“Chapter 17” was a slow, character-driven episode of Legion, which, while welcome, would have been more useful earlier in the second season, which continues to meander somewhat aimlessly in search of a plot.
Sometimes I feel like Legion is listening to me. Only last week I complained that – among other things – Melanie Bird and the rest of Division 3 had been thoroughly wasted thus far this season, and lo and behold, “Chapter 17” put her front and centre in a slow, character-driven episode that Legion definitely needed, even if it also needs other things that it still doesn’t have, such as genuine forward momentum, a reasonable sense of pacing, and a compelling central narrative. Hopefully it really is listening to me and we can get that fixed.
Of course, it’s a bit too late in the game for me to really care about what Melanie has been up to, and you have to imagine that the reason this second season needed to order an extra episode is because it wasn’t all that well thought-out in the first place, but I appreciate the effort. “Chapter 17” looked to explore the psychological damage caused by Melanie’s relationship with the long-absent Oliver, and how her pining for both their relationship and a younger version of herself leaves her susceptible to the manipulation of the Shadow King.
All good stuff, you understand, especially a monologue directed at Syd, lambasting her role as the hero’s love interest, but what to make of it all at this stage? These are the kind of episodes you stick near the beginning of a season, or in the middle when it starts to sag, not in the sprint towards the finale. Legion has made a reputation on being unconventional, but sometimes it’s worth remembering that those conventions became such for a reason – because they’re a sensible way of structuring, pacing and developing a story.
Meanwhile, Kerry and Cary are enacting the beginning of David’s nebulous master plan, which reminds me that we haven’t really spent much time with Kerry and Cary for a while, either. This strikes me as a bit odd considering that they’re more directly related to the progression of the broader narrative than Melanie is at this point, and that they also have the most interesting dynamic of anyone else in the cast – a dynamic that I frequently forget about because it’s so underexplored.
Thank goodness for Lenny, then. She’s back for “Chapter 17”, rediscovering some of the punkier shenanigans she got up to in the earlier, better days of Legion, but it doesn’t last long. Her encounters with Amy don’t amount to much beyond the reveal that Lenny is in love with David, which I can’t say even constitutes a reveal at this point. Hasn’t that been rather obvious subtext for a while now? No matter. I’m sure it’ll amount to something or other, even if it isn’t very much.
And there we have it: Another lacklustre episode of Legion. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve have liked to see something like “Chapter 17” much earlier in the second season, when this kind of character-driven episode would have helped to build a proper narrative framework for a show that continues to meander aimlessly, hoping desperately to stumble at some point into a plot. It remains artfully constructed and still very much unlike anything else on television, which I suppose is worthy of faint praise, but at what point does being unlike everything else start to become a detriment? I think we’ve reached it.