Legion Season 2
I have started watching the second season of Legion, and it is not as instantly arresting as season one, but I am enjoying it. The dialogue starts our making no sense at all, for example, with just vague hints of a maze and of the characters feeling like they are trapped. Then the dialogue goes all the way to the other extreme, Loudermilk comes right out and explains that it is possible David’s mind is locked in the astral plain.
The story may be lacking this season, but the show has some great visuals. For example, it starts with two characters, including David’s imaginary friend, Lenny floating in a pool, seen from above. She asks him, “It’s Tuesday, right?” and he says this is a conversation about time, and he tries never to have conversations about time. It doesn’t mean much, but it is a scene that is pleasing to the eye and to the ear.
The thing is visually stunning, and it has one of my favorite futuristic motifs. Near the start of the show, hexagons are used to show how technological and advanced things are in the lab David is in. It’s a place called Division 3, and how he got there isn’t particularly well explained, but there are nice hexagons. I love this. Hexagons have been part of what I think of as the future, ever since Blake’s 7. As Watching Blake’s 7 says:
…the future according to the BBC means expect a lot of bold shapes – curves, squares, triangles, and above all, hexagons – yes 1970’s telefantasy likes its hexagons.
I was very pleased when futuristic architect Zaha Hadid gave hexagons a veneer of respectability. It turns out hexagons are the shape of the future, after all. And they are exactly the kind of retro-futurist element that is this show’s stock in trade. Anyway, enough about hexagons, let’s get back to Legion, season two.
Continuing the gorgeous retro-futurist look of the show, there is also a running sushi restaurant in Division 3, which is kind of the canteen. It looks great, but the storytelling going on as David chats to Ptonomy is perfunctory, to say the lest. In episode one and episode two, the only episodes I’ve watched so far, Ptonomy acts as a kind of exposition machine, dumping indigestible chunks of information for us viewers to try to get our heads around. In the sushi place, he explains all about Divisions 1 through 3, and we get helpful visuals as he talks. It reminded me of the training films left by the Dharma Initiative in Lost.
We are constantly reminded of the orb from the ending of the last season, and the orb is David’s last memory before the start of this season, too. David’s girlfriend, Syd, implies that at least a year has passed, in which she found a gray hair and decided she likes cherry pie. She asks where he has been, and he says he has been inside the sphere, but to him that seems like only yesterday. I like the time jump, and it differentiates the two seasons well.
There is also a really cool idea called the catalyst. It is something that makes people freeze like statues and make creepy chattering noises with their teeth. Unfortunately, it is a throwaway idea that comes and then goes again. This is something that would have been better shown and not told. Something of significance, discovered slowly over a few episodes, rather that a couple of sentences in a block of exposition.
I’ve said a few negative things, but I’m going with the show for now. There is enough that is unique and beautiful to outweigh the weird choices, at least for me, at least for now. But I’m a little worried by the storytelling choices so far. The good stuff is just touches, but they are great touches, such as Dr. Melanie Bird appearing for a short scene where she is like a burnt out rock star hiding in a hotel room. She says that the saddest words in the English language are vacant lot, apropos of nothing, and it is quite poetic.
These touches and this inventiveness gets out of hand sometimes, and there are some really weird sections with super-trippy visuals. There is a section about a guy called Albert who thinks one of his legs belongs to somebody else that is a little like a literary short story. It is abstract, there to make a point, and the storytelling grinds to a halt while we watch it go by. But some weirdness, that might be too much for some, really appeals to me.
The boss of Division 3 is a guy with a basket on his head called Admiral Fukiyama, and he is extremely strange. He speaks through three mustachioed ladies who read his thoughts and communicate them to others. It is a beautifully obtuse character design, but just as I am enjoying his screen time, and warming to the show, the storytelling gets all snarled up again.
Then the show comes right out and says what the goal of the season is going to be. David has to find the body of The Shadow King, before The Shadow King himself, in the body he is possessing, finds it. They are in a race. But then, he is told, via a game of glowing charades, that he must help The Shadow King. I’m ambivalent about the show, torn even, but I am enjoying it. One scene in particular really sums up the show’s strengths and weaknesses.
Toward the end of episode one David ends up in a nightclub, and he comes face-to-face with the bad guys. There is a moment of terrible tension, a moment the show earns with great camerawork and mood building, and then something strange happens. There comes a dance scene. I don’t think it works, but it is certainly brave TV making. And that is what Legion, season two, is about. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but it is brave and rewarding TV, go watch it.
When I’m not watching sci-fi TV, I write my own sci-fi novels.
Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.