I managed to wrangle my wife into watching Legion with me. Each episode is like a cinematic, disjointed acid trip and so I was doubtful that she’d make it, but she did and I caught things the second time through that I didn’t see on the first viewing. It’s one of those things that is just layered with so many details that a second viewing is just as good as the first.
Legion is set in the Marvel universe, so the idea of someone with extraordinary powers is a given. The story centers around David Haller, who doesn’t realize that he has amazing abilities. As a result of trying to cope with the voices in his head and the odd occurrences that seem to plague him, he self-medicates with drugs and eventually finds himself in a mental institution. Here he resigns himself to the idea that he’ll never be deserving of a normal life or happiness. Eventually he discovers the truth that he is not sick, but that he is powerful in ways he’s yet to understand.
I like David as a character, and I think it’s a fairly common thing to feel unworthy of happiness. At the center of the human experience is the idea that we’re all broken in some shape or fashion (whether we’re conscious of it or not) and thus undeserving of anything good. Since life is full of paradox, along with that is a hope that we are actually unique, of value, and somehow deserving of love & acceptance. Watching him move through the process of discovering who he really is was both heartbreaking and joyous and heartbreaking again.
There are great performances here by a really talented cast, but I’ve especially enjoyed Bill Irwin’s portrayal of Cary Loudermilk. Bill has had a really unique career over the years and has these really uncommon mannerisms and way of moving that’s just a pleasure to watch. Aubrey Plaza ( of Parks & Recreation ) also brings a marvelous performance as Lenny that is mesmerizing and disturbing at the same time.
The cinematography is gorgeous ( they’re up for an Emmy this year) and the soundtrack is an amazing range of songs some of which are performed by member of the cast. Sadly, I’ve yet to find any of those performances available outside of the episodes they appear in.
I’ve heard it said that all the great stories are, at their heart, about redemption. Creation, Fall, Struggle, Redemption, Greatness – it’s something that we all relate to because it’s our story. And here, behind all the hallucinations, flashbacks, and general weirdness is a story of that.
Season 2 is currently online ( as of 7/13/2018 ) on FX, but if you’re going to watch it, you really need to start from the beginning and season 1 is only available on Hulu.