SDCC: We Risked Our Sanity In Legion's Virtual Reality Experience


With surreal visual and a twisted tale of mutants and mental illness, the hit FX series Legion; has proved mind-bending in the best ways. To celebrate the show's success and its colorful cast coming to Comic-Con International in San Diego, FX created Sessions: The Legion Mixed Reality Experience, a special interactive activity that blends virtual reality and some unnerving real-life effects  to put fans in the shoes and shattered sanity of its schizophrenic hero, David Haller.

We sent our very own Kristy Puchko to give it a go. Here is her story.

The Hilton Bayfront's seaside lawn is radiant with sunlight and alive with activities promoting FX shows like the spy-spoof Archer, the edgy comedy Atlanta, and the upcoming drug-trafficking drama Snowfall. But I march past it all, and straight to on ivy-coated shack with "LEGION" emblazoned across its side.

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I approach a neatly dressed man, informing him I have a noon appointment. "Good," he says with a smile that's just a twinge too broad, "We've been expecting you. First I need to take your measurement." With that, he raises a device to my face that vaguely resembled goggles. He tells me to look at the green light inside while he measured my IPD. When I asked what that meant, he tells me in a friendly but manic tone not to "worry about it." A bit unnerved, I follow directions. He writes the number "16.0" on a medical bracelet that he secures to my wrist.

The bracelet says my name is David Haller. From there, I am ushered to a door and instructed to wait my turn. Each of the people ahead of me are led inside one at a time by a blonde woman wearing a white, button-down shirt, black slacks and a mirthless expression. I'd never see any of them again.

When it was my turn, the door opened to a different blond woman, who was shorter but wore the same outfit, the same flat expression. She greeted me coolly as David, and guided me inside. Now, I am in a long hallway so brilliantly white I can't help but squint. The woman asks if I remember her. I chuckle, and admit I don't. A flash of concern creases her brow, but she tells me not to worry. All this "don't worry" talk is achieving the opposite effect, and it's now that I realize my hair is standing on end, perhaps in part because of how bracingly chilly it is in this hallways.

As she leads me to sit on a stool, I notice I'm being watched by a line of men in lab coats, carting clipboards. As I sit, one descends on me, delicately placing a virtual reality device on my head. I'd been warned about this by the man with the IDP machine. They'd need to gage my gaze, gesture and voice. All would be crucial in the virtual reality aspect of the experience.

With an eerily calm tone, the woman -- never breaking character -- walks "David" through a tutorial on how to incite voice commands, and operate the VR with a specific pinching gesture. Then, she leads me into an interrogation room. Even now it's hard to keep straight in what order the following events occurred, so jarring was this experience.

This was a VR trip unlike any other. Instead of an opaque image that plays out like an immersive movie, CGI elements are laid over the real world, which I can still see through the goggles. Seated in the room illuminated by blacklight, I'm encouraged to look around, and take in the Rorschach splotches framed on the wall, the lamp on a distant book shelf, the small song statuette on the desk before me. All are radiant, glowing with an eerie light.

NEXT PAGE: SDCC's Legion Experience Gets Even Weirder...

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