Legion, Chapter 1

Chapter 1

We are in the Sixties…maybe. The Who rail against us as we speed through David’s youth, glimpses of carefree happiness sprinkled in a path of growing trouble. The pace here is harried, and the cheery music placed against David’s increasingly misspent youth is absolutely a sign of things to come.

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First things first: Legion is something of an X-Men adjacent show, in the same sense that your one cousin who was on The News once and now isn’t around is part of your family. What I know about David Haller is two things: he is the son of Charles Xavier, and he is as powerful as he is fragmented. One of those things doesn’t come into play here. The other one – as made clearly not far in – is what this show is about.

 

But even then, the word ‘mutant’ is said maybe twice, and maybe not until forty minutes in. There is a lot to unpack here, and very little of it explicitly stated. What is explained will be shown, and even then, keeping up will be a challenge.

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We meet some people. Not just David, but David’s mother. It is David’s birthday, maybe. David has a friend, or maybe a narrator, in the form of Sexy Lady Benicio Del Toro Lenny, who is clearly having more fun than David. And then there is Syd.

Lenny tells us that Syd is pretty, but David’s face tells us, too. Like many others here, Syd wears a track jacket, but a black one, zipped all the way up. Very early on, there are few coincidences.

Syd Barret, a psychiatrist named Kissinger, a goddamned Rolling Stones song…this is the Sixties. But where? There is all the style of a Wes Anderson film, but something isn’t right. The whimsy is missing, replaced by struggle, and something else, something lurking in the corner, something unnatural. Maybe you see it, maybe not, but it sees you.

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Some of this is real. Some of this is not. Kissinger (the psychiatrist) and another man, Clark, try to figure this out. The color red shows up a great deal, and it is as close to an honest warning of real trouble as can be expected.

And there is trouble. Syd is released from CLOCKWORKS, but David tries to say goodbye. There is a kiss, and then, a shockwave, and then, chaos. Syd is David until David is David, with no rhyme or reason, and then, reality. Maybe.

The pool is empty. The pool is full. There is only a glimpse of David’s power, which is yet undefined and dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that keeping David inside a pool with the threat of electrocution, is seen less as inhumane and more as necessary. But somehow, David comes out alive, the charred bodies of soldiers entering the pool rather than coming from it.

This episode seems to end in reality, but in two very different places. One of them is the home of David’s sister, where Lenny seems to be dead but also has stowed away inside the maybe-yellow suitcase. There are waffles! There is also a dance sequence! But there is also laughter, and a threat. “They’re coming, and they’re going to kill you.”

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The other part of reality takes place at the pool, where David’s escape is covered by powerful friends. This is where things end, meeting Melanie Bird, with a handshake. But just as Lenny sneaked into David’s suitcase, the yellow eyed lump – the tumor – is following along, too. We don’t know where we’re going, but we are not alone.

 

Thoughts:

  • One episode in and I feel like I could already write a term paper on the use of color here. Not even all the colors, just red.
  • There is a lot happening here. But this is the good kind of busy. I’m a fan of anything that allows for subjective conclusions, especially while daring the viewer to keep up.
  • A Who song, a Rolling Stones song, a great dance sequence, and a few different explosions. I suppose Noah Hawley earned himself some leeway with Fargo, but he clearly spent some money here.
  • Syd may not be Rogue, but we’re not that far from the X-Men, I guess.
  • Waffles!
  • Dan Stevens is really great so far. I am enjoying his balance of dumbstruck and impatient.
  • Likewise, I enjoy Grumpy Cat / April Ludgate herself showing up to be a general candy-loving nuisance.
  • Finally: I may write a few more of these, depending on how awful the weather is here and how much I can sit still. I’d only ask that you use spoiler tags in the comments, though I may avoid them anyway for the sake of the experience. Please feel free to disagree with me, though.