By Dr. Zaius
Thursday, February 16th, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Legion Episode 1.2 “Chapter 2”
Written by Noah Hawley
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Starring Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart FX Network
Air date: February 15, 2017
Last week’s premiere of the longly awaited new FX & Marvel series Legion, lived up to any and all expectations. It was in this humble reviewer’s opinion, one of the best pilot episodes in TV history. Dan Stevens plays David Haller, a mutant with many abilities, many which remain unseen. We watch Haller’s journey through mental wards, where he befriends Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and woos Syd (Rachel Keller). The whole first half felt like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on an acid trip. Haunted by visions and powers, Haller escaped the institution after kissing Syd and switching bodies with her, but quickly finds himself locked in another room being interrogated by unknown government officials, who are either trying to harness his mutant powers or destroy the potential threat. He is inevitably rescued by Syd along with a team of mutants led by Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). Bring on episode 2!
Spoilers below for Episode 2 of Legion:
Picking up where the first episode ended, David and his new friends travel to Summerland, “a place they said does not exist.” It reminds me of Xavier’s school for the gifted in X-Men, and given the creators, and Haller’s comicbook backstory, that may seem obvious. Melanie Bird eases him through a rough beginning as his powers go on overload. She calms him and preps him for “memory work.” If you’re one of the many people going through a malaise from the glut of superhero shows and movies, Legion separates itself in its style. Everything from the camerawork, the editing, and the fantastic musical choices make the show just beautiful to watch. It’s strange watching a show about telepathy, and telekinesis and not even realizing it’s a Marvel property. Legion is different in all the right ways.
The “memory work” takes David inside his own head thanks to Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), the “memory artist.” David relives his childhood and enjoys the memory therapy, until his dad enters the picture and he snaps. He starts seeing visions of Lenny, whom he unfortunately killed back at the psych hospital. In just a few moments of screen time, Aubrey Plaza steals the spotlight. Just as David seems to start feeling comfortable, Division 3, led by the mysterious The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) approach in droves.
Before they get there we spend some time alone with David and Syd, and the chemistry between them is adorable. Dan Stevens climbing off a double swing set, pining up at the stars, “I just want to hug you!” is one of gosh darn cutest moments of the show, and it’s made that much funnier when Syd tells him that getting close to people feels like ants on her skin. Syd’s mutant ability is much like Rogue’s; she absorbs the powers of those she touches. Since they can’t touch, they have what David calls, a “romance of mind.”
With help of eccentric doctor Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin, Mr Noodle on Sesame Street!), David explores more of his past. Family talks with sister Amy (Katie Aselton), more fun scamming drugs with Lenny, loud dogs and gunshots… something is spooking David. Ptonomy and Bird are searching for the answers, but his memories seem to be haunted by some type of boogeyman. Then he figures something out. The woman’s voice he keeps hearing is his sister’s and she’s looking for him. Except what she finds is Division 3 and The Eye, who seems ready to torture her for information.
This show is truly special. Based on characters created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz during one of the great runs in Marvel’s X-Men history, the show somehow avoids every and all superhero tropes and cliches. There are elements of the show that are genuinely affectionate, and others that are terrifying. I mean… what the hell is that blob monster David keeps seeing?!? The acting and style raise this series to another level. Dan Stevens hits every beat as David, playing it convincingly as an unstable mental patient, then turning on the charm in his scenes with Syd. And by the way, Rachel Keller is just too damn cute. Is it presumptuous to say a show is the best on television after a mere two episodes? Probably. But seriously, who cares… Legion is damn near perfect.
Legion returns next Wednesday night at 10:00pm only on FX.
Chapter 2 | Season 1 Ep. 2 Trailer | Legion
David reflects on his past with the help of new friends.