I have tried to persuade many friends to watch Legion by describing Legion as X-Men meets Inception, or Westworld. Legion blends action, comedy and romance into a visual masterpiece that makes you question what is real and what is not. Created by Noah Hawley, the show is based on the X-Men character of the same name.
“Not another comic book show,” you groan. But that’s where you’re wrong. Forget all the assumptions you would have coming into Legion. The great thing about the show is that you can know absolutely nothing about superheroes and still love it. Of course if you are a comic book fan, then you might pick up on some references and hidden clues, but this really is for anyone.
The show explores the life of Dan Steven’s David Haller, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been in psychiatric hospitals for the last six years. After the introduction of Rachel Keller’s Sydney Barrett, he is told that he isn’t ill but he actually has mutant powers. The show is shot through David’s eyes, and viewers go on his journey. He constantly struggles to see reality and if the whole idea of him being a mutant is actually part of his disease. Stevens shines as the main character, bringing humor and great acting to the show.
Aubrey Plaza is perhaps the greatest thing about the show. Her performance becomes more layered as the series continues. Without her character, the show would have a villain problem; all of the other villains in the show are either hardly in it, or are given lacklustre endings. Stevens and Plaza are the only stand-out performances. Others begin to shine, but aren’t given enough screen time to really make an impact. For example, Amber Midthunder’s Kerry Loudermilk is not even referred to in the first couple of episodes, and then has a massive story-arc in the home stretch.
The show is a total mind-bender, and it is worth noting that patience is the name of the game when it comes to Legion. If you are the sort of viewer who wants answers quickly, this show might not be for you. Looking at the season as a whole, the first couple of episodes are really setting the scene, and this takes quite a while. During these hours, you will honestly have no idea what the hell is going on, but if you can endure them, the best is yet to come – with episodes five through seven being some of the best episodes I have watched so far this year. Because of the quality of those three episodes, the finale feels slightly lacklustre in return, because it has an a mere hour to answer all the questions that it has built up.
I feel as if I am nitpicking here, but the finale did not live up to my expectations. It almost feels as if Legion is an essay: the beginning of the series is trying to find its footing (which it absolutely does), then come the body paragraphs. When you start to come into your element, you suddenly look up at the clock and you realize you are only half way finished, but you only 10 minutes left. By no means am I saying that it is a bad episode, because it is not – it is actually a solid season finale. But because it came after some of the greatest episodes and because it doesn’t fulfill any of the real questions you have it leaves you feeling disappointed – or what I like to call “meh.”
Some of the loose ends that the show attempted to tie up came out of nowhere and it is something we are almost just told to accept. However, the finale does have some simply breathtaking sequences. The final fight and the ‘wall of soldiers’ were highlights. Season two is also teased fantastically. As is custom with comic book adaptions, the end-credit scene is absolutely ludicrous (I will not pretend I understood what went on because it is still mind-boggling to me).
If you are ever confused while watching, it is because you are supposed to be! Legion is consistently asking questions. Because it is only 8 episodes, it is a fast moving show. Legion starts stronger than it finishes but creates a new hope for an otherwise dying franchise, and is fully worth the watch.
I give Legion’s first season an A-.