“It’ll be fun. Kick some ass. Save the girl. Get a snack.”
Legion has so far suggested that the original diagnosis of David as a schizophrenic is just a misdirection. The mutant and proud folks at Summerland state that’s the conclusion of David’s various therapists because they want to suppress or control or just don’t understand David’s true nature as one of the most powerful mutants ever to live. But chapter 5 asks; what if there’s truth to both? What if the answer is actually much more dangerous? What if David, who is undoubtedly one of the most powerful mutants ever, is also an incredibly unstable schizophrenic?
After last weeks episode saw David visit the astral plane, meeting Oliver Bird and eventually breaking out with the help of Lenny, something has changed in the powerful telepath. At first he’s just more confident, wanting to break into Division 3 and get his sister back. But before long it’s clear it’s something else, something much more dangerous. After mastering his powers enough to create a reality just for him and Syd to be together (as her powers don’t allow human contact) David heads off to D3 alone. The ever more suspicious people at Summerland follow him there but David is way ahead of them, having brutally wiped out everyone at D3 (except the creepy Eye guy). This sequence is very cool especially the Summerland gang’s arrival at D3 scored by Radiohead’s The Daily Mail. The sequence showcased David’s destructive powers which we had an idea of but never seen truly realised. There are smushed corpses of D3 soldiers everywhere, some sticking out of the concrete floor and walls. It’s made even more scary and oddly pertinent that we only see David’s actions through grainy security footage where he’s gleefully dancing his way around the exploding soldiers (and how creepy was that thermal vision shot of Yellow Eyes in the security footage).
The whole episode was a blueprint on how to do a 10/10 hour of television (and it’s only episode 5!) but a particularly effective moment saw the Summerland team going after David and entering a place where all sound disappeared. For the next 10 or so minutes the only sound was no-diegetic, and man was it creepy. Syd seeing the Angriest Boy on the stairs was perhaps the peak of it but it had me on edge throughout the entire scene. The whole episode (and the series generally) was full of these flourishes and the direction by Tim Mielants (who directed the gorgeous third season of Peaky Blinders) was frequently stunning. No other show on TV right now looks as good Legion does and none are as nearly as interesting in the way they use colours, sound design, and things like aspect ratios and lenses. Showrunner Noah Hawley brings the world of FOX’s X-Men to life in a completely different way than that of the movies, but the show still feels like it could somehow fit into the canon.
Once again the cast were brilliant, especially main characters David Haller (Dan Stevens) and Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller). And with this episode it’s becoming increasingly noticeable that the protagonist of the series is Syd, and not David as it was at the beginning. I think the show is building up to an inevitable confrontation between the two of them. Or I could be completely wrong, with Hawley you never really know. Stevens portrays the fractured mind of David extremely well. It’s enough that you know when its David speaking and when it’s the evil possessor speaking, but it doesn’t go too far that you are 100% certain. Keller is wonderful once again, slowly becoming the show’s main character as she fights between her love for David and her desire to do what she believes (or what the Melanie says) is right. Although my favourite character at the moment is Cary, played by Bill Irwin. Something about him tells me either him or his other half (Kerry – played by relative newcomer Amber Midthunder) aren’t going to make it to the end of the season but I hope I’m wrong because he’s awesome. He’s the ‘tech guy’ on the surface but I feel he’s got lots more to tell. Fargo’s Jean Smart as Melenie is also always wonderful to watch, this time especially as she trys to defend why Summerland needs David so badly. The friendly mutant leader says she wants to help him, the doting wife of a beat poet just wants her husband back. Although from next weeks preview it look like some of these problems might seem small in comparison.
Legion just delivered a masterclass on how to do a perfect episode of TV and it’s only episode 5 out of 8. Episode 6 seems to be taking an interesting twist too, as the end of this episode saw all of our cast transported to Clockworks mental institute in a psychiatric group chaired by Aubrey Plaza’s demonic Lenny. I have no idea what’s coming next, with Noah Hawley at the helm you rarely do, but it looks awesome and I can’t wait.
*Great news, despite struggling ratings Legion has been picked up for a season 2!*
Reviewed by Tom
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