A review of tonight’s Legion coming up just as soon as we’re literally saving daylight…
“We’re going to figure this thing out, you and me. Once and for all.” –David’s rational mind
There are many delightful scenes littered throughout the penultimate Legion of season one, and we’re going to talk about many of them in short order. But I’d like to start with a relatively minor one in the grand scheme of things: Cary, having borrowed Oliver’s Jules Verne diving suit to better effect a psychic prison break, takes Syd from the fake version of Clockworks to a more secluded spot on the astral plane, where he attempts to explain the entire plot of the season to this point. Syd quickly shuts down his expository monologue and runs through the whole scenario in a far more succinct fashion because, as she notes with satisfaction, “I’ve been paying attention.”
This conversation made me smile for many reasons. The first of which, obviously, is that it takes place inside a giant version of the kind of pneumatic messenger tube featured at bank drive-through windows. The second is that, like the Cary/Oliver scene that proceeded it — charming and loopy in its own way, because Oliver is simultaneously out of his head (quite literally) and smarter than everyone else — it represents a particularly irresistible genre fiction moment where the good guys come together and start turning the tables on the bad guys. And most importantly, it allows Syd to not be way behind the plot, but on the same page we are, because she is smart, and brave, and pays attention.
One of the more annoying ways that serialized dramas prolong mysteries and/or keep the bad guys in charge is by making the heroes too dumb, or at least too incurious, to figure out what’s going on. (Think of all those times on Lost when Jack met people who were in a position to tell him something about the island, and he instead yelled at them for half an hour.) And when the main characters fall way behind the audience in their awareness of the plot, it makes them look bad and usually makes the show less fun to watch. Legion hasn’t kept the audience in the dark for too long — a benefit of an eight-episode season is that it’s hard to string things out even if you want to — and it makes sure the characters find things out around the same time we do. Oliver and Cary put two and two together about Lenny/The Devil With The Yellow Eyes really being Amahl Farouk, aka the Shadow King, and in short order we see that Syd understands most of it, while one of the episode’s two centerpiece scenes involves David conversing with the rational part of his own mind as they identify all the true facts of his life, how he came to be adopted into Amy’s family, how long Farouk has been with him, etc. Everyone knows what’s happening and what’s important, and the story doesn’t have to lean on anyone’s ignorance to keep moving forward. That’s just better, more interesting storytelling.