EPISODE REVIEW: Legion S2 Ep01 ‘Chapter 9’

Nearly one year later, David Haller has been found! Where has he been all this time, and what could epic dance battles have to do with it? Welcome back to the world of Legion with the long-awaited Season 2 debut!

Legion – “Chapter 9”, Season 2, Episode 01
Airdate: April 3rd, 2018
Director: Tim Mielants
Writer: Nathaniel Halpern and Noah Hawley (creator)
Based on the Marvel Comics Created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz

What You Should Know:

If you have come here looking for a typical example of a superhero genre television series, you will find yourself fortuitously lost. Legion focuses on the life and times of David Haller, an extremely powerful mutant of questionable mental stability. Last season on Legion, David’s journey took him from the confines of a mental institution to battles against shadowy government organizations. Along the way, a presence was found in David’s mind that has been influencing nearly every aspect of his life—a powerful psychic presence by the name of Amahl Farouk, widely known as The Shadow King! As the season wrapped, David and friends had successfully expelled The Shadow King from David’s psyche, only to have him attach himself to another powerful psychic named Oliver Bird. Bird/Farouk escape, and as David and his girlfriend Syd contemplate the next steps in their journey, David is abducted by the mysterious floating orb.

What You’ll Find Out:

It has been nearly a year since David was abducted from Summerland when he is finally found by his old friends. Questions abound as to where he has been, as well as questions of what has happened to the Summerland crew since his disappearance. Melanie, Syd, Cary/Kerrie, and Ptonomy have joined forces with Division 3, the government organization they fought so valiantly against in Season 1, in the attempts to track down Farouk/Bird, David, and handle a spreading psychic epidemic that leaves large groups of people frozen like statues (except for “the thing with the teeth”).

admiral

Upon discovering David, who has only snapshots of memories of the past year, he is brought to Admiral Fukuyama, the basket-headed leader of Division 3, and his three mustachioed assistants in order to assess whether David is too dangerous to live. Naturally, the Summerland crew stands up for David and he is reintegrated into the operations to find Farouk/Bird. A great deal of this episode is set up for the rest of the season, with numerous check-ins with characters (such as the mentally distraught Melanie, who finally regained her husband, Oliver, only to lose him again to The Shadow King, and has now turned to drugs and mysticism), and interview-esque sequences in which characters either interrogate David as to what he remembers, or expound on the things that have happened in the past year for the non-David characters. While all of the sequences are handled quite well in the typical nuanced and oddball fashion the series has come to be known for, none of them lie at the crux of where Season 2 is headed (at least, not in a way that has revealed itself. As with any Avant-garde series, the Devil may well be in the details, but as viewers, we won’t know until we know).

david and ptolemy

No, the crux of this season revolves around the hunt for Farouk’s body. It is revealed that the Shadow King’s psyche was split from his body by David’s mysterious father (a reveal that I am coming to believe may never actually arrive), and the body hidden away to prevent his psyche from rejoining with it. The hunt is on for both Farouk and Division to find the body, but in an unexpected twist, we learn that the orb that abducted David was sent by a future version of Syd in order to tell David to help Farouk find his body, placing David at odds with his companions. We are made aware of the fact that at least some of the lost year for David was spent with Farouk (and Lemmy, played by Aubrey Plaza), but how much is uncertain.

What Just Happened?

Last season was a brilliant exploration into notions of insanity. What does it mean to be insane? How do we differentiate between insanity and intelligence? Is there a relationship between sanity and power? Much of this exploration is funneled through the character of Lenny Busker, a manifestation of The Shadow King in David’s mind, who turned in the performance of a lifetime last season and shows no signs of slowing down in Season 2. In an almost Inception type structure, Lemmy and Oliver Bird now exist as manifestations inside the mind of Farouk inside the body of Oliver, further complicating the question of whether David is insane, or is the world a place of insanity?

lemmy and oliver

In the quest to explore these myriad questions, the viewer is violently thrust into a Lynchian landscape, full of non-sequitur sequences of calculated nonsense, macabre musical numbers, explicit sexual non-conformance, and, of course, this episode’s epic, three-way dance battle on the astral plane between David, Lemmy, and Oliver. Legion is a show that never quite lets the audience get comfortable, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are reading this review and haven’t watched Legion yet, and are finding yourself afraid of watching now, you should be afraid. The light shone on society and its comfort avoiding the strange and mysterious is a black light. It’s a strange world, and Legion intends to keep it that way.

Rating: 8/10
Final Thought:
I was fortunate enough to have Legion accidentally fall into my lap to review through the misfortunate of a fellow reviewer. I hope that I can do this series the justice it deserves because Legion is perhaps the most ambitious and important comics media project happening today. I’ll be using a somewhat sliding rating scale because as good as any given episode is, I have to find a way to leave room for what will inevitably be better down the line.


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