By Greg Wheeler
Building on the spectacular foundation it set last year as one of TV’s most unique offerings, Legion’s second season is an unnecessarily convoluted but beautiful hedonistic trip from start to finish. With more episodes to boot this time around, and an increased emphasis on style over substance, Legion’s second season feels much more bloated and stylistic than it perhaps should, choosing to artistically present its compelling narrative thoughts through disjointed scenes rather than pushing the story forward in a meaningful way. In many ways Legion feels like a bridge to the inevitable third season with many plot threads left unresolved and one big cliffhanger to close the show out with.
After the events of last year, the second season begins right at the heart of the conflict with David (Dan Stevens) searching for the Shadow King (Navid Negahban). As the episodes progress, the line between right and wrong is blurred and with it, the more intimate, personal storyline is replaced by a formulaic apocalyptic story revolving around the Shadow King and the end of the world. While this does work to increase the stakes and tension compared to last year, this broader focus loses some of the intricacy that made the first season such an endearing, aesthetically pleasing trip.
Along with the more formulaic storyline at its core this year, Legion features an increased emphasis on showcasing all the supporting characters in the same cerebral manner as David last year. Whereas the first season’s 8 episodes tackled David’s psyche and personal demons that plagued him, the second season shifts perspectives between the various supporting characters including Sydney (Rachel Keller), Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and the Shadow King himself. While this does provide a few interesting point of views from these characters, it also unnecessarily convolutes large portions of the season as it regularly shifts from one hallucinogenic scene to the next, between the real world and dream world with reckless abandon.
The biggest problem with Legion this year is its incessant need to one-up itself with impressive, trippy visuals, long monologues around various societal issues and extravagant subplots that never really develop into anything substantially cohesive. All of this combines to make large portions of Legion more bloated than it has any right to be. If last year’s 8 episodes could be perceived as leaning on the side of pretentious, Legion’s second season embraces this ideal, regularly stifling plot progression in favour of aesthetically stunning but meaningless scenes. Don’t get me wrong, Legion’s cinematography is among some of the strongest on TV right now and the episodes feature some of the most imaginative, well put together sequences that wouldn’t be amiss in an art gallery.
That’s not to say Legion’s second season is all style; the episodes that do progress the plot are among the strongest of the show and especially late on during the penultimate and finale episode, Legion proves just why it’s one of the most unique, interesting superhero shows on TV right now. Although some may lament the cliffhanger ending, there’s just enough questions answered to leave slightly satisfied ready for the inevitably epic third season.
With a profound lack of characterisation and a painfully slow pace gripping most of the 11 episodes, Legion’s second season certainly requires a fair amount of patience to get through to the meat of the plot. For those who can persevere through while admiring in awe the strange, hallucinogenic scenes gripping large parts of the season, there really isn’t anything quite like Legion on TV right now.
I give Legion‘s second season a B-.