Legion Becomes an X-Men Comic in its 4th Episode

Posted on March 02, 2017

When we write about a TV show, we try to avoid a strict this-happened-then-this-happened recap, because honestly, we never quite saw the point. But it’s safe to say at this juncture that Legion is not like most – or even any – other shows, so we’re going to break our own rule and start by simply summing up this episode.

Okay. So.

David won’t wake up from his memory session of last episode and everyone’s concerned as to why. Melanie sends Syd, Ptominy and Kerry on a mission out in the world to discover what’s missing from David’s memories and why they’re full of glitches. It turns out that Kerry has lived inside Cary her whole life and ages much slower than him because she only exists physically when she’s outside him. She’s also an adrenaline junkie and some sort of ninja-level fighter.

Meanwhile, David is wandering the astral plane when he climbs a ladder made of Os up to a comet in space where he meets Oliver, who we first encountered as the voice of a coffee machine telling fairy tales to Melanie. He has been stuck in a giant block of ice in the astral plane since the 1960s, apparently, and spends his time listening to bad jazz on the hi-fi and expounding on topics in his leisure suit. Back on earth, an image of Oliver in an antique diving suit appears to Melanie, who goes to visit his frozen body, which is kept in a giant freezer in the basement somewhere.

Outside of Summerland, the makeshift Scooby gang goes to David’s therapist’s office, where they get glimpses of him attacking his therapist and wounding him badly. They also track down Philly, his old girlfriend, who tells them that they’re being watched. They find out that the Lenny we’ve been seeing in flashbacks and visions is actually Benny and the real Lenny died in the Clockworks psychic explosion. The figure in his dreams is a manifestation of the Yellow-Eyed Devil, which is some sort of parasite that lives in his mind and hides itself from him, forcing him to forget every time he encounters him.

The trio find themselves at a lighthouse that looks like a candy cane, talking to David’s former therapist, when he is revealed to be The Eye in disguise.  The ensuing melee results in Kerry getting shot and Syd and The Eye changing bodies, only to have an awakened David, deliberately confused by The Yellow-Eyed Devil/Lenny, attack The Eye, except it’s really Syd, who is currently in The Eye’s body. The Eye, in Syd’s body, escapes.

Are we all clear now? Ha. Of course not. This is all insane.

 

But it’s also, against all odds, engrossing and incredibly entertaining, even as the story gets more and more convoluted and unlikely and the situations get more and more surreal. Part of that comes down to Noah Hawley’s deft hand and part of it comes down to his brilliant idea to transfer the insane convolutions and unlikelihoods of X-Men comic book continuity into a ridiculously entertaining show. Much in the same way Greg Berlanti managed to make a world of telepathic gorillas and time-traveling super-speedsters seem like plausible entertainment on The CW’s The Flash, Hawley has tapped into – and translated into another medium perfectly – the unique energy and bizarre mind trips of a really well-written comic set in Marvel’s larger mutant-verse. In the process, however, he’s pulling off what may well be the first prestige cable drama superhero show.

It’s not just a fun ride through an X-world, it’s a nuanced, artful, dreamlike experience that looks absolutely amazing and is populated by very good actors. To be honest, we almost feel like we’re doing it a slight disservice by calling it a superhero show, since it displays virtually none of the characteristics of one. This is more like David Lynch with access to really great special effects.

We still find almost no value in diving too deep on theorizing or examining, simply because it’s such an experiential show. It almost feels like if we pick away at it too much, it’ll lose its magic. Still, we have to note that the Os that appear throughout the costuming and art direction suddenly made sense when David climbed a ladder of them into Oliver’s giant cocktail lounge in space. Since Xs also appear prominently throughout the art direction, we wonder if there’s meant to be an Oliver vs. Xavier history being obliquely referred to. After all, Summerland is more than a little like the X-Mansion, except somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (presumably) and rendered in 70s architecture. So far, the show has made no overt mentions of anything related to the larger X-sphere, and we’ve always assumed that it probably wouldn’t, even with David’s direct connection to it in the comics. With all this symbolic stuff being done with the art direction and costume design, we wonder now if there’s some sort of foreshadowing to the reveal of just such an overt connection.

Also, as we said last time, we’ll never shake the strong suspicion that a major, world-shattering, everything-you-know-is-wrong rug-pull is built into this tale and inevitably coming at some point. Anytime characters openly question the truth of the reality they’re in – not once, but several times throughout this episode – it’s like the Chekhov’s Gun of shocking twists. It has to go off at some point, right? Philly wore earrings that looked exactly like the ladder leading to Oliver’s ice cube. Syd saw the Meanest Boy several times, prompting her to ask Ptominy if they might not still be stuck in David’s mind. David shows up in Oliver’s cube and the intruder alert alarm goes off in Summerland. There are too many breaches between what’s being called reality and what’s being labeled as David’s mind. These could all be major misdirects, but honestly, just about everything feels like a major misdirect with this show.

Did we mention it makes us really twitchy and that we should never watch it close to bed time?

 

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Photo Credit: Michelle Faye/FX

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