FX’s Legion totally ignores the central conflict against the Shadow King and the impending apocalypse in favor of a twisted-AF love story, and it’s simultaneously the most unforgiving but totally awesome episode yet. David is tested over and over and over again as he relives Sydney’s life from birth until roughly the present day, and the show avoids dialogue for long stretches in favor of montages that play entire Bon Iver songs over them. Yeah, it’s incredible.
On Tuesday night, “Chapter 12” offered up Legion at perhaps its most fucked-up and unforgiving in a highly stylized nightmarish trip through Sydney’s life in a seemingly endless loop. She tests David by making him a fly on the wall for numerous lifetimes, watching key memories on repeat. Each trip through, he sees a new memory that gradually reveals exactly how messed up Syd’s entire life was. She could never enjoy a hug from her mother, and her inner pain caused her to do all sorts of hurtful things. In a compelling way, “Chapter 12” spins its wheels in a stylistically beautiful way to hammer in a point — which is exactly what Legion has done all along.
The whole thing barely makes sense, but it’s a sensory delight that you can’t help but enjoy even if you don’t understand it. That’s Legion in a nutshell.
David spent most of last week’s “Chapter 11” saving his various friends from the Chatter virus which, as it turns out, comes from the Monk rather than the Shadow King. But this episode is all about Syd. We learned last week that the virus basically takes the individual inside some kind of mental maze of their own design, one that entices and distracts the victim with their greatest desires.
At first, we’re all led to believe that Syd’s memory loop is another manifestation of this problem, but that’s not the case. When the Monk died, so did the Chatter. David gets dragged through countless life loops to ultimately chat with Syd in her igloo (a symbolic metaphor for the womb).
“Love is a hot bath,” Syd says. “What happens when you leave something in a hot bath too long? It gets soft, falls apart.” All of her pain and struggles made her stronger as a result, which is the apparent “point” here.
“They sell us this lie that love’s gonna save us,” Syd adds. “All it does is make us stupid and weak.” Syd’s worldview is the exact opposite of every Eighties power pop song ever, which is okay when David simply reasserts that they’re both two fucked-up individuals and they’ll make it together.
In almost any other show, David’s saccharine devotion would come off as tasteless and ruin the show, but there’s something so genuine in how Legion executes these characters and their fragility.
As far as filler episodes go in superhero shows, this one is perhaps the best ever.
Legion airs Tuesdays on FX at 10 p.m. Eastern.