Legion ‘Chapter 2’ Review

“What if I told you, every memory you have of mental illness: voices, hallucinations, was just your power?”

Legion chapter 2 slowed down from the crazy pace set by the first episode, but it was still another awesome hour of TV. Following last weeks escape from Division 3 Dan Stevens’ David and Rachel Keller’s Syd are now at Summerland in the company of Melanie (Fargo’s Jean Smart) a ‘therapist’ who along with her ‘specialists’ are trying to help David achieve his potential. I’m sure there’s probably an ulterior motive to this somehow but for now I’ll give the people of  Summerland the benefit of the doubt.

Now the show has established itself in the first episode the follow up episode is considerably calmer and less flat out insane. It’s still wacky as hell but the show is starting to make a lot more sense by this point. David’s visions still remain and the cool stylistic flourishes are still plenty, but they’re more easily interpreted now we know more about the main character and his abilities. David’s ability is clearly telepathy/telekinesis related, Melenie all but says that to him this episode, but I’m sure that won’t be it for the extent of his powers. In fact what David does to the MRI machine at the end of the episodes suggests his powers are much more than just telekinesis. I wouldn’t be surprised if what little of the show we believe is actually real (Summerland, Syd, Division 3) turns out to be some sort of grand illusion in David’s head. That or the people of Summerland have some other motive. The similarities between their processes and those of Scientology can’t be ignored either (the memory work David does was eerily similar to the E-Meter stress test).

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The cast of Legion were once again brilliant. Dan Stevens’ is the heart and soul of the show as David Haller as it’s his twisted mind that we see the world through. Stevens’ is excellent as the confused and earnest David. Although the idea that he has some evil undercurrent to him is still present throughout, something Stevens’ manages to hint at subtlety, without overdoing it. Rachel Keller is great as David’s sort-of girlfriend Syd, as is Jean Smart as Melenie, who was introduced last week but gets some real screen time this week. Both Keller and Smart were excellent in showrunner Noah Hawley’s Fargo, and they both continue to be excellent here. I get the feeling both are hiding something but for the moment, like David, we should opt to trust them. The rest of the supporting cast are great too, especially Melenie’s ‘memory work’ specialist Ptonomy, played by Jeremie Harris. He’s got a real friendship going with David so it’d be a shame if it ends with them against each other. Another interesting character is Mackenzie Gray’s, called simply ‘The Eye’. He hasn’t really spoke much but looking like a mix of Art Garfunkel and Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad, he certainly gets your attention. And after the events at the end of this episode I’m sure he’ll be featured a lot more.

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The direction by Michael Uppendahl (who has done some great work on American Horror Story in the past) is stunning. Even the more conventional scenes are shot with exciting flourishes. And the dream and memory sequences are out of this world. It’s like Inception by way of the kaleidoscopic visuals of Hannibal. The aspect ratio changes are a cool touch too, and their purpose possibly hints at revelations to come. Perhaps the aspect ratio change from full screen to a more cinematic black bar version perhaps shows that David is imagining these moments, hence the more cinematic/constructed look. I dunno, maybe not, but with this show anything is possible. If I wasn’t hooked after last weeks episode (I was) then I definitely am after this one. The show slows down a bit but doesn’t lose any of it’s quality. A closer look at David and his powers answers some questions and raises some others. Great performances bolster an already stellar script and the direction is like nothing else on TV. One things remains though, who the hell is the Devil with the Yellow Eyes and is it Mojo?

Reviewed by Tom

 

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