Rachel Bellwoar reviews the fourth episode of Legion…
‘Chapter 4’ opens with a character we’d never met in person, Dr. Bird’s husband, Oliver (Jemaine Clement), introducing the episode as a “five act play,” like this is Masterpiece Theater. More importantly, Oliver gives us something to look for this episode, a common thread to pull all these stories together: stories. “Once upon a time,” Syd goes down the rabbit hole, while David fights a Yellow Eyed dragon. Oliver reminds us that Legion is a story, like the hundreds of stories we’ve heard before. Sometimes we lose sight of that template but it’s there, and should Oliver make a habit of introducing episodes, having a concept to look for, a mission, makes watching Legion less intimidating and more like the classic fairy tales of old.
That ‘classic’ doesn’t mean ‘comforting’ is clear from David’s childhood bedtime story, The World’s Angriest Boy in the World. There are two kinds of stories Oliver defines and Legion is a combination of both. For Ptolemy, David’s story is one of danger, as he and Syd work with Kerry (Amber Midthunder) to complete a mission while David’s asleep. Their objective: find out what David’s life was like before he came to Clockworks.
Their first stop is Dr. Poole’s office, where unreliable memory reveals the curtains to be a different pattern. Important, curtains are not, but they do create a precedent. If the curtains aren’t the same as David remembers, what’s real? Are Ptolemy and Syd awake, or are they trapped in David’s memory, tricked into believing they woke up last episode, while David remains unresponsive? Ptolemy calls this outcome unlikely but with so much unprecedented, saying anything definitively is rough.
Sneaking into people’s memories while Syd distracts them, Ptolemy’s approach to finding out information rubs Syd the wrong way. For Syd and Amy, David’s story is one of empathy. When Syd learns David may have killed Dr. Poole, she comes up with the answer that his memories are fake—fragile mimics of the real thing to keep the truth from coming out. For all that Syd loves David ,there’s a lot she doesn’t know about him, but her theory isn’t impossible.
Amy grew up with David and her first word to describe him is sweet. She didn’t understand his powers growing up, any more than we do after a few episodes, but she does have something to say about his beloved dog, King. They didn’t have a dog. Sherlock did a dog switch in its latest season, too, but Legion’s working on a much larger and mysterious tableau.
It’s a tableau that’s not exclusive to David. All hands are on deck to figure out his powers but what of the mystery of Cary and Kerry, who share Cary’s body (and whose story doesn’t go too far to explain why)?
Or the mystery of Oliver, who lives in an ice-cube on the astral plane between reality and dream? Dressed in a diving suit and similarly unresponsive, Oliver incites our first big dance number since the Bollywood one in the pilot, with choreography mirrored in combat.
When Dr. Poole’s discovered to be alive, Syd’s empathy story begins winning out, but when Division 3 gets the drop on the trio, nothing is what it seems. David never had a friend named Lenny but Lenny is clawing her way out of his head, looking a lot like the Yellow Demon. Does that mean no more Guardian to block David’s memories, or that Ptolemy was right about David being dangerous? Since Oliver doesn’t return to close the episode, we’re left to guide ourselves to answers, but getting to hang out with other characters makes more reason to want some.