Updated June 13
Legion, Episode 210: "Chapter 19"
Original airdate: June 12, 2018 on FX
Spoiler warning: This page contains descriptions of events in this and previous episodes.
Noah Hawley's visually inventive but inconsistent X-Men series wrapped up its sophomore season on Tuesday night with an hour written by Hawley and directed by Keith Gordon, who previously worked with Hawley on Fargo. (Note that it's the 11th episode of the season, but technically the 10th in production order, since an extra episode was ordered at a very late stage and inserted in the middle of the season.) Legion will return for a third season in 2019.
How is the finale going down with critics? Below, find out what TV critics are saying about the episode—and the season as a whole. (Click on any publication name to read the full review.) Note that while we have grouped the reviews into rough categories beginning with the most positive, scores are displayed only in those cases where a reviewer has specifically indicated a score. Those scores have been converted to a 0-100 scale when necessary for purposes of comparison.
Extremely positive reviews
Den of Geek [U.S.]
Can a knockout finale save a middling season? ... I feel like the designation of a sophomore slump is always avoided if I’m immediately itching to fire up another episode. The power of the conclusion is blinding me from the flaws in the journey.
If the first season of Legion was the story of a hero coming into his powers, the second turned out to be a compelling look at a villain discovering his destiny. While little in the way of closure is provided, the finale does give us some of the show’s best scenes to date, and a remarkable new direction for the next season.
Legion is fascinating because it seems to lack any self-control, but that also makes the show a sprawling, messy saga of one man's battle against his psychosis. The stark tragedy of this episode is that it reminds us that this is not a battle David is going to win.
A lot of television is boring, and it sometimes feels like Noah Hawley’s most compelling idea is to make television that is not boring. ... This long hero’s journey into the night might’ve been more effective if, like, David was a believable character surrounded by intriguing humans with their own lives. But past a certain point, you felt that everyone in Legion was waiting patiently for David to do something, so they could appropriately react. [Note: Score for 2nd season as a whole: 58]
What “Legion” did very well in its finale ... is a lot. ... But what’s disappointing about the finale is a bit more complicated to sort out. It involves the very concept Noah Hawley is putting under the microscope: how audiences can be so ready to identify with a hero, they’re willing to root for him when he stops doing good. Though that idea is one worthy of exploring, the execution lurched from scene to scene as David’s transformation from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde never smoothed out.
I applaud Legion’s willingness to commit to this heel turn for David, and setting him up as the big bad has me intrigued for next season despite the inconsistency of the past 11 episodes. There’s a dark road ahead for these characters, but that could mean very good things for this series.
This is upsetting, disturbing stuff, and for the first time since I began watching this weird and often wonderful show, I’m not convinced Legion is capable of telling the story it just waded into. ... Transforming David from a fundamentally decent person with a troubled mind into someone capable of committing sexual assault in the course of a single episode is the needle scratch on the record player. ... It’s edgy and unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it good.
At a certain point in its sophomore season, FX’s mutant mind-bender became something of a ponderous affair. ... Questions of style over substance remain, but as a visual spectacle, Legion remains a marvel.
The finale was one of the more lucid hours of the season. ... This raises the possibility of a Season 3 that could be more coherent and focused than this past one has been, able to lean into the characters as people rather than as figures in a stylized landscape.
While the season finale was both stylistically and narratively great, even brilliant at times, it also did something unforgivable. ... Sexual assault should never be used as a plot device unless you know what you’re doing. Legion doesn’t. ... In the end, Legion has failed to deliver a good story.
That Legion prizes style over substance isn't news. ... But all those flourishes rendered the season's main arc irrelevant, illegible or possibly both. ... But it's the emptiness of the characters – and David Haller in particular – that's the real problem.
What do you think?
What did you think of the finale, and of the entire second season? Let us know in the comments section below.