One hour a week, for 10 weeks, is perfect. Legion is such a fun watch with a beautiful presentation. With our second season, we have gotten out of the origin slump, and we are free to watch the expansion of story and characters. Not only is it a fun show with quirky characters and a fun mystery plot, but it is one of the best looking series on the small or big screen. In addition to everything else, it also serves as a great actors workshop, sans one notable performance. How far, though, can we truly head down the “weird for the sake of weird” path?
Season one of Legion explores the mystery of David Haller, aka, Legion, and season 2 focuses more on the mystery of the Amahl Farouk, aka, The Shadow King. Now that everyone has fallen into their rightful place in the story, we are treated with a new threat in the form of a message from future Sid. Future Sid brings David a warning from the future, involving a vague but grave threat where everyone dies. Her solution: reunite the Shadow King with his body, then have him aid in the fight against our new foe. It’s like Frieza joining the Z Fighters in the tournament of power. Instead of Aubrey Plaza and Jermaine Clement serving as the host for SK, we are now treated to the original body of said mutant. Even though his body was introduced in the previous episode, this week we were given our first face to face between David and Amahl and even a little wrestling match (literally). While the Shadow King was a fantastic boogeyman last season, his appearance this week sets him up as something of a teacher, which puts him in the position of strong character growth. By no means do I believe they will turn this character into a hero, but a reluctant ally against a larger threat is incredibly enticing.
While I will always marvel (no pun intended) at well utilized big budget effects, the aesthetic of this show is proof that you don’t need $100 million to make something look good, and it gives hope to future small screen endeavors. I am not talking from just the digital side, but the creative look of the astral plane segments, from wide open fields, to cleverly lit fighting rings and rounding out with dark neons, to give it a more comic book look, because, remember, it is a comic book property. It’s hard to wrap my head around so much of what is shown on screen because it is so weird. Story wise, it is all pretty simple: a warning from the future causes the team to reunite the Shadow King’s mental state with his physical body, but the weird is how David sees things. Most decorum/apparel/architecture seems to be from the 60s, but characters have smart phones, so it is clearly modern. Who knows what is actually real, because the extent of David’s power also warps his perception of reality. Oh, and more girls with mustaches talking with autotune.
The actors all excel in this series. It’s so easy to get attached to them when they feel so real. The performances are all very organic and Dan Stevens is incredibly charismatic. Another good change is now that Farouk is back in his original body (on the astral plane), Lenny is no longer the surrogate host and is now back to her old self, if she was truly real to begin with? This seems to be the role that Aubrey Plaza was born to play. It plays to her strengths of weird and awkward without her being annoying because the show puts an emphasis on strange and surrealism. I have to point out that Amber Midthunder is so terrible. She can’t deliver a line with any real emotion, and it makes her scenes with Bill Irwin such a frustrating contrast. On top of her failing as an actress, she is also really awkward as a fighter. I would have understood if she couldn’t act, and she was a former kickboxer, or martial artist, or if she was terrible at stunt choreography, but was really good at acting, but she is the worst of both worlds. It’s like The Last Vampire on Earth. I’ll hold out hope that she will improve, or the creators can work around her shortcomings.
Chapter 10 takes us further down the rabbit hole and expands the balloon of the trans mundane. Last week served as a reintroduction, which is acceptable, seeing how it had been a year, but this week we are given an idea of what is in store for this season. While last season had a large emphasis on David’s nightmares/memories, here the astral plane is the meat of this dish which allows for the fun, considering the visuals are such an important aspect of the show. With the exception of Kerry, everyone has a coolness that allows the drama to creep up on you and delivers the gift of not knowing what to expect as our plot unfolds. Chapter 10 continues its streak of post modern wonder that constantly pulls the tonal rug out from underneath its audience.