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Legion - Chapter 2 - Review + POLL

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Chapter 2 was written by Noah Hawley and directed by Michael Uppendahl. It presented itself as a smaller, more personal story that gave us a deeper understanding into David's subconscious.

"And so we ran on into Summerland. Into the place, they say that doesn’t exist and all the white wolves were at our heels, black masks, boots and the one they call, the eye. We had come to do the work that must be done, to strip ourselves of the fog of life before."

The opening montage was great. I enjoyed seeing David watch as Summerland unfolded in front of him, in bursts as he acclimated to the new surroundings. As Melanie helps David focus his mind on a particular voice, I found the editing and visual cues to be really well thought out. "Close your eyes, focus, there's a single voice calling your name, can you find it", seeing David actually turn the volume down to lessen the noise was just perfect (very childlike in it's simplicity) as was Jean Smart's voice, calm and reassuring. Watching the camera zoom in on Melanie's mouth, particularly the way she annunciated words was so smart. David's frantic nature was perfectly portrayed by Dan Stevens.

Summerland is sort of a reminiscent of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters with Jean Smart, a bit of Professor X in this scenario.

"David your whole life people have told you, you were sick. What if I told you that was a lie. What if I told you every memory you have of mental illness, the voices, the hallucinations was just your power and what if I could do more than just tell you, what if I could show you. Help you rewrite the story of your life"

I loved that the environment for memory work took place in a glass enclosure surrounded by nature. So peaceful and real, nothing like that of the counseling sessions with the fake, painted on forests in the background. It's even more telling of Melanie's character that she uttered "we’ll make time" when David asks if there might not be enough time for him. She's very invested even if she has her own agenda, she's not putting herself above him and that in itself is admirable.

"But what matters most, we make you whole", there's this determined and caring nature about Melanie's voice that's so trusting. Jean Smart is absolutely wonderful in this role, she fits in with such ease and has this timeless grace about her. The score accompanying this scene was lovely. The way the camera zoomed up and into David's eye to signal memory work had begun was fabulous. Our eyes are the windows to our souls and it's only fitting that his memories, those events that shaped his life would be accessed through such a door.

The cinematography of David and his sister, Amy running through the fields was such a serene moment, the light and atmosphere divine.

"I'll show that it was really just your gift. We'll make you whole again."

A really great technique I liked was having the camera follow behind David during the memory work scenes, closer, behind his shoulders, as if the audience was with him, following along.

David's memories with his mother are really sweet, very sentimental and because of that I can't help but assume something terrible happened to her (or that those are the best memories of her he has) that's why he preserves them with such adamant love.

As they continue to let the memory play out, seeing David's fathers facelessness was really strong. The way the lighting shrouds his face in darkness, either to keep that a mystery or to highlight his fathers (which might not be his biological one) inner darkness, the darkness David saw in him or being a signifier of a memory tarnished, especially with the voices coming through (a bad dream) was brilliant. The association with this moment and the book, 'The Angriest Boy in the World' is fascinating because it mirror's David's state of mind when confronting his powers. It's also important to note that as time erodes on our mind, memories began to dissipate, even strong ones, the ideas, and feelings attached are always quite strong but the mental images not so much. The mind bends what wants to remember too.

Like a child, the memory becomes overwhelming with the voices becoming louder and louder until David breaks the memory, arising into reality and desperately wanting to escape the room in which frightened him, once again, brilliance from Dan Stevens.

After that ordeal, we flashback to a scene with David and one of his (many) counselors. Just watching Dan Stevens' speak during this scene is such a pleasure, his mannerisms, highly expressive eyes and body language give David so much emotion. The editing is particularly strong. I liked how, again, the discourse between the two characters is never divided (no table present), just face to face communication. It's also an excellently framed, the shot is in perfect symmetry with the windows in the background, seats in the mid-to-foreground with curtains well draped on either side (I know it's not that important but it's these details that make such a scene so visually appealing, to me, at least).

"All good in the head now"

That shot of David waking up in that green space, surrounded by trees, a stuffed goat and Ptolemy was pretty. I particularly loved Jeremie Harris' dialogue whereby he talked of remembering his "birth". The expression in his voice, the way he spoke, it was evoked such believability. “There's this intense pressure and suddenly light”. He really shone in that brief moment and I liked his offering of milk to David, so simple that reinforce some heavenly connotations (the land of milk and honey, for example, just something I read from that scene besides it being helpful post memory work).

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry"
"It's not your fault"

Elsewhere, I loved that David and Syd swing scene. The literal structure of the swingset was familiar to that of the interior of Summerland with the circular designs, that of infinity and completeness.

"We changed places and everything in the day room was so loud, people yelling and the lights, drums in my head. I've never felt that way before... and something else.. something... that's when it happened"

Syd and David's chemistry is just so delightful, the actors work so well together in their scenes. Hearing Syd talking about how touching people and vice versa makes her uncomfortable was a great point in her character's growth. Being able to share that with David shows how deeply connected there are, "it's really uncomfortable for me, the closer I get to someone, it's like being covered in needles". Rachel Keller's delivery was great.

The editing during this scene was perfect, yet again. Syd explaining how she felt being David was very strong, the way the scene moved from memory to reality was fantastic. I also appreciated David's reaction when listening to her, never interrupting, he's really taken by her and you can see it. The lighting too really lifted the scene with their eyes being lit as the spoke to one another, the camera captured their feelings effortlessly. "We're having a romance of the mind", you hardly hear such things.

My favorite scenes were that of David in the MRI machine. Visually phenomenal. The way the medical scanning bar moved up and down to transition the scene from memory to reality was again, excellent editing (the lighting too).

"Why can't you have what everyone else has"
"Because I’m sick"
- This was a nice moment between Amy and David. It's not that deeply explored but I've liked what I've seen both actors bring to this sibling dynamic.

Two memories are seen, that of David and his sister, Amy and that of David and Lenny. I loved how the noises in the background would change as David received into a specific frequency such as the dog's dark with the background rumblings heard. The way the sound was a sort of pitchy recorded playback was really neat. Seriously genius sound editing and mixing throughout. I adored Aubrey Plaza in these scenes, she's so much fun to watch on screen. The stove was such an unusual object to be featured in a drug purchasing scene but she really made it work. Also really liking David's pre-Clockworks look, very rad.

"Why is it blue" - I loved this and I'm not sure if it's a reference to The Matrix, which it totally can be since drugs give the user a false sense of reality, creating blissful ignorance.

As the drug moved from a liquid to gaseous state through the frog contraption, I found the music selection to be well picked in this scene. The way Lenny and David collapsed on the ground from inhaling the vapor and the camera from overhead moves in a sort of 180-degree turn as a metaphor for falling into chaos (perhaps descending into Wonderland) was awesome. That quick shot as David looks at Lenny from the site was perfect, the way she becomes the Devil with the Yellow Eyes was startling and on point. Yet again, fantastic editing, the mind has snap judgment and this scene really worked well. In this context, if you are looking for a proper vaporizer, going for Dr Dabber’s technologically improved vaporizer can be your prime choice.

Also, I liked how when Ptolemy mentions that he’d like to return to another memory when the scene with Lenny and David abruptly comes to a halt (as a result of David blocking out moments he's afraid of) and it was like the memory was on a revolving stage, it moved smoothly in a circular motion (like a volume dial and the circular motifs).

David back in his child room bedroom, the voices encroaching, the room shaking, the book of the Angriest Boy falling from the shelf, and David's hands covering his face to shield him from terror was poignant. His childlike response in the face of danger was really moving to me. Speaks to the idea that his powers have also kept him from growing, he hasn't faced these demons, just shut the door on them which hasn't been particular good for his mindset.

"You are cute, though"

Syd and David sitting near a pier at the lake with the sun setting was gorgeous to watch. The way the light touches half of their faces whilst the other is shrouded in darkness is lovely. The interactions were quite enjoyable.

Back in another memory with his counselor, David speaking about his father, unable to come up with the right words, his eyes never steady, wondering the room was captivating. The way the memory David was speaking of in the memory unfolded was stunning. The night sky sounded and looked beautiful as David and his father shared a lovely moment under the stars. Once brought back into reality, the questions from his counselor, "what did the stars say" provoking the door handle to open in a very horror movie manner was entertaining. It's fascinating that they are trapped in that closet, though, David has some power because he keeps them at bay by keeping himself away from feelings that would allow them the ability to get power from his suffering. It's another metaphor for a childlike sensibility, the monsters in the closet, keeping them hidden away. Speaks also to David's mind, an expanse of many doors all holding secrets and powers he tries to keep closed and those he doesn't know are present.

Furthermore, I liked how David utilized what Melanie thought him, to adjust the volume and tune into the right frequency to find his sister Amy (who was looking for him in Clockworks). Her plight to find him was disheartening and the look on the receptionist's face was infuriating. The way that lady was insinuating that Amy was being paranoid was heartbreaking but the use of sound on words like "paranoid delusions" to make it sound demonic was ideal. David’s mind leaving his body and traveling to the hospital, to find his sister was powerful, speaks of their bound and the immense power David possess. However, all whilst still in the MRI machine per Cary Loudermilk's instructions, the claustrophobia was furthering his fears along, from mere memories through to reality.

The growling noises and flashes of light in such a tiny space created such a tense and frightening environment that was heightened by David's reaction. How awesome was it that because of his fear he was able to teleport the MRI machine outside (and with it that creature, while it's still in his mind, you can still understand that he felt freer without it) and have himself remain inside, safe in the research room.

"Because she’s bait" they won’t kill her. I am intrigued to see more of his sister next week, though, it'll be nice to see even more about David's family who is only seen through a looking glass. It'll be interesting to see how she reacts to what David is and how she missed such details that would've hinted at them.

"Shall we begin"

Tune in next Wednesday at 10|9c on FX and Thursdays on FOX International for Chapter 3. Please, as always, come and share your thoughts in the comments below, I don't always talk about every detail (the review is already long enough) so I'd love to hear whatever thoughts you have, no matter the length.

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