Legion season 3 premiere recap: Chapter 20

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LEGION — “Chapter 20” – Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Mon, June 24, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: Lauren Tsai as Switch. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

Our favorite destroyer of worlds is trying to outrun a death squad. All he needs is love, friends and a time traveler. Legion is back! We’ve got the recap.

Besides some brief messages overheard on a radio, we don’t see any regular cast member of Legion for the first 15 minutes of “Chapter 20.” The episode was written by Nathaniel Halpern (Outcast) and show creator Noah Hawley (Fargo). I imagine the physical shooting script was as much of a trippy kaleidoscope as the finished product was. It’s beautifully directed by Andrew Stanton (Better Call Saul).

That’s been a hallmark of Legion throughout its first twenty episodes. The stories are complex long cons that rely heavily on visuals and actor performances. I know. That’s almost every successful show. But Legion feels like a true group effort grounded in trust. The actors and audience alike will be taken through the story in the order that makes the most sense, creates the most suspense, and evokes the most emotion. It’s rarely linear. It doesn’t conform to its own rules. And, it’s never boring.

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We spend the first 15 minutes of “Chapter 20” getting to know Jia-Yi (Lauren Tsai). She’s your average teenager. Lives at home. Does well in school. Wear a lot of vibrant, yet pale, neon. Oh. And she’s a time traveler. The episode wastes no time getting that out in the open. Jia-Yi pops on her pink headphones and starts listening to chapter 13 of a guide to time traveling. We hear everything she hears, including the muted/in-cranial crunch of her cereal.

The guidelines are very Legion mixed with a bit of Avengers: Endgame. When time traveling, all past is future. Never be sentimental about the past. Never have anxiety about the future. The present is more like a feeling. That reminded me of Master Yoda in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back when he tells padawan Luke Skywalker, “Always in motion, the future is.”

Of course, this means that the present is pliable. It’s constantly changing and, therefore, can be changed. So many possibilities. When asked by her uncle via television about her studies, Jia-Yi responds that she’s perfect in all subjects as always. That was an interesting choice of words. Does Jia-Yi relive classes in order to do well. She doesn’t seem like a cheater, but she does fill her meticulously assembled math notes with doodles of images we’ve seen before, like Vermillion.

Jia-Yi could be bored. Or we could be watching the end of the season in its premiere. As she walks around the city, there are obscure ads for a time traveler posted randomly. But she always finds them. While reading one, she hears a blue flower scream. It’s the same blue flower we later learn is used as a form of opium used to string people out and keep them in line.