For anyone looking for the ultimate head-trip, just watch Legion on FX because it’s fantastic. In a year full to the brim of weird television ranging from American Gods to Twin Peaks, Legion is something you definitely do not want to miss. Whether it’s from a directing standpoint, a costuming perspective, or a writer’s view this series excels in every single aspect, making it one of the boldest and most original series to premiere in recent memory.
We start the series off with one of the most exciting pilots I’ve ever seen, one that is visually arresting, compelling from the first scene and crafted in a beautiful non-linear fashion. During this first episode we’re submitted to the Psychiatric ward David (Dan Stevens) currently finds himself in after trying to commit suicide. David’s story does end up being a beautiful story of courage, independence, and empowerment, but underlying it all is a deep tragedy that’s given to us by Hawley in a snippet of scenes before the series begins that’s later expanded upon. Hawley’s craftsmanship is just astounding, I could write an entire review about the beauty of this series’ pilot alone but I can’t resist gushing about it’s entire greatness. Legion starts off with David being stuck without purpose and solely accompanied by his trusty drug-loving companion Lenny (played by the most wacko and unhinged Aubrey Plaza you never knew you wanted but can’t keep your eyes off now that you know her). In walks Syd.
Syd (Rachel Keller) is compelling, courageous and cryptic, a perfect vehicle to welcome us to the mind-bending goldmine the cinematic X-men universe seems to have ignored. From the pilot there’s a transparent weirdness to the series that just exponentiates with every episode and although David is the key to it, Syd is the catalyst. Body-swapping, memory-bouncing, mind-altering, astral planes, this series has got it all. After the wonderful pilot, Legion does seem to stall for about two episodes as it establishes the chaotic world we’re about to delve into, but once you reach the fourth episode you’re on a non-stop mind-bending journey that gets better and better with each episode.
Acting-wise, everyone delivers their A-game. As I mentioned previously, Dan Stevens plays the lead and he does so with such a carefully constructed performance. When it comes to dealing with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, a series could go south really quick but Dan Stevens presents David as the tortured individual he is, a man who’s been struggling with hearing voices and seeing things that don’t make any rational sense yet now he’s been told he’s a powerful physic with powers beyond his comprehension, he doesn’t know whether this is all real or just the cruelest joke his mind has ever played on him. Rachel Keller plays Syd, David’s love interest and the catalyst for everything that happens in the series and she does so in a marvelous fashion, presenting a strong female character that empathetic, romantic, courageous, and intelligent. There’s a small legion that surrounds the main characters that’s also comprised of some great character actors that definitely fortify the group dynamic that presented in the show and beyond that, there’s an epic performance from an actor I had no idea was in this series and who kills it from the very moment he jumps onto the screen. As for the surprising standout of the entire show, Aubrey Plaza is phenomenal in this role that permits her to go as insane as she so desires, making for of the most entertaining moments on the small-screen this year.
Besides presenting us with some seriously strong acting, Legion might also be the best directed series so far this year. Seriously, the guys they hire to direct the singular episodes that make up this eight-episode season direct the shit out of each episode. As I’ve gone on and on about, the pilot directed by Noah Hawley himself is one of the best pilots I’ve ever seen. But beyond the pilot, Chapter 6 has to be my favorite episode of the series, one that’s interestingly directed by none other than Hiro Murai, the genius behind Atlanta. Not only is this episode a technical wonder, but the fact that Murai is able to maintain you with a permanent sense of confusion during the entire runtime is something I have to congratulate him for because so far only David Lynch has been able to do that to me so far with the current pieces of bewildering avant-garde art that he’s been airing under the Twin Peaks moniker. Bravo to everyone single one of the directors that tackled this audacious, mind-bending, cinematic wonder Hawley put together and coherently translated it to t.v., generating some of the most unique t.v. experiences in a while.
Legion is wonderful, how else can I put it? It’s got everything, laughs, drama, great acting, directing, costumes, etc. Might this series be to weird for many? Yes, but to hell with them, we on other hand have beautifully constructed cinematic sci-fi masterpiece that’s been funneled to the land of where we can soak in the wackiness of it not just for an hour and a half, but for eight epic episodes intelligently crafted by no other than Noah Hawley himself.