Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern
* For a recap & review of Chapter 8, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 10, click here.
Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement) is avoiding “conversations about time” with Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) while they float in an ethereal pool being served drinks by non-existent waiters. Ah, the luxury of being trapped in a strange projected headspace; some dream inside a dream inside a dream. Y’know, the usual for Legion.
Plenty of existential thought to start Season 2. We’re thrust directly headlong into madness after a bit of narration (courtesy of Jon Hamm) that strays all over the philosophical road map from today’s postmodern, contemporary thought all the way back to Plato’s theory of Forms.
Then there’s David Haller (Dan Stevens), whose mind is stuck within its own labyrinth of mental mazes. He’s being transported safely to Division 3 by Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) and an armed team of soldiers. He’s unresponsive, and stuck in the “astral plane” currently.
What will they do with David? Upper management – the basket-headed Admiral Fukuyama – figures they should terminate him. Cary says fuck it and takes off his contamination suit’s helmet, prompting the soldiers to ready their weapons. That’s when Kerry (Amber Midthunder) comes out to play, and that holds everyone back. Soon enough, Cary gets David to wake up.
Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) tells us about Division 3, the “tip of the spear.” They deal with the everyday-type stuff, real world engagement. Division 1 is global command and communications. Division 2 involves genetics and technology. Seems that in David’s mental absence, Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and others were able to keep the mutants safe; this meant they went to work for Division 3.
We see how Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) coped with things in the wake of what happened, including not knowing what would happen to David. The two of them together is continually interesting, seeing as how they can’t actually touch one another, except on the astral plane.
All the while, the Shadow King is out there, seeking something in the skin of Oliver. There’s also a coincidental problem; “the Catalyst.” Places where Oliver turns up, a psychological virus is spreading which seizes people in place, chattering their teeth continuously.
Something I’m digging in this first episode is Dr. Bird’s character becoming an exploration of the other side of the world of superheroes (et cetera). She’s a superhero in the everyday sense, but her husband Oliver’s been whisking off and on the astral plane for years, and it’s compelling to see how that affects her + their relationship. A great human look at the Marvel world.
Our Hamm narration offers up more existentialism. He tells a story about a man who came to reject his own body simply due to the “power of an idea.” This took the man to horrific lengths. What Hamm makes clear is that ideas require sustenance, and delusions thrive on the destruction of the rational. Part of why I’ve loved Legion right from the start is that it takes a look at issues surrounding mental health through the lens of a comic book story about superheroes.
David’s called to see Admiral Fukuyama about the quest for the Shadow King. He’s starting to find out there’s more to the whole situation than he originally imagined. He doesn’t want Oliver to get hurt, being the bodily host. More than that, Amahl Farouk’s body has to be destroyed in order for him to fully die; after he was defeated on the astral plane by David’s dad (hint: click here if you don’t already know about his dad + want to know), his body was hidden. They’ve got to find the body of Farouk before the Shadow King/Oliver do.
Now David has to go into an advanced version of a sensory deprivation tank. He has to strip down and get into a pool of strawberry scented/flavoured water. At the same time, Ptonomy mentions seeing David’s memories – one of which involved David at that familiar bar we’ve seen with Oliver, dancing. This makes Ptonomy wonder if the Shadow King is still manipulating their friend somehow. And meanwhile, David searches his own memories to unlock the truth. Commence the weird and wild dance break!
Syd’s relationship with David – despite her own status as a mutant – is a great parallel to the relationships between a person without mental illness and a person with mental illness. The whole concept of both Oliver and David ‘going away’ to the astral plane, whether or not it has a larger purpose in terms of the Shadow King (et cetera), is the same as the partner without mental illness wondering when their partner’s illness is going to take them away figuratively from their relationship.
Poor ole David has so much on his plate mentally, it’s no wonder he’s struggling. His whole world is perpetually being flipped upside down. He’s always faced with some new moral conundrum. And he is never far from the influence of the Shadow King.
Welcome to Season 2.
Loved this opener for Legion‘s second season. I expected no less, honestly, and it still blew my mind. Really fills the void for weird TV post-Twin Peaks. Plus, as I’ve mentioned time and time again, there’s an interesting exploration of mental illness(/related issues) within the framework of superhero storytelling.
“Chapter 10” is next week.