TV Review: Legion “Chapter Two”

I was really worried that Legion’s pilot was a fluke. For as fascinating as spending time inside David Haller’s mind was, the ending hinted at things taking a turn into more standard superhero territory and I’m still not thrilled with David being taken to what is essentially a diet Xavier’s School to learn how to control his powers so soon into the story. That said, it doesn’t seem as though we’re leaving behind the fragmented structure and twisted visuals any time soon. While this second episode was certainly a more focused story, we still got plenty of disturbing and jumbled peaks into David’s past, which I suspect will serve as the backbone for the show’s best moments.

The majority of the story was centered around a treatment called memory work. With the help of Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), David was able to glance inside of his past and enter the consciousness of himself within those flashbacks. It’s a fascinating way to navigate through flashbacks, as David’s unhinged mind often has a few alterations for these memories. We see some strange childhood moments with his father, who’s face is blocked out from David’s memory. We find out that he was an astronomer, who connected with his son over the feeling that the stars were talking to him. However, he has pretty terrible taste in bedtime stories, reading a disturbing book called “The World’s Angriest Boy” while lulling his son to sleep, in which a young boy murders his mother. Since we haven’t seen his father’s face yet, perhaps this is David repressing a memory. Could he have murdered his mother in a fit of rage by mistake?

Ptonomy seems like a character with major potential, essentially acting as a counter weight to David. He has such control over his psychic abilities that he can directly recall being inside his mother’s womb. We really get a sense of how these two could better each other during their mid-episode conversation. I hope that he ultimately becomes more of a mentor to David than Melanie, as she doesn’t seem terribly compelling so far.

We also see David in some unsettling therapy sessions before he was sent to the hospital. There are weird skips in these memories, gaps in the conversation that David’s mind wants to bury for some reason. He’s so unsettled by these conversations that we get some possible insight into The Demon With The Yellow Eyes when it seems to appear to him in a door behind his doctor. It seems as though the monster only shows up when David is at his most vulnerable, this situation wringing out his anxiety by forcing him to open up emotionally. In fact, it appears during a few stressful moments in this episode. He sees it when he’s doing drugs with Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), during which he is in a physically weak state. Ol’ yellow eyes also nearly tackles David during the sequence in the MRI booth, when he realizes that his sister Amy has been kidnapped by Devision 3. It seems to be a manifestation of David’s anxieties operating at full force, forcing him to lose control of his abilities. 

There is something so viscerally unsettling about almost every moment of this show. We, like David, are horrified by the possibility that any moment can snap into insanity. In fact, we really can’t fully trust anything we’re looking at, as so much of it is projected through a mind that seems to re-invent what it is looking at on a dime. The X-Men films have scratched the surface of characters like this, but it’s wonderful to see one get a complex study here.

Meanwhile, the relationship between David and Syd only gets more adorable. While the show isn’t directly saying it, it’s nice to see an asexual couple represented so sweetly in a mainstream show. As it turns out, Syd doesn’t just hate being touched because of her powers. She feels as though other people’s hands are made of ants. As such, these two have a “romance of the mind” and it’s lovely to watch them interact. It’s a delightful side story that humanizes David while not overtaking the psychological drama.

Since Amy seems to be in some dangerous clutches at the moment, David is likely to be on the warpath any second now. Hopefully, we can hold him back for another episode or two. David’s past really is the beating heart of Legion and once he has full control over his abilities, it’s still difficult to see where we can go from there. Even so, this was a really strong episode, especially during the moments where we got hints at how dark David’s repressed memories may truly be.

Rating: 8/10

When Michael Fairbanks first saw Sam Rami's Spider-Man film back in 2002, everything changed. The experience began a lifelong passion for cinema that has gone undeterred since. In 2009 he began reviewing movies on Youtube, which ultimately sprang into a lifelong passion for film criticism and entertainment reporting. He is currently studying screenwriting at Chapman University. Aside from seeing movies, Michael enjoys making bad puns while playing video games, going on long late night drives, and socializing over large plates of food. For more of Fairbanks' movie reviews check out: https://fairbanksonfilm.wordpress.com