‘LEGION’ is a superhero TV series, but a very different one, based on David Haller, the character in Marvel Comics known as Legion. It stars Dan Stevens in the title role. The first season has 8 one-hour episodes made by FX Productions with Marvel TV.
Haller or Legion is a mutant who, as a child, is diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been a patient in different mental hospitals. He is adopted (it’ll turn out later that his real father is Prof. Xavier) and in the latest hospital where he is confined, he befriends another inmate, Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), who’s also a drug addict. Then a new girl comes along, Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) and David is attracted to her, but she stays away from people and refuses anyone to touch her.
The hospital is invaded by government people from an agency called Division 3. They have a special interest in David and want to get hold of him for their own selfish motives. But another group led by a doctor, Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), rescues him and takes him to a secret place called Summerland.
This is where they tell David that he’s not really crazy but is actually a mutant with some very special powers. His mind is actually infected by a parasite mutant called Farouk or the Shadow King, who wants to use his untapped talents to become the most powerful mutant ever. It becomes the responsibility of Melanie Bird and her team to help David in expelling out the Shadow King from his own system.
In telling David’s story, Director Noah Hawley liberally plays with time and structure. The story flashes back and forth from the present to the past and even the future using teleportation. We see David as a young boy, as a teenager falling in love and we see him being interviewed by someone surrounded by armed guards in a windowless room.
The style is daring, even surreal and confusing at times, with the design mixed from 1960 to modern motifs, making it different from traditional superhero films or series and unlike anything you’ve seen before. It mixes drama about mental illness with action, science fiction, black comedy, weird characters, romance. and sometimes, you’re not even sure if what’s happening on screen is real or just a fantasy.
It will somehow remind you of “The Matrix” movies and its lead character, Neo, who’s somewhat reflected in David, has to figure out the very nature of reality in his entire life, past and present, and eventually learns that he holds enough power to change the world as he can even play with space and time.
“Legion” is actually ambitious in trusting that the audience would figure out its tonal and storytelling jumps that transcend the genre. David’s powers are apparent telekinetic manifestations of his own mental and emotional issues and when they erupt, it’s really astonishing and spectacular.
Dan Stevens inhabits the role of David and his unpredictable journey perfectly, although he tends to take it too seriously at times. Aubrey Plaza as his friend who died but is resurrected as the villain gets more chance to be playful, even delivering wisecracks every now and then.