’s so strong and imposing (now that we know her true skill-set), it was lovely to see that there’s more here than just Cary’s protector. Amber Midthunder is doing excellent work on the show, as Noah Hawley slowly dispenses crumbs of character development for our stoic fighter.
Aside from those shining moments of character development, “Chapter 11” felt more like the first part of something than a complete episode of television. I suspect it will hold up better when linked directly to next week’s “Chapter 12.” But, on its own merits, I couldn’t help but be disappointed.
-- In the always murky realm of what X-Men mythology matters in Legion
and what doesn’t, we were given the origin story of Farouk, complete with a Professor X history lesson. While Hawley remains mum on exactly when the head of the X-Men will make an appearance (and in what form), getting a look at who Charles Xavier is from the standpoint of the show’s villain without any counterpoint is an interesting way to really introduce him. David knows next to nothing positive about the man, so I suspect his opinion of Chuck will be quite different from ours when the introduction occurs.
-- Melanie has developed into one of the darker characters in the series. While she spent season one obsessively protecting her charges, the speed at which she suggests pitting David against Farouk this week was surprising. Now, she clearly has a vested interest in getting Farouk defeated once and for all, but aside from using David to save Oliver, it’s interesting to see how she’s gone from protect David at all costs to allow David to risk his life (without consulting David about the decision).