“What are you doing, kid? You think you’re safe here? With these clowns?”
Legion chapter 3 once again cemented Legion as one of the wackiest shows on TV. Chapter 3 was no different to the previous episodes; being crazy, funny, and scary in equal measure. Chapter 3 pushed the story forward into new directions and we got a lot of interesting back story on a number of characters. Syd (Rachel Keller) is still a mystery sure but David (Dan Stevens), Melanie (Jean Smart), and even ‘The Eye’ got a bit of story. The hints at Melanie’s mysterious husband were a particular highlight and, if the previews for next episode were any indication, we’re in for a treat when he shows up.
The bulk of chapter 3 continued what chapter 2 had set up; David’s ongoing ‘memory work’ treatment with the awfully nice/possibly sinister folks at Summerland. Last week I wrote about the strange similarities that Summerland shares with Scientology and how they might have some other, more sinister motives. But this week Melanie pretty much said that she want to do more than make David sane; she wants to use him in the war. And while she does genuinely seem to care about him, it’ll be interesting to see her reaction if David eventually turns down her request to fight for them. David’s powers continue to manifest themselves this episode too, with Melanie pointing out his telepathy comes with a side of telekinesis (furthering the links between David and his rumoured father, Charles Xavier). But David’s powers aren’t as simple as him being able to read peoples minds and move things with his. Chapter 3 showed us his ability to travel to another place in an ghostly/astral form when he transports himself and Syd to where his sister is being interrogated. Not only did this look visually stunning it also introduces a lot of questions about David and what the limits of his powers actually are because, so far, he doesn’t seem to have any. And despite Melanie’s insistence that David is sane, and his insanity was a fiction created in response to his powers manifesting, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Sure David has powers, and the voices in his head could be his telepathy manifesting, but he still frequently imagines his dead friend Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) speaking to him so I don’t think we can call him ‘sane’.
One thing becoming clear by chapter 3 is that the show is capable of providing some truly horrifying sequences. The scene this episode where Melanie, Syd, and Ptonomy were stranded within David’s mind was some of the most intense TV I’ve seen in a long time. The Devil with the Yellow Eyes is probably the creepiest character on TV, and him alone would have been scary enough (the scene where Syd is chased into the ventilation shaft and the The Devil with the Yellow Eyes slowly peaks around the corner is enough to give anyone nightmares). But within David’s mind the characters are also haunted by the equally creepy lead character from David’s troubling childhood bedtime story The World’s Angriest Boy in the World. The Angriest Boy and his giant paper mache head don’t sound inherently scary but through some stellar direction by Michael Uppendahl he and show runner Noah Hawley makes sure David’s demons haunt not just the characters but the audience too. And the direction throughout the rest of the episode continues to stun. The way the show uses things like the aspect ratio and the lighting to emphasise certain things, usually the fractured and complicated state of David’s psyche, is like nothing else on TV.
Another week another fantastic episode of Noah Hawley’s Legion. The Fargo show runner has created another unique television and I’m hooked. The acting is fantastic and the look of the show so unique. Seriously, it’s one of the best looking TV shows ever, especially the great lighting and direction from Michael Uppendahl. A few critics have said the show needs to move on from David’s memory work at Summerland to stop it from becoming repetitive but I have faith in Hawley’s vision for the show and I’m enjoying the trippy journeys into the depths of David’s mind. And it looks like Jemaine Clement makes an appearance next episode as Melanie’s husband Oliver (one of the founders of Summerland and rumoured to have spent the last 20 years on the astral plane) so things are are only going to get crazier.