Following on the amazing first episode of Legion, FX is quick to present fans with a second chapter that more closely resembles a traditional series.
In the most recent show, David goes to school with a team of superpowered geniuses to learn both what he’s capable of as well as more about his origins. It’s familiar footing for X-Men fans and a good way to get comic skeptics on board, too.
Looking closer at chapter two makes it feel a little more like an impossible cube. From any angle, it’s clear that something about Legion isn’t strictly geometrical. It’s just hard to say what, and the answer may not be coming.
Though the literal time period of the series is still unclear, the beginning of the chapter lays out the present status of “mutants” in this particular X-Men tale -- the human race is just beginning to evolve, according to David’s new therapist Dr. Bird.
The government of, well, wherever this show is, created mysterious “divisions” to keep control over this increasing threat to the established order. Division 3, the same organization that was interrogating David in the premiere, seems to be hunting for him. He (and the audience) only gets the Cliff’s Notes for now. We’ll make time.
David’s new residence is Summerland, a sort of superpower-university where his first lesson is gaining control over his telepathy. In chapter one, David heard voices unexpectedly, out of paranoia -- it’s important for him to gain more focus if he is to be the key to winning a war that’s left vague for now.
David and his observers need to better understand his past to prepare for what may come after, so he travels through his memories with Dr. Bird and Ptonomy and recalls selected incidents while being examined by the mysterious Cary Loudermilk. Cary, played by legendary clown and stage performer Bill Irwin (also of Interstellar and yes, Sesame Street) may be the most mysterious of them all.
Cary is a scientist of some kind, but nothing in his lab has an explanation. That goes doubly for the similarly named Kerry Loudermilk -- who seems to appear from nowhere in the middle of Cary’s dialogue with himself (or with her?), but was seen helping David escape from Division 3 in the premiere episode.
Thanks to Dr. Bird and Ptonomy, David even revisits his childhood, but X-Men diehards expecting to see Charles Xavier will have to keep holding their breath because if David is truly the son of an incredibly powerful mutant, he doesn’t realize it.
More detail is given for David’s days before the Clockworks Hospital.
Hanging with Lenny seems to invariably lead to The Greek, who accepts stolen goods as trade for a radical new drug simply called “vapor.”
While David’s sister Amy looked to be on the right track in his memory, her present situation may be much more complicated. Trying to visit David in the hospital, she instead falls into the hands of The Eye -- the same mysterious and creepy character silently present at David’s interrogation in chapter one.
The anxiety he feels alone is almost enough to make David drift off from Summerland, but Syd brings him back into orbit. Unlike the others David deals with at the facility, Syd doesn’t seem to have a primary function apart from keeping David’s feet on the ground. No one seems to understand David better than she does, so she’s well-suited for it.
Rachel Keller has the tall task as Sydney of convincingly showing chemistry and attraction to David WHILE having no interest whatsoever in touching him. It isn’t the easiest job for an actress. But her allure to David can be seen for miles.
With how hard David’s training is and what he fears he’s missing out on, it’d be easy to take the first opportunity to run and let others sort out the problems at Summerland. Legion observers and speculators might have the same fear and wait for the season to conclude before getting lost in it. But that’s the fun of an impossible cube -- exploring all the angles.
As Syd would say: Do the work!
- When Lenny tells David the idea to steal Dr. Poole’s valuables, she says it could be “one last job and I’m out.” When David hears the voice later during therapy with Dr. Poole, the “I’m” is now a “we’re”.
- In case anyone forgot about the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, it’s back haunting David in both his memories and his present. Still no closer to identifying it. Some X-Men possibilities mentioned so far include Mojo and the Shadow King. Either would allow for huge possibilities with future X-Men crossovers, but it’s still not 100% clear this is truly an X-Men character. Let us know what you think.
- Dogs seem to be important to David. The Eye carved a dog during his interrogation -- still unclear why -- and a dog’s barking snaps him into a transition in this episode. David and Amy’s childhood dog is also seen in the museum of David’s memory.
- There’s an awful lot of whispering that can be heard at certain scene transitions and at other times in David’s head. Since the show is kind of about hearing voices, something in there could be important. But you’ve overestimated the humble recapper if you expected to see an audio analysis on the first night. Redditors, have at it.
- Constellations are important to David ever since his father took him stargazing. The constellations he lists to Dr. Poole are Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Boötes, Canis Major, Lupus, and Telescopium. Seems like a code could be involved there. Do the stars talk to you, too? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
- That’s Rachel Keller singing Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere” to open the episode; Thomas Dolby’s “Hyperactive!” plays over the credits and was supposedly written for Michael Jackson, who never recorded it.
-- Zach Ellin reviewed the first three episodes of Legion, and will provide coverage throughout the entire season of the show for ComicBook.com. Follow him on Twitter for more of his insights.