Legion: Chapter 9

"Welcome to the madness."

Is anyone else confused? I am fairly confused. Man, I forgot how dense and trippy this show can be.

Aesthetically, Legion is as gorgeous as it always is. There were so many beautifully composed shots that just manage to communicate so much that we would be here all day if I talked about them all.

The opening narration about the maze in the desert and madness can very easily be read as a warning against what I'm about to do here: make sense of this episode and try to put all the pieces together into a cohesive whole that effectively foreshadows what is to come. Because that's what we do with TV now, right? Shows like LegionWestworld, and even Game of Thrones encourage clue hunting and theorizing. It's hard just to sit back and enjoy the show as it is. I know that I didn't as I watched "Chapter 9." My brain was already scrambling to try and shove puzzle pieces into their proper places.

What I'm saying isn't new. It's been said dozens of times before, and probably far more eloquently than I just did. But it's an interesting question to consider. Am I about to delve into a maze of my own making and creation with nothing waiting for me at the end besides frustration and disappointment? Or is there actually treasure there? I sincerely hope that there's treasure. There was last season.

I should probably actually talk about the content of the episode, right? Legion picks up a year after we just left David, and a lot of things have changed. I'll be honest: I strongly disliked most of the changes. It was disconcerting and unnerving and just... weird. This show has always skirted the edge of the absurd and ridiculous, but this season seems set on full on embracing the wackier aspects. Seriously, what on earth is going on with Admiral Fukuyama? Their whole vibe did tie in nicely with the hive mind nature of Division Three, but they were just a little bizarre for me.

I guess that doesn't really matter at the moment. David is what matters, or more specifically, what he remembers matters. David insisted that he didn't remember anything from his year in the orb, but that's patently untrue. He does remember some things, like that awesome dance sequence that I'll talk more about later. True, they aren't a year's worth of memories, but they are something to build off of. Assuming that they're all true.

That's always the issue with David: we can never really tell what is real and what isn't. I don't think that his conversation with the older Syd was real. At least, I don't think that that is what really happened in the orb. The scene immediately preceding that had the Creepy Ink Bird of Delusion dragging itself towards David and Syd's bed. So, it makes sense that the whole conversation is just a delusion planted in David's head by the Shadow King in order to help him get his body back. Or maybe it was planted in his head by Lenny.

I don't know anymore if Lenny and the Shadow King are the same entity. The opening scene had Lenny and Oliver laughing about how they were trapped. Are they trapped inside of the Shadow King's mind, who is currently using/trapped inside of Oliver's body? Does Lenny want out? Maybe it would be better to ask if Lenny wants back into David? In one of the early night club scenes, Oliver was staring at Lenny, who was quite hungrily staring at David, who was staring at a Mysterious Bald Man. Oliver wasn't even on Lenny's radar, just like she wasn't on David's.

This pattern echoed in the truly great dance sequence. David and Oliver were rather combative towards each other; their dances seemed equally parts offensive attacks and defensive reactions. David didn't have the sweet, almost puppy dog look on his face that we've come to trust, but the harder, almost condescending look a predator who knows that he's the smartest one in the room. It's the same look that he had when the Shadow King was in control last season.

And then enters Lenny. Again, she appears to be solely focused on David, and her dances are rather more seductive and sexual than either man's. She wants something, and I don't think she'll rest until she gets it.

It was also interesting that Cary started to dance as well. We didn't get any kind of follow up scene with him, so it's unclear whether or not he realized what was happening. Was the amplification chamber increasing David's range so that whatever he thought about began to have a measurable effect on the material world? Is that also how he had Cary create the compass? We never got even a hint of David actually asking Cary.

I'm starting to get a little paranoid about the true extent of David's abilities, so I'll back up a bit to talk about one final point. The relationship between David and Syd is in many ways the heart of the show. I loved the little callbacks that we got, from Syd asking if David was the magic man to them sleeping with a pillow between their physical bodies. That final shot of them sleeping together is actually a very good representation of the current state of their relationship.

In the white room that David makes, they're cuddled together and sleeping peacefully. But in reality, Syd and David are facing opposite directions and separated by a great deal of space. While Syd is asleep, David is awake and possibly under the influence of Lenny. There is a disconnect between how David and Syd are pretending that everything is okay and how everything isn't. Syd was right: David is lying and keeping secrets. But at the same time, he's her man. Apparently, that means overlooking at lot.

Random Thoughts

We had the return of British, Rational David via a voice in David's head. If you know anything about David's defining factor in the comics, then you'll know why I'm very excited to explore this further.

The chattering teeth really are freaky.

The announcements about new symptoms repeated itself a couple of times after saying that repetition was a symptom. A sign that things aren't okay at Division Three, or a sign that I'm reading too much into it?

What is going on with Melanie? She was obviously functioning at some point, since she was debating the Strategy portion of Division Three when we took the tour around the different aspects. Is she infected? I think she's infected.

What's the Lazarus Affair? Presumably, someone came back from the dead.

I'm just going to warn you now: all of my Legion reviews are going to be long. I just know they will be.

No Rudy. :(


This is such a difficult show to review, never mind giving the episode an actual, concrete rating. From a production values standpoint, it was absolutely gorgeous. From a storytelling standpoint, I'm still mostly just confused.
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An Honest Fangirl loves superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, and really bad horror movies. And sometimes she writes about them.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I'm confused. Although, and this is a good thing, you appear to be a lot less confused than I am, Fangirl. This episode made me want to (1) rewatch the entire first season, hoping it would help me to understand it better, or (2) give up on the show altogether.

And yet it's so pretty, and so fascinating. The restaurant with the dishes floating through the countertop absolutely blew my mind. I swear I've had that dream.



An Honest Fangirl said...

I feel like the first episode is the strangest in Legion. After that, things start to make more sense, since I remember being a lot less confused as last season went along. So I'm hoping and crossing my fingers that the same thing happens here. Hopefully.

Shari Houtman said...

I was really put off by the fact that they work for Division 3 now. I know they had a year but considering where things left off last season that seemed pretty convenient.

I took it that Melanie was just high. I also assumed that she probably got high when David came back because she couldn't deal with the fact that she's still without Oliver. This is all headcanon, but so is what I think about everything else in the show. :)

My first thought upon seeing "future Syd" was how did David know it was really her. I was thinking it was whoever captured him in the orb but it being a delusion makes far more sense.

Great review. I wouldn't even know where to start with this show.

An Honest Fangirl said...

So I've rewatched the dance sequence a couple of times now. (What? I have a paper due tomorrow that I haven't started yet? Nah....)

One of the very first things that happens is a switch in colors from red to blue. If we recall last season, red was always tied to the Shadow King and his influence. When red invaded David and Syd's white room, it was a Very Bad Thing. Blue, on the other hand, was tied to Syd. It was the good things in David's life, the calming, nonparasitic, loving influence. So this abrupt shift in color leads me to believe that the moment that the dance battle starts, David has the upper hand over Lenny/Oliver/The Shadow King.

Then we have the actual dancing. The first portion of it is a battle of sorts between David and Oliver. Like I said in my review, it's a lot of aggressive, forward moves countered by strong, more defensive moves. This continues for some time without either man really getting the upper hand. David and Oliver (or perhaps the Shadow King in Oliver's form, still unclear) appear to be evenly matched.

Then Lenny appears, and everything stops: both the music and the dancing. Oliver all but disappears as we instead focus on Lenny's sexually charged dance and David's expression. It's piercing, almost smug. He looks almost amused by all of it. What he doesn't look is worried or concerned in any way, shape, or form. And then Lenny does her power move, where her dancers lift her up in the air. We get a white-yellow white and some kind of a wind effect. Whatever it is, it's enough to get David moving again.

(Lenny's appearance is also when Cary starts to get in on the dance action. His moves are intrinsically tied to operating the machine.)

Oliver reappears, and the two men resume their dance off with Lenny mostly off screen. Only this time, David is actively mimicking moves that Oliver used earlier in the dance. They're aggressive and strong, and Oliver actively moves back. Again, we get the light and the wind, only this time, they're coming from David. The lights come faster and strong, Lenny and Oliver reappear as a unit, and soon, the scene dissolves like a film reel catching fire.

I saw a theory online that the dance off was an artistic representation of a psychic battle between David and the Shadow King, one that led to everyone in the night club becoming infected. The more I watch the scene, the more that I believe that theory. The dance truly was a battle in every sense of the word, with the bright, white light representing truly powerful attacks far beyond what anyone else can do. But David, among other things, is a telepath, and this, coupled with the Shadow King's mere presence acting as a source of infection, spread the Catalyst far and wide. That's why the Admiral wanted David terminated if he was infected; David could easily becoming another spawn point, a broadcast signal for the infection.

This idea is supported by the fact that Cary began to dance as well as soon as the battle increased in intensity. It wasn't just visual flourish. Cary still operated the machine much in the same way that he previously had. But David's memories and thoughts and reenactments were leaking into the material world and changing it around him. Last season, David was described as a "world ender" and the amplification chamber really doesn't help that.

Whatever happened in between David being captured in the orb and him ending up at the night club, it's apparent that David was very comfortable in his powers to the point that he had no hesitation engaging the Shadow King in a full on duel. That plus the new addition of Rational, British David as an apparently constant source of advice and guidance in his mind, and I am very, very curious about what happened during the 362 days that David was missing.