Here We Go Now: Legion, “Chapter 1”

If you’ve ever partaken in hallucinogenic drugs, the world according to David Haller might remind of a trip you once took; if not, consider yourself honorably and unadulteratedly initiated.

Opening to the suitably trippy sounds of The Who’s Happy Jack,

The kids couldn’t hurt Jack
They tried and tried and tried
They dropped things on his back
And lied and lied and lied and lied and lied
But they couldn’t stop Jack, or the waters lapping
And they couldn’t prevent Jack from feeling happy”
David’s early seemingly psychotic years fly by in a blink; we join him in the confines of Clockworks (Orange?) psychiatric hospital, where a birthday visit from sister, Amy (Katie Aselton) is neither celebratory nor terribly encouraging. No worries, as far as such places go, Clockworks is positively cheery, with its open floor plan and huge glass windows that allow in equal parts of sunshine and greenery. Though his combination dreams and memories haunt Haller day and night, it quickly becomes clear there’s something other than madness at play; David’s got a special power or two.

The wonderful thing about Noah Hawley’s take on a Marvel superhero is, whether X-Men uninitiated or staunch mutant aficionado, with Legion we’re all on nearly equal, unbalanced footing; his unique approach means we’re all figuring things out as we go. You could as easily opt for a quick read around to familiarize with a bit of character history, but its just as much fun to let things unfold. Buoyed by strong leads and intense chemistry — Dan Stevens in a diametrically opposite role to his quiet Downton charmer, and Rachel Keller (as Syd Barrett – in homage to the Pink Floyd singer) continuing to impress with her Fargo follow-up — a slow starting “Chapter 1” gives way to increasing intrigue and escape from the confines of facility walls. One forbidden kiss (“Don’t touch me!”) with Syd and the instantly smitten David’s world turns upside-down … literally (at least from his POV).

 Touching Syd, who apparently has her own mutant powers, means she and David switch bodies a la Freaky Friday, and because Barrett has conveniently been released from Clockworks, David simply walks right out. Unfortunately, in a world where superpowers are involved, someone is always waiting to control or steal away, and so it goes with the wickedly fun Interrogator (Hamish Linklater) and The Eye (Mackenzie Gray), the latter of whom reads like a variation on Bokeem Woodbine’s Mike Milligan.

 Under the orders of a boss (David Selby) who’s ready to take out David at any moment (“If he so much as farts too loud, we’re moving to level 2.”), the Interrogator is giddy at the prospect of uncovering “the most powerful mutant that we’ve every encountered”, but during his questioning, David and Syd mind meld a plan (“This is your memory, of a day you call The Hospital. You’re in a government facility. You’re going to go for a swim, and I’m going to get you.”), and Syd and her team break out David again. Or do they? In between all this, David pays his sister a visit, flashes on therapy sessions with therapist, Dr. Kissinger (David Ferry), and revisits odd dreams and past incidents, sees many people and notpeople
… heck, by the time the 90 minutes end, you’ll be as confused about what is and isn’t real as Haller is, but you won’t really care because you’ve been so well entertained. One moment that does indeed seem real, as Syd reassured David, is his final introduction to a mysterious benefactor, Jean Smart’s Melanie Bird (described as a therapist with unconventional methods). Presumably, she’ll help Haller discover, as Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) said, his “What if your problems aren’t in your head; what if they’re in your problems?”
Deep Thoughts:

Though I’m certain Plaza’s Busker is supposed to be one of our favorites, I just couldn’t connect with the character — even if she got some of the best lines:

“Good hair, nice hindquarters.”

“So, what’d it feel like? Titties? Stop looking at me like that, man. I know, I’m dead. You killed me. Don’t blame her — she’s was just a newbie riding around in your body. Don’t worry about me, it’s you that’s got problems. They’re coming for you, babe. They know what you did at the hospital. They’re coming for you and they’re gonna kill you.”

Who or what is The devil with the yellow eyes?

What did David do to Dr. Poole?

What happened at Red Hook?

The soundtrack thus far is fantastic. In addition to Happy Jack:

The Rolling Stones:  She’s a Rainbow; Jane’s Addiction:  Up the Beach; Serge Gainsbourg:  Pauvre Lola

Did you notice the wheelchair in the room, right before the kiss?

“Lenny is dead, somehow she ended up inside a wall.” Yeah, what’s up with that?

“You guys have any waffles?” David really likes waffles!

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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