Here’s what it’s like to me.
Were you ever forced to read James Joyce in school? I’m thinking Ulysses here. Or any of the other “difficult” reads that high school teachers liked to torture us with. For me, Moby Dick applies, as does Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel.
When I had to read these books, what worked best for me was to read at a furious pace and allow the words and images to wash over me, trusting that the important ones would somehow permeate my conscious mind and seep into my subconscious, where they might just sort themselves out in my dreams. It was one step up from sleeping with a book underneath my pillow and hoping I would learn something through osmosis.
Strangely enough, this was effective. At least, it was effective enough for me to get passing grades from my English teachers.
It was also how I learned to read the works of certain poets, such as T.S. Eliot or W.B. Yeats. Don’t try to consciously understand what I’m reading. Soak in the images and allusions and the emotions. Attempt to interpret them later, understanding that everything is subjective.
And that has been my experience watching Legion as well. The show’s imagery vacillates between the dreamlike—pleasant, pastoral. soothing—and the nightmarish—weird, disturbing, provocative. Always beautiful, in my opinion, and artistically interesting. Every shot seems carefully composed, and every detail seems meaningful, when, in fact, they may not be. Legion‘s achievement from purely a visual, artistic point of view is nothing short of amazing.
The story itself, though it chooses not to follow a straight path, is fairly straightforward. After the events of the first season, David Haller vanished for nearly a year. Apparently during that time he was visited by the future version of his psych-ward girlfriend Syd, who tells him he must help the Shadow King in his quest to find his body. Oh yeah, that’s a thing this season. The Shadow King, who also goes by the name Amahl Farouk, wants to locate his body, which has been hidden from him by Division III, or maybe by monks, or both, and when he’s reunited with his body, he will have unlimited power. Why would future Syd want David to help Shadow King? Because David is a bigger threat in the future than the Shadow King, who is perhaps the only mutant strong enough to keep David from destroying the world.
You following this so far?
Ultimately, this leads to a partially animated showdown between David and the Shadow King, which David wins with a little help from his friends. But, as it turns out, David may actually be a villain after all. He answers Syd’s betrayal with a betrayal of his own. And in the final scene of the season, with his pal Lenny at his side, David seems to emerge as a mutant supervillain.
When Legion was given an extra episode this season, I was afraid it was to wrap up the story and end the series. But, 11 days ago or so FX announced that there would be a third season, and it looks like David is starting it out as the bad guy next year. Exciting stuff.
If my analogy to difficult literature didn’t clue you in already, let me just say that I know this series isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. If the nontraditional storytelling and a brazen willingness to ignore conventional television structure has made the show seem inaccessible to you, let me assure you that things aren’t as they first appear. Which seems to be the theme of the entire series.
This is your average good vs. evil comic book story. Sure, there’s a question about who’s good and who’s evil, and the answer to the question seems quite fluid, but that’s part of the fun of Legion.
I like this series and recommend it to you.
Also, Moby Dick is okay, too, if you read every other chapter.