Friday, June 21, 2024

Legion Moves Focus to Its Supporting Cast

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After last week’s cliffhanger it was only natural for Legion to give the support cast some shine. We’ve gotten tantalizing glimpses so far, but to date everything revolved around David. And I suppose the same was true here. “Chapter 4” definitely moved further away from him, though, and in the process looked to provide much-needed depth to a very intriguing cast. How successful was this episode in doing so?

Well if I told you that here, why would you read the review?

Spoilers for 1×04 “Chapter 4” below


This week opens rather weirdly. Yes, that’s saying something even for Legion. A man dressed straight out of the 70s “presents” the episode (or perhaps the show?) as a story of empathy and fear. When he starts a film projector, the camera zooms out to show he sits inside a giant block of ice.

Next we see shots of soldiers shooting, Walter (the Eye), David’s therapist, and both Ptonomy and Sydney seemingly defeated in a fight. Sydney narrates during all this, saying they sought truth on a mission.

These scenes transition to shots of David as a child, then asleep in a chair. Eventually we see he is still unconscious from what happened last week. While Melanie, Ptonomy, and Sydney discuss his condition, more memories show of events earlier in the season featuring David and Sydney. There is a heavy emphasis on David’s memories of stars talking to him.

Also, Kerry sort of materializes out of Cary’s body here. Explanation soon to come.

Ptonomy says David is not lost in his memories, that he has created a space between reality and dream where his mind currently resides. Melanie immediately names this an “astral plane,” as if she has direct knowledge. Again, explanation incoming. She talks about the barriers they’ve come across during memory work, how David’s mind is hiding things it doesn’t want them to see.

Melanie sends Kerry, Ptonomy, and Sydney on a mission to find out what happened to him before Clockworks. Ptonomy is reluctant, and Kerry sort of is as well, though she’s happy if she can kick a few people. Her words. This episode pretty quickly establishes her as someone hell bent on finding fights. The risk from Division 3 is worth the info to Melanie.

They break into David’s therapist’s office. Sydney talks about the memory from the previous episode. Ptonomy says she followed him into the astral plane, because he looked for her in David’s memories and could not find her. Creating those spaces and false memories is one of David’s abilities.

They find a broken tape recorder covered in blood which Ptonomy can use to find more memories. Sydney questions whether they might still be in David’s mind. Using the tape recorder, they see a memory of David and his therapist. The therapist asks what the stars say. Then we see a shot of David standing over the guy’s bloodied body.

Ptonomy again expresses his fear of David’s power. Apparently David put his therapist in a coma using his bare hands. Sydney focuses on the question about what the stars say. She talks about the memory of David stuffing tape into his mouth, and comes to the conclusion that David hides his real memories behind fake ones.

Ptonomy accuses her of going through a lot of trouble just to prove David’s a good guy. Sydney thinks he broke into the therapist office to hide a conversation revealing a hidden truth.

While more memories and flashes of what appears to be a lost fight to Division 3 flash on screen, Sydney talks about the search for truth about David and whether she loves him or just the side of him she has seen.

Next we see Amy in a prison cell. A thin wall separates her from Dr. Kissinger, who is also imprisoned. He hears her when she angrily throws her food against the wall. They figure out their identities and ask each other about David’s location and powers. While Dr. Kissinger claims he never knew about the powers, Amy realizes she did. As a kid she always caught David talking to nonexistent people and knowing things he shouldn’t.

She also reveals that King, the childhood dog from the previous episode, doesn’t actually exist, and David used to talk to it.

I’ve never been so scared of a cute little puppy.

We rejoin Sydney and company in a forest. Sydney thinks about David’s warnings about seeing his memories from the previous episode, and sees the Angriest Boy by a tree. Along with last episode, it really appears that some part of David’s powers imprinted on her.

Kerry interrupts her daydreaming to tell her they found David’s ex, Philly. Sydney asks about Kerry sharing a body with Cary. Kerry tells a story about expecting a girl named Kerry, but the mother giving birth to a white boy named Cary. One day Cary woke up to see a girl playing with his train set. Eventually he realized they are two people sharing a body. Sydney asks what Kerry thinks of that and Kerry says she’s okay with it, because he does all the “boring” stuff while she gets all the action. She protects him and is okay with people thinking they are weird.

Unfortunately, this whole segment came across poorly. Sydney’s question came out of nowhere, the explanation is quick and not very well explained, and it feels like the episode just wanted to find a place to rush this explanation in since people were likely confused. I wish they found a better way to explain Kerry and Cary. Maybe there is no better explanation?

Anyway, back at Summerland we see Melanie walk into her office where an apparition of a man in a diving suit awaits her and eventually vanishes. She takes an elevator with Cary, where we get a little more about Kerry and him. Apparently Kerry only ages when she steps outside Cary’s body, explaining their substantial age difference, and he wonders what will happen when he dies.

Melanie and Cary arrive at a frozen room where a frozen man in a diving suit rests. We find out this is Oliver, her husband. An alarm goes off which Cary dismisses as faulty wiring. Melanie thinks Oliver is trying to reach them.

20 minutes in, we finally get our first look at David. He wakes up in an almost alien landscape. A man in a diving suit motions for David to follow. They climb up a chain to the ball of ice from the episode’s opening. Turns out the man presenting the episode was Oliver, and he is stuck on the astral plane as well. He has been for a long time.

He tells David he explored too far and lost his mind in this plane. David tries to leave and is warned about his monster waiting outside. The yellow-eyed demon paces around outside the icy walls. David insists the monster isn’t real. Oliver tells him it very much is, and functions like a parasite. He tries to convince David to stay, but nevertheless David persists. Oliver shows him the way out back down the chain they climbed.

Aww, David learned from his pop.

More shots of a lost fight with Division 3 precede Ptonomy and Sydney talking to David’s ex.  Sydney again questions what is real and again sees the Angriest Boy. Despite Kerry’s impatience to get in a fight, they end up with a plan where Sydney talks to Philly about buying a house while Ptonomy scans her memories.

He finds one memory of Philly, David, and his therapist having lunch. During this memory he finds another of Philly visiting the therapist years later at a lighthouse. Ptonomy tries to leave then, but Sydney asks her about David, claiming they are looking for him. Philly talks about the ups and downs of their relationship.

She also reveals that Lenny…was actually a man named Benny. Yeah, what the hell, right? When Sydney leaves, Philly wants to pass a message to David that “they” are watching.

They question the Lenny/Benny revelation while walking to the lighthouse. All the while Kerry talks about how awesome the forest around them would be to fight in. They arrive at the lighthouse and find the therapist, named Dr. Poole. Ptonomy wants to search his memories, like with Philly, but Sydney says that if he’s willing to talk, they should let him.

Dr. Poole gives a brief history of his time treating David. He treated him on and off for years, with the “on” moments coming when David was on medication. Dr. Poole also confirms Benny, not Lenny. When Sydney asks him what “what the stars said,” he asks to see David. His patient ruined his life and the therapist wants to ask why. He also mentions Melanie Byrd. Kerry looks happily outside where Division 3 soldiers pop up and begin shooting. Dr. Poole transforms into Walter. Our heroes run as gunfire blankets the house (and ridiculously misses them somehow). Kerry jumps through an upstairs window to begin fighting the soldiers outside.

Cue the awesome ’90s X-Men theme song.

Back in the ice cube, Oliver dances to some music while we see the fight go down. Kerry beats the hell out of a bunch of soldiers while Cary mimics here back at Summerland. Ptonomy is quickly defeated by the Eye. When he tries to grab Sydney, she touches him in order to switch bodies. Soldiers eventually overwhelm Kerry (with Cary again showing all the same abuse she suffers).

This was the best part of the episode, and a great example of the style Legion excels at. Great stuff.

Soldiers rush upstairs to find “Walter” standing over “Sydney.” When Sydney tries to tell them about the body switch, Walter kicks her.

We return to David in the astral plane, where he finds Lenny. He tries to leave and she won’t let him. She tells him he was wrong to trust Melanie and basically spends the entire conversation projecting what she’s doing onto him; warning about them taking his body from him, controlling his powers, everything the demon likely wants. Lenny refuses to tell the truth about herself when David insists on it, deflecting the subject to escaping because “she has shit to do” and needs to get out.


To inspire him she shows Sydney and company captured. This gets David angry enough where he uses the apparent power of the demon to escape the astral plane.

He appears in front of the truck transporting “Sydney,” which crashes rather than hit him. He frees “Sydney” and hands her a knife. When she tries to stab him, “Walter” stops her. David tells her to run. When “Walter” gives chase, David stops him. They switch bodies back to normal soon after. Walter pulls a gun, but Kerry gets in the way of the bullet. Back in Summerland, Cary also feels the gunshot when it hits Kerry.

The episode ends with Kerry bleeding out, and Lenny watching approvingly over David’s shoulder.

Look, I tried my best to explain all this.


So, no more doubt about Lenny anyway. For all the questions this episode raised, we received one surefire answer: whatever the origin point of this woman, she now represents a darker side of David’s personality. One that helps unlock some of the most dangerous of his powers.

I’m pretty sure Lenny existed at some point. Sydney interacts with her, after all. Did some part of David’s subconscious replace memories of Benny with Lenny in order to manipulate him? Is this the yellow-eyed demon or something else? I don’t feel comfortable making any predictions right now. The truth of David’s memories and the people in his life have come into question since the show’s beginning.

Now we have the dog, the Angriest Boy, and the talking stars which all stretch back to his childhood. Something got to him early on. Comic fans have a multitude of ideas about what. I’ve decided not to bother anymore. All I can be sure of is that something terrifying wants control of David’s powers. Something capable of covering its tracks very well.

For the first time, though, Legion gave us an episode which didn’t necessarily focus on David Haller. Instead we spent a significant amount of time with the supporting cast around him, and time much-needed. Sydney has played a large role so far, with both Melanie and Ptonomy featuring from time to time as well, but Legion still lacked a true focus on who any of these characters are or what they’re like outside of helping David. Which is fine to a point, but eventually you have to flesh them out.

Now Legion has. The results were mostly good, but in my opinion not as successful as Legion might have hoped.

Let’s start with the Loudermilks, who we learned the most new information about. Or had information confirmed, as some noticed the shared body thing before now. Legion most certainly did a good job displaying the unique bond between Cary and Kerry. The scene where Kerry fought and lost while Cary felt every second of it was the best part of this episode. Cary’s collapse when she was shot was also strong.

I certainly felt the connection between the two and believe Legion did a good job with them. This also explained a great deal about what we’ve seen of them in previous episodes. Still, the scene explaining their ability to share a body struck me as confusing and rushed, as if Noah Hawley wasn’t sure when and how to get this info across. As a result it feels like he just shoved it in wherever. Kerry also underwhelmed the hell out of me. Her one-note “I just want to fight” persona was amusing but grated on me by the end. The actress also felt a notch or two below the rest.

Ptonomy is also striking me a bit flat. I hope we get a closer look into his history and motivations soon. I get it, he’s cool and has some of the best powers in the show. He also distrusts David’s powers for understandable reasons. Let’s move on, huh? He’s not bad, just…incomplete. In an episode that did so much to complete so many others, he really stands out.

Cary Loudermilk was terrific, though, and I’m certainly looking forward to more of these two. There’s a very intriguing gender identity theme to the Loudermilks which just begs for deeper analysis. One day a child Cary discovered a girl his age living inside him who he shares his body with, and who he cannot feel complete without. This girl also represents the daughter his parents expected to have. I really want to see how Legion develops these two along those bounds. Hopefully Legion respects this issue.

My mind is far from made up about the Loudermilks. More than anything I’m sure Legion wanted me to feel intrigued moving forward, and I certainly am.

We also got a much appreciated look at Melanie Bird, who to this point has just been the suspicious doctor helping David. Now we have a better idea of her motives; besides whatever war she wants to win, she wants David to rescue her husband from the astral plane. She clearly knew about this place because of Oliver and has spent the years since seeking a telepath capable of saving him. Her joy after rescuing him makes a great deal more sense now beyond “I get to control a super-powerful mutant now.”

This episode did a great job establishing how long Oliver has been trapped in this plane and also how difficult entering and exiting the plane is.

David only entered through mistake and influence by the demon. He only exited through its power combined with his. However Oliver ended up trapped in the astral plane, it will probably take David’s full power to rescue him. Melanie’s desperation to find and control David’s power now comes across with a great deal more sympathy than it did through the first three episodes.

I’m less thrilled with Oliver. He was certainly entertaining, but a little grating. Perhaps that’s just a personality thing. I also tend to roll my eyes at characters acting wacky and give weird answers to simple questions simply to be mysterious. But again, I’m certainly interested to see more.

Groovy, peace, word up fellow kids.

There are also issues with just what the hell happened with Division 3, whether David’s therapist was ever real or just Walter keeping an eye on him all these years, what Walter’s powers are, whether Philly was in on the trap, what the hell happened with Oliver, the reality of David’s memories, and a multitude of other questions Legion raised here.

(I wish I had brought up the Walter/Dr. Poole thing last week. It really struck me last week how much they resemble each other.)

I suppose it’s not such a bad thing when all the negatives still left me highly intrigued.

They were still symptomatic of the biggest weakness with this episode, which was Legion’s struggle to link together coherent scenes. The premiere had a bit of this, but between the intro to David and the show as a concept, it was a lot more tolerable. The following two episodes pared down the confusion to a more acceptable level. A more traditional structure allowed for better storytelling the audience could follow easier.

This episode went back to something more like the premiere, but wasn’t quite as successful. Not to sound like a broken record, but I’m again worried about Legion’s flow of information. So many questions were raised about so many new things. What answers were provided easily lost out to new questions.

Legion highly succeeded in this episode with Sydney, though. After two episodes spent emotionally supporting David, seeing her back in action was a pleasure. Especially with such a deep look into her mindset; she spent the entire episode questioning her reality, what she knew about David, and her love for him. We also got to see her back in action to take down Walter.

I’ve made no secret of my love for Sydney’s character, but this was her best episode since the premiere. She took an active, intelligent role leading the trio in their mission to uncover David’s past, and saved Ptonomy and Kerry’s asses during the attack at the end. Yet she also had a huge blind spot regarding David, which despite her constant questioning never disappeared.

We also saw more proof that Sydney permanently gained some of David’s power during their switch. Or, worst case scenario, she only acquired a piece of whatever malevolent force has haunted David since childhood. Oliver did call the demon a parasite. It makes sense to think it would latch onto her after the body switch.

I find this thing waaaay scarier than the demon.

And maybe that will ultimately be the key to helping David defeat this demon. Sydney has not spent a lifetime believing the visions of this evil to be some mental disorder. She very much knows what it is and can work to rid herself of it. If she finds a way, helping David would obviously be the next step.

I really loved every bit of her character here. It’s nice to know that Legion does not need to feature David heavily to maintain its quality. I was thoroughly engaged just watching Sydney, Ptonomy, and Kerry take up the bulk of the screen time.

You know, assuming they’re real and not just more figments of David’s warped reality. Honestly, who the hell knows right now? There’s a reason the show’s called Legion.

Final verdict: Legion was as visually pleasing and fun as ever. Damn can it be hard to follow, though. If any of you had better luck than me, talk in the comments and be sure to head over to our Legion topic on the forums. Maybe you can help me out.

Images courtesy of FX

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