Watching the FX Marvel adaptation series Legion is like wandering through a labyrinth, where new information waits around every corner. In the Mar. 1 episode, "Chapter 4," the audience learned the particulars about the unique, symbiotic relationship shared by Cary and Kerry Loudermilk (Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder). It was a big episode for the Loudermilks, possibly in a tragic way. But the reveal of the pseudo-siblings' abilities adds to the psychedelic, post-superhero feel of the show. Super strength and super speed are so passé. Cary and Kerry's powers on Legion are among the most mind-blowing of those possessed by Summerland's residents.
I wonder if the Loudermilks even consider their situation to be a "power." It's simply the way they live — the way they've always lived, even before they knew it. Up until "Chapter 4," viewers knew Cary primarily as the scientist who's running tests on David Haller's extraordinary brain. But in last Wednesday's episode, he told his own origin story and that of his companion Kerry. Cary was born to a native couple; the lack of symmetry there broke up their relationship. But at age eight, this "skinny white boy" figured out that the native girl in the periphery of his sight was actually living inside his body. Kerry can leave Cary's body to do battle when she needs to. She's the brawn of the operation, and since she only ages when she's on the outside, she's quite a bit younger than her host. Kerry appears to be taken out at the end of that episode, and it's evident that this relationship includes shared pain. Cary clearly feels each blow.
In an interview with ScreenerTV, Midthunder talked about how this literally ride-or-die partnership fits into the broader thesis of Legion. "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," the actor said. "They have something they need to face, on their own. With my Kerry and with his Cary, it’s kind of that relationship." And what they face alone may be separation anxiety. Asserting independence can be frightening; imagine how scary it would be if you were actually one with another person.
According to Irwin, the Loudermilks' circumstances are a part of the show's attempt to deconstruct the superhero genre. A difference can be a "power" or a failing; it depends on how it's viewed and how it's used. David saw his sometimes-destructive abilities as a mental illness. Now, Cary and Kerry embody another kind of ability, which has to do with sharing resources and living entirely for someone else. Irwin told The Hollywood Reporter:
"Human beings have always hankered after power. It's one of the reasons why these stories are so powerful to us. We want to be able to fly. We want to be able to sear somebody with lightning from across the room. Those are primal desires, to shoot somebody with energy. But Noah [Hawley, showrunner] has found all of these other explorations of the word 'power.' The power to plum your own memory, to return to your childhood, and they are all mythic in their own way. The power to sustain another body inside you."
I'm hopeful that the Loudermilks will survive the events of "Chapter Four," so their strange and wonderful relationship can be further explored.