“Good evening. We are here tonight to talk about violence — or maybe, human nature.”
It’s these words that open up Wednesday’s (March 2) episode of “Legion” — which not only explored the power of duality in Syd’s (Rachel Keller) body-swapping abilities, but also the odd relationship between Cary (Bill Irwin) and Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder).
Their bizarre bond exists on both a physical and metaphysical level, opening up the story’s perspective on the possibilities of connective consciousness that has grave implications for the show itself. “Chapter 4’s” theme contrasted “empathy” and “fear” throughout, and while it’s safe to say these two polarizing emotional reactions are represented in Syd and The Eye’s (Mackenzie Gray) confrontation — and subsequent body swap — it’s the mental partnership playing out through Kerry’s battle at the lighthouse, and Cary’s work bringing David back from the astral plane he’s projected for himself, that left us feeling truly enlightened.
While David (Dan Stevens) did eventually return to the real world — teasing the real nature of that yellow-eyed boogeyman — the human/mutant war was also explored in further detail. And as Kerry finally leaped into action, taking down soldier after soldier with her epic fight skills, we were given a greater understanding of the relationship between Cary and Kerry… And leaving us asking Melanie Bird’s (Jean Smart) burning question: If one-half dies, will the other die too?
To give us some insight into their complicated on-screen relationship, Screener had a chance to sit down and speak with Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder about their roles on “Legion.” Below are the most insightful highlights from that conversation:
The birth of Cary Loudermilk was an unexpected surprise
Bill Irwin: The way we relate it to each other, is: Irma Whitecloud was going to get married — she and Ray were going to start a family. She finds that she’s pregnant and they’re thrilled they’re going to have a child. Then, out from this Native American family comes this skinny scrawny white boy. Ray decides this is the sign of nothing good, so he leaves — and Irma Whitecloud is left to raise Cary.
Then one day, he notices this beautiful young native girl, who’s his same age, in the periphery of his vision. He thinks he’s imagined her — then realizes, no, she is real. She lives inside of him, inhabiting his body!
Teamwork makes the dream work
Bill Irwin: They separate sometimes to get work done, but she eventually returns inside of him. She only ages when she’s outside of Cary’s body — so there’s about 40 years difference in age.
Amber Midthunder: The Cary/Kerry relationship is really interesting because they’re a team and they’re very close — but I think the larger theme of our show is that everyone — every character on it — has something to learn. They have something they need to face, on their own. With my Kerry and with his Cary, it’s kind of that relationship.
The mysterious mortality to their mutant connection
Bill Irwin: Now, Cary the elder has to figure out: What’s going to happen when the end of my life comes? There’s a wonderful scene where I am talking to Melanie Bird and I am asking, What will happen when I die? This is like one-tenth of the story thread that makes the rope that Noah Hawley puts together.
There are big cultural and psychological implications at play here
Bill Irwin: This view of mental illness is really central to the story: Are the people who have really been shunted aside, are they different? Are they gifted? Do they have power or should they be warehoused? I grew up in the Cold War era, and it’s one of the ways we differentiated our society from the Soviet Union, our global rivals. When people were troublesome then, they just called them crazy. But it always raises the question: Why are some people always set aside? That’s a really important thread in these stories.
Amber Midthunder: Yeah, it’s always something I thought was very cool, especially with the “X-Men.” Because, you know, they’re very relatable. I think that’s something really cool about our show: You see superheroes struggle, and it’s not something you often see. I feel like that’s a very “X-Men” sort of thing: They’re based on being outsiders and being ostracized by their peers. Being called a superhero is really cool — but being called a mutant is very isolating. That was what always interested me about the “X-Men” characters: They’re very troubled, they’re very deep, they’re very interesting and they’re very relatable.
Chapter 4 is the halfway point of the season, and as we’ve seen, each relationship here has been forever altered, by both empathy and fear. We’re uncertain whether Kerry Loudermilk even survived the fight — but the impact on Cary, and the rest of her team, will surely echo for episodes to come.
“Legion” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.