Legion: Chapter 4
March 1, 2017 9:18 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

 
I was so happy when Bill Irwin started dance-fighting around the room, that his wonderful physicality wasn't going to waste in this part. (See also - Merengue reprise scene in My Blue Heaven).
posted by oh yeah! at 4:49 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


I am very much loving this show, but I'm getting a little tired of Dan Steven's mugging. I get that David is constantly being surprised and discomfited by the events going on in and outside of his mind, but I think Steven's portrayal is a little bit too nudge-nudge-wink-wink to draw out for a whole season and still seem fresh.
posted by hwestiii at 5:09 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm really hooked on the disorienting nature of this show, and how gorgeous it is.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on March 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


Spouse and me watching last night's ep:

"Wait. What?"

Repeat 118X.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:22 AM on March 2, 2017


Oliver's karaoke night comment seemed anachronistic to me. Otherwise, I loved this episode.
posted by snofoam at 9:59 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


What a great episode! Especially impressive because, by the end, it was pretty easy to suss out the timeline of events even though they included COMMUNICATIONS ON THE ASTRAL PLANE. On that note, I feel that The Eye now knowing that Syd loves David is going to be bad news in the future.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2017


I will be so mad if we've already fridged our Native American character. Especially since she's the savage protector of her white host body, which is a pretty accurate nod to Claremont's well-meaning diversity efforts.

And now I just realized Carey might actually be talking to his mice, because comic Native Americans have a psychic rapport with animals unrelated to any mutation.

I was also sad that David didn't notice that Eye as Syd was so casual about the skin to skin contact cutting her restraints and accepting the knife. It's the sort of thing that becomes more dangerous during times of adrenaline, so the whole dynamic is an uncomfortable reminder that boundaries and consent are always the responsibility of women. So maybe it's radical that in Syd's case, the harm is inflicted on both parties. But it's sad how much David struggles to adjust.

I don't mean to be so down on the episode. It's coming together so nicely, and it's such a gorgeous reimagining of the mutant story beyond a blockbuster action flick.
posted by politikitty at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think the show is beginning to straighten out the narrative a bit, which is good. David is a heavily unreliable narrator, but the timeline is something like:

As a child he exhibited both mental problems, and supernatural (mutant) powers.

Something terrible happens during his childhood. This is perhaps the "incident at red hook," and likely related to the imaginary construct of The World's Angriest Boy.

As a young adult he was able to get the former under control with medication, but since the latter was the cause of these problems he was never able to get his life on track. He was in therapy, but would go off medication and self-medicate with Lenny/Benny. Lenny/Benny convinced him to steal from his therapist for a hit of the blue mist stuff (which might unlock mutant powers), and in the process he seriously injured his therapist. He gets into a serious fight with his girlfriend while off his meds and self-medicating (before or after assaulting the therapist?) and has a psychic explosion. The end result of this is that he is sent to Clockworks for institutionalization.

At a certain point the thing with yellow eyes latched onto him. This might be an aspect of David's persona, or it might be some sort of inter-dimensional creature.

After his second psychic explosion at Clockworks, he is found and recruited by Summerland (which seems like this universe's X-Men). He starts undergoing memory work with Ptolemy, but it becomes clear that he his memory has been altered, or his is skilled at self deception (maybe both), so all of the above is called into question. During sedation he meets with the powerful psychic former leader of this group in a sort of semi-real dreamspace shared by other psychic entities.

The rescue squad, attempting to find out more, realizes that David's story is very incomplete and heavily edited. They are captured, and we are at the current point in the action of the story, with rescuing David's sister likely being the next goal that the team has.

Due to the unreliable nature of David's POV (and his ability to seemingly manipulate reality itself), I'm looking forward to watching this again. It feels less like a puzzlebox in the LOST sense (where you're trying to solve a riddle), and more like a puzzlebox in the Lynch sense (where you're understanding a character by understanding the symbols and language of the film itself). This most recent episode was also visually brilliant. It's all of my favorite parts of superhero comics in terms of palette, composition, and non-linearity.
posted by codacorolla at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


> At a certain point the thing with yellow eyes latched onto him. This might be an aspect of David's persona, or it might be some sort of inter-dimensional creature.

I think they're suggesting that there is a direct connection between yellow eyes, David's childhood dog (“King”) and Lenny/Benny. I think it's the same entity.
posted by christopherious at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Lenny/Benny definitely had Yellow Eye's hands as she kind appeared on David's back in the final shot. I need to rewatch, but he/she/it might have had the yellow eyes for a instant as well.
posted by sideshow at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oliver's karaoke night comment seemed anachronistic to me.

It can't really be anachronistic when the show isn't actually set in a specific time period.
posted by Justinian at 5:08 PM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


Olivier seemed to be "frozen" in a pretty specific time period with beat poetry and bebop. Maybe the no-bra thing was also anachronistic, but not nearly as much as the karaoke thing.
posted by snofoam at 5:54 PM on March 2, 2017


Look, Legion is obviously set at the same time as Archer.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:16 PM on March 2, 2017 [13 favorites]


Oliver's karaoke night comment seemed anachronistic to me.

Karaoke began in the early 70's in Japan, spread widely throughout Asia in the 90s, but according to Wikipedia, "Rock critic Rob Sheffield claims that the 1986 music video for the song "Wild Wild Life" by the Talking Heads was the first depiction of karaoke in American popular culture."

Maybe Olivier adored and appropriated what his father thought was cool (you know, like guys in the aughts who bought Corvettes), or maybe he's actually hyper-hip and wired into the next big thing at the beginning.

--

Aubrey Plaza is killing it. I think the producers really really missed the opportunity for Lenny's armpits to be unshaved.
posted by porpoise at 7:11 PM on March 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


My theory is that the dog is a stand in for a child, probably a sibling. Remember the comment Lenny makes about what happened at the hispital when he and Syd switch? "You can't give a kid a bazooka and not expect disaster to follow close behind." Ostensibly she commenting about Syd not being responsible for Lenny's death. I think she's ALSO commenting on this incident-David accidentally killed another child or his sibling with his powers. The guilt over this caused his mental breakdown resulting in "gaps." It's possible the yellow eyes is either another sublimation like the dog OR something else that was able to latch onto David because of the gaps.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:32 PM on March 2, 2017


It's interesting how many of the characters in this show have powers that involved confused identities of some kind - Syd switches bodies, the science guy has a different identity inside himself, the Eye is able to present himself as another person, and David seems to hallucinate people who aren't there (and switches their identities around in his memory, like Lenny/Benny). That one shot of two hands emerging from a single sleeve stuck with me, and made me start to wonder whether all of the characters in Summerland are just different aspects of David's personality in some way, though that doesn't really make sense when I think about it.

So far Legion has been like a four-hour dream sequence, and I couldn't be happier. It's got the most stylish direction of any TV show I've seen since Utopia.
posted by whir at 8:56 PM on March 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


Wow.

What an enjoyably fucked up episode that was. The show used both Jemaine Clement and Bill Irwin to their fullest potential, I didn't know Aubrey Plaza could be so terrifying, and I've never seen a more ominous beagle in my life.
posted by bibliowench at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


My theory is that the dog is a stand in for a child, probably a sibling.

I sort of hope not, because we just did that story like 2 months ago with another high profile TV show.
posted by Kyol at 9:33 PM on March 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


It's clear to me that the sex in the bedroom that young david runs into is significant -- abuse? rape? likely connected to the angry boy he becomes.

I am loving this show. The ambiguous time it takes place, the sumptuous dream sequences, the dance numbers.

Syd's delivery style reminds me of another actress or character, but i can't place it, it distracts me a bit when she's onscreen.

I was so hoping Jemaine was going to drop the needle on a FotC album, but i guess that's a step too far. He's the coolest kind of cool.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:28 PM on March 2, 2017


I thought the sex scene was significant only because Syd can't.

My theory is that he has some reality warping or mass telepathic powers. When young, only he could see the beagle. But eventually he manifested Benny who eventually transformed to Lenny. Perhaps a combination of Benny and his ex when they split.

I also think they're separate from the yellow eyed demon, who I think only lives on the astral plane and is a fairly well known xmen baddie. Since David has so much psionic energy, he's a potential host. So does Oliver, which is why he's created a fortress on the astral plane and can't get back to his body.

Also, Oliver was a perfect mimic of Bernard the Poet, a very minor character from the silver age.
posted by politikitty at 10:41 PM on March 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


I want to see more of Jemaine!

During ep 2, I wondered if maybe his sister had messed him up with her mutant power, I thought maybe not after ep 3, seeing her heartbroken. Now I want it to be true, just so she's not powerless.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:39 PM on March 2, 2017


I just realized, Sydney can have sex, just not from within her own body. I wonder what happens with extended or repeated contact?
posted by Pronoiac at 11:43 PM on March 2, 2017


I think it's David having sex with Philly - so Sydney is jealous of Philly, while (and this is me projecting) realising that it's unfair, and while realising that it's David's memory of the sex. However, to me it colours the way she relates to Philly when she meets later on (projecting even further, to her perhaps Philly's ability to have a perfectly normal relationship with David is a kind of superpower). With that reading it's a nicely subtle superpower-based metaphor for the kind of complex moral conundrum we meet in daily life.

Oh, and I wondered about the beagle/sibling thing too, especially after Sherlock. It would be interesting if two script teams came up with exactly the same idea at essentially the same time completely independently. However, what I suspect is that the dog was the same whatever-it-is as Lenny or the yellow-eyed fellow. Again, I'd like to attract commenters' attention to the fact that the series is called Legion. So I'd conjecture that they are independent entities who live within David (a bit like Kerry/Cary but sub-parts of the David gestalt - Kerry/Cary are two separate people who are somehow conjoined, like Marvelman/Captain Marvel (DC) or, indeed, Captain Marvel (Marvel circa 1972)).
posted by Grangousier at 1:27 AM on March 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


And also Feist is pretty awesome and I like this show for reminding me of that
posted by uandt at 1:49 PM on March 3, 2017


Are we talking about the comics at all, because the yellow eyed demon could be one of two characters that actually appeared in the Marvel comics, one of them specifically in the Legion comics. But it would probably be a spoiler. That is if the show is using the comics.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 2:04 PM on March 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


80 Cats - I thought about adding the 'show only' condition to the thread, but waffled, but I would really appreciate if one of you comics experts would go ahead and post a full-season books-included thread and keep the major spoiler speculation there.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Based on those selections from The World's Angriest Boy in the World I suspect David accidentally did something to his mother. That as a child he got upset about something and the subsequent telekinetic episode injured or killed her. I wouldn't be surprised if that kitchen episode post Philly-fight -- where a kitchen knife much like the one The Angriest Boy holds embeds itself in a wall, and where the yellow-eyed devil is present -- is an overlay, one of those instances where David's mind revised something terrible into something slightly more manageable.

I am very much loving this show, but I'm getting a little tired of Dan Steven's mugging. I get that David is constantly being surprised and discomfited by the events going on in and outside of his mind, but I think Steven's portrayal is a little bit too nudge-nudge-wink-wink to draw out for a whole season and still seem fresh.

My theory after this episode is that the nudge-nudge-wink-wink stuff is meant to communicate some sense of artifice, and that nearly everything we've seen so far is a delusion or pocket universe David manufactured to cope with an as yet unrevealed scenario, possibly being in Division Three's custody. David's reactions are exaggerated, but this is of a piece with dialogue that occasionally feels kind of stilted or stylized and the colors saturated to almost unrealistic levels. Oliver and Syd's opening speeches bugged me for the same reason, but after a second watch I began to think they were constructed specifically to telegraph the unreality of subsequent events.

I've also noticed that the aspect ratio (is that the right term? the amount of black space in the upper and lower thirds of the screen) shifts based on whether characters are describing memories or actually entering dream states. When Kerry's explanation of her mutation cuts to that train set flashback, the screen narrows, and it narrowed even more than that during the memory work disaster in the last episode. The scenes of Amy in prison, with their washed-out colors, fill the screen, indicating it's really happening. David has escaped into this TV show in his head, but since neither his powers nor his guilt will let him forget, Amy's captivity, along with other elements from waking life, remain present in his delusion. This is why Syd name-checks The Wizard of Oz in the voice over: at least some of these people are real, but they've been superimposed on a parallel reality while David is unconscious somewhere in the real world. (Tinfoil hat detail: There's a brief shot of a D3 corridor before the cut to Amy in her cell. An apparently unconscious figure in gray hood is hunched against an observation window. The window is cracked almost identically to the way Cary's lab window cracked while David was astral-projecting to Amy's interrogation room.)

Tl;dr: Brazil-ception.

I'm also giving Noah Hawley the benefit of the doubt, because so much of his choices in The Unusuals and Fargo were really precise and intentional, and I want that to be true of Legion too.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 2:42 PM on March 5, 2017


I took Oh yeah's suggestion and made a books-included discussion thread.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:42 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]


If Jemaine Clement's leisure suit is based off of James Burke's in the original Connections series, then I'm even more intrigued to see where his character goes.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 9:02 PM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]


"And also Feist is pretty awesome and I like this show for reminding me of that"

I didn't know who performed that song but I knew when the ep was over I was going to find out, and I did, and then I came here and saw your comment and wanted to agree.

I loved the music in Fargo S02 and I'm loving the music here as well.
posted by komara at 9:13 PM on March 5, 2017


Syd's delivery style reminds me of another actress or character, but i can't place it, it distracts me a bit when she's onscreen.

I had the same feeling and figured out it was Rachel Blanchard for me. Don't know if that's who you were thinking of.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:37 AM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was kind of conflicted about Carey's end (?) too, because, yeah, we have Fierce Native Warrior Stereotype immediately Dying to Save the White People, but on the other hand that was one deeply touching danse macabre and I got choked up watching it.

Mostly, though, I'm watching and thinking fuck me, this is really really good. And boy howdy, if you want someone getting all up in your head, Aubrey Plaza's about as good as it gets there.

I just realized, Sydney can have sex, just not from within her own body.

I really hope they do not go down that road.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:24 AM on March 7, 2017


Is it significant that the book in the astral plane is called "The World's Angriest Boy in the World"?

I LOVE this show so so much. Jermaine Clement's opening monologue was so disorienting and amazing and delivered with such panache and consummate skill that ROU_Xenophobe and I looked at each other and grinned at how awesome it was. And then the episode got BETTER from there!

Also the music montage with Feist was just wonderful.

The X's all over the place in the background are such a cool little nod to the larger universe this story is set in.

The art direction, editing, writing and acting are all amazing, some of the best I have ever seen on TV. And this show has BY FAR the best hairstyling ever.
posted by biscotti at 7:54 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is it significant that the book in the astral plane is called "The World's Angriest Boy in the World"?

It's called that everywhere we see it.
posted by cooker girl at 6:15 PM on March 8, 2017


FWIW, every time I see that book it reminds me of a) The Babadook and b) David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World comic strip.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:08 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


(Hey, if anyone else feels like starting the Chapter 5 thread tonight, please feel free to go ahead - I had to record a later showing of tonight's episode, won't get a chance to watch it until tomorrow night)
posted by oh yeah! at 8:25 PM on March 8, 2017


I'll start the show only thread for last night - there's a lot to talk about!
posted by codacorolla at 9:56 AM on March 9, 2017


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