Goodbye, winter caps—hello, summer hats! It’s that glorious time of year where many of us can switch from content creators to content consumers. NYWIFT members Mellini Kantayya and Kathryn O’Kane have put together #SummerHours, a series of fun summer books, movies, and TV shows by or about women.
Legion for FX is the latest Marvel production of the X-Men series. But as adapted by Noah Hawley, the visionary who brought Fargo to TV, it’s a distant, intellectual cousin to the popcorn summer movies of the same franchise. Sleek and stylized, this version imagines the character “Legion,” the mentally unstable superhero who has trouble controlling his powers, as a young man named David who The New Yorker describes as “a twitchy fellow who has been medicated into dullness.” This series hangs its narrative on the experiences and memories of this unreliable narrator.
Dan Stevens as David aka Legion and Rachel Keller as Syd in Legion for FX (2017)
Memory is a fickle beast even for healthy minds. When we remember something, it’s like we pull the file out of the cabinet, revise it a little bit, and then put it back. That cycle of memory amendment continues for the rest of our lives. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism or a way to learn from experience. Imagine bearing a painful memory in the same real and raw way that the event occurred every time you think about it. Now imagine a television show about that.
I’m just gonna say it: veteran television director Larysa Kondracki directed the hell out of “Chapter Four.” “Chapter Four” is a challenging episode because it addresses the very nature of storytelling and the notion that memories are capricious. In this highly experimental episode, we jump back and forth from what is “real” to what is happening in David’s head. Surreal, beautiful, and nightmare-ish, multiple points of view and storylines are masterfully woven together into a narrative that may or may not be true, and under Kondracki’s direction, she never loses the plot.
For the record, Kondracki has also directed episodes of The Americans, The Walking Dead, Halt & Catch Fire, and Better Call Saul, among many others. This woman really should be a household name.
Legion is streaming on Hulu.
(Cover photo by Bridgette Matthews)