Title: Chapter 8
Director: Michael Uppendahl
Writers: based on the comics by Chris Claremont, and Bill Sienkiewicz created by Noah Hawley, written by Noah Hawley
Starring: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart, Hamish Linklater, David Selby, David Ferry, Ellie Araiza, Matt Hamilton, Brad Mann, Quinton Boisclair, Mackenzie Gray
Duration: 49 minutes
A terrific finale for a great rookie season, the series saved the best for last in an eventful episode composed of a straight forward narrative full of surprises
Just when I thought this series was done surprising me it comes up with a finale so full of twists and turns it was amazing and more fun than any other genre tv show I can think of at the moment. It was not another psychologically suspenseful surreal nightmare of an episode, but a straight forward narrative, taking place in the real world with one event leading to another like, you know, things happen in a story.
“Chapter 8” picks up right where chapter 7 left off with the Summerhill gang surrounded by a squad of heavily armed Division 3 soldiers led by the only living survivor of David’s interrogation that ended up with his captors all charred to a crisp.
That’s how the episode begins but it takes another unexpected turn before its through, and then another, and then another. This episode was the most science fiction-y of the season and was a solid salute to its comic book roots as an example of the excellent story telling they are capable of producing. If you were patient enough to get through the show’s rookie season the finale is the payoff you earned and wanted. This was excellent genre tv.
Recap: (*warning, spoilers follow*)
“Chapter 8” begins with Division 3’s interrogator, whose name we learn is Clark (Hamish Linklater), he begins by saying somewhat sarcastically they have a lot to talk about, subsequently giving the order to capture David, followed by the casually expressed order to ‘kill the rest’. Clark looks terrible with his face and good deal of his body horribly burned from his last encounter with David, when the pool room he was interrogating him in had the air in it ignited.
The show spends a while portraying what he went through for his recovery and it goes a long way to explain why he feels such hatred towards David and, in fact, mutants everywhere. He voices his concerns later in the show in a speech regarding mutants being gods and his desire to save humanity from their inevitable destruction of homo sapiens in the not-too-distant future. One cannot help but sympathize with his ordeal, but its not enough to make you forget he’s the bad guy here, and his cruel experience was brought on by himself and those he chose to ally himself with.
Immediately following his order to kill everyone else there, David (Dan Stevens) casually motions his hand and says no. The resulting effect is surprising and maybe a little amusing as all of the soldier’s weapons fly away from them as they all fall to he ground and start flying through the air to form a column of human bodies all trying to escape the invisible force that holds them captive. It almost looks biblical as this pile of squirming struggling soldiers flail futilely as this singularly unnatural looking column forms.
After all this Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) pulls a gun and aims it at the now defenseless Clark, but David tells him to put it away, approaches Clark and calmly agrees that they should talk. The difference in David is like night and day, he is calm, in control, and exuding confidence in the power he now knows he controls. He is still wearing the head band that Cary (Bill Irwin) made him and apparently it works.
As they continue inside the Summerhill retreat Cary and David’s other comrades seem concerned about the durability of the headband and the possibility of it failing. Oliver (Jemaine Clement) and Cary devise a technological approach to remove the last remnants of Leny/The Shadow King from David’s mind and they go about setting up an elaborate configuration of technological stuff inside the lab while they all discuss what to do about Clark. It is revealed that Clark is wearing a camera in his eye and is being monitored by his supervisors back at Division 3 headquarters.
Ptonomy is surprisingly aggressive in his views about Division 3. He wants to kill them all and is outspoken about it. Melanie (Jean Smart) thinks David should read his mind and get as much information about they opponents as possible. Cary, Oliver, and Kerry do not offer an opinion. Kerry has assumed the role of security and is keeping a watchful eye on their captive. David himself seems unconcerned and appears to think they are no longer something to be worried about.
While all this is going on Syd (Rachel Keller) is more concerned about David than anyone else, but David wants to focus on helping others remaining unconcerned about his own fate in all of this, but Syd is determined to save him no matter what. She’s having flashes of being back in the white room, and there’s figure hidden under the sheet on the bed and its moving. The figure turns out to be Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) who really looks like crap. She has the fright wig hair, open sores on her face and elsewhere and she has thick black goop coating her fingers and shoes. They really do a remarkable job making Audrey Plaza look grotesque, terrible, evil, disturbing, unsavory and unearthly considering what an attractive young lady she is. She approaches Syd and tells her the only way they get her out of David without killing him is if she decides to go herself. She says she is willing to go. but that Syd has to help her get away.
When David finally gets around to talking to Clark all he says is you do not need to be afraid, and he keeps repeating it until Clark asks hims to stop saying it. Syd is open with Clark and explains what’s going with David and what they trying to accomplish to help him As he is talking with Clark, David collapses and the time arrives for David’s treatment to remove the last remnants of the evil parasite in his brain and Melanie gives the ok to proceed.
Actually its kind of fun as David is in the center of the lab corralled by laser beams with the headband, now laced with a plethora of wires as they throw the switch. He immediately displays signs of going through a great deal of discomfort and strain as they attempt to purge his mind of the alien mutant.
The method of purging David’s brain seems to the working as the cast is shown looking at a screen with what’s a really pretty cartoonish graphic displaying areas of David’s brain it shows areas of red lines representing The Shadow King being replaced by white lines that represent Davids brain becoming less infected. While this is going on we see David experiencing a colage of his life in images and every time the demon appears his image is dissolved. This continues for awhile until it begins to reverse and Cary says its fighting back.
At this point David is seen confronting hi demon in the form of Lenny who looks try=uly evil at this point. No more clever remarks, all she can do is grunt and bark at him like some sort of beast this is the essence of the creature laid bare and and it is nothing more than bestial creature at this point, but it manages to get a choke hold on David and begins strangling him.
It soon becomes apparent this the final battle and David is losing, as he struggles Syd is growing increasingly alarmed at what she is seeing. A lot of things take place all at once at this point, some of it in slow motion. Syd goes to join David in the lab and melanie tries to stop her but Syd is determined so Melamnie backs down, At the same time Kerry in the room with Clark runs out and heads towards the lab too. She tells him to stay there, but of course he doesn’t. Syd enters the lab and she is joined by Cary who has some sort of inoculation he has prepared for David. Syd approaches David and kisses him.
There is bright flash of light and the force of their touching knocks Syd to the floor. She quickly rises and its apparent the Shadow King is inside her now by looking at her eyes, which are glowing. Syd begins to exit the room while removing her gloves burlesque style with her teeth as she saunters towards the door of the lab. This is when Kerry arrives and Syd touches her on the forehead transferring the demon to her. Kerry spins and kicks Cary so he falls down and as she turns to leave, Ptonomy arrives with an automatic weapon and opens fire, It is not clear to me what he hopes to accomplish or what he is shooting at, but Kerry disarms him and knocks him out.
As Kerry leaves the lab she encounters Melanie who she makes the old gesture of turning your hand into a gun and points it at her. Melanie collapses. Kerry begins down the adjacent hallway, Clark hits her in the head from behind with his cane, knocking her down, but not out and she turns and gestures in his direction which results in him being sent flying down the length of the hallway until he hits the wall at the end about sixty feet away.
Suddenly David floats from above in the hallway blocking Kerry’s way out, and the two charge each other with lightning flying off David as he gains speed and momentum, and likewise she is generating some sort of energy buildup as she runs at him in the opposite direction. They collide, causing an explosion that sends them both flying backwards and when they collide a cloud of dark stuff not unlike smoke or some sort of vapor flies off her and continues down the hallway where Oliver is just exiting the power room. The stuff hits him sending him back into the room he was exiting. He reemerges brushing himself off and calmly walks outside and gets in his car and drives away.
David recovers first and begins checking on everyone else, and it seems everyone is okay, Kerry and Cary seems like they are okay together again, David checks on Clark and tells him they will need to work together now, which seems to imply he means to team up with Division 3 to capture and eliminate the threat of The Shadow King. It is several moments later that Melanie notices that Oliver is gone
Okay its obvious Syd’s ploy to help the Demon escape worked but it was a plan that called for her to sacrifice herself that luckily (but not for Oliver) turned out okay. Looks like the lovelorn Melanie is going to have to wait to rekindle that romantic relationship with Oliver she longs for…
Oliver is shown driving down a country road alone until the camera angle shows Lenny is in the car wih him restored to looking like the attractive young lady she is and as they talk about which way to go she turns on some music on the car’s radio. This gives me hope we will see more of Aubrey Plaza as part of next season.
I did my best, but that last scene with the flurry of activity has to be seen to be fully appreciated. It was really well done and went off to a well designed Rube Goldberg machine. It was an impressive and fun segment.
There was a post credit scene that was another big surprise included in the event, David and Syd are standing on a balcony in the evening when a small globe comes flying up to them. It has a small window-like section on its surface. It quickly scans David as they joke about what it could be, and then suddenly it emits a beam that captures David transferring him inside it. A small Image of David is seen inside the device yelling for help as it flies away. What a treat and what a seductive way to invite us back to watch season two. Delightful.