There is a glut of Marvel television shows floating around currently, so it’s difficult for one show to stand out in the crowd. Fox’s recent move towards a more adult style of production has benefited Legion massively and has allowed Legion to prop its head above its many competitors.
There will be spoilers for season 1 of Legion in this review.
I really enjoyed Legion, it was a different look at how a comic book adaptation can be carried out, but to limit it to comic books is unfair as Legion also broke ground in regards to general TV. Legion took the idea of mental illness and made it central to the story and its main character, it made a show which didn’t hold the audiences hand and forced you to question what was and wasn’t reality.
Legion had a story which played out within the season, but the audience left with as many questions as they went in with. What I found very interesting is that despite watching the whole season I still don’t really know when the show is set, how long for and I’m still not sure if any of the things we are seeing are actually happening or whether it is all playing out in David’s head.
The music and the set leads you to believe that its set around the seventies, yet Oliver has been in the astral plane for twenty or so years and it leads you to believe he got stuck in there in the sixties (likely late sixties) so that makes you think that it’s probably set some time in the eighties, however in the final episode we followed Clark who it turns out was gay, was married to a man and had an adopted kid, which leads you to believe that it’s probably set in the modern day. This ambiguity is part of what makes Legion such an intriguing show.
Similarly it feels like the season is set over a couple of weeks, yet in the final episode Clark is show to still be alive but is now badly burned. We then watch as he recovers slowly from his injuries and returns back to work to reintroduce himself to David in the penultimate episode. His recovery time must have been a minimum of a few months which totally contradicts what we’ve been led to believe.
There were a number of stand out performances in the show, most notably Aubrey Plaza as Lenny, who played a diverse number of adaptations of the one character. Plaza’s stole about every scene she was in, Farouk’s slow rise to the top followed by her drop in fortunes before her inevitable rise back up was really well done. There was no rush, they were willing to set the scene with Farouk as a menacing figure in the background who we aren’t sure even exists, only for the role to increase before Farouk becoming a prominent figure by the end. A slow build with a great payoff, which made the us question David’s sanity.
The general character development in the show was well handled. A character like Syd could easily have been lost in the shuffle as a plot device for David to run after and save, rather she was made a central character to the season and the essential reason why David finally escaped Farouk. Oliver was great in his limited role and had the heart breaking moment when he finally remembers who Melanie is. Melanie is another interesting character because she gives off the idea that there is ulterior motives to everything she does, yet what those are aren’t quite clear. I think it would be fair to say that Melanie isn’t just concerned about David’s general well being and sees him as a tool at her disposal.
Clark may have played a limited role in the season, however his role really gave a different perspective to what we as the audience had seen before. The entire season we were led to believe that Division 3 were the bad guys, however in the final episode as Clark explains the reason for their behaviour is that they are scared of what David and the mutants are capable of. It makes you as the audience suddenly view things in a different manner, are District 3 really the bad guys or are they just people who are concerned for their safety?
You watch the show through the eyes of the mutants so you naturally assume that they are the good guys, however without perspective from the other side it really is impossible to say. Sure Clark and District 3 are probably still the bad guys, however they aren’t one dimensional, they are relatable because you can naturally see their concerns, even if how they choose to handle those concerns is heavy handed.
One of the best things about Legion season 1 was how self contained it was as a show. Too often superhero TV shows or movies feel the need to go the doomsday route of having a catastrophic world event happen which the hero must then save against all the odds. Legion went in a totally different direction telling a small story, focusing on character development and psychosis and that decision made Legion as a show stick out from its compatriots.
Legion season 1 could easily have been a one off story, it was written in such a manner that with a few tweaks there was no need for follow up seasons. Having said that the writers have set season 2 up very nicely. We have Farouk and Oliver now together in the oddest combo possible in the show, Summerland and District 3 working together and the final scene of David being taken away by a little drone thing. Who knows exactly where the show will go from here but there are many different avenues which it could experiment with and that in itself is exciting.
Naturally after reading this review it is clear that I really enjoyed Legion season 1, it is a show which took a risk and was well rewarded with doing so. Legion as a show could easily have been a disaster, yet has laid the groundwork for future TV series set in the Marvel universe, which is great with such a wide range of characters and stories which could be explored. As a viewer and a fan it is an exciting time, here’s hoping that the rise continues.
So what did you think of Legion season 1? Are you wondering what happened to David’s sister in the end? Are you just wanting some more Ptonomy? Or are you still wondering what the fuck is going on!?!? Leave a comment and share those thoughts!