There’s a subtle geometry this show. Okay, maybe not subtle, but blatant. It’s so layered and complicated it’s hard to discern, but circles, triangles, squares are everywhere. On t-shirts. Around windows with X-shaped mullions. In oddly-angled caddy-corned room after room. In Mondrian patterns of secondary colors as the end credits appear. The actors in this psychological drama are found occupying a variety of similar spaces. Clockworks, an asylum out of Kubrick, has drug-dispensing nurses who might be stewardesses serving space-food capsules, and leisure-suit wearing patients who spontaneously break into Bollywood harmony. Summerland is a gorgeous retreat in the woods, ultra-modern with every convenience Bodum and Ikea and Braun can provide, but it seems a fragile paradise (“Are we safe here?” asks David of Syd during a quiet moment: “For now,” she barely reassures). D3 is a headquarters of angular concrete hallways, a bunker where torture and containment proceed underground. And then there are David’s various personal locales; his childhood home, his therapy office, the interrogation chamber, the electrified swimming pool, his girlfriend’s London flat, his doctor’s striped lighthouse. That they all seem to connect to each other in some larger labyrinthine way (mostly through closets that become doorways and windows that become escape routes) is another level of reality in this show where nothing that seems solid may be real at all. In the first chapter, after an abortive interrogation and a bravura action battle and escape (where David is rescued from torture and threats by Sydney and her friends), he stops her to ask “Is this real? I have to know.” And she affirms, but rather perfunctorily. He’d be forgiven for doubting because earlier she pulled him out of an illusion of freedom to show him when he’d previously been taken and drugged. And she herself is not always Sydney Barret, but sometimes becomes whomever she touches, and they her. Weirdly, when the effect wears off, she ends up in the place of the body she took over, rather than simply back in her own. Of course, he also doubts her matriarchal boss, Melanie Bird (played by Hawley muse Jean Smart), who tells him he’s not crazy, just gifted with amazing mutant mental abilities, which she wants to harness for the greater good. She and Ptonomy and Cary/Kerry and the unnamed telekinetic who acts as their muscle are fighting a war with D3, where her opposite number is David Selby, a patriarch trying (he thinks) to prevent disaster through nefarious means and sleeping gas. Some viewers have had a hard time following the narrative, as it’s not only circular and repetitive but also multi-layered and super-imposed. Things will happen again but in a different way. Others say that nothing’s happening, but they’re likely looking for something linear. It’s all always happening, is one way to look at the plot. The momentary development is usually a tangent, and uncertainty can seem like running in place. Especially in a psyche where false memories have been erected, leaving “glitches.” Aside from David’s unreliable memories at various ages, we have at least two other characters who can switch bodies, and then David’s name is not by chance. There are Legions of characters inside of him, including an ominous dog, an angry cartoon boy, and a leering corpulent ghost with tattered clothes and glowing yellow eyes. David returns frequently to a dock on the lake in Summerland, where the weather and light change slowly as Sydney seeks to console him. There’s a Halloween night he can’t seem to forget, and an explosion of kitchen utensils that signaled his growing power. He can’t remember his father’s face, but he may have bashed in his therapist’s, and how did Sydney even find him in the asylum? Was she ill too, or was she sent there for his retrieval? Are D3 still pursuing them, and if the Eye used to a founder of Summerland, why can’t he find it? Have Ptonomy’s attempts to explore David’s memories ever ended? Is Melanie more right than we know when she warns, on another visit to his childhood home, “Everyone be careful. We may be in David’s reality now.” David is an unreliable narrator because of his god-like abilities to create reality (he can also teleport and transmute, powers that worked out pretty poorly for Lenny’s corporeal body), so can anyone be sure of their perceptions, actions or even feelings in his proximity? At the end of Chapter 5, we’re back at Clockworks, but now the Summerland rebels have become patients, familiar faces in new configurations. And don’t forget about Lenny/Benny, whose death in the first episode hasn’t prevented the awesome Aubrey Plaza from stealing all her scenes since, whoever she might really be. She’s the perfect mental irritant and catalyst, playing well off Dan Steven’s multi-layered readiness to embody David as sexy lover, capricious god, reckless addict, sneaky patient, frightened claustrophobe or irritated mutant. Is he possessed? Haunted? Schizophrenic? We’ve got three episodes left to find out. Legion Chapters 1-55.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses Dignan March 21, 2017 Your description of the reasons some have a hard time following the show fit me to a T. I feel like the show rarely seems to ever “go” anywhere or make any significant narrative progress. That’s my problem with it. The fact that so much of what happens feels surreal and leaves one wondering if what they are witnessing is supposed to be actually happening or is just taking place in David’s head or whatnot doesn’t help. That said, it has this incredible aesthetic that is fun to examine and is very well done. In the end, despite my misgivings I keep coming back to watch every week. I guess I just wish it was a bit more traditional in its attempt to tell a story. Despite its obvious visual quality I’m still left with the nagging feeling that’s its all style and little substance. But I’ll keep watching. Log in to Reply Shawn EH March 22, 2017 David Haller is a relatively minor X-men character who mostly shows up as a deus ex machina in other stories since his overwhelming and unusual debut, so if Hawley can find all this in him it’s very nearly a blank slate he can take to infinity and beyond. For me it’s one of those shows I never knew I was waiting for until it was released, the first Marvel mutant art film. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.