Legion – Chapter 9 Review
"A stunning and crazy return"
Back in December, I gave Legion
a spot on my 2017 Top 10 list
, lauding the series for managing to challenge long-standing television conventions and push the envelope in ways that hadn't been previously attempted (to which, several months later, David Lynch and Twin Peaks: The Return
, offered the proverbial "Hold my beer."). So, I was a bit nervous that Legion
wouldn't be able to return to those strange and twisted heights of season one (hopefully with a bit more narrative structure to help match the creative brilliance). If the rest of season two is as smart, taut, and complicated as "Chapter 9," it would appear my worries were unfounded.
When we last left our ragtag gang of mutants, David Haller (son of the extremely powerful, and still unseen, Professor Charles Xavier) had been abducted by a silver orb. Where was he taken? Why was he taken? Well, we still don't know. But we do know he was gone for 362 days (not quite a year, but the specific amount of days surely means something, right?), and we also know that he was visited by a version of Syd from the future who silently told him to help the Shadow King find his body- a command that directly conflicts with the mission David has been tasked with by his allies (both old and new). For a show that has an MO of doing the unexpected (but visually spectacular), throwing the potential of time travel into the mix is merely shrug-worthy at this point (I mean, after hanging out in the astral plane for episodes on end and traveling within David's memories to hunt down the Shadow King last season, time travel is rather quaint). But it does set-up an interesting conflict that is grounded in the seeds of centuries of drama: an untrustworthy hero is pulled by multiple side without knowing who is right. It's a compelling story.
Aside from David's quest to figure out whether to help District 3 (last year's villains, if you recall) or whether to listen to what may or may not have been Syd from the future (perhaps it was merely an image of Syd conjured by the Shadow King- or another dark entity, or perhaps Syd was taken over by the Shadow King, or perhaps Syd has been captured and is being forced to say these things . . . so many options) and betray his friends (who, it should be noted, are all at different stages of trusting him and his claimed amnesia), there's the problem of the Shadow King (still possessing poor Oliver, which has turned Melanie into a shell of her former self, aimless and drug addled) seeming to "infect" those with whom he interacts with a disease known as the Catalyst (how creepy were all those chattering teeth?). So, not only do our heroes have to find the Shadow King's body, they also need to avoid turning into catatonic chattering statues. No small feat, even for mutants.
For most shows, that type of an exposition dump at the beginning of a season would seem a chore to slog through. But Legion
isn't most shows. Even with a longer episode running time (and I'm usually one to hate it when a show pads their episode, since most of the time it really is just plain padding), I gladly would have watched another hour. Each morsel of plot was tied to a moment of visual brilliance, whether it was the use of Admiral Fukuyama's basket (and utterly strange translators), having Jon Hamm narrate a fable that hinted that we can't trust the memories of David- or any other character, or the insanely compelling dance-off between Lenny, Oliver, and David (with the bonus joy of getting to see Bill Irwin throwing out some dance moves as well). Did I understand everything? No. But that's not the point.
We know what the story is for the season (or, at least for the early portion of the season, since Noah Hawley could certainly turn the season on its ear and still create something special). We know the lay of the land for each of our major characters (and even some of the supporting ones- glad to see the Interrogator has an official name now, and that Kerry is a known badass that causes an entire team of dudes with guns to back off). And we also know that this season is set to be just as avant garde and out there as season one, which might just be the most important fact of all.
-- Man, that scene between Rachel Keller (Syd) and Jean Smart (Melanie) was just plain spectacular, and a great example of what the show can do without all of its bells and whistles (well, aside from tea kettle whistles). Both women have lost someone close to them, and while one used it as a means to drum up the ability to put one foot in front of the other each day, the other fell apart.
-- I really hope that creature that showed up once Melanie took the hit off her elephant was a hallucination, because I don't want to deal with that in the real world.
-- Loved that David just wanted waffles when he woke up. And I loved that cafeteria set-up even more.