Review: In a world where superhero TV series comes in either one of these three styles: Netflix-Marvel street-vigilante style, Marvel movie tie-in style, or DC’s over-the-top Arrowverse style, FX’s Legion is an oddball. It doesn’t follow those patterns of style; even, it feels like a non-superhero superhero story. Sure thing is, the whole first season of Legion is a kind of thing you’ve never seen before in television (or even cinemas).
Do yourself a little favor by googling about Legion’s origin and you’ll understand why Fargo series’ creator, Noah Hawley is eager to adopt this X-Men bravura under his wings. First introduced in New Mutants comic book, Legion a.k.a. David Haller (portrayed by Dan Stevens) immediately cements his position as one of the most interesting mutant – not only because his connection to someone important in X-Men ranks, but also because his ability which makes him dubbed as ‘the strongest mutant alive.’ With such a fascinating biography, this psycho-frenzy mutant definitely needs a proper introduction; yet, that is the least you can expect from a superhero’s origin story.
You think you know the story already? Think again. The only available clue is the series poster portraying a man with exploding head with nebula cloud and smog. That poster tells us that it’s going to be a mind-blowing, mind-boggling, and cloudy superhero story.
In fact, an important question is given right after the season begins: is David really a super-human or merely a mental patient? Yes. It all begins in a psychiatric ward where David is treated. There he meets his eventual girlfriend, Syd (Rachel Keller), a withdrawn girl who doesn’t fancy being touched. There, in the first episode, we’re introduced to Summerland, a kind of mutant faction like Professor Xavier’s X-Men or Magneto’s Brotherhood, but more queer, led by Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). We think that David is truly a mutant with psychic powers but misunderstood as a mentally ill man. Legion lets us think that instant in an amazing vibrant episode, before making us swallow our pride.
The further it goes the more boundaries between David’s psychokinetic and psychotic personality get blurred and often melted as one. The further we know his character via exploration of memory, reality, imagination and dreams; the more we get lost between them. What we know for sure is: David is an unreliable narrator; and if, at this point, you think that there’s a fine line between Legion and Rami Malek’s Mr. Robot, you’re probably right; only this one is in a different kind of mind-blowing.
Dan Stevens’ (recently in Beauty and the Beast) take on this character is astonishing. He’s grounded to over-the-top psychotic (whether if his character is or isn’t). When he’s projected as a mentally ill David, he’s gone full frenetic and sympathetically crazy; but, when he’s projected as ‘the strongest mutant on Earth’, he nails it with a seemingly unrivalled might. Imagine this, if David Haller really is a psychotic man, he really is messing up with our perception and sympathy; but if he really is that so-called mutant, he has manipulated into thinking of many other possibilities as he even alters reality and memory.
When you’re stranded in the middle of the season finding out that you’re sometimes awestruck and some other times fed up with this series’ non-constructive non-concluding storyline, you’re not alone. Hang on a little bit more since it only gets better in the end, when you finally ‘understand’ what has happened (DISCLAIMER: I wouldn’t guarantee that you will, but at least, there’s some shed of clarity posted near the end). At least, Noah Hawley has spoiled you with all the most psychedelic all-vibrant visuals (which kinda reminds you to Doctor Strange), pop culture references – including Pink Floyd at highest overdrive – and most importantly, X-Men references.
If following David’s mind is a bit too heavy, you’re opted to root down to other fascinating supporting characters, which would make you think about the wonders of mutant world. From Syd, who has similar ability to Rogue in X-Men, or memory-artist, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), or Cary and Kerry Loudermilk (Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder)– two individual coexisting in Cary’s body, to even enigmatic Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza, who aims to steal the whole show with her trouble-junkie performance). Rest assured those characters are keys to understanding how David’s mind works or, in a simple way, keys to understanding Legion.
In the end, if reading this review doesn’t even give you a descriptive or defining insight about what Legion really is about, let me assure you, it’s normal. Legion is a cinematic wonder you should experience for yourself in order to get attached or understand. It’s a psychedelic superhero series like you’ve never seen before. It’s mind-bending but it’s worth it when you’re able to resist until the end. Even so, you wouldn’t have a clue how the second season will roll.
Legion (2017) – Season 1