TV Show Review: Legion, Season 1

Details: Released in 2017. Aired on FX. Eight episodes this season at around forty minutes per episode. Stars Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza.

As always, no spoilers in this review except a few sentences on the premise.

This show is exactly what I needed. After the disappointment of Iron Fist, I needed some superhero goodness. This show isn’t only a comic book show, this show plays homage to a lot of imagery from film history and provides cinematography that comes close to the Avant Garde films of old but stays coherent enough to tell a thrilling, fun, trippy-as-hell story.

The story centers on the character of David Haller. David is a schizophrenic who is interned in a mental hospital. We subsequently learn that not all is as it seems with David and that he wields immense powers.

Legion is based on a character from the popular X-Men comic book series. In the comic books, Legion is a nearly all-powerful mutant with multiple personality syndrome. As such, a lot of the stories take place in his mind and concern battles among his multiple personalities for control of his person/body.

What I loved about this series is that while it takes inspiration from the comic book, the majority of this series is new or independent from the comic book. Just about all of the characters excluding the protagonist are new characters not from the comic books. With that said, if you loved the comic books, it’s not hard to see the connections between the comic books and the show. Some connections even surprised me such as how the show vaguely hints at David’s potentially famous father.

Not enough can be said about the imagery and cinematography of this show. Since the creation of film and movies, cinema has tried to portray the psychology and inner mind of its characters. Moving pictures are simply one of the best ways to convey ideas and dreams and psychology. Legion does a great job doing this as well. Much of the conflicts in this show do not take place in the real world, but within David’s mind and his memories. David is a schizophrenic. He is delusional and hallucinates. He cannot trust his mind or his memories. Accordingly, sometimes we get scenes that would terrify small children. Other times, we get a Bollywood dance number. Anything goes, but what I love about this show is that it was not incomprehensible to me. While Legion may come close to being incomprehensible, it maintains its coherence and delivers a great story. Watching this show reminded of images and feelings I had when watching works like those from Maya Deren and movies like A Beautiful Mind or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Additionally, the special effects used were fantastic. I can see why this was only eight episodes. A lot of the budget was clearly used for the special effects.

The acting was also really great and that is likely due to the director’s efforts. I imagine that when you’re an actor in a heady show that jumps around to a hundred unrelated locations, it’s hard to keep your performance straight. In Legion, everyone did a great job and kept me in the show. Acting, editing, cinematography, it all worked.

Overall, I loved this show. Legion is the best show I’ve seen so far this year and the best show I’ve seen in recent memory. I cannot recommend this show enough. If you intend on watching it, buckle up. It’s a crazy ride.

Score: 8.5/10

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