Legion: “Chapter 4” Review

Photo Credit:https://www.pogdesign.co.uk/cat/Legion/Season-1/Episode-4

Legion took an exciting journey into the metaphysical this week, with David landing on the astral plane, a shared realm of the subconscious where other lost minds go to live out their lives. Yes, FX’s first foray into comic book adaptations is going for broke, but in a very imaginative, artistic way.

“Chapter 4” starts with a seemingly fourth-wall-breaking introduction from the newly revealed Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement). He talks about two different kinds of storytelling, one that teaches empathy and one that teaches fear. He then combines them, indicating that the story we’re watching gets to teach a little bit of both. So far, Legion has lived up to that promise. This show is constantly balancing its psychedelic weirdness with mutant melancholy and pulpy superhero tropes. It’s that very balance, and its rousing success, that have made this show engaging thus far.

Smartly, however, this fourth entry keeps David mostly in the background except for a few key scenes, including the big one at the end. Melanie tasks Syd, Wallace, and Kerry with finding out more about the memories they visited in David’s mind from the outside. But with Syd seeing the World’s Angriest Boy manifest in what’s supposed to be the real world, the question of reality is back in flux. But spending time with these three alone in the field, without Melanie or David, is essential to getting to the core of their characters. Syd takes the lead, sporting a wide-eyed view of the world and a recklessness that keep things just left of center. Wallace is the more stable, no-nonsense one in the group. But the most interesting information comes from Kerry, who we learn is intrinsically and biologically linked to Cary. Born in the same body, the two can split when the team needs them to. Kerry says that Cary does all the boring stuff, and that she gets all the action. There’s a natural fire in Kerry, which makes watching her take on a group Division 3 soldiers at the end of the episode so satisfying.

When the Eye does catch up to them, in a way that hints at but doesn’t fully define his powers, of course, it’s great to see these three work together to try and escape. Overpowered, it’s Syd, however, who switched bodies with the Eye and gets her colleagues, as well as her own body, into the same van so she can take them back to Summerland. It’s an exciting climax that also manages to showcase just how useful Syd’s power can be in a tight situation.

David, meanwhile, is in a very large open situation, sitting in a field of consciousness before Oliver finds him. Their conversation in Oliver’s icebox of a home sheds light on some possibilities as to what’s going on with David’s psyche. It makes sense for the Devil With the Yellow Eyes to be an interior manifestation of David’s mind, also alluding to a darker side of the hero that’s developing before us. Oliver’s refrigerated home proves to be a safe space from David’s demons, but he leaves anyway to try and figure out a way to reunite with his new friends. That’s when Lenny pops up, forcing him to talk to her. She somehow shows him what’s happening to Syd and the others and coerces him to return to the physical world to save them. All he really ends up doing is allowing the Eye to escape, as he doesn’t realize Syd and their foe had switched bodies. But that final moment is incredibly telling. As the Devil With the Yellow Eyes’ hand rests on David’s left should, Lenny’s face pops up behind his right one. If David is going to be of any use in Melanie’s war, he’s going to have to learn to subdue these sides of himself. They’re the reason he’s such an unpredictable and dangerous mutant to begin with. But how do you tell a schizophrenic to just get rid of their alternate personalities? This is a question that makes Legion fascinating television. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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