Legion – Season 1, Episode 3: Chapter 3 Review

Image for Legion – Season 1, Episode 3: Chapter 3
★★★★

Spoilers lie within for the episode. Don't complain to us if your brain explodes after reading...

There is always a danger with a show such as Legion – which prides character development over the usual missions for superhero shows – that it'll start feeling a little repetitive. And there is a small concern creeping in as the series reaches chapter 3 (with only eight episodes in the first season, we can but hope for a renewal so more can be explored), as we once again take a trip through David's memories, that the show is spinning its wheels as it wades through his issues. Still, that is partly the focus of the show at this stage; looking into the powers and terrors of David Haller. And it's not as if there aren't subtle crumbs being dropped about the others – we learn, for example, that Melanie Bird's husband built Summerland along with Cary Loudermilk (whose power, it turns out, is sometimes sharing a body with Kerry), and that said husband, Oliver, is no more. Which explains why Melanie is happy to pour away her coffee and listen to the voice of her late spouse. And more is explained about Syd, who reveals that her mother was an intimidating genius who lured rich men into her social web with her daughter's help.

There's a chance for Aubrey Plaza's Lenny to undercut David's development and sow seeds of doubt about the Summerland group's methods, while Mackenzie Gray as The Eye continues to be a permed, disturbing presence. We might argue that the shower scene early on feels a tad gratuitous, but like the bathrooms at Summerland, at least it's shared gratuity.

Still, the visual twists and tricks continue to impress, drawing you into the world rather than distancing you from it. It's tough to visualise a situation such as David Haller's (particularly on a TV budget), and so far, the Legion producers have pulled it off admirably. A healthy blend of low-fi effects and CG is employed here, creating some unique trips into David's mind, a place few should really ever wander. If we had to select a favourite this week, it might be the blending of different visuals in the therapist's office when a strung-out David indulges in a little thievery. The ghostly after-image of the shrink and his patient mixed with the scary effects of something (we're not shown explicitly what) starting to break into the room adds up to a fantastic sequence culminating in Syd and the young David manifesting here running from room to room. The fact that Syd can hug this young version of the man she's in an awkward relationship with also gives the sequence a level of poignancy.

So while some will no doubt be frustrated with the apparent lack of movement (certainly it's awfully convenient as to why David can't just teleport to where Amy is and rescue her), if you're willing to surrender to the specific tone of the show, there are plenty of rewards to be found. The character work continues to be strong, and while these later episodes are perhaps not always as funny or knowing as the pilot, there remains a strong streak of humour to be found.

Melanie makes mention of the war that the mutants are fighting, which means there should be more to learn about the seemingly endless struggle between "normal" humans and their mutant fellows, though we may not get to the bigger picture as quickly as some might prefer. Still, Legion continues to impress and remains like nothing else on TV at the moment.

Big Questions

What does the Angriest Child represent?

Possibly one of the more violent aspects of David's complicated, multi-layered personality, plus likely his connection to childhood trauma. We wouldn't want to face that thing in a ventilation shaft. Or, indeed, anywhere.

Are they actually David's memories?

The show has yet to fully explore the "legion" concept of more than one personality existing within David's mind, but you could see some of the weirder moments as clues that there are others lurking there. Could the Devil be an entirely separate psyche?

What does the coffee maker's story mean for the plot?

There's no sign yet, but that is a traditional Japanese story with many variations. You can find one here. And that's Jemaine Clement as the voice of both the coffee machine and the lifts. The machine is very shiny...

Legion airs on FX in the US on Wednesdays and Fox TV in the UK on Thursdays.