Legion Recap S01E04

This show is likely to frustrate as many people as it impresses. For every fan amazed at the camerawork and set design, there will be people rolling their eyes and dismissing such attention to detail as little more than gimmicks. This is to write nothing of the stereotypical comic book fans with encyclopedic knowledge of the X-books who demand more adherence to comic book tropes and canonical storylines. These latter reviewers may be satisfied by the fighting and powers on display in this episode, but it may not be enough. It's fitting that the title comes from a word referencing a great multitude, with origins in Old Latin and Old French, because the varied tastes to which it appeals could be in the thousands. This might seem like a stretch, but given that the episode opens with Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement) basically outlining Aristotle's theory of catharsis from the astral plane, I'd say it's fitting.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Kerry may be acting as an audience surrogate in her itching for a fight, but hers is just one of many voices outside of David's head offering an opinion. The team at Summerland acts as something of a Greek chorus, to extend the classical references, commenting on what's come before and providing some perspective. Ptonomy thinks David is dangerous, but his loyalty to Dr. Bird has him leading an investigative team of Syd and Kerry to try and find as much information as they can about what exactly drove David to Clockworks.

Syd takes over narrating duties this week, since David is still trapped in (and beyond, it turns out) his own head. This is a wise change of scenery. Of course, this being Legion, there is hardly a chance for viewers to be oriented into when and how the episode's events are unfolding. Flash forwards prove untrustworthy, as Syd and the Eye trade bodies, and the obvious foreshadowing of Dr. Poole's injured eye and Kerry's description of gunfire in the woods don't undermine the surprises.

When that fight arrives, beginning with Kerry's delicious utterance of "My turn" and set to Feist's "Undiscovered First" anachronistically playing from Oliver's astral record player, it's intercut with other characters dancing, accentuating the choreography of the action and the narrative as a whole. Director Larysa Kondracki frames this episode like a detective story or a thriller, with the occasional detour into metaphysical comedy, but what would be the climax full of guns and punching is also full of emotional beats and balletic physicality.

"Who are we if not the stories we tell ourselves?" Syd asks at one point. It's a valid question, and certainly crucial to the overriding metaphor of framing our personal narratives in terms of power instead of victimhood. But what if those stories are false? Aubrey Plaza's Lenny is queer (she even tells David that she doesn't "swing that way" when he tells her to blow him), but her entire existence is called into question by the Eye and Philly. Ptonomy points out that memories can be unreliable. But Syd knows that Lenny must have been real, since they met at Clockworks and Syd killed her. We also get confirmation that Dr. Kissinger is real, as he's in the same prison as David's sister. The stories we have to tell ourselves are therefore the most important ones; the details like the curtains in an office may be different, but the truth about who we are remains immutable.

Thankfully, David escapes the astral plane in the end, though he botches the escape from Division Three without realizing that's what he's doing. I doubt this is the last we've seen of Kerry (or Cary), especially since they were both present in the preview for next week. This episode proves this show can deploy action when it wants to, and will no doubt do so in the future.

Devin Whitlock's picture
on March 2, 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!