Legion – Season 1

7 Overall Score
Writing: 5/10
Production: 8/10
Performances: 8/10

Remarkable performances by Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza.

Tiresome writing that confuses confusion for quality.

Legion
Stars: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza
FX Networks
2017

David Haller is a troubled young man diagnosed as schizophrenic, but after a strange encounter, he discovers special powers that will change his life forever.

For a superhero property, very few cars are thrown through walls in FX’s Legion. Extremely cerebral, obtuse, and self-absorbed, it’s entirely about what goes on inside the character of David Haller’s head. Does reality create David…or does David create reality? Is he crazy? Or is he God? His tortured, sensitive psyche is subdivided into a leering, scary man and a crazy/hot chick. Which is a pedestrian juvenile simplification of the male mind, thanks. Every supporting character is either there to comfort David over how special he is, or kill him for the same thing. They could have called it Solipsism, or Stuttering Narcissist in a Mental Hospital!

In other words, it’s an achingly self-important and drawn-out metaphor for the experience of being a writer, which it’s writers must have enjoyed a lot. How many times can you smash up the same kitchen?

While Legion is allegedly connected to the X-Men film franchise, because the comic book on which it is based is connected to the X-Men comic book, this show is much more Kubrick than Spielberg. As I hate Kubrick, I probably mean that in a bad way.

It waits until episode 6 to do the asylum episode—the one where the characters don’t know if the mental asylum they inhabit is reality, or a hallucination. Community, Ash vs. The Evil Dead, The Magicians all did it, why shouldn’t Legion? I’m pretty sure Loony Tunes did at least one of these, too. But an asylum episode is required when a major theme for your show is “Deliberately Confusing”.

Legion certainly embraces the usual theme that Sex Is Bad. The female lead is Sydney Barret, whose mutant abilities prevent her from being touched—so of course she’s the girl for David. They spend a lot of season one gazing longingly at each other at short range. Meanwhile, the worst moment of David’s life, buried deeply in his repressed memories, includes a steamy sexual encounter with an unidentified woman that winds up with David trying to hang himself. Don’t ever touch anyone, kids! It’ll drive you crazy!

If you like a trippy, confusing, really-slow-reveals kind of show that’s long on navel-gazing, Legion is your jam. Why is the Eye? What is his deal? What are his goals? What are his abilities? Too bad! Maybe in season two!

 

 

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Brian Downes
Author: Brian Downes View all posts by

Brian Downes is a writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. His novel, The Berlin Fraternity, about a man who hunts vampires for the Third Reich, is available on the Kindle and through Amazon.com. He enjoys pen and paper roleplaying games and geek culture. He clearly remembers waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to hit theaters, and vindicate his opinion that of course Vader was not Luke’s father. You can’t trust Vader’s word!

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