An emotional (and convoluted) finale sets the stage for a bonkers second season.
Last week’s Legion ended on a cliffhanger, as David and his fellow Summerlanders—having beaten the Shadow King at its own game—found themselves surrounded by a contingent of soldiers from Division 3, the secondary villains who lurked in the background all season. And the unit is led by none other than the Interrogator (Hamish Linklater), the mysterious villain who seemed to be killed off in Legion’s series premiere.
This is a classic comic-book move: A bad guy, long thought dead, suddenly reemerges to throw a wrench into the works. And damn, look how scary he is now! Covered in burn scars like Two Face, wearing a cool red suit. Given the high stakes here, you might have expected the Legion finale to pick up right where last week left off, setting the stage for the Interrogator to become the brand new Big Bad in Season Two.
But it doesn’t. Instead, the season finale opens by spending seven full minutes giving us a window into the life of the Interrogator, beginning by winding the clock back to the moment David dropped a Schwarzenegger-worthy one-liner and—we assumed, incorrectly—sent him to his death.
Instead of dying, the Interrogator wakes up in a hospital, covered in bandages, surrounded by his grieving husband and son. And we’re suddenly forced to see him not as a mysterious, implacable government agent bearing down on our hero, but as a human being in his own right. In an extended montage, the Interrogator returns home for extensive, painful physical therapy and convalescence. He learns how to walk again. He jokes about the horrific burn scars that cover 40 percent of his body, and calmly refuses to submit to his new Division 3 assignment—a desk job he rejects out of both vengeance and pride, because he’s more dedicated than ever to catching David. We later learn that the Interrogator’s name is Clark. On a different show, he’d be the hero.
Legion can frustrate me—frankly, much of the finale did—but I’ll always give a lot of rope to a series that spends this much time veering away from the easy, lazy tropes it could be following. And now that David is also largely in control of his staggering powers, Legion is also wise enough to play this particular conflict out to its logical conclusion. Clark and his army of Division 3 soldiers don’t actually pose a physical threat to David and his friends anymore; with a snap of his fingers, David telekinetically manipulates every soldier into forming a kind of physical tower. But David is also wise enough to know that physical violence won’t make this problem go away. If he and his friends are ever going to escape Division 3’s ambushes, he needs to convince them that he deserves to be free. “You’re right. We need to talk,” he tells Clark, who follows him inside.
The ensuing conversation further tests our loyalty to David and his mutant buddies, because the stakes are the existence of the human race. “Dinosaurs once ruled the earth. Remind me what happened to them,” says Melanie. “Better learn to fly like a bird, because the age of the dinosaur is over.”
But that’s the external conflict—rarely the arena in which Legion, a uniquely internal show, chooses to wage its battles. Division 3 has always been a distraction, because the real villain of Legion has always been the Shadow King (or Amahl Farouk, or The Devil with the Yellow Eyes, or The Angriest Boy in the World, or Lenny—to quote the titular biblical reference, it is many).
“Dinosaurs once ruled the earth. Remind me what happened to them,” says Melanie. “Better learn to fly like a bird, because the age of the dinosaur is over.”
The Shadow King is unquestionably a malevolent, parasitic force—but it’s also been lodged inside David’s brain since he was a baby. If David truly banishes it from his brain, what kind of man will he discover himself to be? David tells Syd the most dangerous thing a schizophrenic can believe is that he’s not schizophrenic. The Shadow King is an immense burden, but it’s also a scapegoat. And once it’s gone, the leftover psychic baggage will be his to answer for, and his to resolve.
Of course, the Shadow King isn’t going anywhere without a fight. Last week, it managed to smash a hole in the lid of the psychic coffin David made for it. This week, it falls back on the “break glass in case of emergency” situation established all the way back in the series premiere: Syd. When David and Syd briefly switched bodies, the Shadow King also gained access to Syd’s brain, and it uses the exploit to torment her about what might happen to David’s fragile brain once it’s gone. “You ever make soup?” the Shadow King asks. “You ever try to unmake soup?”
Back in the external world, Cary is desperately trying to draw the Shadow King out of David’s brain—but the process seems just as likely to kill David as to free him. And that’s when Syd runs in and kisses him, transferring the Shadow King from his brain into hers.
This is the first time we’ve seen the Shadow King occupy a non-David host, and it doesn’t waste much time before swapping into Kerry, a powerhouse whose physical dexterity allows it to disarm the Summerlanders and mount a smooth escape. The Shadow King transfers one last time, to Melanie’s long-lost husband Oliver—honestly, I’m still not really sure how that last one happened—and hits the open road to cause havoc someplace warmer.
This is all a little convoluted—but it also lays the appropriate groundwork for a second season. When the dust settles, all the Summerlanders are still alive, and Clark agrees that he and the rest of Division 3 will need to work alongside them to track the Shadow King down and stop its trail of horror and chaos once and for all. That, presumably, is where the story will begin when Legion returns for Season Two—but with this show, who knows for sure?
Oh, yeah, before I forget. That weird mid-credits sequence when a little robot orb flies up and sucks David inside? I have no idea. Legion, man.
Luka Sabbat Teaches You How to Speak Teen
MORE STORIES LIKE THIS ONE