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It’s amazing the difference a director can make in the world of television. While “Chapter Two” certainly wasn’t a poorly directed episode (on the contrary, Michael Uppendahl did a great job with the story he had), it lacked the spark that Noah Hawley (who also wrote “Chapter Two”) brought to “Chapter One” of Legion. Muddying the waters a bit further, “Chapter Two” was given the heavy lifting in introducing us to Melanie Bird’s (the excellent Jean Smart) world of mutants, which made the tone of the episode far more formal than the fantastical “Chapter One.”
Despite the lack of crazy colors and trippy camera work, “Chapter Two” managed to accomplish its purpose: Make us care about this new cast of characters and send us further down the rabbit hole of David’s psyche. I think it’s fair to say that there’s something off with David’s mental state and every strange moment in his past cannot simply be chalked up to his incredibly strong mutant powers (the small taste of just how strong he is by having him block Ptonomy’s powers was a nice touch). But I’m enjoying the confusion and the slow burn in sifting through exactly which parts of his mental anguish can be attributed to each side of the “mutant or mentally ill” argument.
I’m also pleasantly surprised at how well-formed so many of the show’s characters are this early in the series. While there are still many mysteries left to reveal, I find myself caring about all of these characters. I want David to open himself up and discover what happened within his past that got him to where he is today. I hope that the gang manages to rescue Amy from the clutches of the government before too much damage is done. And I want to see how each of Melanie’s mutants can contribute to the overall mission. A lot of this boils down to the excellent cast, all of whom are giving spectacular performances from top to bottom (I’m particularly eager to see more of Bill Irwin’s Cary Loudermilk, as Irwin is one of the world’s best character actors that no one knows). I’m still trying to figure out Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny, but I have a sneaking suspicion that’s exactly the reaction we are supposed to be having to both her performance and the character.
As for the story itself, it’s moving at a solid pace and dropping more than enough bread crumbs regarding the various mysteries to keep me interested. “Chapter Two” capitalized on the horror of David’s past and current mental state far more than “Chapter One,” and that change in focus paid off. While both episodes spent a great deal of time in David’s head, getting to spend significant time traversing his actual memories this week gave us a deeper insight into the character.
We still don’t know exactly who or what the Devil with the Yellow Eyes is (although I wouldn’t be shocked to find out it had some relationship to his “father”- who I assume is actually his step-father, since that man didn’t appear to be Charles Xavier), but each appearance is more chilling than the last. The whole presentation of the character harkens back to the introduction of BOB on Twin Peaks (which was one of Hawley’s major influences for the character). And that storybook? Not sure what sane parent would read that to their small child before bed, but that was quite the eye-opener into David’s childhood.
All-in-all, “Chapter Two” was less flashy than the pilot, but it served its purpose well and provided us with additional context for David’s current state, while continuing to build the world around him in a satisfying manner.
— Since I’m sure this will become a point of confusion in the future, Bill Irwin’s character is Cary Loudermilk. There is also a character named Kerry Loudermilk (played by Amber Midthunder, who was the other mutant helping in David’s escape last week). I’m assuming father and daughter.
— While using Lenny in David’s memories is a solid use of the character, I hope we continue to get Lenny as a hallucination of David’s as well. Seeing Aubrey Plaza tackle the two very different characterizations of Lenny makes her performance more interesting and adds layers to Lenny that don’t pop when she’s just drug-addicted Lenny of the past.
— That frog bong was something else…
— I hope we get more information on Clockworks and how it’s linked to the evil government side of things.