Legion – Chapter 13 Review
I've consistently praised Aubrey Plaza's great work throughout the first season and a half of Legion
, and I've certainly wanted to see more of her and Lenny as the series continues to unspool itself. So while it was lovely to get an hour centered on Lenny (even if it was just an hour answering the big question of where Lenny's new body came from), I can't help but be disappointed with the lack of character and story we were served alongside some great work from Plaza, Navid Negahban (Farouk), Jermaine Clement (Oliver), and Kate Aselton (Amy).
I suppose the big twist of the hour, that Lenny's new body had previously belonged to David's sister Amy, would have hit home if you were someone who hadn't given Amy much thought throughout season two. And perhaps I was in the minority, having wondered each week if the show was ever going to fill us in on where Amy ended up (what can I say, I enjoyed Aselton's work in season one, and Legion
doesn't seem like the kind of show to just leave threads hanging in the wind forever). But I deduced pretty early on that Lenny was, in fact, housed in the body of Amy. So, much like with the various Westworld
puzzles that fizzled once the audience figured out the major reveal prematurely, David's emotional unrest didn't land as well as it might have if it came with my own shock. But the real reason the big reveal was more of a dud? The episode didn't care about the characters. It only cared about the style that got us to that reveal.
The death (or here, "death") of a supporting character only works if we care about them. And to care about them, we need to actually spend time getting to know them. That wasn't the case with Amy, despite Aselton's fine work with the character. Considering all we know about David's past has been filtered through two untrustworthy sources- the Shadow King and David himself- I'm not sure we ever could have really gotten to know who Amy was without giving her screen time away from her brother (which would have been hard to justify, as her worth to the story in season one was tied so closely to him). But there in lies the rub: to care about Amy, we needed to get to know the character more, but the character existed as a means to know and understand David (something that many a critic has written on over the years: women and minority characters that exist solely to further the arc of a white guy). Losing her deals a blow to David, yes, but it doesn't have the sting it could have, had we spent time with Amy (and, frankly, had actually seen her at some point in season two).
On the other end of the Lenny + Amy equation is Lenny, another cipher of a character. Lenny is one of the most interesting characters on television largely because we don't really know what's going on with her in any given episode. She's wholly untrustworthy for a myriad of reasons (not least of which because she is a pawn in Farouk's game of manipulation), so trying to figure out her motives is a game in and of itself. Lenny works because Plaza is so great at making her ticks interesting rather than over the top. It's a fine line to walk and it certainly isn't easy. But, Noah Hawley has also neglected to form a real character around Lenny's presence. Sure, she's the id within David, the person more likely to push you to dangerous places rather than protect you from harm. However, we've reached the point where we need more from the character than just disturbing impulses and a penchant for showy displays. I'm thrilled Lenny is back in the land of the living (although her presence will haunt David for years to come), but I wish we learned more about her character in this episode; more about what makes her tick and where she came from.
That being said, the style of the episode was glorious. That prison cell with inverted gravity? Incredible. The donut food truck sub? Hilarious. The colors and inter-cut flashbacks? Gorgeous. The only thing lacking was the substance. The reveal of Lenny's sourced body could easily have been a shorter arc within the episode (perhaps taking some time to show us Amy's day-to-day life in hiding, creating an epic collision of the two stories in the reveal?). I've always wanted to spend an hour with Lenny, I had just hoped it would have been more satisfying.
-- One of the episode highlights was getting to see that Oliver's consciousness still exists, as he promised to kill Farouk (and remembered his beloved Melanie). My one hope moving forward this season is that Oliver somehow gets out of this situation unscathed and reunites with Melanie. Both of them deserve a W.
-- Another pretty clear tip-off as to what was coming with the body reveal? The decidedly feminine hand Farouk found in the casket and the shockingly lack of decomposition.
-- Jon Hamm's Narrator started the episode was "Apparently, previously on Legion
." Which was a tad ominous when it comes to our understanding of what's happening on the show. Or, really, just par for the course here.
-- Note that yesterday, FX revealed that there will be an extra episode of Legion
this season, making the episode count eleven, rather than the ten previously announced.