If there was any lingering doubt about whether Legion would stick to David's (Dan Stevens) comic book backstory regarding his powerful mutant father, Wednesday's "Chapter 7" erased that doubt when a shot of Professor Charles Xavier's well-known wheelchair was shown as Amy (Katie Aselton) recalled the day David came to live with their family.
Some series may have treated this reveal as a moment of shameless cross-promotion — that day may still come eventually — or made it into the centerpiece of the story, but Legion treated it as nothing more than just a small piece of the puzzle that is David's complicated backstory, a wise decision given that there is enough going on as the freshman series rushes toward the finish line.
While last week's episode took a rather familiar detour into an obvious false reality — a storytelling device that many a show has done over the years — "Chapter 7" indulged in the show's ability to bend reality and reflect anything it wants in order to reveal more pieces of David's history and even the identity of the Demon With Yellow Eyes, while officially bringing Oliver (Jemaine Clement) into the main story.
The action was spread across the entire hour, with two distinct artistic sequences standing out from the rest of the episode. The first took the shape of a series of animated chalkboard drawings in which David — guided by a rational, British version of himself (it was bound to happen sooner or later) that his mind created in order to save itself — pieced together his own history using the few things he already knew: he was adopted, the Demon With Yellow Eyes knew his father, and it had been a passenger in his head since he was a baby.
From there David was able to ascertain — while the chalk drawings acted out the story for us — that his father and the "parasite" were both mutants like him, that they must have fought via their minds in the astral plane, and that his father at least thought he'd defeated the other mutant, who was revealed to be the Shadow King, a Marvel character who may be familiar to comic book readers as the first evil mutant Professor Charles Xavier encountered and the reason he created the X-Men.
Throughout David's mental exercise, he realized the Shadow King had been feeding on his power since he was very young, making him weaker and weaker by comparison. Eventually it simply wouldn't need David anymore to sustain his body, and it's nearly reached that tipping point. Thankfully, David was eventually able to regain enough of his strength to free himself as the hour again broke from form — if there even is such a thing in this series — to depict a silent film sequence in which the Shadow King, this time appearing as Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and looking the part of an evil mastermind from days of old, attempted to stop Syd (Rachel Keller) and Kerry (Amber Midthunder) from breaking free from the mental projection of the mental hospital.
The silent film motif, complete with title cards featuring the characters' dialogue, is a gimmick that's been done before — The CW telenovela Jane the Virgin memorably used it during its excellent second season, while Buffy the Vampire Slayer's iconic Season 4 episode "Hush" was devoid of speech for more than half its running time. An entire episode of Legion crafted in this style would have been too much, but as the sequence was limited to the climax of David breaking free and Lenny's attack, the lack of dialogue helped to draw attention to the bold visuals onscreen and the accompanying music ("Bolero De Ravel" by Paco Rodrigo) being created, it seems, by Oliver.
Very few shows could pull a sequence like this off. And I'm not even entirely sure Legion pulls off every single one of its indulgences every week, but it's a testament to the world that the series has crafted in just a short amount of time that it never really feels jarring or out of place when the world of David Haller inevitably turns sideways.
Legion airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.