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Legion – Season 1, Episode 6: Chapter 6 Review

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★★★★★

Spoilers lie within for the episode. Don't complain to us if your brain explodes after reading...

For a series that has been so consistently clever and entertaining through this first season, quickly establishing itself as one of the more creative and unique spins on the superhero genre, Chapter Six feels like hitting a rock in the road. For while the visual pizzazz is still present and correct, and the cast have a few moments to shine, the whole episode feels self-indulgent and dull compared to anything that has come before.

There is also the creeping sensation that this is a prime example of a "bottle show" – filmed on existing sets with no guest cast – intended to save money for fireworks down the line. Unfortunately, while there can be great, inventive uses of the concept, this is not necessarily one of them.

The episode does at least attempt to play with our perceptions, and those of the characters, as the team remains stuck in some psychic realm created by Lenny – or whatever the hell Lenny actually is – along with The Eye and Amy.

That turns out to be a hellishly mundane variant on the Clockworks facility, where Lenny (Aubrey Plaza, who enjoys the episode's highlight via a dance routine to a remix of Nina Simone's Feeling Good that is part Cabaret, part Bond credits sequence and part psychedelic nightmare) is the therapist and Amy (Katie Aselton) is the mean nurse who denies David the pie he's been craving.

Legion's team still wants to play tricks on our brain – this altered reality also appears to be some sort of defence mechanism that the psychic parasite invading David's mind has cooked up to both keep them complacent and protect itself from the violent turn the real world has taken. It's Syd who really starts to figure out that something is wrong, seeing an incongruous bedroom door in a hallway and bugs in her pie. But all the little clues are dripped out in such slow motion, that the woozy feel of the narrative this week is more likely to put you to sleep than keep you watching. It's no fault of the cast, who still manage to make the characters engaging, but you can't help thinking that the plot has ground to a halt.

We could honestly do without more traditional beats, such as the Eye threatening Kerry Loudermilk, and not all of the weirdness works on the same level as what has gone before. Reality still warps, but when everyone is trapped in a shared delusion (or whatever the hell Lenny has cooked up), it just lacks the power to surprise.

And the "revelation" about the Devil/Lenny's early arrival in David's mind is hardly a shocker – we'd all started to figure that out a while ago. More interesting to watch will be how they actually get out of this situation, and it would seem that both Oliver (though we don't see Jemaine Clement this week, just his diving suit-clad form) and Cary Loudermilk are starting to figure out a way to escape.

As for what does work? Little things, such as the scene of Melanie Bird trying to save David and Syd in reality from the bullets flying towards them, only to discover she can't alter reality the way she might want to. And Amy's mean-sister act has more emotional resonance than anything between David and Syd.

Hopefully this one will just be a blip; with only two more episodes in this initial run, things will need to get moving if anything is to be wrapped up in a truly satisfying manner before the end. Thank goodness, too, that Legion has been renewed for a second season, so there's no fear of lingering cliffhangers.

Big Question

David's adopted. Does that mean we could still seeProfessor X is still his father?

The door certainly appears to be ajar on that front, even if the series doesn't tend to lean too strongly on its X-Men roots.

Legion airs on FX in the US on Wednesdays and Fox TV in the UK on Thursdays.

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