This Legion review contains spoilers.
Legion Episode 4
After Legion’s confident, stylish pilot episode, I was immediately impressed with Noah Hawley’s slice of the Marvel universe. However, in that first review, I worried about Legion favoring style over substance and now four episodes in, that worry is starting to manifest itself. I’m a savvy viewer; I don’t need every plot detail spoon fed and I’m fine lingering in mystery, but that being said, I really feel like we’re kicking the tires here. A lack of forward momentum seems to be shrouded by new questions, delivered in eye-catching ways, sure, but the rabbit hole is starting to look shallow.
A somewhat climactic ending aside, “Chapter Four” bides its time throwing small wrinkles into David’s story, while reinforcing the one overarching fact of his life – his thoughts cannot be trusted. With Melanie, Ptonomy and Kerry outside of Summerland doing detective work to see what, if anything, of David’s memories are real, we learn key details that contradict many things that we’ve believed to be true. The biggest shocker is that Lenny wasn’t David’s druggie pal. That distinction goes to a separate guy named Benny (which helps explain the initial reports that Aubrey Plaza’s role was written for a 50 –year-old man). We also learn that David violently beat his psychiatrist, but his motivations for robbing the doctor in the first place appear to be more complicated than previously thought. Syd theorizes that David was trying to destroy evidence of a session in which he revealed too much, mainly, what the stars would say to him as a child.
Meanwhile, stuck between reality and dreams in the “astral plane,” David encounters Melanie’s husband Oliver. A ‘60s hepcat, Oliver has been stuck in the astral plane for so long that he’s beginning to lose his grip on things. That part is humorously played by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement, who gives the cold open and this scene some much needed energy, but besides Oliver confirming that the Devil with the Yellow Eyes is a real, malevolent “parasite,” his scenes amount to nothing more than fancy window dressing. The same can be said for Amy’s scene as well. It’s great to learn that Dr. Kissinger is being held captive too, and discovering that David invented his childhood dog, King, is a neat tidbit of information, but it all somehow feels like filler.
Things only heat up once Lenny pops back up to antagonize David into breaking through the astral plane. Lenny asserts that she and David are one and alludes for plans that she has, hinting that she could be the real devil inside David, but for the moment, she convinces David that Syd is in danger after Syd and the others are attacked by Division 3 while visiting David’s psychiatrist. David transports to find Syd and the crew in the back of The Eye’s van, but what he doesn’t know is that Syd swapped bodies with The Eye to avoid capture. Confusion ensues, Kerry ends up shot, and The Eye gets away. So basically, all that’s been accomplished is that David is out of the astral plane and now we know that Division 3 really isn’t messing around. We’re at the halfway point, action set pieces should lead to more than this.
That being said, there’s still some smaller things to like in this episode. I appreciate that the episode explored Syd coming to terms with the fact that she knows very little about David and maybe her perception is just as warped as David’s memories. And though I found the reveal of Kerry and Cary’s powers to be undercooked and Amber Midthunder’s performance to be flat, Kerry explaining the ways in which they take care of each other sold the whole thing. Also, the juxtaposition of Kerry’s fight with what Cary was experiencing back at Summerland was a very cool moment. But creative craft like this can’t hide that we’re in a loop. Memory can’t be trusted, things aren’t what they seem, none of this may be real – four episodes in, we get it. By the end of the episode, Lenny is like the monkey on David’s back, and remember, she’s got things to do. Hopefully those things push us somewhere new.