Jemaine Clement and Jason Mantzoukas Rap-Battled on 'Legion' And My Pants Didn't Survive
In Loving Memory of My Pants: 2017-2019
They were good pants, and they served me well. Forgiving pants. Pants that, despite being made from some fancy breathable hippie bamboo something or other, maintained their unassuming can-do charm while dotted with bleach stains and stubborn dog hairs. Comfy pants, made for lounging, with just enough elastic in the waist that you didn’t really need to tie off the drawstring, because who were you trying to impress anyway? Nobody. I was trying to impress nobody. Especially not that night.
That night was last night. The last night I saw my pants. But if they had to go — and apparently they DID have to go, as their time was up — it was the most fitting end I could imagine for them: blasted into oblivion by the raw sexual energy of Jason Mantzoukas rapping in a top hat.
Here’s what happened. I sat down on the couch last night, with my husband and my dog and — crucially — my pants, and we decided to catch up on Monday’s episode of Legion on demand. My pants and I go way back with Legion, or maybe I go way back with it and my pants have always come along for the ride. Point is, together we’ve survived the show’s deliriously nonsensical, inscrutable ups and downs, and fortunately this third season has been mostly all ups. My pants have sat through me sitting through David’s timeline shenanigans, that much-ballyhooed Professor X flashback, countless kaleidoscopic scene transitions, Lenny’s jumpsuit, and the endlessly inventive musical sequences that have almost singlehandedly redeemed this series every time it started getting lost in the weeds. Whenever I’m stuck trying to explain why I love this show, only one phrase comes to mind — “It’s extremely my sh*t” — and then I usually point to one of the aforementioned musical numbers to prove my point.
Like last week, when the entire cast — many of whom were unconscious and/or dead at that moment in the story (don’t worry, the aforementioned timeline shenanigans means nothing sticks) — joined together for a perfectly utilized rendition of “(What’s So Funny Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding”:
Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! People singing Elvis Costello while floating through the cold, unforgiving vacuum of space is textbook “extremely my sh*t”! I’ll sit through any amount of half-baked philosophizing if there’s a sequence like that waiting to reward me! But I’m not here to talk about what excites me — I’m here to explain what moved (or removed) my pants. And that brings me to the musical sequence from this week’s episode, “Chapter 25” — an episode told almost entirely as a fairytale, from the point of view of Syd’s lost, childlike psyche.
The episode featured the return of two of Legion’s best weapons, Jemaine Clement and Jean Smart as Oliver and Melanie Bird, who haven’t been around much this season due to their being, I dunno, lost on the astral plane together after they were freed from The Shadow King’s grasp? Or something? Anyway, they’re building houses out of straw and taking care of Syd, who has just been booted from her body after losing a showdown with David and has reverted to being a child with no memory of her life. And, this being a fairytale, there’s even a Big, Bad Wolf residing in their bucolic made-up mind land, played by Jason Mantzoukas in a top hat, because duh. If you’re gonna create a living metaphor for temptation and bad ideas run amok, hire Mantzoukas and let him growl about chlamydia.
[And, friends, I should have known something was amiss down below right there and then, because “Jason Mantzoukas growling about chlamydia” had an almost immediate impact on my pants and the areas covered by my pants. Like, my pants were still there, but they were standing at attention.]
Anyway, it all leads to a face-off between the Wolf and Oliver over who will have the right to influence little kid Syd. The face-off took the form of a rap battle, because this show has had 50% of Flight of the Conchords in its cast the whole time and it was inevitable if you stop and think about it. I mean, it was BOUND to happen. Mantzoukas being a part of it was just the icing I accidentally dropped on my pants in surprise. I mean, look at this:
Imagine me, sitting there, lulled into complacency by 45 minutes of David-less fairytale nonsense, only to get spanked by a goddamn sexy-ass rap battle. I was stunned. I was delighted. I was grinning from ear to ear, and also occasionally clapping on the one and the three because what even IS the downbeat, amirite? And when it finally ended, I collapsed against the back of the couch in spent relief, only to notice that… my pants were gone. Poof. Not like they’d exploded, or imploded, or deconstructed in any way that would leave a shred of evidence, though. No, they’d disappeared. That musical number was so overwhelming it actually obliterated the reality of my pants, as though they’d never existed in the first place. For a moment, I just stared at my bare thighs, trying to remember what the concept of “pants” even was, and why it might apply to my legs at all. Hadn’t I always simply been pants-less, watching Legion? For that matter, why was I wearing a shirt? What was I doing in clothing when Jemaine Clement was spitting magical archetypal insults at Jason Mantzoukas? What textile could ever hope to hold up when faced with that kind of pure creative GENIUS?
By the time the credits rolled I’d managed to pick my slack jaw up off my collarbone and, finally, the loss hit me. My pants. I really liked those pants. But I also really liked that rap battle, and really — isn’t conceptual destruction a hell of a way for any of us to go? Most clothing — most everything — lives on in a state of constant decay, slowly wearing out. Some maintain enough functionality to be dropped off at a thrift store when it’s lost its appeal. Sometimes we outgrow our clothes, or time and fashion does it for us. But rarely is an article of clothing sacrificed at the altar of actual joy the way my pants were. So no, I’ll never be able to wear them again. I’ll never even know where they went. But I’ll always have the memory of the time we shared, and the magnitude of the force that finally stripped them from me. And while they may never again bring me comfort as I stretch out on the couch, my pants have definitely earned my respect.
For one perfect moment in time, my pants and I were both blown away.
RIP, Pants. May the echoing growls of Jason Mantzoukas bring you comfort in the ever after.
Header Image Source: FX
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