First Look TV Review: LEGION

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC First Look TV Review: LEGION

X-Men never felt so stylish.

Legion is created by Noah Hawley who’s also behind Emmy award winning FARGO. Legion follows the story of David Haller (Dan Stevens) diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

The cinematography used in filming Legion is cinema quality actually it feels as if the cinema is now on the small screen confirming t.v. is really where it’s at. We meet David Haller in a mental hospital on an ordinary day accompanied by a frenetic patient called Lenny (Aubrey Plaza). His routine is annihilated by the arrival of Syd (Rachel Keller) who he falls in love with instantly except she cannot be touched. Noah Hawley has brought some other Fargo alumni: the most excellent Jean Smart  as therapist Melanie Bird, and Jermaine Clement as her husband Oliver together and the remaining cast is stellar too.

Legion promises to be a great series although episode 2 is better than the pilot. I liked the stylish cinematography, dream like production that felt as if the fourth wall had been broken down is the viewer experiencing what David is feeling right there and then, merging reality and fiction. There’s a David Lynch feel about this – think Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks. Legion is not only visual arresting but mentally demanding. Let me tell you right here and now you cannot reach for the phone or even chat to someone else, every scene is a filled with clues. You have to pay attention. The pilot does a good job of setting out the character of David Haller but what of the others – is Syd real or a figment of his imagination. I’m still not sure.

The reason why the pilot of Legion works so well is principally down to Dan Stevens he conveys through his convincing and thoughtful portrayal of the character coping with all the noises in his head, and the full spectrum of emotions from calm to all powerful mutant.  Dan Stevens has come a long way from his Downton Abbey days.



There are so many questions. You have never seen a series like this – there are no real battles apart from the one at the very end of the pilot. This a multi layered story: a love story of trying to love yourself despite what others say, trusting yourself, inner strength and finally a super hero story. I didn’t feel like it was too hard to engage although if you don’t quite get hooked stick with it episode 2 and 3 will take you into the labyrinth of madness and twilight zone. What is real and what is a figment of David’s imagination? Even now I am trying to figure that out!

Recounting the little known mutant to those who are not superhero aficionados of x-men. Legion appeared in the x men comics don’t you know – look out for the x symbols throughout the pilot.  Noah Hawley’s series demonstrates the true meaning of diversity.  The superhero genre is a well trodden path and there are a myriad of superhero television series out there: Flash, Gotham, Agents of SHIELD etc.  Yet he takes a different angle on this genre and brings to life a story of mental illness and love and self loathing in Legion. Yes David Haller is a mutant but what of the man and where did it all start. It is an interesting perspective and one that should be applauded. It is taking this almost human standpoint that makes it easier for superhero novices, like myself, to engage with this intelligent and non-formulaic, refreshing series.

The drum and bass soundtrack at times can be a little wearing but only occasionally. There are so many roads to travel that will no doubt be unravelled as the series progresses…it’s a world within a world and it takes a master storyteller to tell it only time will tell if Noah Hawley manages to do so.

LEGION premieres on FOX (Sky 124, Virgin 157, Talk Talk 422, and NOW TV) on Thursday 9th February at 9pm. The show is produced by FX Productions and Marvel Television, with executive producer Noah Hawley, an executive producer on the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning anthology series Fargo.

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