“Chapter 26” set up the finale excellently, with a dread-laced, thoughtful episode playing right to the show’s strengths.
This recap of Legion Season 3, Episode 7, “Chapter 26”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After last week’s awful diversionary episode, “Chapter 26” is a welcome return to form, hitting high notes of horror and psychology and actually using the show’s impressionistic attitude to reinforce its plot, rather than for its own sake. Will the finale stick the landing? That remains to be seen. But I’m willing to forgive last week’s bout of self-indulgence as an anomaly in what has otherwise been a pretty good season.
Legion Season 3, Episode 7 is essentially divided into two separate story strands. In the first, Charles Xavier unwittingly falls into the Shadow King’s trap, but the appearance of a time-traveling David gives him an opportunity to change the outcome of their encounter. In the second, the time demons harass Syd, Cary, and Kerry at the future X-Mansion. Both plots obviously relate to each other, but they’re kept mostly distinct in “Chapter 26”, and are probably better for that room to breathe.
The Xavier stuff is especially great; more so when you consider this is a version of a character we’ve seen many versions of in the past — some of them beloved. It helps that Navid Negahban is doing perhaps his best work ever as Farouk here. These interactions are laced with dread but also a kind of confidence in their significance; the audience, I think, can feel that. David’s season-long desperation to rewrite reality persists here too in its most callous form, as he uncaringly describes a near-toothless Switch as simply a means to his desired end.
In that case, it makes sense when Syd explains that present-day David is too far gone to be saved. But she’s on the side of morality in her insistence than Baby David is still innocent. It’d be easy, physically, to kill an infant, but it would be a betrayal of Legion‘s superheroic essence. This is, at the end of the day, a Marvel property. We can’t just go around killing kids.
But we can speculate about doing so, which is why Syd’s conversations with Gabriella in “Chapter 26” are so great and complex. Nothing is easy about raising children at the best of times; when they’re all-powerful psychics, all bets are off. As far as Syd’s character is concerned, these kinds of moralistic debates are much better for her development than whatever the previous episode was doing, and I wish throughout Legion‘s three seasons someone had told Noah Hawley that earlier.
Still, here we are. “Chapter 26” was the show understanding its strengths and weaknesses, keeping the plot moving, but still sparing time for psychedelic visual sequences that reinforced its points or helped to create additional tension. The glitches in time — very Assassin’s Creed in its early, compelling days — were a nice touch, as was Farouk’s shadowy storytelling. By the time he had emerged from a painting to present himself to himself, I was for perhaps the first time fully on board with what Legion is doing. Too little too late? We’ll see. But if we’re going to enter the show’s finale, I’m happy to enter it just like this.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.