I am not quite sure where to begin with this one, except, perhaps for the statement of the obvious: this show is a crazy experience. Emphasis on crazy.
From the first moment to the last, the premiere of Legion was absolutely saturated with insanity!
It was very off-putting.
…like, “Holy smokes, I don’t know what is real anymore,” off-putting.
That sort of thing works better for some people than it does for others. Super kudos to folks it works for, whatever floats your boat, I do not judge. It simply happens that it doesn’t work so well for me. My personal viewing experience was… a little unpleasant, if I’m honest.
Watching crazy? Fine, perhaps even funny at times.
Experiencing crazy? Not so much.
I will say, in Legion‘s favor, this was a very bold move by Marvel and Fox, partnering on this show. Also in its favor: it’s new, it’s fresh, and it is most definitely “unique.”
The story, at least in the premiere, follows one David Hallar, a schizophrenic mutant of great power, who has spent most of his life in psychiatric facilities. In the comics, he has multiple powers, at least one per personality, but that has yet to be established in the show. Thus far, he has turned out to have a wild telekinetic ability, with lots of power and zero control.
Naturally, this couldn’t go unnoticed forever, and the first episode features a government agency interrogating David about his more recent experiences, involving his romantic relationship with another patient, Syd, and accidentally wreaking havoc when her power – yes, she is a mutant too – and his accidentally mix together. They believe he may be the most powerful mutant they’ve yet discovered, but they want others too, including Syd, and some mysterious people who were also investigating the chaos and following him. As it happens, Syd and her new friends – oh, look, a secret team of mutants fighting a secret government agency – come busting in to rescue/recruit David, and once David can believe that all the battle raging around him is real, he joins them, or, at least, he follows Syd.
Speaking of that last scene, that was a wickedly awesome battle/escape sequence, following the characters in what looks like one long take. Even with the popularity of such long sequences from the likes of Daredevil, that is very technically difficult to pull off. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very well done. Kudos.
Now, this summary might sound fairly straightforward, but it’s really, really, really not presented that way. Most shows walk through events from a fairly grounded perspective, and maybe wade through the shallower pools of madness on occasion. Legion dives straight to the bottom of the Mad Sea and barely ever comes up for air. We see things out of order, shifting sporadically between times and places, the scenes are jarring, an effect enhanced by the music, and many times we just wander around the terrifying, nightmare-inducing insanity that is the inside of David’s head. It got a bit difficult, at times, to know what was real, or even what was happening.
If that was the idea, to really show us what it’s like to be David, then job very well done. But now, I would like to leave David’s head, please, and never return, thank you very much.
So, the story has some promise, the cinematic work is top-notch, and the acting is astounding. The only problem, as of yet, is the format. All in all, I would usually be quite happy and eager to follow a show like Legion.
…except for all the crazy!
Too much! Too much!
I suppose this is a show that I might end up giving in to curiosity and binging all at once, but that is only because the season will only be eight episode long, and I might be able to endure the death-march of my sanity for that long. Other than that, however, it is going nowhere near my weekly lineup.
I sometimes end these reviews with ratings and grades but… really, I just can’t nail Legion down like that. I try, and I get dizzy.
So, I am just going to say, if this sounds like your thing, then more power to you, but if not, then I highly advise staying away.