It’s always nice to go into a show not knowing what to expect and then have it take you over in a mind bending, entertaining way that in the end leaves your brain rather tired but still wanting more. Welcome to Noah Hawley’s Legion, a show with roots in the X-Men universe but already moving past that singular distinction and into something much more vibrant and visually stunning. The episode gives the audience the feeling that they are indeed watching something unlike any other comic book show out there, which is definitely a good thing.
For those unfamiliar with the story, the show focuses on mutant David Haller (Dan Stevens), who happens to be the son of Professor X. His power apparently is the ability to bend reality to his that of his own desires, although at this point his actually abilities and how strong he is remains a mystery, as does whether he can actually control this power now or ever.
We watch David as he struggles with this power all his life, suffering through strange and bizarre events during his childhood that end up having him committed to a facility as he is deemed mentally unfit. It quickly becomes clear however, that there is a lot more to David than the supposed severe case of schizophrenia that he is being told he is suffering from. Indeed, while he struggles with his ‘illness’ we find out there is an organization that is monitoring his every move and manipulating him to their will. It seems someone out there has plans to use David and his powers for their own agenda but even they in the dark as to the power he possesses and if it can actually be controlled.
The facility David is in also seems to be home to others with gifts or powers and this is where he meets Sydney ‘Sid’ Barrett (Rachel Keller), a woman who does not allow anyone to touch her skin and as it turns out, with good reason. These two spark up a unique friendship that turns romantic and it is done in such a wonderful, innocent way that it not only becomes totally believable but very touching as well. These two become the very essence of fighting against the system and you really want to root for them to succeed. Of course, if it was that easy we wouldn’t have a show to watch and things go from strange to bizarre to violent very quickly.
The show looks absolutely amazing, with the facility draped in seventies like colors that capture the drab and hopelessness of places such as these. Startling flashbacks and very creative special effects combine to give Legion a look that I haven’t seen put together on television since the visually stunning Hannibal. The feeling of confusion, dread and despair hang over this place which makes it that much more convincing to the viewer.
I can’t say enough good things about the performances of Stevens and Keller. Sure, Stevens is the star of the show and he takes on the difficult role and kills it but combined with Keller, it makes a for a great one-two punch that leaves the viewer wondering many times what is real and what is fantasy. Also, there are great music references in this show. It’s one thing to have great songs pop up in the right places but Syd Barrett? Wow. Anyone who can slip in the name of a member of Pink Floyd, who was a troubled genius in his own right, deserves a pat on the back.
This might very well be one the best premieres I have seen for a show in a long time. Full of mystery, intrigue, mutants (great fight at the end of the episode by the way) and visual that take your breath away, Legion is a show you really need to be watching.
Five out of five stars
- Brilliant look and feel to this first episode
- Writing and acting was fantastic
- Very different kind of comic book show
- Some people may not give the show a chance and be put off by the unconventional story