Legion S2– Episode 5: “Chapter 13”

Starring: Dan Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, Navid Negahban, Jemaine Clement, Jeremie Harris, Hamish Linklater, and Katie Aselton
Written by: Noah Hawley and Nathaniel Halpern
Directed by: Tim Mielants

The magnetic Aubrey Plaza takes center stage as Lenny inexplicably returns to the land of the living in Legion “Chapter 13”. Written by showrunner Noah Hawley and his staffer Nathaniel Halpern and directed by series regular Tim Mielants, “Chapter 13” again stalls the overall plot. But more than makes up for it with juicy character beats and more theatrical weirdness as certain members of our core cast get to bask in the radiant glow that is Aubrey Plaza. As Lenny herself says, “The end of the world is coming, daddy, and we don’t have a lot of time.” but “Chapter 13” shows that Legion is more than willing to take its time and flesh out its characters before that end comes.

So, Lenny is back and not everybody is happy about it. Mainly centered around Lenny’s interrogation by some of our main cast in a room that seems to defy gravity (another choice bit of production design from the show). “Chapter 13” trades plot development for character development. This keeps it right in line with the previous two episodes. It also allows for some of our core cast to spar with Plaza. Who hasn’t exactly been utilized to her full potential like she was last year.

But “Chapter 13” really starts to make up for that. One by one characters like Clark, Ptonomy, and finally, our dear David all take turns questioning the returned Lenny. They attempt to determine just how a free-floating consciousness now has a new body and if this is just another trap set by the Shadow King. Plaza again proves more than capable of holding her own in scene after scene, delivering more of the mercurial, snarling charm that made Lenny such a breakout character last year. But this time around her performance is tinged with a raw vulnerability that humanizes Lenny much better than last year. She may be the same old Lenny, but her resurrection has taken a toll on her. Plaza lets that shine through in her performance, adding yet another side to her already multi-faceted characterization. Hawley and Halpern even throw in some solid backstory for Lenny. They contextualize her sordid past and adding more dimension to the character beyond her scene-stealing.

Meanwhile, in a B-plot running concurrently with the action happening at Division 3, Farouk and Oliver are still on the hunt for Farouk’s body. But, as we eventually learn, they are not above a little side mission aimed at fucking with David and throwing him off this balance. This plot sees the return of Katie Aselton’s Amy, which I am really happy about. I am not so much happy about her fate in this return episode (despite her apparent inclusion in the next episode). However, it is nice to know that Hawley and Halpern aren’t just planning on tossing aside other characters from David’s past. I would also like to shoutout Jemaine Clement’s Oliver in this episode. Though he is mainly known for comedy, “Chapter 13” really makes great use of the deep well of quiet menace that he’s hidden beneath his comedic chops until now. This episode ends with a truly harrowing sequence with Clement at the center. I found myself pleasantly surprised at just how scary he could be, acting as Farouk’s dark avatar.

Verdict: Watch It

Armed with more sleek, 70’s sci-fi inspired visuals and dynamite performances from some of our core cast of mutant cuties. “Chapter 13” might not be the most substantial of episodes. I’ll be damned if it still isn’t a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch. Especially when it is centered around such fantastic actors like Aubrey Plaza and Dan Stevens, who settle back into their easy chemistry as if they never left it. Ready-made for David/Lenny shippers and still making great use of the dreamily theatrical tone of the show overall. “Chapter 13” is another powerhouse outing for Plaza and Legion’s solidly entertaining second season.

Until next time, Imperius Rex, and I’ll be seeing you.

Justin Partridge
A writer, a dandy, a Friend of Tom, and a street walkin' cheetah with a heart fulla napalm. He has loved comics all his life but he hasn't quite got them to love him back just yet. That hasn't stopped him writing about them or about any other media that hoves into his sights. He can usually be reached via the hellscape that is Twitter @J_PartridgeIII or by e-mail at justin@betweenthepanels.com.

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