If you’re ready for schizophrenia on your TV screen, it’s time to check out FX’s new series Legion. Not only has the series emerged as one of the best new shows on television, but the slow-burn narrative will benefit the series. After all, shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men thrived because of their slow-burn approaches to storytelling. With the master Noah Hawley running the show, it is far from a surprise that the show has taken off.
So far, the show has been anchored by unique storytelling, awesome visuals, and a penchant for absurdity. The characters in Legion hail from the X-Men universe, and most specifically, David is Professor Xavier’s son. Hawley has all but confirmed that Xavier would not appear on the show. However, he’s already made a shadowed appearance in the show. He is the son of Charles Xavier, but his powers are far more deadly. This has already manifested itself violently on the show, clearing the way for another distinction that only the MCU shows on Netflix have been able to duplicate.
To say that the show is only being held up by its schizophrenic storytelling and impeccable cinematography would be a disservice to the cast. Leading the way is Dan Stevens, who seems like he’s game for anything that Hawley and crew ask him to do. If he needs to act high as a kite, he’s there. If needs to portray stress while underwater and hoping he doesn’t get shot, he’s there for it. It’s an extremely well-rounded and layered performance that suggests real problems below the surface. Perhaps the most understated thing about Stevens is that he can sell any reality he currently inhabits to perfection.
There are plenty of other actors and actresses that are making the most of their screen time. Jean Smart is shaping up to be the Jessica Lange of the Hawley-verse, returning to bring balance to a nuanced role. We are still very much in the dark about Dr. Melinda Bird’s ultimate goals, but “Chapter 4” gives us a glimpse into her motivations. While I believe she cares about what happens to her husband, it all begins and ends with David.
Speaking of husbands, “Episode 4” highlights how outside the box and weird Legion can become when it wants to. The show has embraced the weirdness of its subject matter in ways that other sci-fi shows only wish they could accomplish. Still, this differentiation also establishes works to establish the uniqueness of this world. When news broke that Jermaine Clement would be added to the series, I doubt anyone expected he would cold open an episode.
However, Clement immediately showcases why they brought him into the series. Frankly, Clement fits in with weird, and when you have someone as talented and uniquely suited for this kind of world, you need to go get them. Clement’s vocals work to deliver an awesome monologue and hook the audience immediately. It is his charisma and ability to craft a persona that allows Hawley to put Clement in an ice cube and have the ice cube make sense within the context of the show.
The rest of the show is rounded out by a pretty stellar cast. There are obvious talents on display, namely Bill Irwin and Aubrey Plaza, but there are several other actors worth mentioning. Mackenzie Grey is chilling as the zombiesque “The Eye.” Jeremie Harris seems likely to break out in the near future. Considering his charisma, he’s one of the actors on this show to watch for.
A betting man would give Rachel Keller a strong headstart on being another breakout star behind Stevens. Her role grows each week, and the de facto female lead of the show appears essential to the story. She simply has more material than anyone not named Stevens or Smart. Keep an eye out for Keller to continue to move upwards due to the show.
Overall, a deep cast, incredible cinematography, and killer storytelling will make this one of the best shows on TV. The crown is heavy, but Legion may become the best superhero show of all time, if not the strangest. Move over Netflix. It looks like Iron Fist is about to get splattered on the wall.
UPDATED REVIEW ON 12/21/2022 TO ADHERE TO SUNSHINE STATE CINEPLEX STYLE GUIDE