I don’t know anything about the comic or characters that inspired F/X’s Legion now airing Wednesdays at 10PM (EST).
And it doesn’t matter.
Let me tell you what I know through Episode 5 and why I think you won’t find anything better to do than binge all of the episodes on Hulu before the next episode drops.
David Haller (Dan Stevens) is troubled. It’s hard to forget his name because every character says it like a million times. David is currently biding his time at Clockworks, an in-patient facility for the mentally scrambled. David is gleefully schizophrenic, a condition that he knows makes him impulsive and prone to self-harm, but he has his best buddy, Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) along for the ride. They used to do lots together – mostly drugs. Now they’re incarcerated together and best friends until the end, or rather, until she shows up. David becomes enamored with new patient, Syd (Rachel Keller), and even more intrigued by the fact that she refuses to be touched.
When Syd is abruptly discharged, David’s life doesn’t just spiral. He’s caught up in a tornadic whirlwind of new people, new sensations, and a revelation that who and what he is might be more than the sum of his individual parts. He becomes a resident at Summerland, another type of facility for “people like him” only now these people aren’t mentally scrambled – they’re psychically evolved. Led by Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), Cary (Bill Irwin) the brains, Kerry (Amber Midthunder) the brawn, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) the past, all try to help David unravel who he is and how he can do what he can do. Division 3 and The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) want to help him too, but play for their side in the bargain. D3 in case it wasn’t obvious from the jump, are very bad people, and are willing to risk the lives of everyone David cares about to get what they want. You know it’s going to get messy.
You have to appreciate Legion series creator and showrunner, Noah Hawley, and his non-linear storytelling technique, providing not only a sleek peek into how David’s mind works, but creating a non-linear delivery system. You will not hear characters say “according to this …” to dump knowledge. They will tell you what they know when it’s time for you to know it, and it will be in conversation format like real people exchange information.
Sure you could jump to Wikipedia and read up on all of the characters if it makes you feel like you’ll have a firm foundation before going in, but I’d advise against it. Let Legion with its unreliable narration and disjointed expressions of plot and story lure you in and lead you on an adventure you likely weren’t expecting.
It is okay for you to know that this is connected to the X-Men universe, just understand the brand “X-Men” isn’t used. They’re mutants, and that’s acknowledged, but beyond that, there’s more story than splash. For a person like me who only watches superhero movies when there’s nothing else on, it’s nice to slide into a show, not knowing what’s going on, and still enjoy the ride.
5 episodes in, I’m enjoying the ride a lot.
Legion will tell its own tale in its own time. This is a character-driven story, not power-driven, and there are enough gee-whiz moments to keep you intrigued whether in hour increments, or an entire afternoon.
There are only 3 episodes left in this season, but I have little doubt F/X will pick it up for Season Two. I know I’ll be waiting for Legion to join those ranks of other second season hopefuls – Preacher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage.
Legion airs on F/X Wednesdays at 10pm, with episodes repeating four days later (Sundays) on Hulu for us cableless peeps.
It is rated TV-MA for thematic violence, sexual situations, language, and that creepy, lumpy yellow thing with the red eyes.