The latest episode of Legion is cementing its place as one of the most interesting takes on superhero TV. Following on from the last ep, Chapter 4 continues to weave a weird tapestry of threads to create something that answers questions with questions, building mystery while looking beautiful with it. This consistently trades flexing muscles and heroic posturing for interesting characters and suspense, and is all the better for it.
This episode continues the ongoing attempts to unraveling David Haller’s past, while simultaneously making you question all your previous assumptions. The last instalment introduced the idea that the memories we’ve seen so far aren’t real, or have been altered, and this lays on revelations that start to dismantle everything we thought we knew. There’s a meta edge to all this because as the characters ask questions, and assumed facts come crashing down, we’re on that journey too. Who is this guy? How powerful is he exactly? And why is nothing we thought was true potentially real?
New director Larysa Kondracki goes some way to recapturing the magic of that incredibly shot first episode too, with some amazing edits and tonal changes. The moment we discover David never had a dog (having seen it repeatedly frolic happily through childhood memories) the animal is suddenly transformed subtly as the view shift downs to make it more monstrous, drool unravels from its mouth as the camera slows just enough to make it seem sinister. The fact that David remembers the dog clearly and happily in this episode only fires up the confusion: what is going on?
The penultimate moment is also one of the best constructed pieces of television I’ve seen for a while, weaving together nearly all the characters in play, across various settings, as they fight, dance, run and remember, cut together into one flowing scene - all relevant in some way and all merged effortlessly into an amazing sequence. The highlight of which is between Cary and Kerry. This episode finally explains their weird relationship and power (two people sharing one body) and uses it to great effect here - as Kerry fight guards in a forest, Cary acts out the moves while sweeping in his lab, all but dancing in a routine of dodges and kicks around his broom.
The Cary and Kerry relationship is another great example of Legion playing with the repercussion of powers more than anything else. The two are inseparable, literally. Cary is the scientist, Kerry the fighter, a girl who lives inside him, leaving his body occasionally when needed: “he makes me laugh, I keep him safe” she explains. But there’s a sadness there - Kerry’s sense of identity and life is questioned as a result of effectively being ‘hosted’ by another person. Another interesting twist is that she only ages when outside his body, leaving Cary to wonder, “what happens when I die?”
The new addition of Jemaine Clement is an inspired choice as Oliver, the safari suit wearing husband of Melanie Bird. Trapped in the astral plane since his outfit was last in fashion he adds another layer of oddness, with allegories of storytelling, beat poetry and hideous jazz. He’s a great foil for Dan Stephen’s twitchy comic timing and hopefully we’ll see a lot more of him.
However, it’s the twists that really add momentum to what’s shaping up to be a great show. The revelation that Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny character is remembered by all David’s friends as a man called Benny is a huge spanner in the works of what we think we know. Other people have seen her, so she exists in some form but which one is real? What is real? This leads up to one of the biggest cliffhangers I think I’ve ever seen without a death of some sort - the final shot of Ghost-Lenny (currently haunting David’s head after dying in the first ep) appearing over his shoulder with the Yellow Eyed Demon’s hand opens up a whole can of WTF? that needs to answered. It’s the building pace of revelations like this that are making Legion one one the most interesting shows around right now.