A superhero show like no other.
You wouldn’t even know it is a superhero/ comic book adaption until towards the end of the first episode, when the word ‘mutant’ is muttered. It’s thrown out there in such a subtle way that you would be forgiven for not even noticing it.
Indeed, Legion is an X-Men TV show; just without the X-Men or at least without any of the ones that non-comic readers would recognise. Dan Stevens stars as David Haller who is introduced to us as a mentally ill man suffering from schizophrenia and delusions. Only, we’re later to find out that he is actually an incredibly powerful psychic mutant, which is the source of the voices he hears. Plot-wise, I don’t want to go into it too much because the strength of Legion is in the intrigue it builds up over the season. You’re never really sure what’s going on and that’s definitely a good thing. It’s not patronising. It gives you time to think and hypothesise and draw your own conclusions. Sure, it means you have to be patient but it’s so well paced and well written that it’s worth it.
Dan Stevens leads the show expertly showing an incredible range in his performance. Aubrey Plaza is mesmerising in a role that I really don’t want to divulge anything about but it is a role that she is given free reign to do pretty much anything and it’s quite brilliant. Jemaine Clement is as fantastically odd as you’d hope he could be and Rachel Keller as Syd, David’s girlfriend, along with Jean Smart’s Melanie Bird add a great deal of humanity to the show.
Legion is brave. Really brave. It could lean on the X-Men and Marvel names to guarantee an audience. But it doesn’t. It could name drop Professor X or Wolverine or Magneto to keep people interested. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t need to. The characters are so compelling, especially Stevens’ David. The show is really about his battle with his own demons, both metaphorically and literally.
Visually, thematically and in its writing, Legion is also brave. Dealing in alternate dimensions and timelines, TV and film traditionally use a considerable amount of exposition to explain exactly what is going on and what the consequences will be. Legion doesn’t do this and it benefits from it. Sure, it might turn a few people off because you might go two or three episodes without knowing exactly what’s going on but it pays off big time.