[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
FX’s Legion rolls out Wednesday night, adapted by Noah Hawley (Fargo and the underrated The Unusuals, which I loved) from the Marvel Comics by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, and it’s definitely a unique animal.
There will be those who already know what the twist is from a few of the promos and the *cough* Marvel *cough* association, and others watching it cold who will be surprised at the “aha!” It takes a while for the pilot to get there, and along the way, you have to buy into the journey of things that are real and surreal. The degree to which you do or don’t will determine whether this is going to be your cuppa.
Stylistically, tonally, and visually, it’s a play on genres and timelines, with mod palettes that would be right at home in the 1960s, although it certainly seems to be set in the now. I’ll give you the straight and narrow version, just in case you are one of the ones who isn’t spoiled.
We meet the central character, David Haller (Dan Stevens) after he’s already been in residence at a psychiatric facility for six years, diagnosed with, and medicated for, schizophrenia. There’s not a ton of exposition on his predicament, but it would seem that since childhood, he’s been prone to violent outbursts with an element of “other,” over which he has no control. The last one scared the bejesus out of his sister, Amy (Casual‘s Katie Aselton), who’s moved on with her life but checks in on her brother and is hopeful for his recovery.
He has a meet cute with a new patient, Syd (Fargo‘s Rachel Keller) and they live reasonably happily in the fairly idyllic bubble of the hospital, alongside his BFF, Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), until things go terribly wrong and he’s subjected to an off-the-wall interrogation that would suggest he has a skill set above and beyond the normal. By the end of the pilot, the what of that becomes clearer, opening the door to the larger arc about opposing factions, one of which is run by Melanie Bird (Jean Smart).
Between headlining this and playing the Beast in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast reboot, Stevens is about to be everywhere, and he sells the hell out of David’s bewilderment, which is super helpful so we don’t feel quite so alone in ours.
It’s refreshing to have a show that just throws it all at the wall with gleeful abandon, inviting you to take the trip with them into their world of weird. There’s also a goodly amount of time-jumping back and forth and the random dance number for good measure. I’ll be curious to see how it lands.
Legion premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on FX with a 90-minute pilot–double-check those DVRs! Here are a few sneak peeks of the eight-episode first season.