LEGION [Season 2, Episode 1 Review]: The Search for Waffles.
Trying to make sense of one episode of Legion is kind of like analyzing what your body experiences during a wild and vivid hallucinogenic trip (Maybe? I dunno.). Created, written, and executive produced by Noah Hawley, Legion throws the superhero genre out the window of a speeding car while laughing maniacally as it drags your battered and beaten corpse down a deserted highway at full speed before crashing into a swimming pool and examining what images flash in your brain as you sink into a dark abyss. Wikipedia lists the likes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Terrence Malick, Alice in Wonderland, and David Lynch as inspirations for the television series, but there seems to be shades of the unthinkably bizarre associated with eccentric personalities like Hunter S. Thompson and Terry Gilliam, as well.
While David (Dan Stevens) feels as though only a day has passed since being captured by that orb at the end of last season, in reality an entire year has gone by. Now Summerland is no more and Syd (Rachel Keller) had convinced herself that David had died. They now work for a government organization called Division 3, which works to classify, investigate, and possibly eliminate mutant threats. Lead by the basket wearing Admiral Fukyama who uses three female androids with mustaches to speak, Division 3 has David under a microscope as no one seems to believe David’s claim of not remembering the events of the last year. Amahl Farouk aka The Shadow King is still residing in the body of Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement). He’s been on the move across the country searching for his original body in an effort to become even more powerful. Division 3 intends to beat Farouk to the punch, so it is now a race to find the vessel of the Shadow King.
To put the waffle statement in perspective, the first thing David says when he wakes up is, “Do you have any waffles?” Then the next scene is David and Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) discussing what has happened since David has been gone at the most amazing waffle bar (why have I never been to one of these?) in existence. Toppings go by patrons in little boats and it seriously puts some sushi bars to shame. Eleven from Stranger Things can have her damn Eggos. Gimme some of David’s wacky waffles.
The first episode of season two of Legion is as trippy and mind-boggling as you’re probably imagining, if not more so. Cary (Bill Irwin) thinks that although David has returned physically his mind may be trapped in the Astral Plane. The series blurs the line between what’s reality and what’s completely psychological. With so much riding on the Astral Plane, half the fun of the series has become attempting to decipher what takes place in reality, what is entirely cerebral, and what is occurring in this psychedelic plane of existence. The first season was a war that took place internally or completely within David. Now the battle has externally migrated offering the opportunity to be something different entirely, which the series has already accomplished with its season two premiere as Legion has completely altered the comic book origin of The Shadow King.
The season two opener leaves you with a ton of questions and, in a way, that’s a good thing. The lengthy dance number at the night club would be more of a head-scratcher in another series, but feels right at home here. As the Shadow King searches for his body, the people he encounters along the way are left frozen in masses with their teeth chattering. The Shadow King has evolved into a catalyst that is spreading like an epidemic and infecting everyone in his path. Legion offers this surreal perspective of an antihero character who sometimes does the right thing, but often has so much going on within himself (David Haller/Legion has at least 200 personalities in the comics with a different power associated with each one) that he typically has no choice but to be the villain because a coherent thought is like finding a four leaf clover at the bottom of a 200-man dogpile.
You won’t totally comprehend what’s transpiring here and that’s the point. Legion plants seeds that purposely don’t bloom until you delve deeper into the brilliant insanity that is the rest of the season. Noah Hawley knows how to weave madness into extraordinary kaleidoscopic euphoria. Nothing on television is like this and nothing based on a comic book is doing anything this bold, this unique, and this batshit crazy. The strange qualities the show has makes it impossible to predict what will happen and constantly has the show feeling fresh. Lunacy reigns like a senseless tsunami on Legion, but the storm eventually calms and you get a glimpse of earth-shattering beauty in the aftermath. In other words, just enjoy the weirdness since it’s bound to go somewhere and it likely won’t be disappointing. 4/5 Waffle Encrusted Bibles.
Legion airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX.