Legion

Posted in Audio by - September 29, 2018
Legion

Released September 2012

With the harrowing search for her son finally complete as she arrives on the isolated and dangerous world of Legion, Bernice finds her welcome anything but what she anticipated as Peter, Ruth, Braxiatel, Jack, and she all converge to continue her evermore complex narrative in Legion.

Tony Lee opens Legion with ‘Vesuvius Falling’ as Bernice struggles to cope with Peter wanting nothing to do with her and Braxiatel hardly the man she has known for so long. True to form, Braxiatel is less than forthcoming with information about just how he came to be on Legion which inherently draws Bernice’s suspicions, but the fact that this Braxiatel is seemingly a younger version with no knowledge of anything that Bernice is holding over his head in her past and his future is a wise move to allow this fascinating character back into Bernice’s life without the bevy of continuity he carries directly influencing events. At the same time, Peter has carved out a life for himself as the Security Chief on Legion, and the burning resentment he holds for his mother who seemingly abandoned him so long ago quickly forms a fascinating arc for this character to explore now that Bernice is back and attempting to make amends with all of her heart. The young and naïve boy that Bernice knew is gone, replaced by a hardened bully who has nonetheless developed a romantic relationship but who is also willing to sacrifice both himself and his mother to save the people he has sworn to protect, and Thomas Grant plays this harder version of Peter exceedingly well in his first go.

The world of Legion has a lot to live up given the ominous foreboding offered in the previous box set, and highlighting it as a world where only those who are completely fed up with life go and where survival from the deadly solar winds is only possible under a single protective dome is a visually effective introduction. As a dead ship that has floated in space for millennia approaches Legion, this new team must determine if this ship is safe to detonate in space or if so doing would shatter the dome and doom everyone on the surface below. Stumbling upon a corpse that appears to have been murdered, the mystery of what occurred on board quickly takes precedence, and the complex relationships among Rickard, Mortand, and the deceased Shyra provide a strong narrative backbone filled with conflicting accounts that demands the audience’s attention throughout as the truths of corporate espionage, inadvertent time travel, and DNA alteration are slowly revealed. Bernice again proves how observant and intelligent she is as she pieces together the disparate threads before her, and the subtle incorporation of details into the story to allow the surprise twist to make perfect sense make ‘Vesuvius Falling’ a suitably strong opening installment that only hints at the further awaiting danger.

Bernice and her friends find themselves at the mercy of an ancient and ruthless entity in the depths of Triptic House where a powerful artefact long since forgotten was once hidden in ‘Shades of Gray’ by Scott Handcock. The charismatic Alexander Vlahos would, of course, go on to lead his own Big Finish series centred around Dorian Gray that had its first release in October 2012, and so this story serves as an introduction to this incarnation of that famed character as well as a proof of concept that he is more than able to sustain mystery and intrigue as his painting is found gathering dust in the dilapidated remains of this home with brushstrokes that look completely fresh. This is a man who has seen and done everything he could ever imagine in his inordinately long life, and having grown bored over the many years he now simply looks for anything that can provide a source of interest or amusement. The blood painting that somehow absorbs any semblance of guilt and remorse also provides the secret of his immortality that so many would kill for to know, and the three memories in very distinct time periods show just how much the eons have weighed upon his soul quite well in a very short span of time.

Alongside the immense performance from Vlahos, Lisa Bowerman, Ayesha Antoine, and David Ames excel with roles tonally distinct from their usual ones as they each relive the lives of those in Dorian’s memories. Also aided by a surprisingly dark turn from Richard Franklin, the moments of Dorian killing his beloved, of a psychotic patient, of an aristocratic long con, and more all come to life with palpable emotion. That Dorian is the one who paid Benny to find his portrait is a fitting twist to tie everything together, but it’s the visceral imagery and haunting ideas that have the most lasting impact from this story. A tapestry that literally captures the souls of those who touch it and leaves them without the ability to interact with the world is chilling by itself, but while also accompanying a presence that lives in dreams and nightmares and Ruth living the life of an imaginary friend, it helps to create a steady foundation of uneasy horror and fear throughout. ‘Shades of Gray’ does rely on a few too many horror clichés and does end a bit abruptly given the work leading up to the climax, but the heart and psychological horror in place make this a standout standalone release and easily proves why Vlahos would so quickly be granted his own series.

Concluding Legion is ‘Everybody Loves Irving’ by Miles Richardson. Bernice and Braxiatel have rarely- if ever- seen completely eye to eye, but his attempts to make amends for actions he insists he has no knowledge of by taking her shopping of all things takes her completely by surprise. Yet Braxiatel’s reputation precedes him wherever they go and with whomever they associate, and Richardson clearly revels in the opportunity to showcase his beloved and enigmatic character so prominently in Bernice’s life once again as the ghosts of the Braxiatel of old continue to manifest. Given how irrevocably the relationship between these two devolved over the years, presenting a new version of Braxiatel as a clean slate to stand alongside Bernice who will forever remember the atrocities he committed is a bold and intelligent choice for the series to run with, and the prospect of this version looking to uncover the master plan behind there being so many versions of him about is a promising hint at what could be in this franchise’s future. Of course, it is all possible that this is Bernice’s Braxiatel playing to Bernice’s good graces with a complicated deceit that only he could manage, but his seeming earnestness when he proclaims that he dislikes that other version of Braxiatel more and more as their adventure continues is nonetheless a telling sentiment that makes him all the more relatable to his new companion even if he refuses to open up about his home or how he makes his living given the state and clientele of his bar on Legion.

Unfortunately, much of ‘Everybody Loves Irving’ is played for laughs more than for drama, itself not a crime but nonetheless a significant disappointment given that Legion was billed as being one of the most dangerous places in the universe and since this set as a whole has not really touched upon that in any detail. This is perhaps most noticeable when a tremendous sense of tension and danger is built up surrounding the arrival of two unknown visitors to Braxiatel’s new base who end up being intergalactic plumbers who then again seemingly turn menacing when Bernice does not have a means of payment but then say that they just wanted to offer her a cash discount. With vertically challenged salesmen, an uncertain computer, gangster businessmen, and more, the purposefully overexaggerated comedy and delivery leaves little to offer in the way of drama and thus makes for an odd conclusion point for this series. There are so many fascinating plot threads that have not yet been explored such as the dynamic between Bernice and Peter, the true identities of Jack and Ruth, and Peter’s past in the slave pits that even the immense chemistry between Bowerman and Richardson cannot overcome a somewhat vacuous feeling overall.

There is undoubtedly plenty to enjoy in Legion, but the set as a whole fails to live up to the anticipation that the preceding sets had created for this world and the reunion between Bernice and her son. With too many important storylines left unexplored after only tantalizingly being hinted at and a finale that is devoid of any meaningful weight despite some strong comic moments, the result is three stories that are important within the confines of their own running time but that remain fairly inconsequential to the overall arc that has been building for so long.

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