Legion: Chapter Two

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Not what they mean by riding the range, Lennie…

 

“Chapter 2″ continues Legion’s kind of trippy story. It’s a very well crafted show with some really stunning visuals and some really interesting ideas. I’m not entirely sure why it’s so sharply separated from the X-Men movies, since the show’s on Fox, and Fox is the studio doing those films. It’s an even odder choice when you consider that, in the comics, Legion/David’s father is Charles Xavier, who apparently won’t be appearing at all.

The show opens with David arriving at Summerland, which is the refuge the good guys are operating out of. The group never mentions a name for themselves, so I’m not sure what else to call them. There are also scenes of Division 3, the bad guys, hunting for David and company’s trail. Dr. Melanie Bird is the leader of the good guys, and she coaches David in how to get his telepathy under control with some creative visualizations.

The next day, David starts on “memory work” a unique kind of therapy utilizing the powers of memory artist Ptonomy Wallace. He’s not quite telepathic, or maybe more accurately has a more specialized version of that power. He takes David back into his own memories. With a powerful telepath (among other powers) who has a history of mental issues, it’s an interesting trip. That’s actually a key point on Dr. Bird’s therapy- she insists that David is not sick, and every “symptom” he’s suffered from over time is a facet of, or caused by, his powers. I really liked Ptonomy’s explanation that David should consider the trip down memory lane “the museum of you.”

One of the more disturbing scenes is David being read to by his father, an astronomer. The book is called “The World’s Angriest Boy,” and I’ll leave it at it’s not something I’d ever read to a child in my care. Even Ptonomy calls it “pretty messed up,” and that’s from someone who regularly delves into other people’s memories. Also interesting is that we don’t see David’s father’s face, and David can’t seem to focus on it. There’s a mystery there, unless it’s some kind of real backhanded hint that Professor X really is David’s father, and all the rest of this is some kind of manipulation via telepathic power.

There are several scenes of David in a much more conventional kind of therapy. David mentions something about vapor, which we later see is some odd kind of drug, maybe a very early designer drug. I say maybe because it really is hard to pin down when this is set. From the visual cues, I’m guessing the 1960’s. After therapy, David meets up with Lennie, which is a bit odd for a few reasons. I mean, Lennie is odd to begin with, and she’s pushing around a stove on some kind of wheeled sled. But also, Lennie is later in the Clockwork Institute with David, which strikes me as really unlikely. I wonder if Lennie is one of David’s persistent delusions, even though (I think) we see her interact with a few other characters.

In the strange way the show progresses, we see David after that first session with Ptonomy. David is reassured that the first time is always difficult, and that drinking milk helps. Ptomomy pushes about the strange book David’s father was reading to him. We very much get the impression that David is hiding something about that, maybe even from himself. Throughout this conversation, David gets vaguely seen flashes of someone else being in the room, and other hints that the Division 3 soldiers are after them. With that name, I really wonder what Divisions 1 and 2 are.

David and Syd have a chat on a swingset out in the woods. She’s wearing long black gloves, presumably to help her compensate for her problem with physical contact. Syd tells David that Melanie and Division 3 both “heard” it when she accidentally used David’s power after they swapped bodies. I’m still not clear if Syd actually has any powers of her own, but then, it’s that kind of show. David covers for her not being able to be hugged by saying they are having a romance of the mind, a term she really likes. I do, too.

Another of the odd recurring scenes (if that’s not redundant on this show) is David in an MRI machine with an eccentric tech called Kerry. Who talks to Kerry, but that’s not him. And then later, there’s a woman named Kerry. Kerry (the tech) and David have some odd, disjointed conversations. Some of these seem to trigger memories of him as a kid running in a field with his sister, Amy. Those scenes flow smoothly into more stuff with Ptomony, who notices some glitches in David’s memory, which is apparently very unusual.

After a few other scenes with David and Syd, and others with David and the psychiatrist, David ends up dialing in on his sister. He “hears” her asking about him at the Clockwork Institute, who insist they have no record of him ever being there, or his therapist Dr. Kissinger. Amusingly, in the background you can see repairmen working on what was most likely damage from David’s “incident.” Less amusingly, Amy gets taken by Division 3.

After hearing this, David is ready to leave and go rescue his sister. Syd stops him, and I think it’s really nice scene. It would be really easy for Syd to seem superior, since she’s been initiated through the things at Summerland already. Instead, she’s worried that David is leaving in part because of her inability to touch, and is desperate to try and make it up to him. After he explains what’s going on, she convinces him to stay and learn what he can do, which would give him a better chance of rescuing Amy. Grudgingly, he agrees. The shows ends with a scene that isn’t looking too good for Amy.

What I liked: The visuals are good, and the show gives a good idea of mental illness from the perspective of the sufferer. Lennie, whether she’s real or not, is entertaining. I liked the concept of Ptonomy’s powers (although a simpler name would have been nice).

What I didn’t: I get what they’re trying to do, but the sytlistic nature of the show sometimes ends up being confusing. It’s really well put together, but somehow I’m not liking it as much as it seems like I should be, and I’m not sure exactly why.

I’ll give this episode a 3 out of 5. I feel like it might deserve higher, but I’m just not feeling that.

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