Legion Recap S01E03

In many ways, Legion is unlike any show on television. It's certainly different from any superhero property in production, though describing something as "x for people who don't like x" carries its own unique baggage in addition to accusations of pandering to a "mainstream" crowd, whatever that entails. Thankfully, while there are many adjectives that apply to this show, mainstream is not one of them. It continues to develop psychologically complex characters, aside from the main character who hears voices, and delivers visually stunning set pieces in a fractured narrative that is as fun to dissect as it is potentially maddening.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Despite further mentions of a war, and the possibility that David could put everyone's lives at risk with his powers, the episode's emotional crux is on the women in his life. We are reminded that David's sister is being held captive by Division Three in a sequence that deftly uses visual effects. She looks much worse off than the last time we saw her, but we learn that she's always had some awareness of how her brother was special, even if this needs to be pointed out to her by a creepy goon in a white suit. As much as he wants to run or teleport or project to her rescue, though, David has to learn to control his abilities.

Part of this process involves opening up his mind and letting down his defenses, and he does not want Syd along for that trip. Ptonomy and Dr. Bird should be privy to his darkest secrets, but there are parts of his past he would rather Syd not see. "I was a junkie," he begins to confess, but she doesn't care. They admit, in their own way, that they're in love. He gives in to her protestations.

As for Dr. Bird, she enjoys a touching moment with what we can presume is her dead husband's voice, and fills us in on the Eye. It turns out Walter, as she knows him, was one of the first guests at Summerland and displayed a gift for cruelty as much as more supernatural ones. He was able to see David reaching out to his sister, and may be able to find them.

The final third takes place almost entirely in David's memories. The show has never shied away from literalizing its metaphors, and the guide for this trip is David's inner child made manifest. Much like the giant volume knob from last week, this is a psychological construct that provides physical ballast in what quickly becomes a nightmare. The Devil with the Yellow Eyes makes an appearance as does the World's Angriest Boy in the World. "I'm not so sure those are memories," we're told after everyone but David returns to the therapeutic confines of Dr. Bird's idyllic retreat. Once more, the rug is pulled out from under us.

The extended metaphor I've been developing with this show when it comes to queerness as superpowers can only go so far, and the individuality of these characters makes it less applicable as we learn of their particular burdens. Syd feels like she's "covered with ants" when she's around other people, Ptonomy's first memory is of trauma associated with his own birth, and David's personal hell is on full display here. Certainly, there is much to be gleaned from the narrative of inner strength that must be developed for the lasting effects of self-actualization. And the need for working through the past to understand who we really are is necessary. But these are broad strokes, and the more we learn about the world of this show, the less applicable specific story beats become beholden to them, lest they collapse under their own weight. This is all a long way of writing that Legion is still developing its history and characters, and promises rich rewards for the depths it provides.

Devin Whitlock's picture
on February 23, 2017

I've enjoyed comics since I was ten years old, but won't reveal how long ago that was. I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, and can usually be found at a local bar with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. I'm so happy to be contributing to Geeks OUT!