FX’s ‘Legion’ Will Take You to Your Happy Place

This show blew my mind — yes, that’s a joke, but it’s also the truth.

I waited patiently until the premiere season finished airing to binge watch it a few days before San Diego Comic-Con (cutting it close, I know). By that point I had already seen bits and pieces of the mid season episodes (there’s only eight in the first season), so thankfully I wasn’t too lost when it came to understanding just what was going on. Not to say I didn’t still have questions, but it was easier to enjoy the spectacular work this crew did in setting up the shots, the lighting and the bar for production quality.

As a media production major, I’ve learned the hard way the importance of good lighting — and not just that, but how to be inventive with it, how to create an atmosphere and a setting with it, how to work it to your advantage and exactly how much effort goes into getting it to look just right on camera. (Remember that time I used so many fill lights on a set? Never again.)

So I applaud ‘Legion’ for finding that balance while still finding new ways to think outside of the box and give the show its own unique style and feel. The show felt fearless to me in that everything could be awash in red one scene and tinted purple or orange the next, and it could go from widescreen to noir-inspired and back again. The shots were so purposeful for a story where its main protagonist is engaged in a war for his own mind and where the style of it is meant to reflect that. The work put into the production made the show itself feel like a mind of its own, experimenting, changing, breathing like an entirely separate character, all while being so deliberate in its own randomness. Noah Hawley is on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite creators, somewhat reminiscent of Bryan Fuller’s own out-of-the-box work (see: Hannibal, American Gods).

And the performances? I need every single one of these actors to be nominated for the places they went in the show, effective immediately. The little tastes of backstories we got left me wanting more, and the dynamics between these characters were surprisingly human and realistic for a show about a mutant struggling with his mind. Dan Stevens’ David Haller was so intriguing to watch, but it was Aubrey Plaza who got into my head and wouldn’t leave.

Each episode was perfectly paced, though I’ve heard some complain it starts slow, so if you’re the kind who likes to go, go, go, the first three episodes may drag for you. It’s really not so difficult to break down so long as you pay attention; this is not a show to be watched mindlessly, and why would you want to? It’s got elements of sci-fi, vis-à-vis mutants and their abilities, but it also ties into the horror and suspense genre (seriously, it gets intense and if I saw some of the things David saw, you better be sure I’d run the other way) so well. There’s romance (it really is a sweet relationship, if a bit rushed, but I guess when you know, you know — and when you’re losing your mind, it’s probably nice to have someone to lean on), there’s some brief spots of comedy but most of all, there’s the knowledge that this is Charles Xavier’s son we’re following around. (Not really a spoiler, but if your interest wasn’t piqued before, maybe it is now?)

In fact, speaking of Xavier, there’s a scene towards the end of the season which raised eyebrows — hints towards potential name dropping in the future, should David get any closer to the truth about his family (spoiler alert: I’m referring to the bald man in his drawings and the Sir Patrick Stewart-esque impression David did when trying to recall him, as well as the assumption that his father, too, had psychic powers. He’s becoming self aware!).

All in all, I came into the show fairly late with little to no expectations (other than to be mildly confused the entire time, which only lasted for an episode or two), and was utterly taken aback with how amazing everything was. This is nothing like the other shows of its genre; it’s on par with the production quality of some of Marvel’s Netflix shows, but in everything else it’s a world away from all that Marvel has done thus far. From the technical aspects to the writing and performances, I was thoroughly impressed, and for that I’ll be watching live when ‘Legion’ returns to FX for its second season in February 2018 on Wednesdays.

Featured image courtesy of FX.


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