Editor’s Observe: this put up include spoilers for “Chapter 9” of LEGION—proceed at your individual threat!
Virtually nothing in FX’s Legion is practical. The dialogue typically sounds stagey, like intertwining theatrical monologues slightly than exchanges between precise people. The visuals are set piece after set piece. Then, after all, there are the random dance numbers. Barely a hint of realism in the entire present. However that’s what makes it so nice.
In contrast to grittier TV properties tailored from comedian books, Legion revels in its unreality, as a result of why faux to be one thing you’re not? Superhero comics are by nature rooted within the unattainable. The present’s philosophy appears to be: for those who’re going to make a TV collection based mostly on a superhero comedian, particularly one like X-Men, you’d higher be ready to get bizarre.
Be at liberty to think about that line in his voice.
Season two of Legion leans into this tough with non-linear storytelling that makes essentially the most of its televisual medium and could have you asking “Wait, what?!” at the very least 5 occasions per episode. Additionally, there may be an inexplicable dance-off between three main characters in a membership, one in every of whom is performed by a retro-styled Jemaine Clement. (It’s superb, is what I’m saying.)
When final we noticed principal character David Haller (Dan Stevens), he’d gotten himself trapped in a small digital orb, which then flew away to who is aware of the place. In the meantime, the Shadow King (showing within the type of Aubrey Plaza‘s Lenny), discovered its newest host in suave scientist Oliver Chicken (Jemaine Clement), who on the finish of season one was driving off in a candy journey to an undisclosed vacation spot. Now David’s again, albeit with some worrying gaps in his reminiscence, and able to assist his fellow mutants monitor down the escaped Shadow King. That’s the top of Plot Discuss Hour, as a result of actually, the plot isn’t what makes this present so freaking good.
What makes Legion so freaking good is its willingness to experiment, to push the boundaries of its medium. Its visible forays into the weird, resembling a recurring character in season two who at all times wears a bucket over his head and speaks via a crew of auto-tuned, mustached feminine androids, are indicators that we’re now not within the realm of something that might move for actual. The Shadow King’s physicality grows extra unattainable and disturbingly cartoonish; in a single scene, as an illustration, you see Plaza extending her arm what seems to be like a number of occasions the size of a human physique to choose up a faraway object, like a Tex Avery character.
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The present’s sound work faucets proper into your lizard mind to maintain you unsettled on a profound stage. The mustache robots’ auto-tuned voices bypass the Uncanny Valley and head straight into Oh God What Even Is The Line Between Humanity And The Machines Anymore Canyon. PSA-esque background bulletins regarding the nature of what’s actual play periodically over loudspeakers, telling characters to be cautious of “assault[s] on actuality” and reminding them, “In case you really feel one thing, say one thing.” There’s a specific chattering enamel/skittering insect legs sound impact that I might be joyful to by no means ever hear once more for the remainder of my days.
Nevertheless, the intense weirdness is conveyed via layered non-linear narrative methods, asking us to contemplate how we assemble which means and extrapolate occasions into tales. The frequently blurry boundaries between exterior “actuality”—no matter that’s—characters’ internal ideas, false recollections, and straight-up imaginary situations (technically the entire thing is imaginary, however you already know what I imply) remind us that our minds are fickle issues. When that chattering/skittering sound is laid over footage of a jaw shifting quickly up and down, we hear it as enamel; with footage of bugs crawling throughout somebody’s face, we hear bugs. We hear what we predict we ought to be listening to.
When David flashes again to recognizing Oliver and Shadow King Lenny in a crowded membership, is it a reminiscence of an precise expertise, or some type of funky psychic battle? When the principle narrative in a single episode is interrupted by what seems to be some type of Psych 101 audio lecture on delusion, narrated by Jon Hamm, laid over footage of a grotesque bird-skeleton monster coated in black sludge—who’s talking, and who’re they speaking to? Is that this scene in itself meant to be a delusion in a personality’s thoughts? We don’t know, and in that not figuring out lies a lot to discover.
Within the first episode of season two, “Chapter 9,” there’s a second the place the display screen goes black and voiceover narration kicks in, with some bonus insect/enamel SFX for good measure. High-quality and dandy (aside from the enamel noises, as a result of no thanks), however the darkness doesn’t let up till the narration stops about half a minute later. Whereas thirty seconds of speaking at the hours of darkness might not sound like so much, it’s sufficient time to begin feeling…off. TV isn’t supposed to do that. I stored checking my display screen and web connection throughout the scene to be sure that it wasn’t some type of technical snafu; that’s how positive I used to be that one thing was mistaken, or slightly that Legion had failed to stick to the foundations of its medium.
After all, it hadn’t failed. The foundations of how TV is meant to work are based mostly on our expectations and biases: the final hundred exhibits we watched did a factor, so subsequent exhibits must also do that very same factor. However there’s no precise rule requiring all TV manufacturing to do the factor. In actuality, no matter which may be, you’re allowed to have audio with out visuals or vice versa on TV. You’re allowed to ask questions and preserve viewers desirous to ask questions. You’re allowed to get actually, actually bizarre, and fortunately, Legion season two is able to see how far that goes.
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