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TV Review: Legion 1.4 “Chapter 4”
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Legion
Episode 1.4 “Chapter 4”
Written by Noah Hawley
Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Created by Noah Hawley & Stan Lee
Starring Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart
FX Network
Air date: March 1st, 2017

Legion has set a pretty high bar for only three episodes. Marvel’s new series on FX is daring, in that nothing about it feels like anything you’ve ever seen in a superhero show before. In fact, without a hint or random word (mutant) thrown in, you may not even realize you’re watching a show based on X-Men comics, created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. David Haller (Dan Stevens) is one of the most powerful mutants in the world, with still yet undefined and uncontrolled powers including telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, etc. Living in Summerland, a Professor X-style school in the woods, Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) is trying to use David’s powers to help stop potential threats from a government organization out to stop them – Division 3. They have kidnapped David’s sister Amy (Katie Aselton), and are trying to lure him out. Meanwhile with the help of his girlfriend Syd (Rachel Keller) (who he cannot physically touch), and Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), they are digging in David’s head and exploring his memories for clues to how far his powers truly reach. And what’s with that blob-like yellow eyed man?!?!

Spoilers for this week’s Legion below.

We open with a Dr. Phil-esque TV performer telling the audiences about the two stories we tell our children; the one that inspires empathy, the other that inspires fear. I have two kids, sadly he’s not that wrong. Everyone is desperately trying to get David to wake up. Dr. Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) assures them David is not brain dead, but still very active, and they conclude he is on some otherworldly plane, an astral plane.

It’s up to Syd, Ptonomy, and Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) to dig through David’s past to figure out his secrets. Syd asks Ptonomy a question I was thinking? “Can we still be in David’s mind?” His answer, “A simulation, no this is real… I’m pretty sure.” That’s what it’s like watching this show. You question everything you see. The first season of LOST gave off the same feeling, a sense of raw wonder. I’m hoping Legion can carry this feeling forward. It makes minute by minute exciting television.

They discover that David nearly murdered his psychologist Dr. Poole (Scott Lawrence), but Syd is unconvinced, thinking David must be trying to hide his own memories. Meanwhile, Amy is held in a cell and finds she has a neighbor, David’s old doctor Kissinger. (David Ferry). They confess they both suspected David was powerful and not crazy, and Amy tells a story about David routinely talking to their dog as a kid. One problem… they didn’t have a dog. I don’t know why, but that reveal and line delivery sent a twinge down my spine, and I got goosebumps.

We delve into the Cary/Kerry Loudermilk relationship and they are two people sharing a body. He does the “boring work, I do the fun stuff,” she explains to Syd. He explains that since she lives in his body, she only ages when outside of him, therefore the age difference between them. While some characters in this new universe have obvious ties to other mutants (Syd is very much like Rogue), there are so many complex characters with unique abilities.

In the astral plane, David follows a man in a deep sea diving suit in a LSD acid trip world. He is Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement), the true love of Melanie, who is kept literally on ice in the basement of Summerland. Oliver is hilarious, trapped in a 60s suit with 60s ideals of free love. He is so excited to not be alone anymore and recites beat poetry while David nervously paces looking for an exit. His “monster,” the yellow-eyed man, lurks outside. The imagery is just so dark and creepy, the visual effects, production design, cinematography, and editing for this show are master class. “It’s not real unless you make it real,” Oliver warns him. As David descends into the abyss of the astral plane, a confrontation with his darkest fears seem imminent.

Syd is seeing paper mache Hitler wherever she goes, and they find David’s ex who shatters a reality, Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) is actually Benny, a chubby drug addict MAN. The ex tells them if they see David to him “They’re watching.” They visit Dr. Poole at a lakeside lighthouse that just screams “this is a dream!” I must comment on how subtly hilarious Amber Midthunder’s Kerry is, randomly pacing with Syd and Ptonomy, desperate to fight. She gets her wish. Dr. Poole is really The Eye (Mackenzie Gray), and soon District 3 soldiers are firing into the lighthouse. Kerry almost smiles as she sees the soldiers, before getting to quote Admiral Ackbar’s famous line.

I don’t want to ruin what is one of the greatest scenes I think I ever watched, but the final 15 minutes contains an absolutely awe inspiring scene; a mix of characters, effects, visuals, and because it’s Legion… dancing. Just unbelieveable. You learn so much about these characters in this action scene with no dialogue. I looked up this episode’s director, Larysa Kondracki, and found, not surprisingly she directed my favorite episode of Gotham as well.

Wow. That’s the simplest way to describe what this show offers on television. This, like the pilot rang in at 1:20 minutes on TV, so figure a legit hour without commercials and felt more like I watched a movie than an episode of TV. The highs and lows and edge of your seat lunacy of this world are simply hypnotic. The main character was barely on screen this episode, and yet the show was just as entertaining and enthralling. That speaks to the quality of the ensemble cast, the writing, and the crew working on this show. Legion is the definition of “Event TV”. Make sure you’re back on FX, 10:00 PM next Wednesday night.

Video

Chapter 4 | Season 1 Ep. 4 Trailer | Legion


David’s in trouble, while his friends search for answers.

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