A Look at Legion- Season 1, Episode 2: “Chapter 2”

So now that David Haller is in the hands of Melanie Bird, it’s time for David to learn more about his powers, look back at his past, and take a deep dive into his own mind.  And this doesn’t involve a trip to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

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The episode begins with David and the others still on the run from wolves, black masks, and Mackenzie Gray’s character, who we can now call The Eye.  As the journey continues, we overhear Melanie Bird say that the human race is evolving.  She and her group believes that David is a powerful telepath- potentially telekinetic- meaning he can control matter with his mind.

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As David rests in the facility known as Summerland, Dr. Bird tells David that The Divisions were created by the government to track and study people like him and Syd. Ones who cannot be controlled are killed.  She asks if David is hearing voices and then tells him to focus on them, despite the pain this power is causing him.

Dr. Bird tells David to concentrate on finding a single voice calling out his name.  It’s like turning down a big volume knob.  As David focuses, Dr. Bird explains that this is called telepathy.  For now, David can rest.  Tomorrow, memory work begins.  Syd joins David, who is curious about what Melanie meant by memory work.

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Let’s find out together. The next day, Melanie poses a question: what if everything people said about David’s supposed illness was a lie?  Instead, the voices and hallucinations could just be his powers.  And Melanie can help him rewrite the story of his life.  Right now, David wonders if there’s even time for that with Division Three still in pursuit.

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There’s time, though.  Dr. Bird tells David that he is important to her, so she needs him clear and focused.  They, along with Ptonomy, sit at a table with rods sticking outward. This, Dr. Bird says, is how her group looks back, finds a person’s abilities, and what triggers them.  More than that, you’re made whole.  They grab the rods and memory work begins.

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The three travel to the past and watch a young David and Amy running through a field.  This is memory work, thanks to Ptonomy’s gift as a memory artist.  Right now, Ptonomy just wants David to take all of this in, as talking to his younger self and sister could change the memory.  It’s best he not do that.

Right now, the idea is for David to accept that this is real, and then the group can focus on taking David back to moments when his ‘illness’ started developing. Melanie will show that this was really just David’s gift and he will soon be whole again.

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In essence, this is David’s museum and he can do whatever he wants.  He glimpses moments from his youth, like his mother doing garden work with him and marking his height on the wall in their home.

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As for David’s father, he was an astronomer, but he passed away.  We then watch as David’s father, who we can’t see, reads his son a bedtime story.  As David watches his younger self, he soon backs away and the room begins to shake.  All of a sudden, voices begin flooding in again.

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He breaks free from the memory work, afraid of the memories, but Syd implores him to calm down.  She felt the same way on her first time, too.  A frantic David, now wanting to leave, is soon put to sleep by Ptonomy.

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We then flash back to David speaking with Dr. Poole, played by Scott Lawrence, who asks David about his home life and girlfriend, who apparently left him.  While David asks for gum, Dr. Poole notes that the end of a relationship could be disruptive for someone with David’s condition.  David’s sleeping just fine, and he states that vapor has helped. Poole asks what David meant by ‘the vapor.’

More than that, he notes that the dynamic of fighting and then making up isn’t good for David, who still has flashes of when he destroyed the kitchen.  He needs a more settled environment.  David promises to work on that.

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We follow David as he leaves his appointment and meets up with Lenny, who asks if he’s good in the head.  Turns out that Lenny got her hands on a kitchen range from a girl she finger-banged.  Kinky.  She and David start walking through an alley.

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David soon awakens and receives a glass of milk from Ptonomy.  The first time in memory work is always the worst.  Syd threw up her first time.  She’s doing talk work with Dr. Bird, who thinks that David is the key to winning the war and other things.  David admits that he’s impressed with Ptonomy’s memory artist abilities.

Ptonomy explains that his father had a shit memory due to artillery shell in the war causing him to go deaf in one ear.  As a result, he was never good with facts.  He’d just snap his fingers whenever he forgot Ptonomy’s name.  Odd, since Ptonomy remembers everything.

And he does mean everything, like his birth and even being in the womb.  Imagine being inside your mother’s body, warm and blind, and then light after some intense pressure. Ptonomy then asks David about that book his father read him- “The World’s Angriest Boy in the World”- because if David’s parents read that book to him before bed, that’s messed up.  David doesn’t remember, but Ptonomy is certain that David’s memories seem clear.

David would rather not talk about it, but hey, it’s not Ptonomy’s deal, either.  He’s just the memory guy.  Okay, fair enough.  Meanwhile, The Eye leads a squadron of soldiers as they continue their pursuit…

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Later, at a swing set, David tells Syd that he doesn’t see how the memory work is helping.  Syd thought the same when she first arrived.  Once she got there, all she wanted was to rescue David.  It wouldn’t have mattered what she saw when she was in David’s body.

She still doesn’t understand it.  After a flash, she remembers switching places with David and everything in the dayroom growing louder.  Between that and the lights, Syd never felt that way before.  And then, in addition to glimpsing the blob with yellow eyes, Syd realizes that she’s responsible for killing Lenny.  David knows that it’s not Syd’s fault.  As Lenny said, you don’t give a newbie a bazooka and act surprised when they blow shit up.

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However, Melanie and the others, as well as Division Three, heard Syd using David’s powers. Melanie’s group thought they had found David, but it was actually Syd.  Sure enough, Syd soon returned to her own body when en route with Melanie’s team.

David confesses that he’d love to hug Syd or at least hold hands, but that’s uncomfortable for Syd.  The closer she gets to someone, there’s this feeling that she equates to being covered with ants or feeling little anxious needles under her skin.  It’s all she can do not to scream.  That sucks, but as David points out, they’re at least having a romance of the mind.  Sweet.

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We then cut to David receiving an MRI scan of his brain.  The doctor overseeing the process is Cary Loudermilk, played by Bill Irwin.  He instructs David not to move or sneeze because it could jumble the scan.  As Dr. Loudermilk rattles off a few words, David admits that he talks to himself, too.  That or the voices.  Cary wasn’t talking to himself, though.  He was talking to Kerry.  The other Kerry, mind you.

After noting that David has a large amygdala, Cary tells David to think of someone or something that he loves.  He begins the scan.

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We then cut back to Amy telling David that she thinks that a man- Bill, I’m guessing?- is going to propose to her.  David is happy, but Amy doesn’t know for sure.  She knows that David and girlfriend, Philly, gets him.  David doesn’t think so, but Amy asks why her brother why he can’t have what everyone else has: a nice home and a family.  David’s reason?  Because he’s sick.

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Still in the past, while David is transfixed on a dog, Lenny tries to give her stolen kitchen range to The Greek, played by, Eddie Jemison in exchange for drugs.  As they speak, their voices become more distorted.  The Greek has no need for a stove, even if it could be used to cook, heat a room or, hell, even kill himself.

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Soon enough, Lenny does manage to score some drugs that she inserts into a blue bong. David wonders why the drug is blue, but they’re always blue. Lenny asks David how Dr. Poole’s place is since they could probably slip in one day when he’s not home.  There’s great score potential, after all.  The two soon start inhaling fumes from the bong and they begin to go on a trip.

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Oh, but this is all part of memory work.  When time freezes, Dr. Bird asks David what he saw when he looked at Lenny, but David doesn’t see the point in that because he was high.  Melanie insists that David brushing his abilities off on schizophrenic delusions is part of an old narrative.  The things he sees are real.  Speaking of, let’s go through time again.

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Ptonomy takes us back to David’s session with Dr. Poole.  At one particular point, he notes a glitch- a time jump.  It’s important that David remember everything.  Even if he was focused on something else, the surrounding memory should be intact.  If David is still confused, Melanie and Ptonomy will help him find the truth.

The session resumes and Ptonomy spots a flash of David’s kitchen incident six years ago when he used his powers.  He tells David to concentrate on where he went.  So long as David makes his mind blank, Ptonomy can take them to that particular moment.

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So we return to David as a child.  David insists that he’s not doing this as the bedroom door suddenly shuts.  The room rumbles and shakes as the copy “The World’s Angriest Boy in the World” falls to the floor.

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Back in the present, Syd checks in on David, as Dr. Bird won’t tell her about David’s memory.  David asks Syd if they’re really safe at Summerland.  Right now, yes, but she knows that people are searching to experiment on them.  Syd promises that she’ll protect David.  Well, she thinks it, as David realizes, but Syd doesn’t think so.

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After a brief cut to the MRI scan as Dr. Loudermilk tries to figure out where David’s memories are stored, we return to David’s session with Dr. Poole, who asks when David started seeing another world out of the corner of his eye.  It began when David was 10 or 11, but the pills Dr. Poole prescribed should help with that.  Poole asks if David is supplementing- since he used the word ‘vapor’- but David denies it.

Then Poole asks what David remembers from the years when the visions started.  David rattles off a series of constellations and ends up talking about his father studying the stars. Some nights, David’s father would wake him up in the middle of the night and the two would drive out in the truck to look up at the sky.  Dad said the stars talk to everyone, including him, but David thought he meant it in a metaphorical sense.

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As for what the stars said, David says he’s not supposed to talk about that.  Besides, he’s soon drawn to the closet door opening by itself.  Dr. Poole, assuring David that he’s in a safe place, closes the door and says that it’s just a closet.  Nothing can hurt him.

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Back to the MRI scan, David apparently hears a woman’s voice, but it wasn’t Kerry. It was Amy’s.

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We see Amy visit the facility, where she learns that there are apparently no records of David Haller or Dr. Kissinger at this hospital.  Amy asks the clerk if she’s being coerced, but the woman instead proposes that Amy herself be admitted for observation.  She then asks if Amy ever saw a psychiatrist for paranoid delusions.

As Amy prepares to leave, she hears David’s voice.  David, in astral form, calls out to her, but he can’t reach her.  At the same time, The Eye enters the hospital.

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Back to the scan, Cary notes a spike in neural activity.  He leaves, but the scan continues anyway.  And then David spots the Devil with Yellow Eyes standing before him.

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Soon enough, David finds himself out of the chamber.  Why?  Because the chamber itself, as Dr. Bird and the others soon see, is right outside Summerland.

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David tells Dr. Bird that Amy is being held by Division Three, but Bird tells David that he can’t help her.  He soon packs up and tells Syd that he’s leaving, but not because of Syd herself.  He tells her about seeing his sister while in the MRI machine.  He can’t just leave his sister.  Syd insists that David stay long enough to learn to learn what they can do together.

That way, after the work, they can rescue her.  Plus, Syd knows that Amy won’t be killed by Division Three because she’s bait.  David relents.  He’ll stick around.

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The episode ends with The Eye bringing a fish tank of leeches with him into the dingy room where Amy is being held.  It’s time to begin.

We’re now at episode two of Legion and it’s not as off-the-wall as the pilot, but that’s just fine.  The effects are just as outstanding as before, but this one slows down a bit in order to take us on a voyage through David’s mind.

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As Dr. Bird says, he has to move past the message that’s been parroted to him for years. He’s not just some schizophrenic, but has special abilities that could prove beneficial both to himself and Dr. Bird’s team group at Summerland.  Things are changing as he learns not just about his powers, but whether he can accept what is real and what’s just in his memory.

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At least he has a great support network.  We don’t know all of Melanie Bird’s motivations, but I like how she’s helping David understand his powers and how he can tap into them, as well as see them more as a gift instead of curse.  It’s no accident that her mentoring is very similar to that of Charles Xavier aiding mutants come to terms with their powers.

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But is that all?  She just helps mutants learn to harness their abilities?  Because as Ptonomy mentioned, Bird believes that David is the key to winning the war and other things.  What other things?  If we’re talking about a war with humans who capture and experiment on them, then that makes sense.  But to what end?  And what other things does Ptonomy mean?

I doubt we’re talking about an all out war against humanity for experimenting on humans, though it would not be unwarranted.  It’s like Dr. Bird has all the teachings of Professor X, but maybe shares Magneto’s desire to battle against humans.  That could be a stretch since there’s no reason yet to think Bird believes in mutant supremacy, but I am curious to see the depths of her plans for David.

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As is, I liked both her and Ptonomy going into David’s mind to see what triggered his mutant abilities.  I like how fractured some of these trips felt.  Between the direction and writing, it feels like whenever the scene glitches or cuts in and out, it’s he’s still battling with his mind or that he can only remember things in fragments and pieces.

David feels like he’s always on the edge.  He can sort of keep things under control, but either when pressed or taken to a certain point in his life, he loses it, as seen when he watches his father read a bedtime story to his younger self.  This is as much a journey for him as it is for us as he still processes his true capabilities as a mutant.

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I like the slow, methodical approach the show is taking to filling out David’s backstory and not spelling it all out at once.  We see his drug escapades with Lenny before they were institutionalized, Dr. Poole discussing David’s condition, and David’s relationship troubles with his girlfriend, but these are just as important in telling us more about him as they are in revealing moments that led to his abilities manifesting.  Memory work is brutal.

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By the way, the combination of Ptonomy’s abilities and the group grabbing the rods while at the table felt very reminiscent of Cerebro.  And Ptonomy, from what I got here, is a very laid back mutant who has been through this many times.

Being able to remember every single thing from your life, even before your birth, though, is a scary thought, coupled with examining moments where a person’s powers manifest. Sounds like a stressful job, but he handles it with care and it’s nice that he, like Syd and Bird, isn’t trying to force David.  After all, as he said, he’s just the memory guy.  He can only help unlock one piece of the larger puzzle.

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For now, even though David is as conflicted as ever, he stays because Syd assures him that the training will help him unlock his true potential.  Not to mention it allows the two to bond more.  Their relationship is an odd one- well, they are an odd couple- but there’s such strong chemistry between Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller that I soak up any screen time they have together.  I loved that “romance of the mind” line.

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In addition, there’s still much more to learn about Syd and her abilities.  We learn that she was in a similar position to David when she arrived, but don’t know the full scope of her powers.  She has an intimate connection with David due to being in his body and accidentally killing Lenny when she lost control, but David accepts her nonetheless.

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And she’s even willing to go as far as holding hands, against her rule, if it meant David would stay.  Sure, some of that is out of concern for him not putting in the work yet, but part of that also has to be from how she cares about him.

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But at the moment, David doesn’t have a choice but to stay if he wants to improve so he can safe Amy without fail.  I do wonder what plans The Eye- and I’m guessing Division Three as a whole- have for her.  The fact that she went looking for David should prove she doesn’t know where he is, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be coerced or tortured.

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And on an unrelated note, we learn more about David’s father and his interest in astronomy.  I hope we see more of him later on, not just to learn about David’s upbringing, but to see if Legion will play with David’s connection to Charles Xavier.

Chapter 2 peels back the layers of David Haller’s mind as he tries to understand his abilities, what triggered them, and how he’ll be useful to Melanie Bird.  We see more of David’s powers and vulnerabilities, but with time, he’ll hopefully gain more control of his powers.

At the same time, we see his continued struggles, glimpses of the Devil with Yellow Eyes that continues to torment his mind, and on top of that, Amy is in the hands of The Eye. David better start training hard.

A Look at Legion- Series Premiere: “Chapter 1”

San Diego Comic-Con 2016 was a great time for fans.  The Walking Dead’s trailer for the seventh season promised something great that would hopefully make up for the Season Six cliffhanger ending.

Marvel Studios introduced The Defenders and officially confirmed the news we all knew- that Brie Larson had been cast as Carol Danvers.  And DC, in addition to showing a trailer for Wonder Woman, gave a surprise look at the upcoming Justice League film.

But never mind that.  My eyes were glued to Legion: an X-Men series coming to FX. And the reason for my focus on this all had to do with one man: Noah Hawley.  Mr. Hawley won me over with his two seasons of Fargo, so to hear that he would be writing an X-Men television show excited me more than anything from the DC Extended Universe, Marvel Cinematic Universe, or other world.

It helped that the X-Men themselves, as far as films go, were in an odd position.  Deadpool surpassed expectations, X-Men: Apocalypse made money, but wasn’t as well-received as Days of Future Past, though I enjoyed the film myself.  Aside from Deadpool sequels leading to X-Force and Josh Boone directing an upcoming New Mutants film, it didn’t seem that there was a lot on the horizon for the X-Men.

Then Legion came along and the trailer looked like something we hadn’t seen before from most comic book based shows or films with the possible exceptions of Preacher and Doctor Strange.  And FX itself has been on a roll lately with its programming, so the idea of Hawley bringing his writing abilities not just to another FX series, but an X-Men one at that, seemed pretty interesting.

Despite the back and forth on whether Legion would or wouldn’t address or be a part of the film universe, and even the odd notion that this show would be part of the MCU, I was still excited regardless of whether this show would acknowledging that David Haller is Charles Xavier’s son, as well as the rest of Haller’s connection to X-Men canon.  Hawley has shown that he is a good writer, so I was in no matter the continuity.

But I’ve gushed enough.  It’s time to sit down, put your brains to work, and jump into the mind of David Haller.  Let’s take a look at Legion.

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The series begins with, of all things, a young boy going through the phases of his life. This is David Haller, and let’s watch as he grows up, wrecks police cruisers with his mind, and is eventually given prescriptions to deal with the voices in his heads.  Oh, and he’s had a brush with suicide as well.  All to the sound of “Happy Jack” by The Who.

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We then end up at the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital as David, played by Dan Stevens, speaks with his sister, Amy, played by Katie Aselton, who has come to give him a birthday cupcake.  He can’t have it, though, so Amy tastes it herself.  David doesn’t even get a party or better drugs.  Some birthday, indeed.  To him, today is just the 260th Thursday on the Mental Health cruise ship..

Amy is certain that David is getting better at dealing with the voices and seeing things that aren’t there.  David wants to come home, but his doctor maintains that if David believes he’s seeing people that aren’t there, then he is, in fact, crazy.  Amy offers to talk with the doctors on David’s behalf, but that won’t be happening now.  As David is taken away for his meds, he tells his sister that something needs to happen soon.

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As David is wheeled into the hospital, all while having flashes and seeing what may or may not be there, he’s saddled next to Lenny Busker, played by Aubrey Plaza, and the two observe a drooling specimen.  Lenny is torn on whether the drool is spit or possibly yogurt.  Requires further research, I’m sure.

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The two then spot a woman heading into the main room to receive her meds.  This is Sydney Barrett, played by Rachel Keller…and you know what?  Let’s just stick with Syd. Anyway, Lenny admires Syd’s hair and ass, she finds her a tad jittery.  David rushes out of his wheelchair and over to Syd, but his attempt to give her a Twizzler ends with him getting far too close and bumping into her. She leaves in a rush.

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That evening, as David sleeps, he hears the voice of his doctor, who asks him how he feels.  David feels and is having visions of a devil with yellow eyes.  The thoughts become so intense that David’s bed, now in the air, comes crashing down.  This noise gets the attention of doctors who rush in and sedate David.

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The next day, David, Lenny, and other patients have a session with Dr. Kissinger, played by David Ferry, when Syd joins the session.  She’s not here to contribute, though- she’d prefer everyone continue talking so they can keep pretending their problems are just in their heads. However, she does say that David is probably here because someone told him that he wasn’t normal.  But hey, Einstein and Picasso weren’t normal either.

To Syd, maybe David’s so-called problems aren’t problems at all or even in his head.  She talks of magazine cartoons where a man is on an island with a single palm tree.  She thinks often of when people say go to your happy place.  In essence, maybe people are wrong when they call the likes of Syd crazy.  Maybe those things, the voices they hear- that’s what makes them who they are.

Because he must be bold, David asks Syd if she’ll be his girlfriend.  And like that, she agrees.  There’s one caveat: David can’t touch her.  According to Syd’s file, she doesn’t like to be touched, even though animals apparently need physical contact to feel love. Syd welcomes David to find her at dinner.

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At dinner, the two bond as Syd tells David all about her dislikes: for example, she doesn’t like orange or cherry-flavored things.  Oddly specific.  Later that evening, when the two are alone, Syd tells David that after the sun goes down and the light is right, if you un-focus your eyes, and then look back out, you see how the hospital disappears and it’s like watching yourself outside.  David implores Syd to hold still and look out the window.

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He closes his eyes and begins to focus as he hears a voice asking him about a girl who was taken.  David is certain that there was a hospital and that Syd is real woman, but according to The Interrogator, played by Hamish Linklater, tells David the hospital has no records of Syd ever being a patient and Kissinger probably won’t back David’s story anyway.

More than that, The Interrogator just wants to focus on David’s schizophrenia.  The Interrogator hypothesizes that David’s state of mind is due to his illness.

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We cut to Kissinger telling David that his job is to assess whether David is a threat to others or himself, given that he did try to commit suicide.  David then goes into his history: he was expelled from college and wasn’t thinking straight most of the time.  The anger and voices in his head drove him mad.

As for his suicide attempt, David tells Kissinger that the voices didn’t tell him to tie the knot and try to hang himself.  Hell, they tried to stop him.  Though David survived, police still found rope burns on his neck.  David feels better now, but he’s asked if he feels he can control things with his mind.

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The Interrogator asks David if he could control things, and this prompts David to ask if he’s being accused of Syd’s death.  He isn’t.  For now.  The Interrogator just wants the truth.

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The episode flashes back to David in his bed as he dreams of Syd, who soon joins him in his room.  She tells him to remain under the covers while she sleeps on top of the sheets with a divider between them.  Turns out Syd will be getting out soon since Kissinger has said she’s clear.  She wants David to get better so she can leave, too.  David goes in for a kiss, but Syd recoils.  Remember, no touching.

In the present, The Interrogator asks why David didn’t touch Syd.  Well, it was a mental hospital, so it might not have felt right.  When David is granted a break, The Interrogator leaves the room, walks through a drained swimming pool, and ends up in a gym where soldiers are arming themselves.

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The Interrogator speaks with a man who is observing the interrogation.  The Interrogator tells the man that David has had a spike in telepathic activity.  David may know that he’s crazy, but part of him knows that his power is real.  And if the readings are correct, David Haller may be the most powerful mutant ever encountered.  After what happened in Red Hook, that’s a bit of an understatement.

The problem is that David doesn’t fully understand or know how to control his power, so some, including the old man here, believe David should be killed before he realizes what he is.  The Interrogator at least wants to give David until the end of the day.  After all, there hasn’t been a study like him before.  But if things go south, David is to be moved to Level Two.

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David, meanwhile, asks if he can be left alone, but the man in the room with him just leaves him a dog figurine before leaving David in the room by himself.

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We flash back to David arguing with his girlfriend he continues to hear voices.  He manages to silence them, but not for long as the kitchen begins to rumble and, in seconds, everything goes haywire.  Drawers, cabinets, everything opens and kitchenware explodes and flies all around him.  David cowers in fear, but he soon spots a blob with yellow eyes staring at him.

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The Interrogator returns with some doctors in order to read David’s brain while they talk. He implores for calm, saying that he’s afraid for David since he’s off his meds and could be a danger to both himself and others around him.  David believes that the doctors are afraid of him, but he does agree to have the electrodes placed on his head.  He then begins to tell The Interrogator about a certain incident.

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We flash back to Syd about to leave the facility.  Dr. Kissinger tells her that she can leave David a note.  As he escorts her out, they’re interrupted by Lenny, who needs a minute to talk with Syd about lady stuff.  This lady stuff up being about a new candy bar that Lenny would love Syd to but and mail to her.

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Then David rushes in just as Syd tells him that she was looking for him.  Against Syd’s request, he goes in for the kiss.  In a flash, after David sees a field of televisions, the world goes topsy-turvy and the two are knocked backwards.

The facility is put on mandatory lockdown.  Doctors restrain David while Kissinger whisks Syd away.  As the doctors try to restrain David, a red hue overtakes the room as everything goes dark.  David soon sees the blob creature again.

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At the same time, Kissinger leaves Syd alone in a small infirmary.  With new curiosity, Syd observes her hands, heads to the mirror, and…starts cradling her breasts.

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This is where The Interrogator cuts off David, who insists that he ended up switching bodies with Syd due to her powers, which would explain why she doesn’t like being touched.  Ah, okay.  Objects in the interrogation room begin to rattle as a frustrated David tells The Interrogator to leave, but The Interrogator wants David to continue.

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So back in the past, Kissinger joins Syd, unaware that it’s actually David.  Syd, meanwhile, in David’s body, is freaking out.  Kissinger and Syd soon head down a hallway that is now bereft of doors, but not room numbers.  The two continue to hear screams from within the walls, but they soon find the dead body of Lenny sticking halfway out of the wall.  Back in the present, The Interrogator asks David if Syd has any extra-sensory powers.

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Kissinger takes Syd outside, though she insists that Syd herself is still in the facility.  As the two leave, they spot several people, The Interrogator apparently among them, exiting a limousine.

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David confronts The Interrogator on whether he was one of the people who exited the limousine.  The Interrogator denies this and and demands that David tell him about the people in the limousine, but David begins to lose control again.  How much?  Well, he sends The Interrogator’s pen into the man’s cheek.

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David rises and turns the interrogation cell upside down as everything and everyone within goes haywire.  David seems satisfied with what he’s done, but then he gets the gas.

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The story continues as we hear the voice of David’s mother.  David, still as Syd, eventually regains control of his own body.  He heads off with Syd’s suitcase.

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He ends up at Amy’s place and tells her that he’s been released, so now he needs a place to stay for awhile.  Amy is surprised, but agrees.  She runs it past her husband, Ben, played by Matt Hamilton, who is also fine with this new arrangement.

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After feasting on some waffles- Eleven would be proud of him- David is taken to a setup downstairs in the basement.  Amy instructs him not to answer the phone.  As David gets himself settled, he gets a visit from Lenny’s ghost.  She insists that she’s not upset about David killing her.

And it’s not Syd’s fault because she was just a passenger in David’s body.  Lenny isn’t too bothered about her death.  She would’ve just kept popping pills.  Besides, David has enough problems on his hands because people who know about the hospital incident are coming for him.  In addition, because of what Syd did while she was in David’s body, David himself is in deep shit.

The shit is so deep that it causes David to destroy the basement lamp.  This gets Amy’s attention and she heads downstairs to discover what David has done.  And in a moment I can’t help but love, she removes all of the gardening tools.

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Then, David, Syd, and the rest of the inmates take part in a dance number.

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Okay.  Syd implores David to wake up and he does as we return to the present and find David in a now filled pool surrounded by The Interrogator and some guards.  If David pulls any funny stuff, he’ll get 100,000 volts.  David laughs, calling this a delusion.  The Interrogator tells David that Syd was taken under the assumption that she was David.

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David insists that he did go looking for Syd.  To prove that, the episode then flashes back to David using a pay phone and calling the hospital to learn about Syd, as he’s pretending to be her father.  However, the hospital has no records of Syd.  David then notices two people- two of the same that exited the limo- following him.

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He manages to give them the slip, but then he spots Syd’s face on someone else’s head- some real Voldemort shit here- and soon Syd herself appears and tells him not to stop. Thing is Syd’s not really here.  This is just the memory of the day David called the hospital and Syd has been projected into his memory, where his pursuers can’t track him.  The agents speaking to him aren’t cops, either.

As for the current pool situation, Syd tells David to slide out of his chair get in the water, and wait until he sees her.  Before David can do anything else, he’s hauled into a van.

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Back in the present, The Interrogator asks David about the two people who chased him. David realizes that the third person who exited the limo wasn’t The Interrogator, but a woman.  When asked about where Syd is, David tells The Interrogator that he’s about to find out.  With that, David slides into the water.  This prompts the guards to open fire and there’s soon an explosion.  Charred skeletons land in the pool.

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When David emerges, he finds Syd waiting for him, along with the two people who pursued him: Ptonomy Wallace, played by Jeremie Harris, and Kerry Loudermilk, played by Amber Midthunder.  Syd, wearing gloves, reminds David not to touch her skin.

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The four exit through a hole in the wall and enter a war zone as they duck and dodge gunfire.  As the group reaches the bottom of the hill, David implores Syd to stop and asks if any of this is real.  What if they’re just back at the hospital and none of this happened? Syd insists that she and everything happening around David is real.  She even came back for David because she loves him.

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And it’s here that Syd introduces David to the other woman who exited the limousine: Melanie Bird, played by Jean Smart.  Melanie beckons David to take her hand, and as David spots the yellow-eyed blog yet again, he takes Melanie’s hand as the episode comes to a close.

Wow.  This is a fantastic start for Legion and while I was left scratching my head many times, knowing this will require a second, maybe even third watch, this was a great pilot.

I’ll come out and admit that aside from knowing that David Haller is Charles Xavier’s son, more on that connection in a bit, I know next to nothing about this creation from the minds of Bill Sienkiewicz and Chris Claremont.  And to be honest, that doesn’t seem to matter.

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As products like Batman BeginsThe Dark Knight, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, just to name a few, have shown, some of the most memorable superhero or comic book based properties can come from those that don’t even feel like they’re based on comic books.

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Hell, even on the Netflix side of things, Daredevil often feels like a crime drama and Jessica Jones is a noir.  The main characters just happened to be based on prior source material.

So despite the word ‘mutant’ being name-dropped once and only once, despite David’s abilities, I get the sense that Legion wasn’t made exclusively for X-Men fans.  It’s made for those who like drama, science fiction, and people who enjoy a look at the psychological.

And I’ll admit my bias towards the man based on his prior work, but Noah Hawley is a great pick for this.  Fargo alone is proof that Hawley is a great writer, can deal with an ensemble cast, give them complex material, and make a compelling piece of television. With him on board, he’s given us a very unique comic book based property that doesn’t feel like any other adaptation right now.

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We have certain expectations of superhero and comic based properties nowadays.  The street-level MCU programs we get on Netflix are a departure from what we get on network television like Agents of SHIELDGotham, or any of the many Greg Berlanti-created programs.  While those programs are good in their own ways, they often tend to follow set patterns and conventions.

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Legion, though, isn’t interested in conventions.  Rather, it breaks them.  Hell, the show killed Aubrey Plaza in the pilot.  Now I know she’ll appear again, but it’s still a bold move. The show is non-linear, not everything gets explained right away, if at all, our protagonist doesn’t see himself as a hero and isn’t even sure what’s real, and the approach in storytelling, whether in its script or visuals, set it apart from the other comic properties.

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What’s more, it helps that this show isn’t tied to any continuity.  While SHIELD likes to play up the ‘It’s all connected’ game and act like it’s still relevant within the MCU, Legion, despite the conflicting reports we received, is not interested in the continuity established by the X-Men films.

Could the show eventually tie into the films?  Yeah, I suppose, but right now, there’s no need.  And not being bound by any pre-established plot allows Legion to stand on its own and tell a unique story.

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And that great storytelling is complimented by equally impressive visuals and cinematography.  Hawley’s direction puts you right into David’s mind as we see his view of the world, what happens when his powers manifest, when he loses control, and how he processes everything around him.  It all gave me a similar experience to when I saw Doctor Strange at the cinema.

It’s a well-done psychological drama and it pays respect to some recent greats that we’ve gotten in the past few years.  Spending so much time on a main character’s mental state gave me huge Mr. Robot vibes, though unlike Elliot, David’s powers are quite real. Whether everything around him is all real is another question.

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And an unstable mental patient unsure how to control their abilities, but they have a huge love of waffles?

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Not sure if this show was filmed or written at the same time as Stranger Things, but I think David and Eleven would make great friends.

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Legion is X-Men meets Mr. Robot meets Stranger Things and it’s a great blend of what makes those three properties great, in addition to having some great humor to boot, such as Amy taking away the sharp tools so David doesn’t cause more harm to himself or the basement.

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I’m a big fan of non-linear storytelling when done well and Legion excels in that. The trips to David’s youth or journeys through his mind aren’t just there to fill in the blanks or give us extra story, but also show his mental state, as he’s unable to maintain control of his powers.  More than that, while these flashbacks and glimpses show us David’s upbringing, his scattered mind makes it hard to determine what’s real.

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David accepts that he has clear problems, but are these really issues just because he’s been told that?  Legion asks who gets to determine what’s normal.  Syd, for example, believes those nuances make us who we are.  Geniuses and prodigies are often called oddities or any number of words that make them seem outside the range of normal, as if being outside what society expects makes you a pariah.

These are the sorts of the things that mutants often deal with in the X-Men series, but Legion isn’t pulling an X-Men: First Class here and making statements like “Mutant and proud.”  Hawley is a much smarter writer than that and this show, from what I can tell, is less concerned with the mutant agenda and more with unpacking David’s mind, challenging as that is.

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It’s almost like we’re experiencing David’s journey along with him, as the trips, flashbacks, and distortions don’t just mess with your mind, but give visual examples to his schizophrenia.  He’s in an endless battle with his mind, and, as Kissinger says, could be a threat to others as well as himself.

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The casting was on the mark for this character.  I love the many facial expressions of Dan Stevens, as if he’s always contemplating if what he sees and hears are real or just in his head.  And if they’re real, is this a sign of his powers manifesting or is he imagining everything?  He’s already uncertain of what he sees, as he mistakenly saw The Interrogator exiting the limo instead of Melanie Bird, so who knows if he’s to be trusted.

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His relationship with Syd is an interesting one.  As evidenced by the kiss and her unwillingness to be touched, Syd has great powers just as David does.  Is she just as much a threat to others as David is, or has she accepted her abilities in the same way that she’s fine being seen as abnormal?  It looks to be fate that she and David are linked, but I’m curious to see how this odd relationship develops.

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And another good casting.  I already loved Rachel Keller based on her work on Fargo’s second season, but she’s excellent here as well.  And while the name Syd Barrett is an obvious nod to Pink Floyd, I don’t believe Keller’s character here is based off of any mutant in X-Men mythology.  But Syd is so serious about not being touched. Someone at Fox needs to have needs to have Keller play Rogue at some point.

Hell, Fox as a whole needs to take a few pointers, and this is where I’ll go on a mini X-Men rant.  Look, I liked Apocalypse, but not as much as Days of Future Past.  And with Fox set to do another run at Dark Phoenix, you need not just a great director, but also a writer who can get into a character’s head and explore their psyche.  If Legion is any indication, it’s that Hawley has what it takes to add complexity to Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey.

Even though there’s nothing concrete about the next main series X-Men film, aside from this rumored title of X-Men: Supernova, if the people at Fox, whether that’s Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, or whomever is steering the X-Men film ship, aren’t looking at Noah Hawley writing prowess and the fresh take he could bring to the X-Men, then they aren’t doing their job.

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I said this on Twitter, but could you imagine taking this visual flair and storytelling about controlling your powers and applying it to Jean Grey’s struggle to combat the Phoenix? The writing is on the wall and should Legion prove to be a success, Fox should consider having Hawley help writing the X-Men films.  Between LegionFargo, and his other projects, Hawley is a busy man, I’m sure, but Fox should consider it.

With all that said, Legion hits the ground running and doesn’t fall back on traditions when it comes to a comic-based property.  And with so many questions, I can’t wait to see where this all heads.  Will David be able to control his powers?  How, if at all, will Melanie Bird be able to help him?  Will the government still pursue David?

Free to work outside of the X-Men universe, Noah Hawley has set to tell his own story and he’s given us a complex look at the inner workings of David Haller’s mind.

In a time where we hear ‘superhero fatigue’ tossed around, for whatever reason, this show does well to set itself apart from what you’d expect from a comic book adaptation.  It’s stylish, unconventional, thought-provoking, and is a fresh take on the X-Men property. Legion is off to a great start and I’m all in for the journey.

A Look at Parks and Recreation- Season 6, Episode 6: “Filibuster”

“I am not a sore loser.  It’s just that I prefer to win and when I don’t, I get furious.”

More wise words from Ron Swanson.

After a brief hiatus, Parks and Recreation returns to television with Leslie Knope making a grand stand, as well as some fun at a roller rink with the rest of the cast.

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The episode begins with April waiting for Andy to pick up for their Skype call, but before much can happen, she hears the sound of Andy’s guitar.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Andy has returned to Pawnee.  Oh, and he delivers a swift kick to April’s computer, saying she won’t need that anymore.  Guess not.

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At a Pawnee City Council meeting, Councilman Jamm has proposed a bill that would allow anyone in Pawnee to vote in any election- such as the upcoming recall- so long as they have an official Pawnee address.  Leslie sees this as a clear attempt to disenfranchise all of the new Eagleton residents who have been merged into Pawnee, but when the matter is tabled, she sets her sight on the main event of the night: Ben’s early 90s roller skating birthday party.  Why?  Because Ben has a thing for women in roller skates.

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We then cut to said party where Tom, dressed as Kris Kross, and Nadia, bond for awhile before Tom is reminded that Nadia will be going away to Rwanda to work with Doctors Without Borders.  Rwanda, a place that Tom knows is full of rich guys that will want to buy her stuff.  So Nadia suggests that Tom win her a giant stuffed bear as a going away present.  The same bear that Ann later purchased for $50 after realizing it’s similar to a bear she used to have when she would practice making out.

Donna, meanwhile, entertains herself through playing Big Buck HD.  Ron walks by and tries his luck, only for him to suck at it.  Maybe the gun was too light, maybe he’s too close to the deer and maybe there’s no sight.  Regardless, real life does not equate to actual hunting.

Back at the council bounding, Chris alerts Leslie and Ben to an emergency meeting that Jamm has called in order to pass his bill.  However, Leslie will not stand for that.  Well yes, she will, and she refuses to yield the floor so she may speak as much time as she may consume.  Which is until 11 p.m.  On roller skates.  For Ben, it’s very sexy.

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For Leslie, though, it’s a battle of wills and challenges, as she cannot leave the floor, sit down or get outside help from the crowd.  Three strikes and she’s out.  One strike she blows when she sits down to remove her roller skates.  No matter, she regales the crowd with stories of her very first vote, or what Pawnee’s first mayor said about voting- and killing Indians.

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Andy and April catch up, though Andy does not dish many details on his time in London.  When it’s time for him to go, he gets cold feet and jumps into a dumpster, leading him and April to sit down and discuss the real problem: he’s afraid.  He doesn’t want to return because the job is both scary and confusing to him.  But April, in one of the show’s very tender moments, tells Andy that no one knows what they’re doing.  People are just faking it at their jobs until they figure it out and Andy will, too.

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Leslie’s filibuster gains some traction when the folks of Eagleton come in to support her.  However, it turns out while they like Leslie’s efforts, they plan to have someone from Eagleton run for Council so their views are represented.  Leslie does ultimately triumph when 11 p.m. arrives and she has not blown her last strike.  However, her celebration includes a quick run to the ladies’ room.

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Meanwhile, Ron gives Donna a taste of actual hunting, telling her that there’s no substitute for the real thing.  However, from the contemplative look on Ron’s face, it’s clear that he still wants to go back and play the game.  He does and ends up placing in the top 10.

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Leslie and Ben plan to go home and celebrate Ben’s birthday another way since the party has long ended, but Ingrid de Forest arrives to let them both know that she’s been selected as Eagleton’s candidate to run against her.

“Filibuster” is a fun return for the series.  I hesitate to say whether I’m a fan of the main storyline because, while important, I found that the other moments involving the characters at the roller rink were more interesting.

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From the beginning of the filibuster, we knew how this would play out.  Wendy Davis’ filibuster is still fresh in people’s mind and while I’m perfectly fine with “Parks and Recreation” taking real life political events and integrating them into the show, my issue is that we’ve already seen this scenario play out this year in April when Patton Oswalt made a guest appearance in “Article Two.”  So while I understand the writers wanting to use Davis’ filibuster as the influence for this episode, I couldn’t help but feel we were treading through familiar territory.  Though, in hindsight, it’s interesting to think about how Patton Oswalt’s filibuster was about Star Wars, and when Ted Cruz had his quasi-filibuster, he said “Mike Lee, I am your father.”  But I digress.

The filibuster does go to show Leslie’s commitment not just to her position, but to the citizens of Pawnee, even when it turns out that she doesn’t have their votes.  To her, it’s a matter of principle and every citizen should have the right to vote.  Like the real life arguments on voter identification and gun control, the arguments here never make a lot of sense on either side.

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Jamm trying to trip Leslie up had its moments: for example, do other City Councils have gongs at their meeting?  If not, they should.  And it was funny seeing him tempt Leslie with a frozen margarita.  He’s a despicable character, yes, but he’s so fun to watch.

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Andy and April’s subplot was as charming as we’ve seen.  Her smile and exuberance upon seeing Andy stroll back into Pawnee was a sign that these two do make a great couple.  Their dynamic is warm and you can tell that they’re glad to be back together.  We’ve seen glimpses of Andy’s potential before when Ben wanted to bring him on board to help with his charity.  Before, Andy has been someone who wanted the simple life of making music and being with April.  Now that he’s moving onto something bigger and better, he is, naturally, scared, but April is more down to earth and is able to talk him out of his fears.  Also, I couldn’t help but smile at the idea of April making Andy baloney sandwiches by using cookies as bread.  Andy’s return, brief as it was, felt welcome and I look forward to seeing what he’s up to in London.

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Equally fun to watch this week were Ron and Donna, especially now that Ron appears to be less wound up about privacy.  Donna’s level-headedness about video games versus Ron’s real life approach to, well, everything, would make it seem like these two would clash, yet they share some laughs when Ron takes Donna out for real life hunting.  Also, maybe I’ve watched too much television, but did anyone see it coming that Ron would type “ASS” in as his initials when he refused to type his own?

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Tom seems to click more with Nadia than any of his previous girlfriends and I like his efforts to prove his worth to her, even if that does end up involving the two of them taking Ann’s bear and returning eight out of her fifty dollars.  From the conversation Nadia has with Ann, it’s clear that she does care for him and Tom does show a softer side.  Also, apparently there are a lot of professional Indian skee-ball players out there.  Who knew?

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Ben and Chris are mostly here for moral support, though I did get a kick out of Chris trying to revoke his hug from an Eagleton resident after they learn that they don’t intend to vote for Leslie.  Also, Ben’s thing for women on roller skates was a nice insight into someone who’s mostly been the straight man.  It was an odd, quirky detail that made me like him as a character a little more, strange as that sounds.

Overall, “Filibuster” was a solid episode and return for the series.  While the main plot was a bit familiar, both it and the roller rink subplots provided some good laughs and left us on a cliffhanger.  It’s great to have the show back and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.