Legion 1.1 Review: “Chapter 1”

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If you like shows that are straightforward and easy to follow, Marvel and FX’s new show Legion might not be for you. J.J. Abrams, if he has time to sit down and watch TV like us normal people, would probably love this show because it’s one giant mystery box; it’s question after question after question, with no answer or end in sight and it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. If you’re like me, you hurt your brain trying to figure out the answers to questions that had not even been asked yet when you should’ve just been sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the ride.

And Legion is one heck of a ride. With only one episode under our belts, it’s hard to know just what this show is about and what is real and more importantly what isn’t. At this point, it’s all a puzzle. We know David (Dan Stevens) is a mutant with powers and that’s only because that is the premise of the show, not because we can actually trust the characters who say these things. David might be in a mental hospital because he has schizophrenia- or is he really there at all? Maybe he’s being held by the government in a testing facility to find out what his powers can do. Or maybe he escaped. Maybe, just maybe, all these things are true at the same time.

It’s A Matter of Trust

We question everything about Legion. This is all done on purpose to put us inside David’s mind. He doesn’t know what is real so neither do we. Our frustrations are his frustrations. When David is thinking about the events that took place after “The Incident” and sees the Interrogator getting out of the black car, we believe him because we see him too. When the Interrogator insists he wasn’t there we get mad because we know he’s lying. We saw him! Or did we?

The moments where we don’t see David seem to be the clearest so far. We can believe they are really happening because David is not the one showing us. When The Interrogator goes upstairs we get a look at the government facility and hear why they have captured David (to monitor his powers and kill him if necessary). If David isn’t fully aware of his powers yet then surely these people and this place must really exist, right?

It’s hard to get attached to characters you aren’t sure really exist in the first place. (Although fans of Fight Club will disagree.) Is Syd (Rachel Keller) real? What about Lenny (Aubrey Plaza)? Just the fact that other characters talk about them doesn’t mean they really exist because those characters could be fake as well! See it really is best if you don’t think about this show too hard. All will reveal itself in time. But it doesn’t look like it will be any time soon.

Let’s Do the Time Warp

Legion plays with time in interesting ways. There are jumps and gaps and an overall feeling that this story started in the middle, not the beginning. When David first sees Syd is that the look of love at first sight he gives her? Or the look of a man who is trying to remember where he’s seen that face before?

The only thing we can really seem to get a grip on is the flashbacks to a distant past and that’s only because we see younger actors playing David and Amy (Kate Aselton). And what is Amy’s part in all of this? Does she know more than she lets on? Do they share the same Professor for a father?

Magical Mystery Tour

It will be interesting to see if this is a show the internet can figure out. It took about 3 episodes of Westworld for eagle eyed redditors to makes sense of the whole thing. Will Legion gain cult status in the same way with rabid fans putting clues together to map out a coherent timeline? (Survey says yes, this is a show based on a comic book and comic book readers are nothing if not passionate.)

Noah Hawley has given fans something special with Legion. It’s a complex show and so different from the pre-existing Marvel properties. It stands out with its look alone. The set design is bright and geometric. There are colors! (Is it too much to hope for no dark, nighttime fight scenes?) It’s very eye catching and dynamic. Because there are so many questions it is one of those shows that demands you watch it to know all the answers. So strap in. This is going to be one crazy ride.

Stray Observations

  • I just love hearing the word “mutant” on my TV. I never thought this day would come.
  • I know she’s not Rogue, but Syd’s powers sure did seem similar down to the crazy long gloves.
  • For seven seasons Kate Aselton was one of the funniest parts of The League so please let her keep having bits like the moment where she tried to casually remove all of the sharp objects from the basement because that was one of my favorite parts.

Legion airs Wednesdays at 10 pm on FX and we’ll be recapping it every week so come back next time to see if anything makes sense (probably not yet).

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