Karen’s Pull List: Series 01, Issue 12 – Legion Special
It’s been a while because real life, amirite? But when something like Legion happens, it warrants me taking some time out to talk to you about it.
Legion Season One is over, and it was a mind blower.
Now that it’s been a few weeks since the finale, there will be spoilers in my post. Hopefully, you’ve had time to watch all the episodes, or you don’t care that I’ll hand out information that you might not know already. I’ll be jumping around a bit in my narrative, so don’t expect an episode by episode retelling, but hey, it’s my article – I can do what I want.
The general idea behind Legion is to tell the story of David Haller and his crazy, mixed up life. From the time he was a baby, he knew he was “different” and he was definitely trouble with a capital T. He finally ends up in a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt, and his self-awakening begins.
Don’t Call Me Cuckoo
David, who is thought to be schizophrenic, spends time in Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital – where he meets Syd Barrett. She has a severe aversion to being touched, which is actually a mutant ability to switch bodies with the person she touches. He is immediately infatuated with her, and while she feels she can’t have a real relationship, she declares them to be a couple. They “hold hands” by swinging a t-shirt between their hands, bond while talking endlessly, and develop a deep friendship.
When Syd is told she’s to be released, David is distraught. He decides to finally break her rules and he kisses her just as she’s about to be taken out of the facility. This leads to them swapping bodies – so she’s left behind in David’s crazy mixed up mind, while David is outside – ready to be taken “home”.
Of course Syd can’t deal with things that David can hardly handle and chaos ensues. And when I say chaos, I mean CHAOS. Clockworks is left in a shambles with David’s friend Lenny dying in the incident. Her power only lasts for a certain amount of time, so he returns to his body and tries to find Syd. He is instead found by a group called “Division 3,” which we learn a little more about later.
Gifted, Not Afflicted
Luckily, he was also being tracked by Syd and a group from a place called Summerland. He’s introduced to Ptonomy Wallace and Kerry Loudermilk who take him to the woman in charge, Melanie Byrd. Melanie tells him that even though he’s been told all of his life that there’s something wrong with him – that’s simply not true. He has great powers, and she’d like to help him find, use, and control them. We learn throughout the series that she founded Summerland as a place of peaceful science with her husband, Oliver.
The Summerland group convinces David to explore his powers – Syd’s influence for the most part – and they begin doing “memory work” with Ptonomy. He can pull people into other people’s minds and they can walk through memories to examine them. A brilliant way to give the viewer background information – even if it is via an unreliable narrator.
We learn virtually everything about David’s prior life from these memories, or at least what Noah Hawley wants us to think is the truth about his life. For the most part, the events are correct. They’re nightmare fuel, and disturbing even to Ptonomy, Melanie, and Syd – who have seen plenty of weirdness in their lives. They find some of the things that might be traumatizing to David, and holding him back from fully developing his powers. Unfortunately, something in David’s brain is blocking them from accessing the whole story, and that throws up some big red flags.
The Big Bad King
We start to see that there’s an unknown force haunting David in some way, and there is absolutely nothing endearing about it. The entity appears at first as a demon with yellow eyes. He’s seen in every episode, although almost like an easter egg at first. Blink and you’ll miss him in the first episode, and some people would say to just keep blinking.
He’s creeptastic, but at this point, nobody can see him but David. However, later on Syd notices him. The speculation is that she’s bonded to him through their body exchange, and I agree with that 100%.
Now, remember when I said that David’s friend Lenny was a casualty in the Clockworks incident? Well, she just keeps showing up like a dirty penny. btw, if Aubrey Plaza doesn’t get nominated for an Emmy, it’ll be a crime. So this whole Lenny thing, it’s in David’s mind, but it’s still pretty weird. Her dialogues are Lenny-like, but also have a menacing tone that amps up the foreboding factor by about 25% each episode.
Inevitably it’s revealed that she’s one of the forms the entity takes, and Aubrey gets to chew up the scenery in several amazing sequences. There’s a black and white silent movie type sequence, and a trippy James Bond-esque dance through David’s memories, where she takes great delight in demolishing everything she can. In the latter, she’s sex-on-a-stick gorgeous while going from being silhouetted in darkness, to vivid technicolor, and then an LSD inspired neon romp through the rest.
The Truth Will Out
When the Summerland group starts digging deeper and figure out that some of David’s memories are false and implanted, the entity changes things up and drags them into an alternate reality Clockworks. Lenny becomes the therapist, while the Summerlanders & David are patients.
In a mirror of the first half of the season, this is how we start to learn about the rest of the cast. Details about Cary & Kerry, Melanie and her husband Oliver, and even a little about Ptonomy. Again, since Syd has a unique bond with David, she has suspicions that something isn’t quite right with her surroundings. However, Lenny is always watching, so Syd is kept off-balance always – and it’s shown in a bizarre scene where David, Ptonomy, and Syd are eating cherry pie, and hers is crawling with bugs. *squidgtastic*
Part of Melanie’s story is that she and her husband founded Summerland, and at some point there was an incident where his body was frozen. His brain however has been relocated to an astral plane, and he learns how to live there and use the “technology” of the space. Unfortunately for “The Devil,” it uses the astral plane for the fake institution, which means Oliver can interact with the Summerland peeps. He first finds Cary, and they have a discussion about the things that are going on inside David’s head.
At this point, the show veers away from the unreliable narrator, and tells us outright that “The Devil with the Yellow Eyes” is Amahl Farouk, or as he is known, the Shadow King. The Shadow king is a very powerful mutant who is a uber-villain. Oh, and should I mention he has a grudge against David’s birth father? Yeah, he’s adopted – and he’s got a pretty famous father. Well, that guy defeated Farouk, but he slunk away and in one last ditch effort to get back at the dude, decided to hitch a ride on the soul of his newly born son.
Meanwhile, David cottons on to his parasite, and since Farouk simply cannot have that, he locks David away in a corner of his own brain. It resembles a coffin to David, and there’s much panicking. He’s *literally* in a prison of his own mind, and how do you get out of that? David does what he knows best – he goes a little crazy. One of my favorite scenes of the whole series is a meta discussion between David and himself, where the “copy” speaks with Dan Stevens’ real life British accent.
His doppelgänger reminds him that since David is in his own head, he can just “think” himself out of the coffin. They move to a University classroom, where his double diagrams out how David’s birth, possession, and adoption came to be. Easy enough since he knows everything that TDWTYE knows. DavidTwo pretty much reveals to us who his father is in his pictogram, but I’m not going to give that away here – if you want to know you can click on my link above.
The Summerland faction has been reunited by Oliver, and shown a scene that was left suspended in time by the Entity. Some Division 3 soldiers had cornered them and there were bullets about to hit Syd and David. David escapes his mind with their help and arrives just in time to catch the bullets, and they return to their bodies.
The difference in the scene this time around is that there’s another participant. Oliver has returned from the astral plane, but the time spent there has taken a toll on his memories. They’re piecemeal, and while the name “Melanie” means something to him, he doesn’t remember that it belongs to his wife.
As they leave the building, more people from Division 3 are there, including a man that interrogated David at the beginning of the series. He’s got a bit of a grudge, since he was burnt badly during David’s escape. He underestimates the David’s powers, and David manages to subdue the soldiers easily while they take the interrogator into their custody.
During this time, Farouk knows that his time is limited if he stays inside David’s brain, so he’s doing everything he can to break free. Cary’s developed a temporary headband-type device to contain him while they work on a way to extract the entity and destroy him.
Again, Syd’s connection to David comes into play – and Farouk uses it to talk to Syd while David is unconscious and waiting for a more permanent fix. It plays out like a hostage negotiation, where Farouk tells her that David won’t survive the extraction if they do it the way they’ve planned. He tells her that if they can find a new host, he’ll leave peacefully.
Syd figures out that The Demon is probably not telling the whole truth in that equation, but she presents the info to Cary and Melanie anyway. They’re not buying it, and in a last ditch effort to save the man she loves, she kisses him and allows Farouk to move from his body to hers.
This time she’s prepared for the onslaught, at least a little better than last time. But her brain isn’t anything like David’s – he’s a powerful mutant in his own right, which is the main reason The Demon King could live there virtually unnoticed, diagnosed as a mental illness. Since she’s not capable of holding the much stronger entity, he moves from her to the now nearby Kerry.
David is back on his feet, so he leaves the room in order to confront Kerry/The Demon King. They have a collision in the hallway (shown above) which results in a bang. Oliver has been trying to work on the power in a conduit at the end of said hallway, and when the entity leaves Kerry, it finds Oliver, and transfers to him. Sadly, it’s just moments after he remembers Melanie is his wife.
Hitching a Ride
Now a carrier for Farouk, Oliver casually saunters out of Summerland completely unnoticed in the hubbub. He gets into his car and drives away, setting up the next season.
We get a scene with Oliver driving alone, and it slowly pans around to show Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) in the passenger seat. A tantalizing taste of what’s to come.
Not to be overshadowed, David and Syd try to have a quiet moment of contemplation – hoping for some time alone before he’s allowed to explore his real powers. A drone appears and shrinks David, pulling him into it’s cabin. *ominous music*
So, who’s going to stop The Demon King? How are they going to find David? So many questions left unanswered, but what I love about it is that I’m not jonesing, I’m just happy with anticipation. Legion is amazing, and if you’re intrigued at all, you should give it a try.