Last night was the epic return of Legion on FX — or at least, I’m assuming it was epic. It’s hard to tell what happened, really. Plot-wise, I mean. But that’s to be expected, right? So much of the show takes place in David’s head, or on another plane of existence, that it’s almost impossible to sort out “reality” from “delusion.” Which, oddly enough, was an actual plot point last night — the difference between a delusion and real, rational ideas. Point is, you can enjoy the experience of watching this show and still have almost no clue what is even happening most of the time. Which is, frankly, the show’s best quality.
Well, that and the dance sequences. And don’t worry, there WAS a dance sequence. But we’ll get to that.
Here, then, are the biggest takeaways from the season two premiere of Legion: how it resolved the events of last season, laid the groundwork for the season to come, and had a little mind-palace makeup sex in between.
Legion exists in a post-Twin Peaks: The Return world
Look, it’s clear that the creative team watched the hell out of the Twin Peaks revival during their hiatus and said to themselves, “Well, now there’s no reason that we can’t go balls-out crazy too now, right?” Not that they were particularly bound by logic or linear plotting in the first season, but this premiere felt like whatever vague shackles they operated with had fallen by the wayside. Such is the power and influence of Twin Peaks.
The surreal blending of intuitive elements within the supposedly “real” world is a natural correlation between the two shows, but the pacing of the episode was the biggest giveaway to me. Sure, this season won’t be sprawled across 18 comfortable hours, but the way certain scenes were set up, only to be paid off later in the same hour (the night club), felt very reminiscent of the latest Twin Peaks iteration. Even more than last season, this premiere forced you to go with the flow and accept the events unfolding without trying to interpret them. Even in the “real world” time seemed to speed up and slow down of its own volition. And in this case, Syd became a pseudo-Audrey, only instead of ranting at her loved ones, she’s… a cat.
No, seriously. She’s first re-introduced purring and licking her hand, because she’s been practicing her mind-swap powers on a cat.
But if you want something a bit more tangential, how about that off-hand comment about how so much time has passed since David disappeared that Syd likes cherry pie now?
Cherry. Goddamn. Pie. Do I need to spell it out for you? SHE WATCHED TWIN PEAKS AND GOT HUNGRY.
Almost a year has gone by since David was kidnapped by a floating metal ball
By the 10-minute mark, David has become the most rational person in the room, asking all the eminently practical questions we’ve been thinking since the episode opened. Questions like (and I’m paraphrasing, but only barely) “What’s up with Baskethead Guy and those mustachioed women he’s with?” Which, like, good question! I too was wondering what’s up with those people! The dude with the basket on his head is Admiral Fukuyama, the boss of Division 3. And the women with mustaches are maybe robots, and maybe part of the Admiral? At the very least, they talk on his behalf. But more importantly, the Division 3 offices have a cafeteria where waffles travel around on boats in a little river, and now I’m jealous.
Oh, also the entire Summerland crew is now working for Division 3. And if you’re wondering, why yes there ARE other Divisions! Division 1 is Global Command and Communications. Division 2 is all the science-y stuff (genetics, tech, etc.). And Division 3 is the “tip of the spear” — researching, investigating, and chasing down threats. But not the same threats they used to.
Apparently after something called the “Lazarus Affair” occurred, the Divisions were formed to “study and defend against what people saw as a new mutant threat.” But since the events of last season, Syd and Melanie have convinced the Divisions leadership that mutants aren’t a real threat. Mutants just wanna live in peace like everyone else, sheesh. So now Melanie’s team has joined the Divisions to work together against common enemies. Specifically, tracking down the Shadow King, who is now inhabiting Oliver Bird.
[I’m not sure what Lazarus could mean in the context of Legion. Apparently there is a character named Lazarus, who was Domino’s little brother and had immense mind control powers. Both he and Domino were engineered as part of a project to create a living doomsday weapon? And as we all know Domino will be in the upcoming Deadpool sequel. But still, that seems a little tenuous. Another possibility? In the X-Men animated series it was revealed that the rejuvenation chamber Apocalypse used to survive across centuries was called the “Lazarus Chamber” — so obviously Apocalypse is canon in the Legion universe, right? Or maybe it all has to do with the last time Shadow King arose, presumably that time David’s dad defeated him. Or possibly it’s just a phrase that sounded nice on paper, and we’ll never know for sure. Anyone wanna place bets?]
There’s a question as to how much David remembers from his time away, since he had no idea 362 days had elapsed since the events of last season. To him, he was abducted yesterday. But it’s clear that even what he DOES remember, he seems reticent to share. So they’re setting up yet another possible conflict between David and Division 3, now with his friends on the opposing side. All around — yup, you guessed it — whether David is still being influenced by the Shadow King.
And as for that kidnapping sphere… no, we don’t really know what’s up with that. Except that David does remember meeting a mute, future version of Syd inside it. She’s missing an arm, and only talks by signing pictographs with a glow stick. And what is she trying to tell David?
That he needs to help the Shadow King, Amahl Farouk, find his original body. Which is specifically the thing that Division 3, and present-Syd, is trying to prevent.
Do you enjoy the sound of teeth chattering? Then you’re in luck!
In case you thought maybe Farouk skipped town in his Jemaine Clement suit to have fun… well yeah, that’s not entirely inaccurate. But he’s also infecting people with a psychological disease that freezes them like statues… only their teeth are left chattering a mile a minute. It’s deeply unsettling. So that’s something we’ll have to look forward to a lot this season!
Also, the sound of a boiling tea kettle may become a theme. It happened twice in the premiere. I’m gonna put a pin in that for now.
Is Lenny still a thing?
Oh, hell yes. Lenny, and Aubrey Plaza, are back! The premiere actually opens with Lenny lounging in a pool alongside a very tanned Oliver Bird, commenting on the fact that they’re trapped. Trapped where? Inside Amahl Farouk, who is in turn inside Oliver’s mind. Possession Inception.
Here’s the thing, and I’m not begrudging the show for giving us MORE Aubrey Plaza, but I still have no idea why Lenny exists. She was real in the first episode of the first season, right? And then she died. And then it seemed like she was a ghost haunting David, but she was actually a guise that the Shadow King adopted to traipse through David’s mind and memories. The question, I suppose, is what is she now? Did David somehow absorb or create a version of her with one of his heretofore unknown powers, which transferred along with the Shadow King into Oliver at the end of last season? Is she still simply the Shadow King, masquerading as Lenny? Is she all of that, and more? This is probably the biggest plot hole in the series since the very start, but it’s been spackled over with a thick layer of “Who can even tell what’s actually going on anyway, and also just enjoy Aubrey Plaza.” And that works for me, for now.
So yes, the Shadow King is wearing Oliver, and Oliver is hanging out with Lenny on some plane of existence, and David definitely interacted with them during his mysterious year-long sabbatical.
But let’s go back to that dance sequence…
Do you like So You Think You Can Dance?, but wish it had more dance battles? The premiere has you covered. David, Oliver, and Lenny all perform a three-way dance-off, in styles ranging from “Modern” to “Interpretive” to, I dunno, something jazzy? It’s all very silly, but also immensely enjoyable. The actors are dedicated to pulling it off, and thematically it makes sense. It becomes a sort of visualization of what it might be like to watch a mental war in a mental setting, with dance as a form of superpowered combat. It also provides a hint that while David may be hiding what really happened while he was gone, it doesn’t mean he isn’t still opposing the Shadow King. Although it then looked like Lenny may have kissed him…
About that new narrator…
It’s Jon Hamm, ya’ll. He’s handling all the weird educational interludes, apparently. So he’s the one that explains how delusions are like eggs, only instead of hatching adorable idea-chickens they hatch oily gross mini-monsters that feed on rational thoughts. Which is important because now when we see a “delusion” crawling around on screen, we know that something is wrong — though we probably could have figured that out on our own.
Dan Stevens is hot. Even when he’s forced into a daiquiri-flavored receptivity-boosting bath by by Cary for science purposes. And then he appears elsewhere, dripping wet.
By the way, this was after he had that mind-palace makeup sex with Syd. Still, Naked David isn’t quite as hot as Dancing David.
So what have we learned?
We’ve got some important backstory on Division 3 and how the Summerland people are fitting into the new status quo. We have some insight into David’s adventures during the past year, and we know what Amahl Farouk is looking for (his body). And we’re left with a lot of questions, like what will happen to Future Syd to make her want David to help the Shadow King and… well, what the fuck is actually going on.
And there’s also something going on with Melanie Bird, who has cut off her hair and gotten really bitter about being abandoned by the men in her life (Oliver, David). Also she’s inhaling drugs out of decorative elephants and maybe hallucinating now.
I’m so glad this show is back.