Legion Review: “Chapter 12”
“Chapter 12” of Legion is an amazing example of how the show takes risks without ever having to gamble anything. The episode does little to forward the plot of the show, instead telling an insular story for a character that’s been criminally underdeveloped for the entire series: Syd. Luckily “Chapter 12” manages to not only provide a fully developed and engrossing backstory for this central character but pushes the thematic boundaries of what comic book based entertainment can achieve.
The episode disguises its true intentions ingeniously thanks to last weeks cliffhanger, as fans are expecting to experience an intricately produced vision of Syd’s maze. As the show usually does, the viewer is placed into the shoes of David, trying to figure out what Syd’s maze truly means. Subtly over the course of the episode, it is revealed that David and the viewers aren’t stuck in Syd’s maze but rather her memories.
Over the course of the episode’s runtime, viewers bare witness to the harsh nature of Syd’s youth. While the most overplayed and often insufferable parts of comic book entertainment can be the rehashing of origin stories, "Chapter 12" succeeds at telling Syd’s past by how her origin is a product of her powers as opposed to the other way around. By exploring how growing up without being able to touch other people would psychologically and emotionally affect someone, the show achieves some of the portrayals of isolation, depression and sexual confusion is seen on TV in recent years.
While so many shows fail at accurately portraying these conflicts faced by young adults, especially when the central character is a young woman, the show succeeds at this by looking at how overcoming these struggles help to make Syd a stronger person. While David and the viewer spend much of the episode believing that Syd is in need of being saved from relieving some of the most horrific moments of her youth, it is revealed to David that Syd is actually in control the whole time, with David lost in Syd’s maze rather than the other way around.
In a way the show is almost paying its dues for having had Syd merely serve as the love interest for David for so long, as this episode shows Syd as someone who operates beyond the normal love interest paradigms. She teaches David and the viewer that love is not what led David to discover his powers, nor what saved Syd from the hardships she faced. Rather, it’s only through embracing and growing a resistance to these hardships that will make David stronger.
From the opening montage soundtracked by Bon Iver and The National to the haunting sexual assault scene towards the episode’s climax, no scene of "Chapter 12" was wasted. While some fervent fans may have been disappointed by the lack of plot progression in the episode, the bottle-episode nature of “Chapter 12” has made for one of the most engrossing hours of TV in 2018 so far, and proves that the person behind the superpower is much more interesting than the power itself.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Public Relations