And we're back! With what is certainly the coolest show on television. Yes, I feel comfortable saying that. Just like I feel comfortable wearing jeans to formal events. But "Legion," based on a specific corner of the "X-Men" universe, is also arguably the most confusing (in an agreeably abstract sort of way) show on television. So once again I'm going to recap this week's excellent episode (once again written by series mastermind/all-around genius Noah Hawley) in the form of a series of questions.
Let's get to it!
Where Were We?
When we last left "Legion," David (Dan Stevens), a supernaturally powerful psychic, was on the run with a group of renegades led by Doctor Bird (Jean Smart), along with his body-swapping love interest Syd (Rachel Keller, who it turns out is the beating heart of the show), and a host of other weirdos. Meanwhile, a group of paramilitary thugs, now known as Division 3 (which explains their cool logo from last week), are on the hunt for David and the band of misfit mutants. Oh, and they probably have a mutant on their side too -- his name is The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) and he's got a really bad perm.
What About That Title Card?
Can we talk about how cool the title card is? The font is perfect and the whispering voices are creepy and strange. Not sure if this will be a part of every episode (I haven't watched ahead), but damn is it neat.
What Happens in This Episode (Mostly)?
Much like the pilot, which was structured around a series of interrogations or therapy sessions -- some at the hands of doctors at Clockworks (where David was institutionalized), some as childhood therapy sessions, others at the hands of a villainous Division 3 agent (Hamish Linklater, missed dearly) -- so too is this episode.
David is taken to Summerland, the group's base of operations, and asked to do "memory work" with some of the other mutants, which is kind of a "Star Trek"-y mind meld, mixed with Scientology auditing (you grab onto metal cones and pray). This leads David and some of the others to physically enter his memories, whether it's a time when he and Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) were doing a new drug called "vapor" (released via a frog-shaped nebulizer) or a moment when he was visited by The Yellow-Eyed Devil, the grotesque monster that haunts him.
An additional wrinkle is introduced when David goes under for a kind of wiggly CAT scan, administered by Summerland kook Cary (the wonderful Bill Irwin). Ostensibly, they're trying to locate some of David's more problematic memories, which they do, but it also taps into an ability David has to see what is going on in the present, just elsewhere. He's transported, psychically, back to Clockworks, where his sister Amy (Katie Aselton) is frantically looking for him. At the end of the episode, the other Summerland inhabitants are shocked to see the CAT scan machine fully transported out into a courtyard -- David's doing, of course.
David makes an attempt to leave the facility, knowing that Amy is in trouble. Syd stops him, saying that he still needs training. When he asks her how she knows Amy will still be OK, Syd shoots back, "Because she's bait." As the show closes, we see Amy, now in the presence of The Eye (and some eels or leeches or something). Eep.So, What About His Father?
Ah yes. There is an uncommon amount of flashback time given to young David being read to by his father, whose face is shrouded in shadow. "Why can't I see his face?" David asks, while inside his memory spectrum. (David's father is reading him a gory children's book hilariously titled "The World's Angriest Boy in the World.") While the question of David's parentage is an intriguing mystery for viewers of the show, the hardcore nerds out there (myself included) and casual comic book fans know exactly who his father is: Professor Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men (played by Michael Fassbender and Patrick Stewart, respectively, in the increasingly nonsensical movie franchise).
On the show, his face could have been obscured because they're waiting for a big reveal or they'll simply never get around to showing the character or addressing that element of the story at all. What is even more fascinating is that, later in the episode, he describes his father taking him to look at the stars. (His father was an "astronomer," he says.) David says that he looked up at the stars and the stars spoke to him. Now, we know that David has some form of dissociative personality disorder, and there is a lot of this episode devoted to the "voices" that David hears and the question of whether or not they're real, imagined, or from some other timeline (like when he heard Amy at the end of the episode). I have a theory, though, about this star story: that David is actually talking about a time Professor X brought him into Cerebro, the giant mutant-finding device that Xavier designed to track down similarly gifted individuals.
Cerebro is often visualized as a large spherical dome, so if it was dark enough, it would look very much like the night sky, and when it finds mutants, they light up, like stars in that same sky. The fact that David could hear them talking is even more telling -- he was reaching out to those other mutants and communicating with them, possibly boosted by Cerebro's computing power, but most likely because he's incredibly gifted himself.
What About Syd's Big Confession?
The other biggest moment in the episode, at least in my eyes, was Syd confessing that a lot of what happened in the back half of the previous episode actually happened to her, and not David. (Remember their "Freaky Friday" body swap?) As it turns out, it was Syd who ended up killing Lenny at Clockworks and getting recruited, at least initially, by the Summerland folk. David takes all of this rather reassuringly, in a calm and elegant way.
Afterwards, he told her all he wanted to do was hug her. That was a deeply affecting, human moment, that all of the narrative fireworks can't diminish. Another interesting element of this episode, which I would be remiss to forget about, is the fact that David and Lenny were pals before being locked up (or whatever) in Clockworks. They had a friendship before they were institutionalized, which included fun things, like trying new street drugs together. Something tells me that the true story of how they wound up in Clockworks is going to be super fun, and that she'll continue to make appearances in some kind of altered dreamscape (or something) throughout the rest of the season.
Wait, Was That a Weird Naked Person Covered in Swastikas?
I think it might have been.
Bonus Question for Next Episode: Where Is Jemaine?
We know that Jemaine Clement, the insanely talented New Zealand actor and comedian from "What We Do in the Shadows" (he was also the giant crab monster in "Moana"), is a part of the cast, playing Dr. Bird's goofball husband. But he hasn't shown up yet. Maybe next week!