Intense. Thoughtful. Artistic. Disturbing.
These are just some of the words that come to mind when I’m watching Legion on FX. Legion is the brainchild of Noah Hawley who created the critically acclaimed (and much loved) Fargo. He turns his attention to the X-Men universe by telling the story of David Haller also known by the code name Legion to fans of Marvel’s merry mutants (hence the title of the show). Whether or not Hawley follows the path of comic history is yet to be seen, but considering the often convoluted life of this particular character, it might be better if it didn’t.
One aspect of the character that is key to his identity will remain intact – David / Legion is the son of Charles Xavier. Yes, Professor X.
It’s only been three episodes, but so far Legion is a brilliant addition to the X-Men legacy. The story told is different than any X-Men you’ve seen in film or television so far. And it is intense, thoughtful, artistic, and disturbing, but it is also amazing. Definitely NOT for children, the themes dealt with are adult. Sometimes shows use adult themes to cover up a lack of actual plot, but Legion is different. I feel like every part of the show is important. Each moment leads us to the next and adds to the story. Unfortunately, the season is only 8 episodes long but it’s one of those series that is so densely packed I could probably watch each one three times and feel like I’m still scratching the surface. Brilliantly shot the shows images will capture you and not let you go. The story is captivating but at times thrilling, intriguing, mysterious, and scary.
Dan Stevens does a tremendous job as David Haller. His portrayal of the character creates empathy for David’s plight. Dan is able to convey David’s confusion, frightening rage, and simmering intensity throughout the show. He is complemented by a cast of well-chosen performers. Rachel Keller (also from Fargo) plays love interest Sydney Barrett who is a good compliment for David but who’s inability to touch others is frustrating for both David and the viewer. Obviously at some point they will overcome that difficulty through David’s telepathic abilities. Aubrey Plaza’s character may be the most insightful and challenging as she died in the 1st episode but continues to return throughout. Although she even says she is part of David’s mind, it begs the question if perhaps she was absorbed into David’s mind instead of simply killed. And Jean Smart portrays Melanie Bird who Aubrey’s characters describes as someone whose “secrets have secrets.” For the moment she is an ally but where the series ends up really is anyone’s guess.
This isn’t your typical superhero show. Sure, it’s got people with powers and is definitely tied in to the X-Men universe, but it is really more of an intense thriller with intriguing twists. The superpowers serve to enhance the thrill of the show rather than be the show itself. The true heart of Legion is in the story and the characters. If you like a well-acted, well-written, complex show that is visually stunning, tune in to Legion and enjoy the very wild ride.