Legion should be renamed Jem, because it is truly, truly, truly outrageous. Even though I anxiously await each new episode, I have no idea what to expect each week. But with a premise that centers around the perception of reality, all rules are pretty much out the window. We get a one-two punch this week where we are treated to a minor revelation in the overarching plot of the catatonics, and some backstory to the true nature of the Shadowking. The most refreshing part of the series is that it seems to constantly amplify the things that make it great. Although, the pacing is very reminiscent of Game of Thrones, for better or for worse.
Legion is this generation’s Twin Peaks. I can’t stress this enough. The plot is a mystery, it is character driven, and nothing is what it seems. Out of all mutants to deal with, the most fantastical ones you can play with are the mental based mutants. It is the ultimate sandbox for creators and anything can happen. It’s just nice to have a TV experience that isn’t by the numbers, and the unexpected is something beyond the plot twists that are akin to General Hospital.
The new mystery hook this season is a malady that renders its host with chattering teeth and in a catatonic state. We get hints at it being psychosomatic rather than being a viral/mental infection. While we have no clear adversary yet, we do have an ailment, a message from the future, and a conflict that revolves around helping the main antagonist from last season. All of this has the larger inner working to converge in a fascinating conclusion, even though right now that only thing we have to work with is the freak show nature of the narrative.
What makes a villain truly great is depth and understanding. In this week’s episode, we are shown a different side of the Shadowking, in which he is portrayed as a former king who considered himself just and righteous but stripped of his power and left in the most helpless and desperate of positions. It is my contention that he is anything but that, as an evil being like Dr. Doom considers himself the true hero, but at least we gain insight into his perspective. The king has a very powerful dialogue with David where he explains that context is everything, and he is merely misunderstood. David just accuses him of being a supervillain, and The Shadowking responds by asking him if he even knows what villain means? It’s both a good question for David, who stumbled upon the role of hero, and for the audience, who is still relatively in the dark about the overall plot of the entire series.
The visual storytelling is very much in the same vein of Under the Skin, but with the fun of Twin Peaks. It is, in many respects, the opposite of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in that it shows instead of tells, the characters are more than stereotypes, and it’s short. Chapter 11 ups the stakes for the first time in the show’s history, and utilizes the chattering by burdening it upon characters we actually know. I have been a fan of The Shadowking for many years, and we get Wicked (the broadway show) spin on him this week and cements a running theme of perception in the show. The pieces are beginning to fall into place, and the set ups begin to pay off. Oh, plus, Aubrey Plaza is still awesome, and Amber Midthunder still sucks.